Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Functioning anarchy and Bertrand Russell

By John Cheeran
Last October (2006), Times of India carried a comment piece on the mystery of editorial process in mainstream media. I had the fortune of not reading that at the time.
The thrust of that learned comment was blogs seldom are subjected to the editorial rigour.
I don't want to argue that point.
Instead I want to draw your attention to a book published by Penguin, India, recently. Games Indians Play: Why We Are the Way We Are is written by V. Raghunathan, an acclaimed economist professor.
The writer is an expert in economics and Penguin is one of India's foremost publishers.
That must ensure the editorial rigour.
Then on Page 115 of the book a famous quote is given.
"India is a functioning anarchy --- Bertrand Russell (Philosopher and the US ambassador to India in 1962).
How could such a howler defeat the eyes of Penguin editors?
The anarchy quote belongs to John Kenneth Galbraith. Yes, Galbraith was the US ambassador to India.
So this is what editorial rigour gives you in book publishing where author and commissioning editors have a long time to pore through the print.
Having worked for quite a few rags, I know how much thought goes into each word that gets ink on it.
Journalists are paid to write and edit. Bloggers are not.
Yes, it is important to make it clear that blogs alone are not culprits of rush hour writing.

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