When publications celebrate anniversaries or special achievements, it is customary to thank the reader profusely. Without you, we wouldn’t be here, etc, etc, etc. The ritual has been repeated so often that it smacks of some insecurity. If the reader is so paramount—as he/she undoubtedly is and has to be---why is so little attention paid to his concerns and interests?
I am setting myself up nicely for the hit. For I too am going to follow the ritual. Now that we have become a healthy 10-year-old learning to run and, occasionally, to excel, how did we achieve such rapid growth? The answer is obvious.
At the risk of immodesty and correction, I believe Outlook is different in one distinct and verifiable respect. The magazine has a running or shall I say raging dialogue with its readers every week. No publication in India takes correspondence from its readers as seriously as Outlook. Our ‘Letters Page’ is personally under my supervision. Indeed, when I get to the office every morning, the first thing that greets me is your postcards, e-mails, faxes and ‘inland’ letters. I go through each one, especially those that rebuke me, with anticipation.
Consider, also, the amount of space we devote to your generous and ungenerous thoughts. In most other newspapers and periodicals, the letters column is becoming smaller and smaller; sometimes it is invisible. Precisely the opposite is happening at Outlook. In fact, in the revamped magazine which you will have in your hands soon, this column will be developed even further.
Some of you may feel we are masochists or that we enjoy self-flagellation. Not true. I find letters that attack the magazine or disagree with it so much more witty, interesting and better crafted than the ones which begin:
"Kudos to Vinod Mehta" or "Hats off to the editor".
Many of your letters attack me personally, and by name. I don’t mind that at all as long as you exclude my wife, my paternity and my dog, Editor. I do, and must, shoulder full responsibility for everything that appears, and it is only proper that I take the flak.
I am a thick-skinned editor. If you think I am a fool or naïve or a dangerous pseudo-secularist, I’ll happily print your version of me. Meanwhile, those of you who believe I have a bit of Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi should not feel shy to send in their opinion.
I am going to complete 11 years at Outlook and I promise you I would not have survived this long had it not been for your lovely bouquets and brickbats. Like Outlook, you are unique. You are the centre of our universe. I have no words to express my gratitude for your support. And to the scores of editorial, advertising, marketing and circulation soldiers who toil to get ‘India’s Most Exciting Newsmagazine’ across to you.