February 22, 2020
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M.J. Akbar

Editor-in-Chief of The Asian Age, on Byline, a collection of his columns over the decade

M.J. Akbar
M.J. Akbar
Why do editors insist on publishing their columns as books?
The problem is not editors but publishers who accept them.

Most columnists are accused of being ill-read and uninformed, rewriting current affairs in their own words.
There are columnists and columnists.

How's journalism different from literature?
One's a snapshot and the other is oil painting.

Your book is mostly about your travels and cricket, less about politics. Why?
Most columnists don't have a life outside politics. Politics doesn't last as long as travel. Travel travels.

What's the best thing of being a journalist?
The opportunity to convert travel into words.

Your main asset as a journalist.
My ability to change. You must never imitate yourself, particularly if you succeed.

Your main asset as a columnist.
Humour. You can make your point more forcefully if you are light. Instead of a hammer, try a stiletto that knows how to dance.

You started off as a poor and unknown boy and made it as an editor in your 20s. Is that possible now?
Why not? There is an explosion of media, and with it, an explosion of opportunities.

How's journalism now different from then?
It must evolve. The trouble with journalism is journalists. They remain stuck where they started.

Will newspapers survive?
They will as long as they are mobile. You can take them into the loo or into the car. No one has found a substitute for paper.

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