When a TOI reader of 35 years sat down to edit the newspaper | Bengaluru News – Times of India


When Basavaraj Somappa Bommai agreed to guest-edit a TOI edition in November, he had promised to do a “professional job”. On Monday, the Karnataka chief minister, an ardent reader of TOI for around 35 years now, kept the date and his word.
When he dropped in at TOI’s offices to oversee the production of the November 9 edition, he was very clear about what he wanted in it, where and how. His preparations began a week ago, as he commissioned stories of interest — spanning agriculture, irrigation and industrial development across Karnataka to Bengaluru development and his government’s push for Kannada.
Editing the special page showcasing his story ideas, the CM asked: “Is this page for the state edition, or just the city?” Upon being told that it is for the former, he deftly wielded the editor’s pen, suggesting a few changes, mostly pertaining to placement of stories.
“I am aware of this paper’s taste, priorities and constituency. My father got me initiated with the Times of India and I’ve been a regular reader of the paper for 35 years,” he said. Earlier, talking about the paper’s legacy, he said TOI combines “vintage with contemporary”.
In a typical news meeting, the guest editor reviewed the evening news list and a discussion-cum-review ensued. A variety of issues, ranging from philosophy and economics to politics of power and people, from partnerships required for good governance to harvesting of economic potential of women, came up and Bommai provided his insights while keenly following the points being made.
He also fielded questions on governance, his selection as chief minister and new policies being mulled over by his government, besides holding forth on issues plaguing the city and state, and more.
Dismissing suggestions (made by some sections of politicians) of him being an outsider in BJP, he said: “The Sangh Parivar has a unique way of working. They are strong on principles and never compromise on them. They are most forward looking when it comes to nation building, something that is not often recognised. For this, they scout for talent and character. Once they find that in somebody, they go out of their way to nurture and promote it.”
Bommai was both witty and stern, depending on the questions and even employed cricket analogy to describe his and BS Yediyurappa’s roles in the current scheme of things.
Despite it being a very busy day, marked by the first cabinet meeting post-bypolls, he spent a good two-and-a-half hours at TOI’s offices. As the news meeting ended and informal discussions spilled into tea break — a common affair in most newsrooms — he kept the conversation flowing over masala dosa and coffee.
Edition work complete, Bommai patiently accommodated queries from all those present and posed for selfies too. His sign-off had the classic editor’s touch: “I wish I could have done more editing!”
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Sagar Biswas

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