After many years I have had the opportunity to talk to the former editor of the Amrit Prabhat Shri K B Mathur the other day on WhatsApp, who lives near Toronto in Canada with his son. In my life I have worked with three editors, the first one was Shri S K Bose of Northern India Patrika of Allahabad. My stint with him was very brief nearly three months. He was a gem of a man- well-read and punctilious to the core. It was he who was instrumental in sending me to Shri Mathur, who apart from being a good and laborious journalist, has always been a thorough gentleman. My third editor was the late Shri Prabhash Joshi, who was full of bluff and bluster but very fair. He was abstemious and spartan in his personal life but more dedicated to the profession and the proprietor than to the working class. This is my personal viewpoint about him, which does not mean that others would agree with it.
Returning to Shri K B Mathur, I can say with all the emphasis at my command that journalists working under him enjoyed unfettered freedom, bordering on anarchy during his editorship. He was dispassionate to power and the pelf but very patronising to journalists. Some of the journalists, who subscribed to certain political affiliations, used the newspaper for the furtherance of their own interests. Shri Mathur knew it well but even then, did not prevent them from misusing the rostrum of the newspaper. While putting across the standpoint of the proprietors Shri Mathur saw to it that the welfare of the workers was not jettisoned.
Those who have been associated with any trade union movement know well that Dainik Jagran of Uttar Pradesh is the most exploitative and abominable newspaper regarding working conditions. It was the first newspaper to black out news associated with trade unions but on the other hand, there used to be separate columns in the Amrit Prabhat for labour news. Journalists working for the Dainik Jagran used to impose self-censorship as per the whims of its owner, but it was unheard of in the Amrit Prabhat. Some people ascribe this licentious freedom to the closure of the newspaper.
Shri K B Mathur is in his early eighties yet touchwood! He is hale and hearty to his age. I wish him to write his memoirs for the benefit of the journalists of the new generation before print journalism writes its own epitaph in a few years’ time. It is fast paving the way for digital journalism. Labour laws and wage boards will become the things of the past but old values of journalism will always be cherished. We were taught that the ‘intro’ was the most significant part of the news, which should contain as far as possible five Ws- ‘what, where, when, which and why’ and one ‘H’ i.e. ‘How’ but now this principle has almost been given go by the new breed of journalists. Hopefully, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will provide a new definition of journalism. However, the halo of journalist K B Mathur will never fade. I wish him a long, healthy, and happy life regardless of the place he lives.


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