Monday, December 27, 2010

A Rare Kind of Journalism Here. A Letter to the Reader's Digest Editor and his Exemplary reply. His peers should follow suit

(An Editor's Response to a Reader)

Our editors (especially the much circulated ones) are a busy lot, but here is an exception to this. A personal experience with the World's Best Magazine’s* (‘Reader's Digest’) editor.

The Cover Page of the Magazine's Current issue

An Introduction:

A Quote from the Chief Editor:

Let me quote a statement from Reader's Digest's Indian edition editor Mr, Mohan Shivanand, He wrote in its June 2009 issue:
"I've always believed RD to be not just the world's largest-selling magazine but, hands down, the best one too.  In April, Reader's Digest was awarded the top prize by the American Society of Magazine Editors at this year's National Magazine Awards, in the over two million-circulation category.  RD scored over four other great finalists, including Time and National Geographic.  The award honours the "effectiveness with which writing, reporting, editing and design all come together" for you, the reader.
"Best magazine with two million or more is like winning the Oscar for the best picture of the year," said our US-based Editor-in-Chief Frank Lalli,"  "Reader's Digest is the best magazine in the world."
The above quoted statements  prove their sheer hard work in this tremendous success.
Generally our editors (especially the much circulated ones) are a busy lot, but here is an exception to this. A personal experience with a much circulated magazine’s (‘Readers Digest’) editor.
I posted the following letter with much expectation to the editor of Readers Digest (India), and the personal reply received from the Chief Editor, Mr. Mohan Sivanand:

The Editor,
Reader’s Digest   
New Delhi

Your March issue made an informative reading. The timely subject ‘recession’ related articles are very informative and useful. Editor’s Bugs me anyway ‘Language’ column was an interesting read, The writer’s narration on the quite often used word in daily life ‘anyways’ is very educative. Thanks for the great tutorial here. The Facts about fat the cover story “13 things no one ever tells you about weight loss” is really astounding. Many things mentioned are really unknown especially the “Sleep Treatment”. Your interview with Maria Tippett the author of the master photographer Yosuf’s photographs were well captured, but it would have been better if you would have given one or two photographs apart from portraits. ‘The Air up there’ on women astronauts was a fitting tribute to the women astronauts on the occasion of international women’s day. Last but the least, about the visionary doctor Govindappa Venkataswamy’s enduring vision fulfilled through his family tree. You should have mentioned a word about this visionary doctor’s story (Bonus Read) on the cover page. The writer’s concluding paragraph said everything in short. “Though Dr. V’s strength waned his family continued “growing and developing a little of Dr. V in each of them. Ashok Mahadevan’s write-up is a great tribute to Dr. V and his institution ‘Aravind family’.
Philip Verghese ‘Ariel’,Secunderabad.

Editor's Reply.
Dear Mr Ariel,
Thank you for your kind words on our March issue. It's always a pleasure to hear from our readers. You also asked a good question: Why was Dr V not mentioned on our cover? I have to explain that we have a lengthy and meticulous research process where every word written for RD is fact-checked independently by our Research Editor and a "research report" made, no matter who wrote it -- staff or outside writer, or me. Also, our covers have to be printed early. Before the March cover went to press, there were still several unfinished bits in the fact-checking process (in the Dr V article), and so I did not want to risk mentioning it on the cover, just in case it had to be rescheduled for the next month. Without a full research report, we don't publish anything. In fact I too would have been happy to have Dr V mentioned on our cover.
Best wishes,
Mohan Sivanand
If his peers will make note of such practice it will definitely increase the confidence of the writers and their readers.  No doubt their readers too are a kind of people like editors; they too find time to post their views or articles in their busy schedules. No doubt, Practically it’s a difficult thing to be in touch with all the people who are in touch with you people, but still you can find some time to do such things even in your busy schedules. Best Wishes.

Picture Credit.

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