Mumbai Samachar: Going strong at 192

On July 1, Mumbai Samachar, the city’s second most circulated Gujarati paper, will reaffirm its position as the oldest surviving newspaper in Asia.

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When copies of the Mumbai Samachar (MS) hit the stands on July 1, the newspaper will be making history rather than just recording it. At 192 years and running, it will reaffirm its position as the oldest surviving newspaper in Asia.

Despite being one of the costliest newspapers in Mumbai, it is the second most circulated Gujarati language paper in the city. It sells two lakh copies every day, of which 1.1 lakh are distributed in Mumbai.

Born a weekly in 1822, it became a daily in 1832. Resource crunch forced it to turn bi-weekly in 1833 but it was back on the daily route in 1855 — and has remained so till date.

In an age when traditional newspapers are under pressure to shift to digital-only editions, what keeps MS kicking? “I would say our credibility,” said Nilesh Dave, the Editor.

“Though we are reading a lot online, I feel we haven’t yet adapted to the culture of reading whole newspapers online. People still depend on newspapers for depth. Newspapers have the time to verify the credibility of the news,” said Mr. Dave. These tweet eras are just five-year trends. In the long history of this paper many such trends have come and gone. In the end, a paper survives on its strengths, the basics and credibility,” he added.

Founded by a Parsi scholar and priest, Fardoonji Murazban, a pioneer in Gujarati language media, MS operates today with a total staff of 150, with 60 dedicated to editorial duties.

In addition to loyally carrying forward the legacy of print, the paper has entrusted itself with the task of promoting the Gujarati language. And in Prime Minister Narendra Modi they have found a special backer.

Mr. Modi, as Gujarat Chief Minister, was declared the brand ambassador of the paper last year. Mr. Modi vowed to help promote the language of his State by supporting such initiatives. “With Mr. Modi in power, I feel this is the decade of Gujarati,” said Mr. Dave.