Thursday, February 11, 2010

End Coming For Hand-Written Newspaper?

It’s no secret that the future’s not bright for newspapers as people receive more and more of their information from online sources. But tucked away in a corner of India, the days could be dwindling for the world’s only hand-written newspaper.

Russia Today brings us the story of the Musalman, a daily four-page newspaper published in Chennai. Since 1927 the Musalman has painstakingly been written by hand in delicate Urdu calligraphy. According to RT, each page takes a trained calligrapher about four hours to ink by hand. The completed pages are then photographed and turned into printing plates to produce the newspaper’s 20,000 copies. The staff calligraphers say that writing by hand gives them more control over the Musalman’s layout than they would get from using machine or computer-produced fonts, and that the final product has a unique beauty all of its own.

But learning the fancy Urdu script – once a symbol of high status in India - is a dying art; the Musalman’s calligraphers, all into middle age or older, say that no young people want to learn the skill from them. And as more Indians go online, the paper’s circulation is shrinking, meaning the days for the world’s only hand-written newspaper are slowly drawing to an end.
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