When in 1949 The Assam Tribune opened the Process Department and started publishing pictures of events taking place the very next day it set a new trend in journalism in the north-eastern India. Some of the blocks were so clear and the printing was so good that the Editor received complimentary letters from outside the State.
The proprietor, Radha Govinda Baruah took pride in the performance of the newspaper and in printing pictures of events taking place the previous evening. One of his friends in the Gauhati Club challenged him to publish the photo of New Year’s Day celebrations in the club in next day’s paper. Baruah, in a mellow mood, accepted the challenge.
He alerted everybody -the Editor, the Sub-Editor on night shift, Process Department staff and Photographer. The photo was taken at the stroke of midnight with the Club members waving their hands greeting the New Year. Baruah himself brought the Photographer to the studio Of the paper, got the print and with everybody’s cooperation the picture appeared on the’ issue of January 1.
Baruah won the bet. But he did not disclose what the bet was.
|Dakota To The Rescue|
The publishers of Dailies in Assam have often to face problems unique to the region, The surface link of the State of Assam with the rest of India, being precarious, often got snapped for various periods during the monsoon season.
The worst situation faced was in 1971 when successive high floods in North Bihar, North Bengal and Assam stopped surface traffic to Assam for a long period. In fact, the damages to the road and railway lines and the innumerable bridges thereon were so severe that supply of newsprint, the most vital raw-material, was totally stopped for about three months bringing disaster to The Assam Tribune and its other publications. The only hope was to airlift newsprint from Calcutta at any cost.
The only aircraft capable of carrying newsprint rolls at that time was a Dakota plane belonging to a private organization. Even then it was fully booked by the West
Bengal Government for airdropping medicines, foodstuffs and other essentials to the marooned people in North Bengal. After much persuasion a compromise solution was found and The Assam Tribune was allowed to use the Dakota for airlifting newsprint to Guwahati on !alternate days only.
However a most critical situation in the life of the paper was averted and the publication could be continued by airlifting newsprint for more than two months even though at a colossal cost!
On the night of June 2, 1953, the Sub-Editor on night shift while waiting for the print order copy was having a snooze sitting in the chair with his head placed on the dictionary on the desk. He felt the urge to empty the bladder. He went out and coming back heard the teleprinter clicking fast and out of curiosity looked what was coming in it with Flash, Flash signs.
The news was that Mount Everest has been conquered by the expedition of Col. John Hunt. It was 2-30 in the morning and the final print order was ready. The Night Sub stopped everything and after discussion with the Foreman carried the story with an eight-column splash.
Next day when the Calcutta newspapers arrived at Guwahati it was seen that none of them could carry this world scoop. The Assam Tribune scored the news of the decade !
A smiling and happy Radha Govinda Baruah presented the Sub-Editor (late Tripurendra Dasgupta) a costly wrist watch as a token of appreciation.