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Wednesday, August 04, 2021

A century’s not enough: India’s oldest running paper, Mumbai Samachar, enters its 200th year

The Gujarati newspaper, with its office located in an iconic red building at Horniman Circle in Mumbai’s Fort area, was first published in 1822. It was founded by a Parsi scholar Fardoonji Murazban, who had experimented with various other publishing options before landing on this successful print run.

Written by Benita Fernando | Mumbai |
July 1, 2021 3:49:27 am
The office of the Gujarati daily. (Express photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

On July 1, India’s oldest running newspaper, Mumbai Samachar, will enter its 200th year.

The Gujarati newspaper, with its office located in an iconic red building at Horniman Circle in Mumbai’s Fort area, was first published in 1822. It was founded by a Parsi scholar Fardoonji Murazban, who had experimented with various other publishing options before landing on this successful print run.

Formerly called Bombay Samachar, in Gujarati the paper has always run as Mumbai na Samachar. It started as a weekly edition, primarily covering the movement of goods across the sea and other business news, such as the sale of property, and passed through several hands until bankruptcy turned it over to the Cama family in 1933.

The Cama Norton and Co used to supply ink and newsprint to the publication. When the possibility of liquidation loomed ahead, the court decided to transfer the company to Muncherji Cama to avoid a situation where staffers would lose their jobs. Hormusji Cama, who took over as the director of Mumbai Samachar nearly 40 years ago, said, “It is great that we managed to survive for 200 years and while none of us may survive, and even print may not survive, I hope Mumbai Samachar will see 300 years.”

Mumbai Samachar is best known to Mumbai’s public as the striking colonial-era red building which houses its office and printing press, outside which Cama’s vintage cars are often parked.

Currently, more than 200 staff members and offices across four other centres apart from Mumbai, bring out a single daily edition of the paper, making it the oldest running vernacular newspaper in India. Mumbai Samachar also publishes a panchang (astrological almanac).

The editor, Nilesh Dave, who joined in 2003, said becoming a part of Mumbai Samachar has been his life’s dream. Dave said that while the whole print industry has been put through financial and circulation strains because of the pandemic, “increasing fake news in the WhatsApp University means that people are going to trust newspapers. Print news is the only medium where you can’t have fake news”.

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