From Quill To Digital: Catholic Weekly ‘The Examiner’ From Mumbai Completes 175 Years

From Quill To Digital: Catholic Weekly ‘The Examiner’ From Mumbai Completes 175 Years

Started as a one-page newsletter, its first editions were painstakingly written with a quill by editors of Italian, Spanish, German, or French origin. Unfortunately, the only surviving copies were destroyed in a fire 15 years ago.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Wednesday, March 20, 2024, 01:16 AM IST
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Christian weekly turns 175 |

Mumbai: A journey from quill to digital – the phrase encapsulates the 175-year-long journey of the ‘The Examiner’, the weekly newspaper published by the Roman Catholic Church in Mumbai. The phrase was also the theme of the anniversary edition released last week.

Started as a one-page newsletter, its first editions were painstakingly written with a quill by editors of Italian, Spanish, German, or French origin. Unfortunately, the only surviving copies were destroyed in a fire 15 years ago.

After a line of British editors who served for 80 years, the first Indian editor was Father Valerian Gracias from 1938-40. Gracias later became a Cardinal, the first Indian to be promoted to a rank next to the Pope. 

The magazine carried its first advertisements after its 150th anniversary. Colour pages were introduced in the late 1970s and the digital edition started 15 years ago. Through all these changes, the publication has never missed an edition.

Many of these changes were seen through by Father Anthony Charanghat, 78, who has completed 50 years of association with the magazine, 30 years of it as its editor. Excerpts from an interview…

The idea behind the magazine

It was a venture between lay people and priests to cater to Christian journalism. Cardinal Valerian Gracias used to say that religion means relation to god; all scriptures speak about relationship with god. The duty of this newspaper is to take the teachings of the Bible and translate it into the language of the common man. The primacy of space should be given to its central purpose of analysing every news from the religious point of view.

The first editors

The first editor in 1850 was Father Ignatius Persico, an Italian. Priests from different nationalities and religious orders have edited the magazine. There were priests who had learnt English after leaving their countries. British editors managed the paper for 80 years before Indians took over. Many of the Indian editors were Jesuits (the religious order that manages St Xavier’s College).

The decision to publish paid advertisements.

We were on a shoestring budget and got around Rs1 lakh annually from the church to publish the magazine. We opened up the magazine for advertisements during the 150th anniversary after suggestions from advertising gurus like Alyque Padamsee. He said ‘build your own finances or you will not survive’. We created financial stability by allowing 51% of the space for advertisements.

How the editorial content is decided.

We have an editorial board, with experts like doctors, chartered accountants, and former journalists, who suggest ideas. We used to pay our contributors, but many of them write for us gratis. We have had contributors like Frank Moraes and Arun Shourie. We have themes on social justice, LGBTQ issues, women’s rights, and environment. The Christmas and Lent issues are very popular.

On editorial freedom.

I avoid news that has a source in vested interests and I have often been accused of not printing some news. The Archbishop (Cardinal Oswald Gracias) gives suggestions and has often told me: ‘Tony, do not be so revolutionary’

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