REFLECTIONS ON TN GOPKUMAR , EDITOR IN CHIEF OF ASIANET NEWS WHO PASSED AWAY ON 30 JANUARY 2016.
”There are a lot of reports reaching me about media representatives in the field and office accepting expensive gifts in different forms from interested parties. Let me reiterate that this is in gross violation of our editorial guidelines.Pl treat this as a gentle advice to be careful of such temptations, whatever the circumstances may be. Just remember that our reputation is of paramount importance and there cannot be any compromises”. These are the extracts of an inter office memo which TN Gopakumar as the editorial chief has send to us three years before. I am making it public just to indicate the stringent and thoughtful ethical norms he laid to us as our top editorial authority. TNG never compromised on the editorial policy even while he was pragmatic and practical to run an organization. Throughout his career as a journalist he was stern and committed to core journalistic values, never compromising when commercial interests created hurdles. Same time accepting this as an industry he was open to new innovations of media delivery which hardliners were reluctant to do. TNG’s stint in multiple media platforms has given this flexibility. Started his career in Indian Express in English he easily shifted to Mathrubhumi daily in Malayalam. He later moved to Delhi from Kerala and established himself as a journalist of national repute. There he had worked for News Time, Independent, India today and Statesman. The ease which he shifted to BBC’s radio platform and later to Asianet TV shows his ability to maneuver smartly on media convergence.

Even in the thick of journalistic assignments he has ventured to literary pursuits. He has penned fifteen books in various categories that include Short stories, Novels, Memoirs, Travelogues and Political analysis. Even when he was battling with cancer he ensured that his assignments including Kannadi” were done in advance. His latest novel ‘’Palum Pazhavum’’ which is now in print in Madhayamam weekly was completed in advance. So is with the web columns which he has penned it in advance, even from his hospital bed. In screen entertainment also he had his creative pursuit. For Doordarshan he serialized ‘Verukal’ ; first directorial debut in the tinsel world .He directed a film as well, ‘’Jeevan Mashay’’ which is a screen adaption of Bangla Novel Arogya Nikethanam . Kerala Sahitya academy has twice awarded him and has also won International laurels including FCCJ Tokyo Journalism award.

TNG was able to easily converge to the best of all media platforms and multiple languages. Born in the transitional year of 1957 when Kerala shreds off his birth place Suchindram,Kanyakumari to Tamilnadu ,he has the best of both his both homes. Being a Malayalee fostered in emerging Tamizhakam he has good knowledge on Dravidian literature and cultural ethos. It is best reflected in his literary and journalistic works. As the reporter from the very first episode of his iconic programme “Kannadi”, I had intimate and first hand experience. Once I had done a story about the begging racket in the holly hill paths of Sabarimala for Kannadi. Back to editing table where TNG scrutinized the story he picked a wonderfull twist. Those of them seeking alms in the holly hillocks was just replacing the word “Ayappa” instead of Lord “Muraga” in their songs. He identified it as a couplet from ‘Skandapurana’, dedicated to Hindu god Subramanian alias Murugan. This finer nuance, which he discovered from his understanding of Adi Dravida and Sangham literature has graduated the story scripting to higher depths, only to discover that it was an organized begging racket which made crores using disabled poor. In Journalism classes there is an adage that often quoted that ’one should be a jack of many and master of none’. But TNG even while comfortable in a wide array of streams and subjects , he also have mastery in some core things which distinguished from rest of us media tribes. More than that ,he has compassion to the suffering and marginalized which was best reflected the way he treated ’Kannadi’ stories .He followed the stories ensuring justice and support is done to the affected. That made him a de facto link ambassador for the marginalized with the Malayalee Diaspora. A big Salute to the great journalist and good human being. For us it was an era that was put to full stop , but too earlier.

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