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National Herald Won't Be A Congress Mouthpiece, Says Neelabh Mishra

Neelabh Mishra, leading the paper's relaunch as its editor-in-chief, sees the National Herald as a newspaper representing a broad spectrum of views, including those of Congress's political rivals

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The National Herald newspaper, founded by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1938, is being revived eight years after it ceased publishing, but the paper won't become a mouthpiece for the Congress party.

Neelabh Mishra, leading the paper's relaunch as its editor-in-chief, sees the National Herald as a newspaper representing a broad spectrum of views, including those of Congress's political rivals.

"It won't be a Congress mouthpiece. It won't be a Congress party newspaper, for that the party has 'Congress Sandesh'," he said.

Associated Journals Limited, which owns the English title and Urdu daily Qaumi Awaz and Hindi paper Navjeevan, launched the National Herald's online version on November 14, Nehru's birthday.

The company, controlled by Congress leaders, plans to start a print edition in the next three to four months.

Responding to the perception of the National Herald being a "Congress mouthpiece", Mishra said: "We take our stand. We have columns from BJP, Congress and other political parties. Someone might be expecting a Rahul Gandhi interview the first day, but we didn't do that."

The group is putting its team in place to create a management and editorial structure. It is still in the process of determining the cover price, initial print run and the number of pages for the paper.

The English daily discontinued publication in 2008, and Mishra feels there is space in the market for a new English daily.

The revamped National Herald is expected to show greater commitment to journalism than today's media in which content is driven by advertisement sales or relationships with the government.

"National Herald should be free from that, it will practice journalism in the old objective way. We would not be driven by profit motive but by sustainability. It should have enough revenue to run itself. It won't be a loss-making venture. It couldn't meet those demands for professionalism and revenue that's why it closed down earlier," Mishra said.

The group feels it is not in competition with the giants like The Times of India or The Hindustan Times and will create its own niche audience.

The English daily plans to win advertisers by offering them an audience that will include influential sections of people in business, government and politics.

"We are not looking for Congress Party to subsidise all our efforts and raise funds for us. We are looking for organic growth in terms of advertising and revenue," Mishra said.

The paper aims to become one of India's top 10 publications and build a strong online presence.


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