The passing of the patriarch brings the curtain down on a golden era in the annals of The Hindu.
He was not an Editor who confined himself to the organisation and flow of news. And he did not see silos or compartments in the newspaper. He scored several firsts.
What made G. Kasturi stand out? He donned several hats in addition to that of Editor. He was at home with the nuts and bolts of the newspaper — be it newsprint, colour separation, printing technology, page layout, distribution, strategising for marketing, or advertising.
After the day was done, he would often don the ‘press gown’ and make a beeline for the press. If a new printing press was being installed, he would spend the better part of the night there, before switching roles at the Editor’s desk the next morning.
A subject that held Mr. GK in thrall was the making up of pages; he would spend time explaining the proper laying out of advertisements. He would speak of how equal respect had to be accorded to both the advertiser (who was investing quite a bit in an advertisement) and the reader (it should be ensured that he or she was not left in a state of confusion as to what was actually editorial material).
Though steeped in tradition, he was avant-garde in outlook. Bristling with new ideas, he would chide anyone who would not go all out — regardless of success or failure. The popular management refrain advocating the art of creative destruction to keep infusing fresh blood into ageing companies sat easy on his shoulders. On many occasions, he showed how nobody should hesitate to tear down some well-established systems once they ceased to be relevant.
Tearing himself away from his heavy schedule, Mr GK would often spiritedly throw himself into the marketing department’s deliberations on the launch of brands, and the advertisement department’s perennial overtures for editorial support. He tackled these with diplomacy and left you satisfied, without allowing advertising to encroach upon the turf of the editorial department. The advertisement department hardly had to rub the Advertising Standards Council the wrong way over an offensive visual or “knocking” copy. The ground-rules he laid down for acceptance of advertisements were never breached.
(V. Kalidas was head of Advertising at The Hindu)