New Delhi: On a rainy day in July, Kirit G. Ganatra, owner and managing editor of Gujarat’s most successful local newspaper Akila is sitting in his usual place—his office at the entrance hall of the newspaper’s Rajkot office, within easy reach of visitors.

On this day, as on others, the entrance to the office is dominated largely by two groups of people. One group is in a queue that leads to the classifieds department. The other is waiting outside the office of the editor. The actual reporters are seated upstairs, away from the daily grind that keeps the paper in business.

Founded as a weekly—it is now an eveninger—in 1978, Akila may well be among the earliest examples of successful and profitable citizen journalism, a buzzword currently in vogue in media circles.

People bring news to Ganatra, 63, who sees himself as a people’s editor (another term that sounds like a journalistic neologism from the 2010s). It could be about a pothole, a leaky public tap in a neighbourhood, or street lights not working. People, sometimes the same ones who may have brought him the news, also fuel Akila’s thriving classified business—with ads seeking to sell second-hand bicycles, or find tenants. The paper sells for 3, six days a week. The paper doesn’t have a Sunday edition.

And somehow, because the leaking taps get fixed, and the potholes get filled, and the street lights come on again— the administration seems to take Akila very seriously—and because the cycles get sold and the rooms find tenants, and because it sells 70,000 copies a day, it makes money. Last year, according to Ganatra, the business returned a net profit of 2 crore.

Close