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Demise of a media baron...

Sivanthi Adithan who headed with distinction the leading Tamil newspaper, Daily Thanthi, maintained the pioneering status of the newspaper built by his illustrious father, S P Adithanar (SPA). As early as seven decades ago the latter, a barrister, identified the potential for a Tamil daily that can reach the masses. That liberated Tamil journalism from the traditional Sanskritised Tamil of the earlier era and made reporting simpler and more lucid. I remember back in the 1960s, a group of rickshaw pullers assembled around a literate among these, who read aloud the morning’s Thanthi with its simple, captive headlines. SPA pioneered the liberal use of spoken Tamil in print journalism and soon Thanthi emerged the largest circulated language newspaper. SPA also entered politics and was the Speaker of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly. I remember his commencing the proceedings reciting a Thirukural couplet everyday during the session.

It is tough to succeed such an illustrious, multi-faceted personality. It is to the credit of Sivanthi to have maintained the lead of Thanthi despite stiff competition from Dina Malar and Dinamani. Sivanthi also set up the Sun Paper Mills and invested widely in a variety of industries. He headed the Indian Newspaper Society and was also keenly interested in sports. He was the President of the Indian Olympic Association and President of the Volley Ball Federation of India. He was a Director in a number of companies’ including India Cements and MIOT.  
Sivanthi belonged to the earlier generation of editors, reserved and withdrawn and rarely participated in public functions. His apolitical nature and the power of his newspaper commanded respect from the leaders of major political parties of the state. Both M Karunanidhi and J Jayalithaa, among other leaders, paid their homage in person to this media Mughal.

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