Reading between bylines

There are many things i’ve observed — if not learnt — in my short tenure as a film journalist. One of them is the fact that nobody gives a shit about byline. Until and unless you are someone like Aakar Patel or Nandini Ramnath with your smiling picture going with the slug. Legendary cartoonists like RK Laxman don’t need a byline yet they insisted on signing their work. Things are a bit discouraging for lesser mortals though. The way readers automatically skip the name of the person who has written an article is an interesting phenomenon. They read the headline, the strap and jump directly to the main body completely overlooking something in fine print practically dying for attention! Anyway, i’ve grown enough in my field to care less about my byline anymore but it’s a completely different story — no pun intended — when you come across a commuter reading your piece. What a narcissistic feeling that is! And it does make a dramatic scene too. He busy reading what you wrote yesterday neither acknowledging your byline nor you standing right in front of him. So you end up secretly taking a picture of him in action. Fair enough.