My First Guru in Journalism: Samar Sen

Samar Sen, Founder Editor of Frontier



It was in 1969 that I started writing for Frontier, a radical left weekly published from Calcutta, as Kolkata was called then.

My first article appeared in its issue dated 18 January 1969. The association would continue for a decade, until 1979 when I joined the Indian Express which did not allow staffers to write for other publications.

Frontier had been launched by Samar Sen, a trailblazing Bangla poet and reputed journalist of his time. The Frontier was, in a way, continuation of the work he had started during his editorship of Now.

Under Sen’s editorship Now had attracted a galaxy of star writers like filmmaker Satyajit Ray and economist Joan Robinson. It’s publisher was former Education Minister Humayun Kabir. Thespian and film actor Uttpal Dutt was Now’s Deputy Editor.

Frontier provided a platform for discussion among leftists. Among its contributors were economist Ashok Mitra, filmmakers like Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak, journalists MJ Akbar and Mohan Ram, art-critic Asok Mitra, ICS.

The weekly was taken seriously in Left circles. A.K. Roy, the CPM MP, was expelled from the party for writing articles for Frontier.

Samar Da was my first Guru in journalism.

My English was atrocious. Being a product of a Hindi medium school from the rural belt of Bihar was a handicap.

I used to send typewritten sheets of my dispatches to The Frontier. Samar Da would work on it, edit it, polish it and then send back the edited version to me so that I could learn from my mistakes.

This was my journalism school. I can say I learnt my writing craft at the feet of a Great Master.

The Frontier still comes out under the able editorship of Timir Basu.

If you want to read my first article in Frontier, pl click here.

Updated and revised on 5 August 2020

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