Monthly Archives: January 2007

A reading list for journalists and wannabes

The other day, a young reporter asked, “Sir, can you suggest some books that I should read?” The question at once underscored two things. One, how little our journalism schools and colleges inculcate the reading habit in journalism students. And two, how little information there is out there for an eager journalist to pursue her…

Bold, edgy, intelligent. What’s that?

One day in the year of 2043, predicts Philip Meyer in his recent book The Vanishing Newspaper, a reader will set aside the final copy of a printed American newspaper as new technology, diminishing advertising returns, and plunging readerships take their toll. But newspapers aren’t dying but committing suicide, says columnist Molly Ivins: “What really…

Your privacy ends where my nose begins

Kate Middleton, the girlfriend of Prince William, has been in the eye of a photography storm, with the paparazzi pursuing the woman many believe may become the wife of a future King of Britain. But Simon Jenkins, the former editor of The Times, London, provides a compelling contrarian view on the breast-beating that accompanies such…

Which great writer shares your star sign?

Most journalists look down on astrological predictions, although the smart ones will always make sure that newspaper supplements are at least getting their star sign right—when no one’s looking. On the pioneering Korean citizen journalism website ohmynews.com, Michael Lomas does a montly astrology column which looks at the zodiac through the eyes and lives of…

Are our dirty politicians bloody celibates?

The sex lives of politicians is one of the Indian media’s best-kept secrets. We go hammer and thongs at their fiscal corruption but are stunningly quiet at their physical corruption. The ostensible reason is that we have no business poking our pesky noses into their private lives as long as it doesn’t affect their public…

Billions of blue blistering barnacles!!!

Tintin is every journalist’s “dream journalist”. (Or should be.) The comicbook-reporter is never at a typewriter, never files stories, never takes orders, and never gets sued. Yet he goes around the world and beyond, meets the Yeti, and even manages to have his dog Snowy with him all the time. 2007 marks the 100th year…

Seven rules for reading the newspaper

On Salon, Garrison Keillor has a piece on the seven rules for reading a newspaper. Rule No. 2 is pretty instructive on what journalists think is newsworthy: Take your sweet time opening the paper. You already know what’s in it, boss man, you only read it so you’ll know how much other people know, so…

Have news channels lost their balance?

ANANTHA SHENOY K forwards a forward attributed to “Ninth Dimension” that has been doing the rounds for a couple of months but still must be read. *** The body of Major Manish Pitambare, who was shot dead at Anantnag, was cremated with full military honours at Thane on Wednesday. On Tuesday, a news swept across…

‘Norman Mailer ko gussa kaisa aata hain?’

Indian writers and book reviewers lead such an incestuous, you-scratch-my-back-I-will-write-a-blurb-for-your-debut-book existence that it is always a pleasure to encounter the likes of Norman Mailer. The old man’s The Castle in the Forest about Hitler is now out, and Mailer has reserved his worst for Michiko Kakutani, the New York Times‘ resident critic, who has built…

Should your daughter become a journalist?

Ours is a country where every cricketer thinks his son should naturally play cricket and represent the nation. In the film world, cinematic talent is per force presumed to flow in the blood. And doctors, of course, can’t even harbour the possibility that their sons and daughters may carry any other instrument in life but…

Very Useful Advice for young journalists

G V Krishnan, the former Times of India special correspondent, alerts us to an interview of Paul Steiger, the managing editor of Wall Street Journal. Question: What advice would you have for a young journalist starting his or her career today? Answer: Never be afraid of asking what seems like a dumb question. The dumb…

Why newspapers will never die

The death of newspapers has been predicted for about a century now. First, it was radio which was supposed to kill us. Then, television. Then the internet. Now, the mobile. Whatever. But, here’s the real reason why newspapers haven’t died—an anecdote reported by the Dorset County Chronicle, recorded by the novelist Thomas Hardy, and reproduced…

The most f***ing versatile word in the world

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: If any of you have any doubts about Rajneesh aka Osho being one of the most radical thinkers of the 20th century, here’s something that should help dispel any such lingering confusions. Rajneesh was known to speak extempore on a whole gamut of subjects during evening times at his commune in Pune…

Why mainstream is the real stream

An American newspaper “Pioneer Press”, based in St Paul, Minnesota, has published a very fine New Year editorial on being a newspaper, and underlined—with pride—its core mandate. Mainstream and proud of it: http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/editorial/16347432.htm ** We in the news business are accused by partisan advocates of dwelling in the “mainstream.” The “mainstream media” — “MSM” to…

Five ways to get a headstart this year

For strange but somewhat understandable reasons, journalists are sceptical of making new year resolutions. Maybe because things change in this profession, faster than we envisage them or without us being in control. Maybe because we are afraid fo failure; afraid of not sticking to them. Or maybe we are plain lazy, letting things happen to…

Does the reader always know best?

Illustrator Prakash S redraws a classic 1940s cartoon that captures the dilemma that every journalist faces at the hands of readers who thinks we are a bunch of buffoons who get everything wrong, and that we have a hidden agenda behind everything we do. The caption for this cartoon is the original. Almost. “WHY CAN’T…