Former New Yorker and Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown:
“Young journalists [should] go work in India. There are so many great newspapers in India. I go quite a lot, actually. It has a very vibrant newspaper and magazine culture. There’s a lot of energy in Delhi, a lot of newsmagazines. It’s a very literary culture, it’s great.”
Illustration: courtesy E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express
Read the full article: Young journalists should go work in India
Also read: ‘Magazines, like mushrooms, should grow in the dark‘
A sizeable number in the English newspaper industry are hangers-on, either because they cannot put themselves to better use (like chopping wood), or because they lack self-respect and stick in an organisation for they have nowhere else to go. This, knowing full well that they are no good in the field anyway! But will they admit it? No, simply because they don’t recognise their incapability and prefer to live in a make-believe world instead.
Their mediocrity is what keeps them employed and that’s what the bosses want, nutcases who’ll do their bidding without a whisper. They euphemistically term such duds ‘team players’ these days! In other words, one must not possess the capacity to think. Such malleable cowards are no threat to anyone, anywhere; least of all to the employer. If once in a while there appears someone on the scene with a definite plan to change the way things are, he or she is looked down upon and scorned.
It’s safer to side with the majority, right? Which is why I am a firm believer that mediocrity rules. Look around, there are so many of them, this mindless mass of mediocres. Hence they set the rules.
I have come across self-proclaimed geniuses who cannot pen a single line without committing a plethora of mistakes. These cretins walk around with huge tomes just for effect. If you were to engage them in a conversation their ‘knowledge’ would soon be laid threadbare; so why not strut around with a classic under your armpit instead? That’s a better way of letting people assume you are intelligent?
What’s more, I get totally agitated when I see the bylines of ordinary folk voicing their revolting ideas in horrendous English. There seems to be a dearth of good ideas (read thinking minds). Every article is couched in mediocrity and is banal to the hilt. I feel offended and take exception to bad writing as though I were a tutor to the writer. I can’t digest the unimaginative storylines/reports, stereotypical headlines and what-have-you. This has resulted in considerable domestic discord, for, my Mother is tired of my pointing out errors in the newspapers everyday.
From what I’ve seen of the exalted scribesmen and women I don’t think that English journalism in Bangalore will get very far. I always felt ostracised while at the newspapers I worked in. Before I joined the field I had falsely assumed that I would rub shoulders with brilliant writers and so on. I must admit that I didn’t expect to stumble across a H. G. Wells or a George Orwell…
But what kind of people did one get to meet? Here’s a sample of the ilk I detest and their mindset. Crude souls who have a thorough knowledge of the hippest place to hang out and nothing more! Visits to the Bangalore Press Club left me gasping for a breath of fresh literate air.
I was shocked to see groups of juveniles clutching ready-to-report press releases huddled together, gossiping aimlessly; often ‘triumphantly’ quaffing a peg or two displaying a ‘been-there-done-that’ demeanour.
They looked so smug in their delusion of having ‘arrived’ when in truth they’d never embarked on any kind of journey. During a few of my vain attempts to befriend them I discovered their conversations — peppered with mundane thoughts and talk of vulgar exploits — were rich in soporific value.
I felt all the more alienated and didn’t want to have anything to do with such hollow people. For this I was branded arrogant, aloof…
To be honest, I don’t think journalism is left with the capacity to provide the happiness and satisfaction that writers yearn for. That’s the greatest tragedy of them all.
Someone has said: “In the republic of mediocrity, genius is dangerous.” I feel your angst, your pain… and I wish you the best.
Thank you Mysore Peshva.
Despite my sense of resignation, I hold fast to Keats’ maxim: There is a budding tomorrow in midnight.
“There are so many great newspapers in India” …”It’s a very literary culture, it’s great”, says Brown!
Which India is she talking about?