All posts by churumuri

Coffee. Cricket. Crosswords. Movies. Music. Media.

Congress reopens a socialist chestnut in post-liberalised India; says will curb monopolies and cross media ownership if it comes to power in 2019

The manifesto of the Congress for #GeneralElections2019 has seven paragraphs on what the party promises to do should it come to power. It talks of the usual things: strengthening the Press Council of India, working towards a code of conflict, etc, but there is no mention of more important and germane issues like decriminalising defamation.…

‘Facebook Live’: 14 journalists from six countries on three continents: Global Digital Conversation on Media Freedom

14 journalists from six countries on three continents join in a six-hour ‘Facebook Live’ global conversation on media freedom. The participants: Alan Rusbridger; Amantha Perera; Abhinandan Sekhri; David Fahrenthold; Faith Sidlow; Ian Jack; Ivor Gaber; Marie Elisabeth Muller; Namrata Sharma; Pratik Sinha; Richard Sambrook; Vinod K. Jose. The event is hosted by Asian College of…

‘The Hindu’ calls gag order on 49 media organisations in Tejasvi Surya case “poll-time censorship”; could set precedent to prevent media from doing its job

The Hindu has an editorial on the open-ended “temporary injunction” obtained by BJP’s Bangalore South candidate, Tejasvi Surya against 49 media organisations. It says the pre-publication gag order is contrary to the law and the Constitution; violative of free speech; and authorises prior restraint. “Even if the argument is that the order only prevents ‘defamatory’…

L’affaire Tejasvi Surya: “Media isn’t losing its freedoms so much as surrendering its freedoms. As a group it is unwilling to challenge the restrictions being imposed on them”

The temporary injunction obtained by BJP candidate for Bangalore South, Tejasvi Surya, against 49 newspapers, news channels and digital platforms has met with a strange radio silence from the affected parties. None of them have (so far) filed objections. No media body in Bangalore or elsewhere has thought it fit to react to such a…

If a fake news website deserves freedom to concoct an alternate universe for bhakts, bots and WhatsApp uncles, why cannot legitimate media organisations probe and report a BJP candidate’s past?

Media organisations seem so tired and bored of (repeatedly) fighting for their freedoms that not one of them has publicly raised their voice against an extraordinary injunction issued by a Bangalore court barring them from reporting on troubling questions concerning the private life of BJP’s Bangalore South candidate, Tejasvi Surya. The only paper to have editorially…

12 front-page headlines from ‘The Telegraph’ in March pose a simple question: is it journalism? Or, is it trolling Narendra Modi and the holy cows of the BJP? (And why not?)

The front page of The Telegraph, Calcutta, has its own fan base in social media. In the eyes of some, the single-city broadsheet newspaper has carved a space for itself even among distant non-readers by swerving from the straight and narrow (and predictable), by saying like it is, which most mainstream media do not. But…

When Aveek Sarkar and Vir Sanghvi met a scandal-ridden Rajiv Gandhi in 1988, they could ask 208 questions and supplementaries, including one, ahem, on #NewIndia. That is called an “interview”, Narendra Modi and PMO please note.

  *** “In the first year of his prime ministership, Rajiv Gandhi was easily accessible to the press and gave candid, free-wheeling interviews. By the second year the candour was beginning to wear thin. And by the time the scandals surrounding his friends and the regime surfaced, he had retreated into his shell.” Thus begins…

How a newspaper Editor inspired a spunky English mom to name her first son Ranga—the amazing life and times of possibly India’s first woman columnist, Freda Bedi

Who was the first woman to write a column, and a stridently feminist column at that, in a mainstream Indian newspaper? Unless there were others before her in the languages, could the answer be Freda Bedi, the mother of the actor Kabir Bedi, who wrote in The Tribune, Lahore, in pre-partition India? *** In his…

Pritish Nandy was the reason Daler Mehndi made the hit number ‘Tunak Tunak Tun’. As at least one answer in every interview in the ‘Illustrated Weekly of India’ would start, “You know, Pritish.”

The big, booming voice of Daler Mehndi, the superb sufi and bhangra singer, no longer rocks pubs, clubs and dinner parties. Bollywood has moved on to his brother Mika Singh, and Daler’s own legal tangles with alleged human trafficking have cast a dark shadow over him. But, Holi Hai! In an interview to Seemi Pasha of…

Ahead of elections, a political party in Tamil Nadu which owns a TV news channel seeks to gag the state’s No.2 channel ‘Puthiya Thalaimurai’, whose owners run educational institutions

Can a TV news channel promise, before hand, not to air content that a political party or politician might later consider false or defamatory, or both? The answer is obvious, but not so in the bizarre world of Tamil politics and media where conflict of interest is a recurring theme. Last week, the Pattali Makkal…

‘The Daily Telegraph’ journalist who found Nirav Modi in London was, er, not quite looking for the diamond fraudster that Narendra Modi had happily let go

Journalism doesn’t always happen by design. When The Daily Telegraph found the fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi hailing a taxi in London, and peppered him with questions, it was not because a crack investigative team was actively looking for the man who had defrauded banks in India of Rs 13,000 crore. It was because the paper’s magazine…

100 years ago, today, the greatest Editor-in-Chief to have walked this planet had a dream, an epiphany—in the home of the owner of ‘The Hindu’—that changed India’s course

One hundred years ago, today, India’s struggle for independence from the British took a decisive and inspired turn, when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi had a dream that would catapult him towards ‘Mahatma’-hood. On March 18, 1919, Gandhi met C.Rajagopalachari in the City that used to be known as Madras, in a home on Cathedral Road that…

Darryl D’Monte, the Bandra boy whose grandfather probably owned half of Bandra, but took a local train to and from work, even when he was Editor of ‘Indian Express’ and ‘The Times of India’

Indian Journalism Review records with regret the passing of Darryl D’Monte, former resident of The Indian Express and The Times of India in Bombay. He was 75. Both papers carried obituaries of D’Monte, an environmental crusader who, even as Editor, travelled to and from Bandra by local train because cars polluted the air. ToI graciously…

The Jalgaon freelance journalist whose alacrity ensured that his two sons did not spend 25 years in jail on “terror” charges—but did not live to see their acquittal

In 1984, when Indira Gandhi was assassinated, her two Sikh bodyguards were quickly arrested and convicted. But there was a third man who was found guilty: Kehar Singh. His only fault was that one of the two assassins had visited his house, but he hadn’t informed the police. A campaign was launched to save Kehar…

What is common to Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Castro, Nixon, Putin, Kim, Trump—and the 56 inches of Narendra Modi? The belief that the press is the enemy of the people.

For all his soaring oratory—and his 56″ inch chest—Narendra Modi will go down as the first prime minister in Indian history who did not hold a single press conference during his five years in office. Modi did meet individual TV journalists, like Arnab Goswami of Republic TV and Smita Prakash of ANI, and he did…

You are what you watch: Gujaratis consume the least amount of TV news in India; Assamese the most. To no one’s surprise, Malayalees catch a lot.

Indians spend a little over 30 minutes of their day, on average, watching news on television, according to the 2018 yearbook of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). Viewers in the northeastern states watch nearly twice as much news as Gujaratis. Although news accounts for just 7% of total TV viewership, news channels attract more…

News connoisseurs to news nibblers: how BBC is approaching journalism in Indian languages with five words fast disappearing from our ‘bhasha’: trust, credibility, strength, depth, quality

If the English market is tough for serious players in Indian journalism, keeping the head above the water in the languages is a humongous challenge. So immense, so expensive, and so impossible is the task of attracting readers and viewers, and keeping them engaged with quality content, that nearly nobody is attempting to do it.…

What happens in the Northeast shouldn’t stay in the Northeast: ‘The Indian Express’ stands shoulder to shoulder with ‘The Shillong Times’ and tells Meghalaya HC to back off

Media solidarity sees a dramatic upsurge when biggies like NDTV are raided, or The Hindu is attacked. Industry bodies gallantly bounce into the picture and flex their notional muscle. Protest marches are taken out; editorials written. Not so when smaller players, especially in Kashmir or the Northeast, are affected. Or, language publications. Or, individuals. Thankfully,…

Made in Sivakasi: How newspapers front-paged the announcement of general elections 2019 in a mad riot of colours, cartoons, graphics, boxes, numbers

The dog’s meal that is Indian newspaper front pages, on big news days. Text, graphics, pictures, cartoons, photo-illustrations, boxes, highlights, numbers, colours, all in one right royal mess, with nothing to hold the eye. Even on a such as this, the announcement of #GeneralElections2019, there were newspapers like Dainik Bhaskar (Hindi), Divya Bhaskar (Gujarati), and…

100% more editorials, 225% more opinion pieces: How Pothan Joseph’s ‘Dawn’ beat Pothan Joseph’s ‘Deccan Herald’ 77-49 and demonstrated the true role of a newspaper as a conscience-keeper

*** The hollowing out of Indian news media—from being serious, agenda-setting, conscience-keepers, to frothy, gutless, market-driven beasts without a soul—is all too obvious, but it was never more apparent than during the recent India-Pakistan kerfuffle. As the two nuclear powers peered into the abyss, there was a barely a commentary in any part of the…