Category Archives: A bit of fun

‘Sub ka haath’: A typo in ‘The Indian Express’ that is a textbook definition of a ‘Freudian Slip’ in l’affaire M.J. Akbar

In the mid-1980s, when it still saw itself as a newspaper in the news business, The Times of India launched a annual contest for advertisements created by advertisers and agencies not for profit but in service of the public. The shortlisted entries—on keeping families small, streets clean, etc—were published in a separate pullout, along with…

With 25 letters in his name, the new Editor of ‘Mint’ gives an old warhorse some competition, but in vain

The business newspaper Mint has a new Editor: Sruthijith K.K.. The former Media Nama, Huff Post, Economic Times journalist replaces Vinay Kamat at the helm. The new Editor’s full Aadhaar-PAN Card-passport name appears in the paper’s imprintline today, just as Vinay’s did as Vaman Vassudev Kamat. At 25 letters, “Sruthijith Kurupichankandy” is arguably the longest…

How a speech of Anita Pratap glorifying V. Prabhakaran ended up in ‘Methagu’, a biopic on the dreaded LTTE chief

Anita Pratap, the Bangalore University journalism student whose byline—when bylines still had value—adorned Sunday and India Today magazines, Time and CNN, is in the news. Pratap, reputedly the first journalist to interview Velupillai Prabhakaran, when he lived in Chennai in 1985, features in Methagu (His Excellency), a biopic on the slain supremo of the Liberation…

How a London tabloid reporter’s interview paved the way for Argentina’s president to be India’s Republic Day guest after the Falklands War

Peregrine Worsthorne, the former Editor of The Sunday Telegraph, London, passed away recently. In The Telegraph, Calcutta, the paper’s fantastic London correspondent Amit Roy remembers this lovely anecdote of Worsthorne. “Another charming and eloquent editor of my acquaintance, Sir Peregrine Worsthorne, who was briefly editor of The Sunday Telegraph, has been in the news. “Perry”, whose…

45 years after Indira Gandhi’s Emergency, ‘The Hindu’ publishes an ad announcing the death of media in Delhi, in 2020, under Narendra Modi

When Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency in June 1975, a young journalist took out a 22-word classified advertisement in The Times of India in Bombay. It read: “O’Cracy, D.E.M., beloved husband of T. Ruth, loving father of L.I. Bertie, brother of Faith, Hope and Justicia, died on June 26.” The journalist was Ashok Mahadevan, then…

‘Lone Wolf’: the former reporter who is now worth Rs 3.7 lakh crore

The Financial Times has a front-page anchor on Zhong Shanshan, the founder of a bottled water company, who has become China’s third-richest man, after his stock listed on the Hong Kong. His fortune is now estimated at over $50 billion. Shanshan was once a reporter who later sold pills to treat erectile dysfunction.

The advertisement that Kamala Harris’s grandparents placed in ‘The Illustrated Weekly of India’ in the early 1960s

When the Democratic Party’s vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris‘s mother Shyamala Gopalan, a Tam-Brahm, decided to tie the knot with Donald Harris, a Jamaican black, her grandparents took out an advertisement in The Illustrated Weekly of India, the now-defunct magazine from The Times of India group. Screenshot: courtesy ToI

‘The Times of India’ news report from Kerala of a Gulf prostitution racket that inspired a Bollywood film

While reading The Times of India in 2008, writer-director Faruk Kabir stumbled upon a four-column story headlined “Man ‘buys’ back wife from pimp“. It was a story filed by Ananthakrishnan G. from the paper’s Kochi edition, of a 32-year-old from Malappuram who lands in Muscat with Rs 6,000 to save his wife. The woman, who…

“Mr Prime Minister, why do you look so unkempt?”: How Amar Singh rescued Karan Thapar after a testy interview with Chandra Shekhar 30 years ago

Never speak ill of the dead, maybe, but a week after his death, Amar Singh would go down in most people’s books as a fixer, as an operator, whose chief asset was an enviable (and enjoyable) collection of audio and video CDs—and a PABX machine which recorded every call. But, in Delhi, a city of…

Narendra Modi and Barbra Streisand: a short story on how not to bury a secret, in 12 newspaper screenshots

Besides all her other achievements, the American singer-actor Barbra Streisand contributed the “Streisand Effect” to the dictionary of the digital age, when she sued a photographer for distributing aerial pictures of her mansion, in 2003. At the time she sued the lensman, Kenneth Adelman, the photographs had been viewed just six times—twice by her own…

The top business newspaper Editor who had failed in three different ‘third languages’ by the time he was 12!

Editors are ever so eager to project themselves as repositories of knowledge, those who have never put a foot wrong in their academic lives, those who know it all. What a relief to see T.N. Ninan, the well-regarded former Editor of The Economic Times and Business Standard, admit to some decidedly human frailties. In his…

Coming soon: a Nationalist Editors Guild, not “seeped in an ethical and idealistic world of journalism”

Nothing is more galling for a reporter or an Editor—or a “reporter’s editor”—to be accused of not doing her job as expected by her employers, promoters and their puppeteers. Amazingly, that is exactly what the Editors Guild of India is being accused of. When, in fact, it has been the first organisation in the world…

For Your Eyes Only: The 15-point note senior journos received on WhatsApp on how to interpret the India-China “mutual disengagement” for their audience

Once upon a time, Indira Gandhi called journalists “glorified stenographers“, but at least there was some dignity of labour in that epithet. For, stenos physically take notes of what is dictated to them, and then take the trouble to transcribe it. The Narendra Modi age has robbed journalism of even that iota of respect. “Headline management” has made the…

When a business journalist—a former media advisor to the prime minister, no less—cannot buy a bottle of booze, it’s news

All the booze that’s fit to print. Former Business Standard editor Sanjaya Baru, the former media advisor to prime minister Manmohan Singh, and a policy wonk who has a solution for every problem on earth, falls victim to an online scam. Screenshots: courtesy The Hindu, Amar Ujala, Navbharat Times *** Sanjay Daru got cheated ₹24,000…

A well-travelled story is one which goes from Rediff to ‘Deccan Chronicle’ to ‘Prabhat Khabar’ to ‘India Today’ to ANI in 4 days flat, with a fiction writer somewhere in between

The heroic courage displayed by Indian soldiers while combating their Chinese counterparts on June 15, the day 20 of their brethren were killed literally at the hands of the Chinese, is now a project fully underway. Across platforms—a news portal (Rediff.com), an English newspaper (Deccan Chronicle), a Hindi newspaper (Prabhat Khabar), a news channel (India…

Barkha Dutt’s father and the Netflix founder Marc Randolph’s father have one thing in common: a hobby that hooked them for life

Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph‘s father was a nuclear engineer who, after returning home every day, would slip into overalls, head into the basement and assemble toy trains. The paragraphs above appear in Randolph’s book That will never work. *** In today’s Sunday Mid-Day, there is a similar story of TV journalist Barkha Dutt‘s father, S.P.…

How do English newspaper readers look? And how do they compare to their Hindi brethren? A visual representation.

What is the profile of readers of English newspapers compared to those who consume newspapers in the languages? Over the last week, as distribution has eased in its key market, Bombay, the Times group has run a campaign on its news pages in The Times of India and Navbharat Times, to “reclaim the city”. The…

‘Onions suck out bacteria. Neem sanitiser works for 15 days. Brahmins in Bhopal were saved by prayers over fire”: advice from a top Kannada publisher, an ex-BJP MP, to fight Coronavirus

Vijay Sankeshwar, the transport operator who founded Vijaya Karnataka and Vijaya Vani, shocking the Deccan Herald group and The Times of India group respectively, has offered his sage advice on how to combat #Coronavirus. Dripping with desi and swadeshi, the advice, although well intentioned, is questionable for its science. Sankeshwar, who was awarded the Padma…

From Chinese-made phones and Chinese-made laptops, on programs sponsored by Chinese unicorns, a new weapon of mass distraction is unleashed on day 69

India is rocketing up the COVID charts (now No. 7 in the world) , but somehow, as befits a nation on day 69 of the lockdown, someone, somewhere seems to have decided that there is only one way of defeating it: by boycotting Chinese products. The ostensible provocation, of course, is the Chinese incursion across…

In the good old days, when journalism was still fun, before the nerds and “grads” arrived and sucked the oxygen out of the newsroom…

Khushwant Singh said he cooked up the weekly astrological predictions for The Illustrated Weekly of India for a couple of weeks when the designated crystalball gazer was rendered hors de combat. The claim was difficult to ascertain given the general record of its source. In the Bombay tabloid Mid-Day, its former staffer Mark Manuel recounts…