Category Archives: Advice and Guidance

What to do when a rival hijacks your story

How should a newspaper which has been pursuing a scandal for over a decade react when a rival journalist scoops a confessional interview with the personality at the centre of the story? Or looks likely to lob softball questions? If you are Rupert Murdoch, you advice the interloper. Oprah Winfrey‘s interview with cycling champ turned…

What Uday Shankar learnt from a Delhi widow

Star India CEO Uday Shankar, a former editor at Aaj Tak, on the defining moment of his journalistic career, from the 8th anniversary special issue of Impact. By UDAY SHANKAR I remember an incident almost 10 years ago, that brought home to me the power of the media and its ability to impact people’s lives.…

Mamata Banerjee’s 9 commandments for journos

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, that great upholder of freedom of expression—think of cartoonists, college students, farmers and others who have been called “Maoists”—has some words of advice for journalists. Media creates “news pollution“, according to her; media spreads “canards and exaggerates negative news“; media “glorifies rape“. Therefore it should do the nine things…

Journalism lesson #1: No one’s indispensable

Tabish Khair, journalist turned poet, in Open magazine: You were with The Times of India in Delhi for a little les than five years. How has your life as a journalist shaped your writing? You lose your fear of deadlines, and learn to keep them. You realise that the world is far wider and weirder…

Umberto Eco has a piece of advice for journalists

How long should news stories and features be in an era of short attention spans? Does serious stuff have an audience when there are a million diversions? Should we only give what readers and viewers want? Is it all about boiling it down for the lowest common denominator? The questions facing journalism are eternal. The…

What they don’t teach you in journalism schools

To the long list of infirmities journalists are justly notorious for—roving eyes, loose tongues, failing lungs, pot bellies, bad livers, body odour, etc—it is time to add another, uncouth behaviour. Young or old, male or female, upmarket or downmarket, journalists now chew gum, jarda, etc as if they are all trying to disprove the 36th US president Lyndon…

Right or left, some hometruths from the old pros

Chandan Mitra, editor-in-chief of The Pioneer, speaking at the annual convocation of the Pioneer media school, in New Delhi on Monday: “Despite the advent of new mediums of mass communication or news dissemination over the years, print journalism is still a vital force and journalism is defined by the print media… “Students are free to…

ARUN SHOURIE: The three lessons of failure

Bouncing back from failure isn’t easy, but some people do, as an Economic Times on Sunday cover story shows this week. The former journalist and Union minister, Arun Shourie: WHEN I FAILED: “I am the only editor to be dismissed not once but twice from The Indian Express.  The first time, Indira Gandhi, put such…

How Dayanita Singh became a photographer

The renowned photographer Dayanita Singh in an interview with Nadine Kreisberger, in the Indian Express‘ Sunday magazine, Eye: “I was 18 and had gone to a Zakir Hussain concert. I was prevented from taking photographs by the organiser. I was angry and let Zakir know about it. He suggested I photograph him while he rehearsed…

‘Credibility is like virginity and it has been lost’

The veteran journalist, columnist and author Kuldip Nayar in The Sunday Guardian: “Credibility is like virginity. It exists or it does not. Unfortunately, some top names in Indian journalism have lost their credibility…. They behaved like power brokers and crossed the Lakshman rekha between legitimate news gathering and lobbying. It is like the fence eating…

Pablo Bartholomew: Cynical and proud of it!

Long years in the profession—watching vicious vipers making merry—should leave most professional Indian journalists deeply suspicious of the human species. Yet, rare is the journo honest enough to admit he has become a cynic in the process. “Sceptic yes, cynic no,” is the cop-out answer. Not so Pablo Bartholomew. The renowned photographer uses the C-word…

The grass is always greener on the other side

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,…

‘Better to be over-fair than not give full picture’

Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal reporter and author of The Cure, Geeta Anand, in an interview with Meher Marfatia in Housecalls magazine: Q: Are there are any rules for rookie reporters coming wide-eyed into the field? A: I’d dvise young journalists to write the truth as it is, not like a movie screenplay. Never lie…

Media fellowships for tuberculosis research

PRESS RELEASE: A Madras-based non-profit organisation has announced fellowships for journalists to undertake an indepth study of tuberculosis. The organisation, REACH, working in tuberculosis prevention, awareness and care, has announced the REACH-Lilly MDR-TB Partnership Media Fellowships. The fellowship programme will provide journalists from local language newspapers across India with support to undertake in-depth analysis of…

‘Dubai is a haven of information for journalists’

Dubai is a recurring theme in the ongoing tragicomedy in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Shashi Tharoor, who has to give up his ministership, was a consultant with a Dubai firm before taking the plunge in electoral politics. His close friend Sunanda Pushkar lives there. The new head of the Cochin IPL franchise Harshad Mehta…

‘Indian media doesn’t value factual reporting’

Of all the documentaries built around the November 26, 2008 siege of Bombay, none has quite matched the buzz created by Dan Reed for Channel 4. Partly because it was the first of the lot; largely because it contained eyepopping footage including of the lone surviving terrorist Ajmal Kasab (in picture) being interrogated. In an…

William Safire’s 18 steps to better writing

It’s not known if William Safire, who wrote the “On Language” column in the New York Times Magazine for 30 years till earlier this month, was conversant with the ways of social media, but it is safe to presume that he would have been horrified at how his demise last night was coveyed to readers…