Category Archives: For the record

On the day after Narendra Modi’s stunning triumph, the further you move away from the Hindi heartland, the more sober the newspaper front pages get

Narendra Modi‘s stunning victory in the 2019 general elections has resulted in a not unusual journalistic overkill that has been the hallmark of his first five years in office. The country’s biggest English newspaper has an all-Hindi headline, ‘Chowkidar’s Chamtkaar‘, but at least there is a semblance of sobriety in most the headlines and coverage…

56 years later, the last TV interview of India’s first prime minister offers a stark and sobering contrast to the first press “appearance” of the 14th PM

After 1,817 days—in his final week in office at the end of his five year term—prime minister Narendra Modi presented himself in a press conference at the BJP headquarters in Delhi—and took no questions. This extraordinary and advertised disdain for the freedom of the press to question a prime minister—freely and openly, without a script…

Wisdom at the ‘Sangam’: Journalist Jawid Laiq has called seven elections in the last 42 years with greater accuracy than exit pollsters just by dipping his finger in the Ganga. Will 2019 reverse that trend?

After watching Indians at a polling booth and failing to read their mind on which way they were inclined to vote, James Reston, the late executive editor of The New York Times, grandly concluded that an election was a secret communion between a voter and democracy—it is sacrilegious to pry.  Now, where “Scotty” wrote this…

“Nothing less than a landslide against Narendra Modi can redeem us as a nation and pull us out of the rut of neutrality and nonchalance”: R. Rajagopal, editor, ‘The Telegraph’

“A city can be judged by the quality of its water and its newspapers,” is a quote often attributed to the playwright Arthur Miller. The day after BJP hoodlums went on the rampage in Calcutta, The Telegraph shows it is the city’s conscience-keeper, speaking out clearly (and courageously) against BJP’s advertised ‘goondagiri’, which lives off the quiescence…

Why the Malayalam newspapers ‘Kerala Kaumudi’ and ‘Mangalam’ should apologise to Razik Raheem and his wife, for ruining their lives, careers and reputations

In April 2019, the Kerala High Court acquitted five men charged in the so-called “Panayikkulam terror camp case” of 2006. Nizamudeen, Razik Raheem, Shammas, Ansar and P.A. Shaduli, were among the 17 who had been arrested for allegedly organising a secret meeting of the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India in Ernakulam district. They were…

All indications are that India is heading for a major economic slowdown, but it is unlikely you will get that impression reading the so-called business newspapers

The less said about India’s business newspapers the better, but sometimes it has to be reiterated that they live in an alternate universe, all of their own making. Not one of them ever breaks a scam, although the state is seemingly receding from the lives of people and business houses are taking over. Most are…

How five Prime Ministers before the ‘Divider-in-Chief’ dealt with the media—from the pen of a Kannadiga who (honourably) served four of them, under three different political formulations

Today is the second death anniversary of I. Ramamohan Rao, the genial Kannadiga who served as the principal spokesman of the government of India under four prime ministers and under three different political formulations. There is an advertisement (above) in the Delhi papers to mark the date. Rao, who like most Dakshina Kannada boys of…

Unused to real journalists meeting him without questions pre-scripted by the PMO, a defensive Narendra Modi mentions ‘The Indian Express’ ten times in his interview with ‘The Indian Express’

*** Prime minister Narendra Modi‘s interview with The Indian Express has been totally overshadowed by Time magazine calling him “Divider-in-Chief” on its cover, and the NewsNation TV “interview” in which he reveals how he fooled Pakistan’s radars by going in for the air strike in Balakot on a cloudy night. But the Express interview with…

From ‘what’ to ‘why’ and ‘what’s next’: four ways in which robots and Artificial Intelligence will change journalism in the future, according to Bloomberg News’ editor-in-chief

From Johannes Gutenberg‘s printing press to Tim Berners Lee‘s world wide web, and the telegram, radio and television in between, journalism has been constantly shaped and changed by technology—and not always for the worse. In the 21st century, the news media business is grappling, like other industries, with the prospect of machine learning and Artificial…

It is World Press Freedom Day today. It is a good day to salute Kalki, Padmini and Kajal: the transgender media personnel who also serve in their own quiet ways

May 3 is World Press Freedom day, to celebrate “the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.” “3 May acts as a reminder to…

“The ‘Golden Hour’ is the most important hour in your life”: On the third anniversary of his second life, six lessons Sachin Kalbag learnt when he collapsed in ‘The Hindu’ newsroom

Journalists strut around as if they are masters of the universe. As if nothing can happen to them. As if nothing can stop them. As if the Chief Editor Up Above (or down below) has different plans for them, unlike other mortals. Not so, of course. Sachin Kalbag was just 42 and in the prime…

“Did Reuters evaluate or examine the practices, political affiliations, and reputation of ANI prior to expanding its strategic partnership in June 2018?”: Full text of veterans’ complaint

A “group of retired officers of the Indian armed forces” has written to Thomson Reuters, flagging concerns over the political motivations of its “India partner”, Asian News International (ANI), in its coverage of a veterans’ memorandum to the President of India. Below is the full text of the email, sent on April 23, with the…

“Slide in media freedom coincides with rise of right-wing groups and governments”: ‘Deccan Herald’ on India’s fall on World Press Freedom index, to 140

The Bangalore-based daily Deccan Herald has an editorial on India’s continuing slide on the World Press Freedom (WPI) index. The index, compiled by the Paris-based advocacy group, Reporters Without Borders, shows India’s position slipping from 133 to 136, to 138, to 140 in the last four years, out of 180 countries in the world: “There…

Out of 180 countries in the world, only 40 have worse media freedom than India. And all South Asian countries are ahead of us except Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Media freedom in India has slipped a further two points to 140 and is back at 2014 levels when Narendra Modi‘s government took charge. India is behind Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka on the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, compiled by the Paris-based media advocacy group Reporters sans Frontiers (RSF). The only…

Pinch yourself: BJP’s Mysore candidate Pratap Simha—a well-read newspaper columnist—had taken out a pre-publication gag order against 49 media organisations two months before “sex audio” went viral today

*** The BJP candidate for the Bangalore South constituency in the 2019 general elections Tejasvi Surya hit national headlines on March 29 when he secured an ex-parte temporary injunction against 49 media organisations from a Bangalore court, after allegations of sexual assault and misbehaviour against him began doing the rounds on social media. After editorials in The Indian…

EC’s poll code bars ‘The Times of India’ from displaying an interview with Narendra Modi. But the rule does not apply to ‘Vijaya Vani’ and ‘Dighvijaya News’, the Kannada newspaper and TV channel owned by former BJP MP Vijay Sankeshwar.

The Times of India has an “interview” with prime minister Narendra Modi on the eve of the second phase of #GeneralElections2019, but it is only available in hard copy, in the print editions of the newspaper. On its website, ToI has blanked out the PM’s interview with the line: “In view of the 48-hour silence…

“We have very few checks and balances. Almost none. That is a dangerous, and depressing, situation to be in”: Tony Joseph, author of the most important book ever written by an Indian journalist

There was a time when young journalists in Bombay used to hear, in awe, that Aveek Sarkar, the paterfamilias of the Anandabazar Patrika (ABP) group, secretly considered Tony Joseph as the “ideal journalist”. That was high praise coming from the sophisticated owner of Anandabazar Patrika, Business Standard, and The Telegraph newspapers, and Sunday, Business World, and Sports World magazines.…

The thread that ties the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919, a BBC correspondent posted in India, and the lifeblood of good journalists, Old Monk rum

Of the hundreds of thousands of people who have peered into this well in Amritsar over the last 100 years—a mandatory patriotic pause on the way to (or back from) the more spiritual experience next door at The Golden Temple—few have been more moved than a journalist who served three years in India. Justin Rowlatt,…

How N. Ram’s reporting of the #Rafale scandal in ‘The Hindu’ sped across the digital world and into the phones of readers before the Narendra Modi government could put its pants on

Behind the investigation of India’s two biggest defence scandals—the Bofors deal under Rajiv Gandhi and the Rafale deal under Narendra Modi—is one common newspaper and one common byline, The Hindu and N. Ram. But with one big difference: the first scandal was reported when hard-copy, ink-and-paper journalism was king; the latter in the digital age, when…

‘Imphal Free Press’ editor demands Rs one crore “reparation” for TV journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem for loss of reputation, health, income—and a monumental miscarriage of justice

Kishorchandra Wangkhem, the Manipur cable news TV journalist who was jailed in November 2018 for 12 months under the National Security Act (NSA) for Facebook posts that mocked the state’s chief minister, has been ordered to be released. To no one’s surprise, Wangkhem’s incarceration on bogus charges was received coolly by mainland Indian journalists and…