Category Archives: For the record

‘Deccan Herald’ proves that the distance between Bangalore and Imphal (2,162 km) is shorter than Delhi-Imphal (1,712 km)

The distance between Delhi and Imphal, as the crow flies, is 1,712 km. But Manipur’s capital is light years from the national capital for the sauntering cows and fattened calves grazing on the saffron lawns of Lutyens Dilli. While a loosely used label to describe ANI editor Smita Prakash got every one from BJP publicity…

Why India’s position is not rising on the World Press Freedom Index: exhibit 139 and exhibit 140

Since modern Indian civilisation began in 2014, the Guinness Book of Records has kind-of replaced the Constitution of India and the Bhagwad Gita as the epics to emulate. Under Narendra Modi, the preferred goals are Olympian—citius, altius, fortius. Therefore, the world’s largest khichdi, the world’s tallest statue, the world’s largest yoga gathering, the world’s longest monologue…

Why has the Narendra Modi government stopped counting the attacks on, and murders of, journalists?

*** “The government does not have data on how many journalists were murdered or attacked since 2014 as the National Crime Records Bureau does not compile data divided by professions. However, the government is in the process of collating this information.” This was minister of state for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore‘s bland, bureaucratic reply…

Shajila Ali Fathima: the “unpliable” journalist to whose defence Arun Jaitley, the Editors Guild, and other Delhi gasbags did not rush

On the day “New Delhi”—as in Arun Jaitley, the Editors Guild of India, and other motormouths and gasbags—were angst-ing over Congress president Rahul Gandhi terming ANI editor Smita Prakash a “pliable journalist”, a more horrifying drama was playing out in faraway Kerala. A real physical assault. BJP-RSS hooligans attacked journalists and camerapersons covering their continuing…

Editors Guild of India expresses ‘concern’ for an Editor caught in a multi-crore chit fund scam in which lakhs of poor were taken for a right royal ride

*** Suman Chhattopadhyay, the editor of Ei Samay, the Bengali newspaper published by The Times of India group was arrested last month by the CBI for embezzlement of money in the chit fund scam. And the Editors Guild of India has issued this extraordinary statement. The Editors Guild of India has expressed concern over the…

Why ‘Rajasthan Patrika’ decided to boycott all news of Vasundhara Raje

Barring honourable exceptions like The Telegraph, Calcutta, mainstream English media has happily abdicated its principal duty in a democracy: to stand up and speak truth to power; to reveal the worts; to expose the hypocrises; to oppose the brutalities. To paraphrase L.K. Advani‘s oft-quoted comment from the Emergency era: “When asked to bend, the media crawled…

Vinod Mehta, the Last Great Editor, 1942-2015

sans serif records with deep regret the passing of the Editorial Chairman of Outlook magazine, Vinod Mehta, in New Delhi on Sunday, 8 March 2015. He was 73 years old and had been ailing for some time. He leaves behind his wife Sumita Paul, their canine companion, “Editor”, two brothers and a sister—and legions of…

When a veteran reporter heard he had the big ‘C’

Journalists see plenty of disease, despair and death in the line of duty. Even if we do not entertain prospects of immortality, our near-constant exposure to the dark and grim side of life somewhat inures us to its only certainty. But what when it hits home? Krishna Vattam, for 40 years the Mysore correspondent of…

A legend who told MLAs where to get off: RIP

sans serif records the demise of S. Balasubramanian, the chairman of the Tamil weekly Ananda Vikatan—who also served as its editor, managing director and publisher for 50 years—in Madras on Friday, December 19. He was 78. Mr Balasubramanian hit the national headlines in 1987 when he was sentenced, arrested and jailed for refusing to apologise…

‘Being a South Indian, his Hindi was immaculate’

sans serif records the demise of J.V. Raman, the Delhi University economics professor who read the news in Hindi, on Doordarshan, back in the days when the state-owned channel was the only TV news vehicle. Mr Raman taught at the capital’s Rajdhani College, whose website proudly records that he was among the college teachers associated…

India’s first woman journalist Vidya Munshi, RIP

sans serif records the demise of Vidya Munshi, arguably India’s first woman journalist, in Calcutta on Monday, 7 July 2014.  She was 94 years old. Born in Bombay, she worked in several newspapers and magazines, including a ten-year stint with Russy Karanjia‘s Blitz. A 2006 profile of Ms Munshi in The Telegraph, Calcutta, noted: “At…

A rash I&B ministry “advisory” to TV, print media

When he was health minister in the UPA’s first term, Anbumani Ramadoss made it mandatory for movies and TV channels to show the statutory warning against smoking and drinking each time someone on screen lit a cigarette or sipped a drink. The Telegraph reports that the NDA’s information and broadcasting ministry under Prakash Javadekar has…

Indian Express, India Today teach NYT a lesson

To say that the Indian media is in a tizzy of seismic proportions would qualify as the understatement of the year. So far. Editors are quitting, being sacked, or finding ever new ways of being quietly eased out. Promoters are exiting their dream projects after acquiescing to giant business houses. Reporters are making discreet enquiries.…

Shekhar Gupta’s farewell letter to Express staff

The following is the full text of the letter sent by Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of The Indian Express, to his colleagues, announcing his exit from the paper he helmed for 19 years. Gupta’s resignation as editor comes 10 months after he relinquished his corporate duties as CEO at the paper—and a week after the Narendra…

An Editor reveals his friendship with a politician

The relationship between politicians and journalists is usually an after-dark activity in India, with neither participant ready or willing to put the other’s involvement on the record. Wise heads in politics will counsel newcomers against getting too close to journalists, because, well, you never know when the snake could discover its fangs. Grey beards in…

The Khushwant Singh “pre-obituary” from 1983

Khushwant Singh, the self-proclaimed “dirty old man of Indian journalism”, has passed away at his home in New Delhi, at the age of 99. Exactly, 30 years ago, when Singh was 69, the journalist Dhiren Bhagat wrote a pre-obituary of the “sardar in the light bulb” for the now-defunct Sunday Observer. Ironically, Dhiren Bhagat was…

President speaks of paid news, dumbing down

The following is the full text of the speech delivered by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, at the inauguration of the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) in New Delhi on Thursday, 27 February 2014: *** By PRANAB MUKHERJEE “Seventy-five years ago, the world was a very different place. Our country…

Amartya Sen on leaks, plants and Indian Express

It ain’t over till the economist sings. First, there was a report in The Indian Express on 18 February, headlined “Amartya Sen threatens to quit Nalanda University over funds’ queries.” “At its crux is a massive Rs 2,727 crore financial package to the University over a period of 12 years. The finance ministry’s department of…

When journo dedicates book to journo, it’s news

Tens of Indian journalists are writing books these days and there are all manner of dedications. But Manoj Mitta‘s The Fiction of Fact-finding: Modi and Godhra stands out from the crowd for who it remembers. The Times of India‘s senior editor, who co-authored a seminal book on the 1984 pogrom in Delhi, dedicates his latest…

A Kannada paper breaks RG’s code of silence

Even before he sat down last month with Kalpesh Yagnik of Dainik Bhaskar and Arnab Goswami of Times Now for one-on-one interviews, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had met Editors in Delhi off and on, more off than on. These meetings were long, relaxed,  informal but strictly off the record. Smart phones and cameras had to…