Category Archives: Issues and Ideas

“De-marketing”: An almost 100% increase in cover price of ‘Mint’ in Bangalore

A ridiculously low cover price was one of key reasons for Indian newspapers to feel the COVID pinch more than their western counterparts. With advertising dead during the lockdown, circulation revenue too dried up, as the perils of chasing the lowest common denominator became clear. Even after the lockdown was lifted, major newspaper groups, sitting…

#SuperhitGhotala: Arnab Goswami’s 80 MB of WhatsApp chats in 12 tweets, 7 screenshots and 2 YouTube videos

“He who lives by other people’s WhatsApp chats shall be judged by his own WhatsApp chats.”—old jungle saying *** For weeks, after the death of Sushant Singh Rajput, India’s TV news channels feasted on crumbs fed to them—leaked transcripts of WhatsApp conversations of stars and upstarts, hinting darkly at murder, extortion, drugs and sex, all in the run-up to the assembly elections due in…

Vague, arbitrary, unconstitutional, outdated: 9 reasons why journalists should want Section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act to go

The constitutional validity of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, has been challenged in the Karnataka High Court by Krishna Prasad, former Editor-in-Chief of Outlook; N. Ram, former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu and director of The Hindu Publishing Group; Arun Shourie, former Editor of The Indian Express and former Union minister; and Prashant Bhushan, senior…

What’s public about a private treaty? Times Group has Rs 69 crore stake in gaming platform MPL, the Indian cricket team’s kit sponsor

Conflict of interest is the zeitgeist, the spirit of the time. The official kit sponsor of the Indian cricket team is MPL: Mobile Premier League, ostensibly a fantasy game. And MPL’s unashamed brand ambassador is the team’s captain Virat Kohli. The Indian Express reveals today that Kohli has been allotted debentures worth Rs 33.32 lakh…

A masterclass from a 94-year-old columnist to a “frustrated” BJP factotum masquerading as Governor and insulting India’s democracy on a daily basis

T.J.S. George, the co-founder of Asiaweek magazine, who does a weekly column for The New Indian Express, wrote a piece last week on Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan‘s decision to disallow a session of the Kerala legislative assembly to discuss the Centre’s contentious new farm laws. The intro to the column read: “Arif Mohammed Khan…

In Kerala, the state with 100% literacy, a course in schools and colleges to promote digital literacy

Three years ago, government schools in Kerala made headlines for introducing a course on dealing with fake news. Now the state has announced a five-step digital media literacy programme titled Satyameva Jayate. The salient points: What is wrong information? Why does it spread fast? What precautions should be adopted by social media users? How do…

If newspapers had been as clear about farm laws as they are against taxing corporates, Punjab’s farmers could have gone back home a long time ago

The month-long agitation by Punjab’s resolute farmers over the agricultural “reforms”, artfully sneaked through Parliament with former journalist Harivansh (former Editor of Prabhat Khabar) presiding over the Rajya Sabha, has seen the usual divisions in the media. Large sections of the media have been susceptible to official spin, running audio and video transcripts provided by…

“In journalism, we can be in the heating business, or we can be in the lighting business”: Nicholas Kristof

“In journalism, we can be in the heating business or the lighting business”: @nytimes columnist Nicholas Kristof, who called out card companies for facilitating child porn, enunicates the profession’s core principle on @karaswisher’s superb podcast, Sway: https://t.co/unM8cvxE7S pic.twitter.com/UdsS3NscyG — churumuri (@churumuri) December 25, 2020 Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times opinion columnist who played a…

TV coverage of farmers’ protests in Delhi shows that “farmers claim an integrity in the Indian subconscious that the media lack”

The academic and public intellectual Shiv Visvanathan, has a piece in The Telegraph on the ongoing farmers’ protests in Delhi, demanding the repeal of new laws passed by the BJP-led government: “Yet more than the State with its idiotic ideas of governance, it is television media that is uncomfortable with the farmers’ strike, seeking to…

J-POD || Podcast || “Pakistan took foreign journalists to Balakot a month after India’s strike. India is still to take its own journalists to Galwan six months after the Chinese incursion” || Sushant Singh

Exactly six months ago, on the intervening night of June 15-16 this year, the lives of 20 Indian soldiers ended—literally at the hands of the Chinese in the heights of Ladakh. For several weeks, large sections of mainstream media were in denial, dishing out the sarkari view that there was nothing abnormal on the border.…

India’s newspaper owners demand ‘Maximum Support Price’—200% more government spend on print media, and 50% hike in rates for sarkari ads

Nine months after the pandemic broke the back of the media, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has revived its demand for a “stimulus package”. It includes: # Removal of 5% customs duty on newsprint # A two-year tax holiday # 200% increase in government spend on print media # 50% increase in rates of government…

Sending rejoinders and clarifications to media outlets is old hat. Booking cases against journalists is the norm in #NewIndia.

The front page of the Gujarati language newspaper Divya Bhaskar, published by the Dainik Bhaskar group, after four of its journalists were booked by police in Rajkot for a sting operation at a police station. The journalists were accused of trying to defame the police and compromising the investigation. The paper, however, contended it was…

In the Samir Jain era, the ‘Times Group’ has shut down 26 newspapers and magazines. ‘Mumbai Mirror’ was a death foretold.

The pandemic and the economic slump may have given the Times group the cloud cover to pull the trigger on Mumbai Mirror, but the tabloid’s fate was probably decided when it was hived off from The Times of India’s parent company a couple of years ago seven months ago. Launched in 2005 with a Bennett…

“This is not the time to put newspaper employees on the street. Times Group must show its leadership by doing business with a human face”: Mumbai Press Club on ‘Mirror’ move

The Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists (BUJ) and the Mumbai Press Club have both spoken out against the abrupt decision to turn Mumbai Mirror into a weekly, and shut down Pune Mirror. *** *** Following is the full text of the statement issued by Mumbai Press Club: “The Mumbai Press Club, representing over 2,000 journalists of…

Times Group says “Indian economy now officially in recession” to pull the curtain down on its tabloid ‘Mumbai Mirror’

The Times of India group has reportedly decided to pull the shutters down on its tabloid offering Mumbai Mirror as COVID continues to take its toll on Indian media. A Times Group statement doing the rounds says Mumbai Mirror will be turned into a weekly, a standard operating procedure used by Bennett Coleman & Co…

“There was still an edge of menace about the man”: ‘Financial Times’ ex-editor Lionel Barber after his second meeting with Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi‘s allergy for unscripted media interrogation is evident from his all-too-few interactions with professional journalists, not propagandists and actors, and the BJP government’s increasing opacity with official data. There are those few minutes with Karan Thapar in 2007 (above) before he felt an urgent need for a glass of water. Then there was the sight of…

Four reasons why more journalists must start podcasts, and not just in English: views you can use from Amit Varma, the ‘Govinda of Podcasting’

  A baffling splitscreen stares at journalists, especially middle-aged and experienced journalists, in a post-COVID world ravaged by falling revenues, plunging profits and growing irrelevance. Those who have a job worry about when they might lose it, or how much their salaries will be cut next, or about being rendered obsolete by younger whipper-snappers adept…

Make Art Great Again: the MAGA movement that Indian newspapers sorely need after Donald Trump’s welcome exit

In India’s massive media universe, only The Telegraph is able to capture the significance of the Biden-Harris win in the US elections, that denies oxygen to four more years of unbridled hatred, poison, division, violence and fact-free leadership. “America, unlike India, makes America great again,” says the Telegraph headline. But for the most part Indian…

After ‘Scam 1992’: How Harshad Mehta tried to place a column in ‘The Times of India’, where Sucheta Dalal had exposed his swindle

The 1992 stock market swindle starring Harshad Mehta broken by the journalist Sucheta Dalal is now a “major motion picture” thanks to the web series Scam 1992 directed by Hansal Mehta. Unbelievable as it may seem today, Sucheta’s investigation appeared in The Times of India, in an all-too-brief brush with investigative journalism for India’s largest…

In a sea of conformist editorials, ‘Hindustan Times’ takes the cake and the bakery on Arnab Goswami’s arrest

Newspaper editorials on Republic TV founder and editor Arnab Goswami‘s arrest for allegedly abetting the suicide of an unpaid studio designer all take the same line: that no matter what the facts of the case, the arrest of a pesky needler is wrong. *** Hindustan Times *** The Indian Express *** The Times of India…