Category Archives: Issues and Ideas

How Hindi newspapers in the “cow belt”, force-multipliers of the BJP in the North, lent wholesale legitimacy to Narendra Modi’s cringe-worthy #9pm9minutes photo-op

Media scholars believe that the rise of newspaper circulation in the “Hindi heartland”, disparagingly known as the cow belt, is concomitant with the rise and growth of the BJP on the back of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement leading to the demolition of the Babri masjid in Ayodhya. Certainly, the reforms of 1991 helped in making…

“We are all in a deep mess. The time has come for every business to press the ‘reset’ button, especially print media”: newspapers and magazines in the age of #GoCoronaGo: going, going, gone?

*** In 1988, Andrew Grove, the founder and former CEO of the American chip-manufacturing giant Intel, wrote a book titled Only the Paranoid Survive, in which he floated the concept of the “strategic inflection point”. “A strategic inflection point is a time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change.…

Even a mad ‘Fox News’ anchor like Tucker Carlson says Coronavirus didn’t happen because the Chinese ate bats. So why do Rahul Kanwal and Vineet Jain want them to eat ‘khichdi’ and ‘papdi chaat’?

Even in the best of times, Indians are never short of sanctimony and self-righteousness but there has been an oversupply of both since the outbreak of #Coronavirus. The virtues of ‘Namaste‘ as a form of greeting—folded hands as opposed to a physical hug or handshake—has been extolled ad nauseam, even briefly inspiring a BJP IT…

“Worst may be yet to come”: As COVID tears the world, ‘Indian Express’ moots 10-30% salary cut for employees, warns of “more sacrifices” if things do not improve

The Coronavirus pandemic is spreading across newsrooms and board rooms battling advertising and revenue shortfall. Below is the full text of the letter sent by Indian Express CEO George Varghese. = Subject: Challenging times = My dear colleagues, my Express family: Before going even a word further, Thank You. To each one of you, across…

Newspaper industry in very real danger of turning “sick”: INS seeks two-year tax holiday after “triple whammy” of Coronavirus, falling ad revenues, and customs duty on newsprint

*** Forever wailing, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has sought a two-year tax holiday from the Union government following the “triple whammy” of #coronavirus, collapsing ad revenues, and customs duty on imported newsprint. In a letter to Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, INS president Shailesh Gupta of Dainik Jagran says the newspaper industry is at…

In the 50th year of her founding, Gopal Raju’s baby ‘India Abroad’ meets a sudden and cruel end

As it is, things were bad for the news media, especially print media. The outbreak of COVID has exacerbated the situation and provided the perfect cover for managers to guillotine publications. From the United States, grim news of the end of ‘India Abroad‘, the voice of ethnic Indians, in the 50th year of its founding.…

How language newspaper owners “advised” Narendra Modi on how to shape his response to COVID, six hours before he announced a 21-day lockdown

Narendra Modi‘s relationship with the news media since becoming prime minister in 2014 has been built on conspicuous contempt and confrontation, but behind the scenes, chummy co-option and cultivation has been a constant endeavour. Modi likes the world to believe he is not bothered with what the “news traders” of the mainstream media say, when…

While the social order collapses spectacularly, HT and TOI open their doors for its political masterminds to expound on their ‘vision for a better tomorrow’, and an ‘action plan’ to get there

*** After 66 months of unbridled ‘Lok Kalyan‘, it might appear to any ordinary mortal with 1MB of common sense that there is not very much new that Narendra Modi has to offer humankind any more—nothing that hasn’t been heard before. Nothing that has not been seen through by voters in Delhi today—or in Jharkhand, or…

Indian journalists have blithely “moved on”, from one spectacle to the next. Their Kashmir counterparts meanwhile continue to battle “appalling conditions”.

The following press release has been issued by Kashmir Press Club on the grim conditions for the functioning of the media in the Valley: Kashmir Press Club on Monday convened an urgent meeting to discuss physical attacks, threats, intimidation being meted out to the journalists in Kashmir by J&K Police. The meeting in which representatives…

Only ‘The Telegraph’ has the courage to buck the law (and political correctness) to publish the chilling Reuters photo of ‘Rambhakt Gopal’, the “teenager” who shot at Jamia Millia students

*** Delhi Police initially put the age of “Rambhakt Gopal” at 19 before a marks sheet magically produced by a “news agency” showed the gunman who shot at Jamia students as being 17 years old began doing the rounds. That has been sufficient for all but one prominent newspaper to mask the identity of the…

A Hindu bomber detonates the Mangalore ‘bomb’ in the face of Kannada news media. And a newspaper suggests mental tests and medical treatment for the ‘real terrorists’: embedded editors, owners and TV anchors.

Karnataka is the outlier in peninsular India—the only state in the South that the BJP has managed to come to power, by hook and by crook. Twice. There is a plethora of political reasons for this, including caste realignment, but there can be little doubt that the Kannada media has played a hands-on role in…

The curious case of PayTm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s secretary only seems to get curiouser and curiouser. But it’s business as unusual at SoftBank.

The reckless culture at the Japanese venture capital firm SoftBank has attracted global journalistic scrutiny, thanks to the vaporisation of its co-working bet WeWork. SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son’s dalliance with the blood-stained Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman for the $100 billion “Vision Fund” which lubricates virtually every big Silicon Valley startup, including Uber, has also…

In America, Jeff Bezos has the First Amendment and the institutions to protect media freedom. How will Amazon’s founder deal with the Narendra Modi regime’s apparent ‘Washington Post’ problem?

Over 67 months, the Narendra Modi government has overtly, covertly and expertly extended the Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) of the #GujaratModel—freezing government ads; bringing corporate pressure on owners; filing bogus FIRs; trolling, name-calling; denying access and licenses; getting editors replaced; owners changed, etc—to get mainstream media to toe its line and manufacture consent. Suddenly, it…

Unlike gau-belt newspapers, Tamil and Malayalam newspapers are more sober and less triumphalist on the Ayodhya judgment on their front pages. Kannada is a gone case; Telugu is on the way.

The symbiotic relationship between the Hindi language press and the Ramjanmabhoomi movement, each feeding off the other, has been much documented. Today’s front pages, the day after the Supreme Court delivered its verdict, shines a mirror on it. As opposed to the safe, anodyne headlines of English newspapers, which for the most part are sober,…

Mahatma and the media: Gandhi was the ultimate super-achiever. He didn’t need TV, internet, social media, cheer leaders, event managers and fake news—and he had the courage to face the press. #HowdyGandhi

The incredible part about the fairly predictable #GandhiAt150 coverage in today’s papers—a week after the carefully choreographed #HowdyModi—is how much the Mahatma accomplished without TV, Internet, social media, cheer leaders, event managers—and pre- and post-paid owners, editors, anchors and reporters. Leading the freedom struggle, dealing with fractious colleagues, fasting, walking, writing letters and books, editing…

It’s brave of the Editor of ‘The Telegraph’ to make a rowdy minister’s phone call public. But what after the ink dries and the Sarkars hear from an even bigger hooligan?

Being a professional Editor in India—professional being the operative word there—is a lonely, treacherous job. What transpires with scared proprietors or bankrupt boards is not to be shared with the world. The bottomless stupidity of the managers and bean counters is best not advertised. And, in between, there are creepy phone calls, “messages”, complaints, and…

To mark Narendra Modi’s “unprecedented” 69th birthday, 11 newspapers in 7 languages respectfully open their editorial pages for the perfect “bow job” by his party colleagues

Narendra Modi turns 69 today. In itself, the number ’69’ is not ‘abhut purva‘ as the alliterator-in-chief himself might say, except for its more popular connotation. Turning 69 is not any different from turning 67 or 68, and certainly not as significant as turning 70. The pradhan sevak is still a sexagenarian. At best, one could…

The world’s only Sanskrit newspaper ‘Sudharma’ has turned 50, and wants Narendra Modi to release its souvenir issue. Will he?

The world’s oldest and probably the only Sanskrit daily newspaper Sudharma has turned 50. Published from Ramachandra Agrahara in Mysore, the two-page, five-columb newspaper delivers politics, culture, sports and civic affairs. According to a report in Star of Mysore, India’s most successful afternoon newspaper, Sudharma reaches 2,000 readers. “We need six to seven hours to…

The Piyush Goyal Theory of Journalism: the farther a newspaper is from New Delhi, the greater its chance of taking the pants off politicians*

  Piyush Goyal‘s theory of Albert Einstein‘s theory of Isaac Newton‘s theory of gravity is a cute case study for headline management in Indian newspapers. The loud railway and commerce minister—who is a chartered accountant and BJP treasurer in touch with corporates—is widely known for his “phone calls”. The coverage in today’s papers of his faux pas reveals how…