Category Archives: Issues and Ideas

FIR against newspaper Editor in Karnataka as chief minister Kumaraswamy (a TV channel owner himself) suffers from a major son stroke

Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is having a major media meltdown. At various times in the year gone by, he has threatened not to speak to the press, railed against TV shows that satirise him, sought laws to regulate the media. But the debacle in #GeneralElections2019, or specifically the debacle for his family, has brought…

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…

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…

The amazing rise and dramatic fall of Ravi Prakash, a competent but colourful journalist who built one of India’s biggest, most influential news networks: TV9

TV9 “chairman, CEO and editor” Ravi Prakash, who shared the stage with prime minister Narendra Modi at the launch of ‘TV9 Bharatvarsh’ just 40 days ago, has been shown the door by the network’s new owners whom he, ironically, brought in to buy the company from its original promoter six months ago. An official spokesman (see statement,…

Hit and Muss, and the Muzzler: When one of India’s finest cartoonists, Raj Thackeray, rages against Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, political campaigning touches a new ‘Low’

There has been plenty of weird stuff in General Elections 2019, but none weirder than the sight of a political leader whose party was not contesting, drawing bigger crowds than those who were sweating the good sweat. Even more bizarre was the spectacle, and a spectacle it has been, of thousands falling over each other…

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…

In Gauri Lankesh’s home-state, a frighteningly real story of ‘fake news’, with the clumsy footprints of BJP and RSS—and embedded ‘sangh’ journalists and newspapers. (And, yes, a fake news peddler followed by Narendra Modi.)

*** A leading Kannada newspaper owned by a former three-term BJP MP and a serial fake news peddler followed by Narendra Modi on Twitter, have been embroiled in a forged letter scandal, following the arrest of a “journalist” owing allegiance to the RSS. # The newspaper is Vijaya Vani owned by former Dharwad (North) MP Vijay Sankeshwar. #…

“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…

“ANI acted at the behest of [BJP] to manipulate quotes and defame our honourable intentions. Its conduct tantamounts to being perfidious”: military veterans’ complaint to Thomson Reuters, Press Council, Editors Guild on “motivated misreporting”

The video news agency ANI’s role in manufacturing consent for the Narendra Modi government has been blazingly obvious. Craven interviews with the prime minister; dubious tweets by its staffers; and a host of other incidents have turned ANI into a partisan and “pliable” purveyor at the forefront of the BJP propaganda machine. Barring a couple…

“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…

Everybody’s favourite MP, P.Rajeev—the Chief Editor of ‘Deshabhimani’—is digging deep in Ernakulam to find out which side of the brain makes voters decide: left, or right?

Drawing room chats on the state of Indian politics almost always end up in collective kvetching, before everyone drowns their miseries in a glass of hypocrisy—and returns to forward the latest WhatsApp bile with their signature emoji. 🙏 “Wish we didn’t have to choose the best from among the worst.” “Wish our parties would stop…

Nine journalists arrested in Telangana for reporting and recording EVMs being shifted in the middle of the night in private vehicles

Mohammad Mohsin, an IAS officer of the Karnataka cadre posted as an election observer in Odisha, has been suspended for “dereliction of duty”. His offence: checking the helicopter of Narendra Modi, days after a black box had been hurriedly carried off the PM’s chopper in Karnataka. *** Now, nine journalists in Telangana have been arrested…

In India’s glorious dance of democracy, why are regional language newspaper groups so eager to send their owners, not Editors or reporters, to “interview” Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi?

Publicity is the mother of election. So, in a seven-phase poll Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi are gaming their “interviews” to big-circulation publications in states heading to the hustings, phase by phase. Modi spoke to the Kannada daily Vijaya Vani before 14 constituencies in the southern part of Karnataka voted on April 18. And Gandhi spoke to The Hindu…

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.…