Category Archives: Issues and Ideas

J-POD || Podcast || “Because of COVID very few journalists are on the ground, very few are travelling, very few are interacting the way they would. Take everything with a pinch of salt”|| Bihar veteran Uttam Sengupta

Generally speaking, political analysis on Indian television has been as reliable as the weather report and as insightful as astrological predictions—but just a little less fun than the comic strip. The assembly elections in Bihar five Novembers years ago showed what a joke it was. Even on the day of the counting, even as the…

Who would have thought that in a season of festivals, post-COVID, the fattest English newspaper would be from Kashmir?

For months, after the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, Kashmir’s newspapers could not be printed or distributed; their reporters could not move around, meet people or file stories. Journalists even worked as masons to make a living. Post-COVID, even in a festival season, mainland Indian newspapers are still struggling to produce healthy editions,…

Believe it if you must, Subhash Chandra of Zee says he is now personally worth just Rs 9.85 crore

How the cookie crumbles. In 2018, Zee group founder Subhash Chandra was India’s 27th richest man, his net worth valued at around Rs 35,000 crore. Business Standard reports that he now puts the value of his personal assets at Rs 9.85 crore, down from Rs 39.07 crore in 2015, as the group faces a mountain…

India gives a “befitting response” to China’s incursion—by squeezing Press Trust of India (PTI) out to help ANI

China has invaded and occupied over 1,000 sq km of Indian territory, approximately the size of Delhi, right under the nose of a “strong man”, without so much as a squeak from pseudo-patriots. But the government’s public response is as befits an acknowledged “soft power”. A ban on Chinese apps for starters, to make sure…

J-POD || Podcast || “Republic doesn’t need to fix TV ratings. Even if all rigging is removed, Arnab Goswami will still be No.1. If Aaj Tak gets defeated, it can’t make a comeback” || Aunindyo Chakravarty

One of the great miracles in Indian television is that every new news channel manages to overtake the incumbent market leader in a matter of weeks. First NDTV overtook Headlines Today soon after launch. Then CNN-IBN overtook NDTV. Later Times Now overtook CNN-IBN. And finally Republic overtook Times Now within days. The reason for this…

Mr Justice Arnab Goswami, the dispenser of instant judgments at 9 pm, gets a taste of his own medicine in TRP scam in the morning papers

Arnab Goswami‘s Republic TV has only been named in a Bombay Police FIR for allegedly rigging TV meters for ratings, but looking at the headlines in newspapers, it would appear it has already been held guilty in the court of public opinion. A not-unfamiliar experience for the 9 pm judge, jury and executioner. *** ***

Newspaper front pages on acquittal of Babri Masjid accused show how Indian media has been hollowed out of courage and conviction since 1992

When the domes of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya were brought down in 1992, the year after the liberalisation process began, there was great clarity in the news media and its consumers on the foundations on which the Republic of India stood. Blazing front-page editorials minced no words in denouncing the conspicuous destruction of the…

On the same day, two eye-popping lead editorials in ‘The Times of India’ and ‘The Economic Times’ tell a tale of conflict of interest

The Times of India group’s outer facade is of a free-market champion where more is merrier, and only the fittest survive. But, deep down, the flame of swadeshi and protectionism burn brightly, especially in areas where the media house’s growing digital interests are at stake. *** The lead editorial in today’s ToI wants India to…

Except ‘The Hindu’ and ‘The Telegraph’, most newspapers can’t join the dots between arrested journalist Rajeev Sharma and NSA Ajit Doval

The arrest of Delhi-based journalist Rajeev Sharma, for violating the Official Secrets Act (OSA) by allegedly passing on “defence secrets” to China, is remarkable for the consistent quality of stenography. Only The Hindu (above) categorically reports Sharma’s association with the right-wing thinktank Vivekananda International Foundation, whose founder-director was the national security adviser, Ajit Doval. ***…

“Mind-boggling, high-handed”: Press Club of India slams Delhi Police arrest of ‘Global Times’ contributor Rajeev Sharma for allegedly passing on “defence secrets” to China

The Press Club of India has slammed the arrest of Delhi-based journalist Rajeev Sharma, allegedly for violating the official secrets act (OSA) by passing on “secrets” to the Chinese. Below is the full statement of PCI. “We are astounded to hear of the arrest of Rajeev Sharma, a well-known independent journalist of long standing and…

45 years after Indira Gandhi’s Emergency, ‘The Hindu’ publishes an ad announcing the death of media in Delhi, in 2020, under Narendra Modi

When Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency in June 1975, a young journalist took out a 22-word classified advertisement in The Times of India in Bombay. It read: “O’Cracy, D.E.M., beloved husband of T. Ruth, loving father of L.I. Bertie, brother of Faith, Hope and Justicia, died on June 26.” The journalist was Ashok Mahadevan, then…

J-POD || Podcast || “Facebook’s deals with newsrooms, big editors’ proximity to its execs has prevented Indian media from investigating its BJP bias” || Kunal Purohit on ‘WSJ’ and ‘Time’ revelations

20 years ago, “Web 2.0” ushered in social media. It was free, it was fast, it was fun. Anybody with a phone could take part, and almost everyone did. It instantly connected friends, families, communities. Major political events like the ‘Arab Spring’ in Egypt briefly showed the potential of interactive, user-generated content to be a…

In editorials on Dr Kafeel Khan’s release, 6 out of 8 English newspapers cannot even take the name of his chief detractor, “India’s No.1 CM” Yogi Adityanath

Dr Kafeel Khan is, without doubt, one of the most egregious victims of majoritarianism in contemporary India, where a vengeful state unleashes the blunt instruments at its disposal to “teach a lesson” to a member of the minorities—and is cheered on in this naked display of brutality. The paediatrician’s cardinal sin was to flag the…

TV news channels are a gone case. But why are India’s vast and influential language newspapers burying India’s staggering economic collapse?

On the last day of August 2020, India and China were once again locked in horns at the border. As India’s COVID graph spiralled upwards, India’s economy plunged, contracting 23.9% year-on-year. Jobs, lives, livelihood, families, businesses have been ruined after months of a poorly thought-through lockdown, even as crony capitalism of the Ambani and Adani…

A new design for the ‘Hindustan Times’ from the Mario Garcia factory, which would have apparently “made Mahatma Gandhi proud”

There is a story, probably an apocryphal one, that when Hindustan Times owner Shobhana Bhartia told an American designer who had designed The Washington Post, that she wanted a “good-looking paper”, he is believed to have retorted: “For that you need good-looking ads.” Mario Garcia, the designer who has had a hand in pouring old…

J-POD || Podcast || “A large section of media doesn’t want to dwell on stories that present the government in a bad light” || Ananth Krishnan of ‘The Hindu’ on the tepid coverage of Chinese ingress

*** India is locked in its biggest conflict with China in recent times. Twenty Indian soldiers have died. Massive tracts of Indian land have been lost. In response—without naming China—India has banned Chinese apps, curtailed visas for Chinese citizens, raised the entry barrier for Chinese investors, and banned the study of Mandarin. The two nuclear…

Mathai Manjooran: The Kerala newspaper Editor who refused to pay a Rs 100 fine and opted to be jailed for alleged contempt of court 61 years ago

On the day of reckoning for advocate Prashant Bhushan before the Supreme Court of India, The Telegraph has a fine story of an Editor in Kerala who refused to buckle in and opted to spend a month in jail for alleged contempt of court, 61 years ago. Mathai Manjooran was Editor of the Malayalam daily…

How Steve Bannon was shaping India’s shrill anti-China rhetoric on Zee-owned ‘WION’ and ‘Times Now’ even before the Ladakh intrusion

Steve Bannon, the former investment banker who was editor-in-chief of the right-wing US website Breitbart before he became a key architect of Donald Trump‘s 2016 presidential election victory, has been arrested, masked and charged with swindling nearly $1 million (approximately Rs 7.5 crore) in the name of building the wall on the US-Mexico border. But…

B.N. Nayak, an unsung hero of Indian journalism, one of the many pillars on which ‘The Times of India’ stands, departs at 70

“Telling people, who did not know Mr So-and-So was alive, that Mr So-and-So is dead,” is one of the better definitions of the basic functions of journalism. And so it comes to pass that newspaper readers in Mysore, who (mostly) did not know who Mr B.N. Nayak was, are being informed today that B.N. Nayak…