Category Archives: Issues and Ideas

“99.99 per cent of Indian media is ‘Godi Media’, doing ‘chamchagiri’ of Narendra Modi, showing ‘bakwas’…. TV is making a fool of you, brainwashing you with bogus debates and propaganda”: Ravish Kumar

NDTV India Ravish Kumar has a fan base all his own in modern Hindi journalism, despite the negligible viewership of his channel, primarily because heartland journalists have been  en masse neutered and turned into evangelists for Hindutva’s crudest causes by their twisted owners, managers and minds. Kumar’s earthy, blunt, no-nonsense Bihari drone can be gnawing…

The thread that ties the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919, a BBC correspondent posted in India, and the lifeblood of good journalists, Old Monk rum

Of the hundreds of thousands of people who have peered into this well in Amritsar over the last 100 years—a mandatory patriotic pause on the way to (or back from) the more spiritual experience next door at The Golden Temple—few have been more moved than a journalist who served three years in India. Justin Rowlatt,…

‘Raavali Jagan, Kaavali Jagan’: 14 pages in today’s ‘Sakshi’ on its owner Jagan Reddy and his rival Chandrababu Naidu prove the old adage: freedom of the press belongs to the politician who owns one

The model code of conduct of the Election Commission of India has been mostly reduced to a joke by pliant officers, cunning chartered accounts, and contemptuous politicians cocking a snook at the fundamental decency of democracy. It is most evident in the manner among political parties and politicians which own media as India heads into…

How N. Ram’s reporting of the #Rafale scandal in ‘The Hindu’ sped across the digital world and into the phones of readers before the Narendra Modi government could put its pants on

Behind the investigation of India’s two biggest defence scandals—the Bofors deal under Rajiv Gandhi and the Rafale deal under Narendra Modi—is one common newspaper and one common byline, The Hindu and N. Ram. But with one big difference: the first scandal was reported when hard-copy, ink-and-paper journalism was king; the latter in the digital age, when…

‘Imphal Free Press’ editor demands Rs one crore “reparation” for TV journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem for loss of reputation, health, income—and a monumental miscarriage of justice

Kishorchandra Wangkhem, the Manipur cable news TV journalist who was jailed in November 2018 for 12 months under the National Security Act (NSA) for Facebook posts that mocked the state’s chief minister, has been ordered to be released. To no one’s surprise, Wangkhem’s incarceration on bogus charges was received coolly by mainland Indian journalists and…

“If we don’t have the facts, we don’t print the news”: Four big newspaper groups with 12 titles between them join hands to show the power of print journalism

Indian media houses rarely see eye to eye except when their shared commercial pursuits are in peril: like foreign direct investment (FDI) in newspapers, or the goods and services tax (GST) on newsprint, or wage board recommendations eating into their bottomline. For a change, as elections loom and the fake factories start whirring into motion, The…

‘The Indian Express’, Shekhar Gupta and Manu Pubby: a textbook example of how Narendra Modi’s attack dog ED bit the hand that fed the BJP the AgustaWestland scandal in 2014

The Indian Express which broke the AgustaWestland helicopter scam in 2013 and added to the UPA’s mountain of scandals from which Narendra Modi pounced to power, finds itself being bizarrely accused by the BJP regime of toning down coverage. Manu Pubby, then with the Express, was first to report that former air chief marshal (retired) S.P.…

“Journalists make terrible politicians. You have to have a very, very thick skin to survive the muck. I made a mistake,” says anchor Ashutosh who had vowed (on camera) never to come back to journalism

Do journalists betray their profession when they enter politics? Do journalists make terrible leaders? Should there be a “cooling-off” period before a journalist takes the plunge? Questions, questions, questions. All asked a zillion times before whenever a journalist steps over to the other side of the mike. As Supriya Shrinate, a former ET Now presenter,…

Congress reopens a socialist chestnut in post-liberalised India; says will curb monopolies and cross media ownership if it comes to power in 2019

The manifesto of the Congress for #GeneralElections2019 has seven paragraphs on what the party promises to do should it come to power. It talks of the usual things: strengthening the Press Council of India, working towards a code of conflict, etc, but there is no mention of more important and germane issues like decriminalising defamation.…

‘Facebook Live’: 14 journalists from six countries on three continents: Global Digital Conversation on Media Freedom

14 journalists from six countries on three continents join in a six-hour ‘Facebook Live’ global conversation on media freedom. The participants: Alan Rusbridger; Amantha Perera; Abhinandan Sekhri; David Fahrenthold; Faith Sidlow; Ian Jack; Ivor Gaber; Marie Elisabeth Muller; Namrata Sharma; Pratik Sinha; Richard Sambrook; Vinod K. Jose. The event is hosted by Asian College of…

‘The Hindu’ calls gag order on 49 media organisations in Tejasvi Surya case “poll-time censorship”; could set precedent to prevent media from doing its job

The Hindu has an editorial on the open-ended “temporary injunction” obtained by BJP’s Bangalore South candidate, Tejasvi Surya against 49 media organisations. It says the pre-publication gag order is contrary to the law and the Constitution; violative of free speech; and authorises prior restraint. “Even if the argument is that the order only prevents ‘defamatory’…

L’affaire Tejasvi Surya: “Media isn’t losing its freedoms so much as surrendering its freedoms. As a group it is unwilling to challenge the restrictions being imposed on them”

The temporary injunction obtained by BJP candidate for Bangalore South, Tejasvi Surya, against 49 newspapers, news channels and digital platforms has met with a strange radio silence from the affected parties. None of them have (so far) filed objections. No media body in Bangalore or elsewhere has thought it fit to react to such a…

If a fake news website deserves freedom to concoct an alternate universe for bhakts, bots and WhatsApp uncles, why cannot legitimate media organisations probe and report a BJP candidate’s past?

Media organisations seem so tired and bored of (repeatedly) fighting for their freedoms that not one of them has publicly raised their voice against an extraordinary injunction issued by a Bangalore court barring them from reporting on troubling questions concerning the private life of BJP’s Bangalore South candidate, Tejasvi Surya. The only paper to have editorially…

12 front-page headlines from ‘The Telegraph’ in March pose a simple question: is it journalism? Or, is it trolling Narendra Modi and the holy cows of the BJP? (And why not?)

The front page of The Telegraph, Calcutta, has its own fan base in social media. In the eyes of some, the single-city broadsheet newspaper has carved a space for itself even among distant non-readers by swerving from the straight and narrow (and predictable), by saying like it is, which most mainstream media do not. But…

When Aveek Sarkar and Vir Sanghvi met a scandal-ridden Rajiv Gandhi in 1988, they could ask 208 questions and supplementaries, including one, ahem, on #NewIndia. That is called an “interview”, Narendra Modi and PMO please note.

  *** “In the first year of his prime ministership, Rajiv Gandhi was easily accessible to the press and gave candid, free-wheeling interviews. By the second year the candour was beginning to wear thin. And by the time the scandals surrounding his friends and the regime surfaced, he had retreated into his shell.” Thus begins…

How a newspaper Editor inspired a spunky English mom to name her first son Ranga—the amazing life and times of possibly India’s first woman columnist, Freda Bedi

Who was the first woman to write a column, and a stridently feminist column at that, in a mainstream Indian newspaper? Unless there were others before her in the languages, could the answer be Freda Bedi, the mother of the actor Kabir Bedi, who wrote in The Tribune, Lahore, in pre-partition India? *** In his…

Ahead of elections, a political party in Tamil Nadu which owns a TV news channel seeks to gag the state’s No.2 channel ‘Puthiya Thalaimurai’, whose owners run educational institutions

Can a TV news channel promise, before hand, not to air content that a political party or politician might later consider false or defamatory, or both? The answer is obvious, but not so in the bizarre world of Tamil politics and media where conflict of interest is a recurring theme. Last week, the Pattali Makkal…

100 years ago, today, the greatest Editor-in-Chief to have walked this planet had a dream, an epiphany—in the home of the owner of ‘The Hindu’—that changed India’s course

One hundred years ago, today, India’s struggle for independence from the British took a decisive and inspired turn, when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi had a dream that would catapult him towards ‘Mahatma’-hood. On March 18, 1919, Gandhi met C.Rajagopalachari in the City that used to be known as Madras, in a home on Cathedral Road that…

The Jalgaon freelance journalist whose alacrity ensured that his two sons did not spend 25 years in jail on “terror” charges—but did not live to see their acquittal

In 1984, when Indira Gandhi was assassinated, her two Sikh bodyguards were quickly arrested and convicted. But there was a third man who was found guilty: Kehar Singh. His only fault was that one of the two assassins had visited his house, but he hadn’t informed the police. A campaign was launched to save Kehar…

What is common to Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Castro, Nixon, Putin, Kim, Trump—and the 56 inches of Narendra Modi? The belief that the press is the enemy of the people.

For all his soaring oratory—and his 56″ inch chest—Narendra Modi will go down as the first prime minister in Indian history who did not hold a single press conference during his five years in office. Modi did meet individual TV journalists, like Arnab Goswami of Republic TV and Smita Prakash of ANI, and he did…