Category Archives: Issues and Ideas

J-POD || Podcast || “Twitter has not followed due process in withholding account. FIR on a retweet had details very few people know. BJP tends not to focus on quality of content but punishment they will try to inflict” || Aakar Patel

https://soundcloud.com/user-311470525/j-pod-aakar-patel-on-twitter  On J-POD, a podcast on journalists and journalism, Aakar Patel, columnist and former journalist who headed Amnesty International, discusses what he makes of Twitter withholding his account, and who he suspects might be behind it—and why. *** # Twitter emailed me that they had received a “legal removal demand” from the government, that my…

J-POD || Podcast || “COVID has given us a brain scan of media thinking. National newspapers devote 0.67% of front page to 69% of India. Corporate media is the bed on which religious and market fundamentalists cohabit” || P. Sainath

*** Less than 2% of India’s population is invested in stocks and mutual funds. Yet, India has at least half-a-dozen business newspapers in English. And just as many business news channels. Every newspaper in every language, in every part of the country, has a page—or half of page—dedicated to business news. Or what they think is business…

‘Onions suck out bacteria. Neem sanitiser works for 15 days. Brahmins in Bhopal were saved by prayers over fire”: advice from a top Kannada publisher, an ex-BJP MP, to fight Coronavirus

Vijay Sankeshwar, the transport operator who founded Vijaya Karnataka and Vijaya Vani, shocking the Deccan Herald group and The Times of India group respectively, has offered his sage advice on how to combat #Coronavirus. Dripping with desi and swadeshi, the advice, although well intentioned, is questionable for its science. Sankeshwar, who was awarded the Padma…

J-POD || Podcast || “Journalism is a form of public service. It is dangerous to undermine institutional news. All of us need to become more critical readers and users of social media”|| Alan Rusbridger, former Editor-in-Chief, The Guardian

*** The role of social media in distorting societies by pouring unfiltered information directly into the pockets and phones of users has been evident for nearly a decade now.  But it took the American presidential elections of 2016—which installed Donald Trump in office—for Google, Facebook and YouTube to come in for scrutiny.  At first, Mark…

J-POD || Podcast || “Every year over 20,000 students pass out. Where are the jobs? || Big media is trapped. J-schools should produce entrepreneurs, one-man armies” || Prof Kanchan Kaur of IIJNM, and Prof Anand Pradhan of IIMC

*** In a nation where more than half the population is below 25 years of age, professional education has boomed in the last couple of decades—to make the most of the so-called “demographic dividend”.  Journalism education—in particular—has seen gravity and logic-defying growth.  As liberalisation freed up the air waves and wallets, and TV channels made…

Propaganda is king as newspapers open their sanctum sanctorum to be defiled by the ghostwritten schoolboy essays of Narendra Modi & Co

Newspaper maaliks and managers may think no one reads the editorial and op-ed pages. But thankfully the media managers of the Narendra Modi government do. So, to mark the first anniversary of the second term of the BJP-led NDA government, newspapers allow their sanctum sanctorum to be defiled by ghost written schoolboy essays of various…

“The chief editor ‘Mathrubhumi’ didn’t have”: M.P. Veerendra Kumar, the socialist media baron who brought two globalising forces to their knees in Kerala: Coca-Cola and ‘The Times of India’

The small division looking after the printing of currency notes is one of the outposts of North Block in New Delhi. The bosses can barely be bothered with its expenses. But for a brief while during the I.K. Gujral regime in 1997, it received some serious love. “What paper are we using?” “Why is there…

Hundreds of stringers lose their livelihood as Telugu daily ‘Eenadu’ shuts down its pioneering hyperlocal tabloid supplements to combat fall in ad and circulation revenues

Eenadu, the influential Telugu newspaper which pioneered hyper-local journalism before anybody in the country had even heard of the term, has shut down its local supplements and let go of hundreds of stringers who were reporting for it, as the shadow of COVID grows darker over India’s print media industry. The newspaper, which played a…

One by one, Indian newspapers look over their shoulders and start climbing the pay wall, but will readers give a leg up?

Squeezed on multiple fronts, including by their own imagination, India’s leading English newspapers are slowly getting into “pay mode” in the post-COVID season to generate revenue. The Times of India group, which led the race to the bottom with predatory pricing and dumping, now offers a monthly subscription for Rs 200 for its e-paper editions…

J-POD || Podcast || “Commission is down by two-thirds. Some readers look at us like untouchables. The show will go on for just a couple of years” || A paper vendor in Mysore has a message for India’s paper tigers (and INS)

*** In Aesop’s Fables, one of the stories that everybody relates to is the one about the boy who cried wolf. It’s No. 210 in the Perry Index of Greek and Latin fables: the morality tale of a young boy who shouts “wolf, wolf” while grazing his sheep.  Villagers who are near by rush to his defence,…

“Selfless samaritan. Voice of the poor. Striding for the masses. Voice of the voiceless”: How Kannada newspapers have torn apart the wall between editorial and advertising to generate revenue in COVID season

*** Desperate situations call for desperate solutions, and Kannada newspapers are leaving no stone unturned to find their way out of the severe financial squeeze prompted by the COVID pandemic and the continuing lockdown. With corporate and retail advertising all but dead, with government ads few and far between, with distribution still not completely back…

J-POD || Podcast || “Coronavirus has made us realise how networked we are. Even the ‘News-Finds-Me’ generation is seeking out news now” || PSU media effects research don, Prof Shyam Sundar

*** Media education in India is the bright sun on an otherwise dark horizon, but it’s a bit of a blur. Although there are hundreds of journalism schools across the country, some of them as expensive as B-schools, serious academic research is an exception.  Nothing is measured professionally, consistently and independently. Only the most banal…

Are all journalists #CoronaWarriors since the news media is among “essential services”?

Doctors and nurses are among those being feted for being “frontline workers” in the battle against the COVID pandemic. But how about journalists? In Uttar Pradesh, the death of a Dainik Jagran journalist has sparked a row over who is a “Corona Warrior”, notwithstanding the militarisation of the combat a la #ExamWarriors. The designation of…

J-POD || Podcast || “Media freedom in India has sunk even lower after COVID. Social media has smashed our notion of what is news. The time has come to reconsider the valorisation of news media”|| ACJ chief Sashi Kumar

  *** Largely because of the low road it has taken in the last couple of decades, and directly as a result of the challenges thrown up by the COVID pandemic, the time has come for Indian news media to press the reset button once again.  A hard reset actually. Force-Quit. No one knows what…

More people watched Narendra Modi speech announcing COVID package than the IPL finals

Over 19 crore people watched Narendra Modi’s speech announcing a stimulus package across 197 TV channels, according to BARC data reported by Mint. This was slightly lower than the 20.3 crore who tuned in to watch the prime minister announce the lockdown in March but both figures are higher than the viewership for the 2019…

J-POD || Podcast || “Jair Bolsonaro is a bad version of Donald Trump. Social media has ruptured the narrative. Steve Bannon is the common thread” || Shobhan Saxena on Brazil, India & the US

*** There are many politically incorrect things Narendra Modi has done in office and gotten away with. But none has been more questionable than inviting Brazil’s loathsome president Jair Bolsonaro as chief guest at the Republic Day in January 2020. Bolsonaro, a retired military officer, had been in office for less than a year, but he…

What you (really) need to know today: Jubilant Generics, the “single-source” of 82% COVID cases in Mysore that went below the media radar, because, maybe, it wasn’t in Delhi, or the Tablighi Jamaat

For over 50 days now, R. Sukumar, the editor of the Delhi newspaper Hindustan Times, has written a daily wrap titled ‘COVID-19: What you need to know today‘. But three words have never appeared in it: Jubilant Generics, Nanjangud. Jubilant Generics, is a subsidiary of Jubilant Life Sciences, a pharmaceutical company founded by Shyam S.…

Soon streaming on a screen near you: Anushka Sharma-backed Amazon Prime show, based “on a line” from ex-Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal’s true story of his assassins

Say what you will, Anushka Sharma is a woman of her word. In March 2019, the actor backed a web series based on disgraced Tehelka editor Tarun J. Tejpal’s book The Story of my Assassins despite the cloud of sexual harassment charges hovering over him. The Bombay tabloid Mid-Day reports today that the project is…

Two examples to show how journalism has become a dangerous activity in the time of #Coronavirus

The Indian Express published a scorcher of a story by Mahender Singh Manral on Saturday, May 9, that showed that the whole #TablighiJamaat drama was built on what Delhi police now says was a doctored audio, perhaps stitched up. The reporter was summoned after the paper published the standard denial, threatening legal action which includes…

J-POD || Podcast || “A good newspaper is a companion in life’s shared journey. It prepares you to live in a diverse, contentious society. Social media gives you a hollow sense of control” || philosopher Prof Sundar Sarukkai

*** All through history, the rise of the right wing has seen a rage against intellectuals in public life. In India where politics sets the pace and everything else follows in its wake, this is especially evident in the news media. Rare is the newspaper or news magazine today which values experience and expertise of the…