Category Archives: Magazines

“I was asked to leave my phones outside. I was told, ‘resign now or be terminated’. The HR manager held the relieving letter. By the time I got home an hour later, I’d been locked out of my official email”: a brave note from a “journalist of courage”

Hundreds of journalists have lost their jobs in India in the middle of the COVID pandemic with barely a squeak. The haemorrhaging has hollowed out newsrooms at the very moment news consumers expect more (and better) from journalism. But it is all hush-hush. Chhupa rustom. Unlike more civilised parts of the journalistic world, where the…

J-POD || Podcast || “The stench of dead bodies did not go away from my mind for days” || Parul Sharma, the brave photographer who captured the last lap of hundreds of COVID victims with a smartphone

Over 26,000 Indians have perished due to COVID in the last four months. But is there an image of any one of them that is imprinted in your mind? A single photograph in your newspaper or magazine that you remember instantly, for its poignancy, for its pathos—for its display? *** Whether they are natural or…

How 15 brave reporters and photographers have defended the evidence they collected of Babri Masjid demolition

Excellent story in The Economic Times today of how reporters and photographers staved off a bid to discredit their great work, the midst of grave danger to their life abd limb, during the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, by sangh parivar hoodlums. Screenshot: courtesy The Economic Times

In a bleak media landscape, Sanjiv Goenka picks up ‘Fortune’, wants to get into electronic media as well

For long, Sanjiv Goenka, one half of the R.P. Goenka family who runs the RP-Sanjiv Goenka group, has long had media ambitions. Forever in the running for media buys, Goenka’s name does the rounds each time some enterprise is up in the air, a bit like Rajeev Chandrasekhar‘s. Open magazine is all he has had…

The news of a declaration: Hindi magazine ‘Cricket Samrat’ has published its final issue

COVID has impacted the media in a myriad ways, and magazines, especially niche magazines, are collapsing under its weight. Mid-Day reports the closure of the pioneering Hindi cricket magazine Cricket Samrat after 42 years of publication. Sportstar, the weekly from The Hindu group, has already gone online. *** In the Indian Express, the paper’s sports…

An artist and an interviewer: former ‘Mid-Day’ and ‘Sportsweek’ art director Ataullah Khan falls to COVID

From Jeddah, the news of the death due to COVID, of Ataullah Khan, the well-regarded former art director of the Bombay tabloid, Mid-Day, and its sister magazine, Sportsweek. He also did interviews with movie stars for the group’s Urdu daily Inquilaab. Mr Khan’s brother Masiulla Khan was the art head of The Sunday Observer, both…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

J-POD || Podcast || “No substitute for credible journalism. Media has to cut costs, get into new areas. Journalists need to be multi-skilled in new era” || ex-INS president and ‘Malayala Manorama’ director Jayant Mammen Mathew

*** Battle-weary journalists, who have been there, done that and seen it all, think they know exactly how the media houses which employ them should deal with the existential threat posed by the #Coronavirus pandemic.  You could call this the sentimental view, the belief that, at this inflection point for the media business, the least…

J-POD || Podcast || “Hindi media has swung majorly towards Modi govt. Big newspaper chains have become mammoth like Google and Facebook. News desks are at the forefront of communalisation” || ex-Hindustan editor Mrinal Pande

*** Hindi journalism has been such an unquestioning and uncritical proponent of majoritarian establishment causes for so long that it is an accepted axiom now, but the outbreak of #Coronavirus has decidedly taken it to the next level. The ease with which newspapers and news channels in the heartland have surrendered their professional tasks and…

A true love story: How a Parsi journalist at ‘Current’ met the Editor of ‘Onlooker’ magazine and lived happily forever, but got excommunicated from her community

Two weeks after her death in the middle of the COVID pandemic, The Telegraph‘s fine London correspondent Amit Roy has a long obituary of Gulshan Ewing nee Mehta. Gulshan Ewing was the editor of the women’s magazine Eve’s Weekly for 23 years, from 1966 to 1989, and also editor of the film magazine Star &…

J-POD || Podcast || “If you cannot afford the people that you have, however good they are, do not think twice before rightsizing” || ‘Ananda Vikatan’ chief B. Srinivasan on the big lesson from Corona

*** In the manner in which the mythology of contemporary Indian media is constructed, it would appear that concepts like “reader-friendly” and “marketing” and “brand innovation” were alien in our journalism till Samir Jain of The Times of India arrived on the scene in the mid-1980s. It is only then, we are told, that Indian…

J-POD || Podcast ||”Pakistan media has not tried to find a scapegoat for #Coronavirus like Indian media. Imran Khan has handled media better than Narendra Modi” || Mehmal Sarfraz on what No. 142 can learn from No. 145

*** Coronavirus has had a strange effect on Indian media. Pakistan has vanished off the radar. Well, not entirely but substantially. A sudden intimation of mortality has distracted desktop dvesh bhakts from their core group activity, of protecting India’s borders—by building walls in the minds of Indians; by spitting hatred at their neighbour so that it…

Everybody in the media loves a good sop from the government in the time of #Coronavirus. (Sorry about exhorting the State to let “market forces” do their job in happier times.)

Since its publication in 1996, the title of the journalist P.Sainath‘s book Everybody loves a good drought has been ready fallback for sub-editors stuck for a headline. (A lot like the movie title The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.) #Coronavirus is as good a time as any to doff the mask to Sainath’s book which,…

Will readers pay for the digital content of Indian newspapers and magazines, when they can get PDFs of the world’s best offerings free on WhatsApp?

The folly of Indian print media being overly dependent on advertisements to sustain and grow the business has come into sharp focus during the time of the COVID crisis. An average 16-page daily newspaper costs about Rs 10 to produce. In the quest for circulation numbers, publishers have followed the “penny press” model propagated by…