Category Archives: Newspapers

‘Prabhat Khabar’ at 36: how the face of Hindi journalism in the East has changed between 1984 and 2020

Thirty-six years is but a blip in a newspaper’s history, when there are many publications which are over 100 years old. The Times of India was technically launched in 1838, making it just 18 years short of 200. The Hindu is 142. But an anniversary is an anniversary, and the well-regarded Hindi daily Prabhat Khabar…

‘The Times of India’ news report from Kerala of a Gulf prostitution racket that inspired a Bollywood film

While reading The Times of India in 2008, writer-director Faruk Kabir stumbled upon a four-column story headlined “Man ‘buys’ back wife from pimp“. It was a story filed by Ananthakrishnan G. from the paper’s Kochi edition, of a 32-year-old from Malappuram who lands in Muscat with Rs 6,000 to save his wife. The woman, who…

Baba Shingote, the Marathi school dropout who sold fruits and set up Kannada and Tamil newspapers in Mumbai, passes away

Muralidhar Anant also known as Baba Shingote, the Maharashtrian who founded the Kannada newspaper Karnataka Malla and the Tamil newspaper Tamil Times in Bombay to serve the city’s vast migrant populations from the southern states, has passed away, at age 89. The end came on 6 August 2020, in Junnar in Pune district, reports PTI.…

“The newspaper print medium will not resurrect”: ‘India Today’ founder Aroon Purie’s dark prediction as ‘Mail Today’ shuts shop after a 13-year run

The following is the full text of the internal communication sent out by India Today chairman Aroon Purie, announcing the suspension i.e. closure of the print edition of the group’s tabloid, Mail Today. *** Dear All, As you all know, the Group entered the newspaper space 13 years ago with great hope. We collaborated with…

Narendra Modi and Barbra Streisand: a short story on how not to bury a secret, in 12 newspaper screenshots

Besides all her other achievements, the American singer-actor Barbra Streisand contributed the “Streisand Effect” to the dictionary of the digital age, when she sued a photographer for distributing aerial pictures of her mansion, in 2003. At the time she sued the lensman, Kenneth Adelman, the photographs had been viewed just six times—twice by her own…

In the gushing waters of majoritarianism, there are only a handful of media outliers on the day after

“The book that begins with ‘We, the people of India’ is the God that we failed” “Raja and rishi are no longer” With a picture of the Constitution, and a white-on-black headline, ‘The Telegraph’ (above) says India witnessed a “ritual merger of the Church and State” in Ayodhya, at the ground-breaking ceremony on August 5.…

Desi vs angrezi: how language and English newspapers showcase the start of the Ram Temple construction in Ayodhya

India’s language press has been a key force-multiplier of the Hindutva cause—and ipso facto of the RSS-BJP agenda. This is breezily attributed to the language media being more in tune with the aspirations of “real India”. Today’s front pages on the foundation stone being laid for the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, are less a product…

The top business newspaper Editor who had failed in three different ‘third languages’ by the time he was 12!

Editors are ever so eager to project themselves as repositories of knowledge, those who have never put a foot wrong in their academic lives, those who know it all. What a relief to see T.N. Ninan, the well-regarded former Editor of The Economic Times and Business Standard, admit to some decidedly human frailties. In his…

“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 || “In 1962, media was more independent, less subservient. It lampooned Nehru, Krishna Menon mercilessly. Modi is trying to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by managing headlines” || Jairam Ramesh

*** When WhatsApp becomes the chief source of information, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that India was a mere 15 years old as a free nation when China invaded in 1962. An impressionable teenager, whose population was 45 crores, whose GDP was a mere $4,200 crore. On the other hand, when China intruded…

‘Deccan Chronicle’ owed lenders Rs 8,180 crore. An arbitrator tells BCCI to shell out Rs 8,000 crore for cancelling its IPL franchise. Will Venkattram Reddy be back in control? Take a wild guess.

Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad’s oldest and biggest English newspaper, has been under the pump for quite some time now, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has provided a windfall boon for the premature termination of its IPL franchise. Rs 4,800 crore, if you read Mint, or Business Standard. Rs 8,000 crore, if…

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…

J-POD || Podcast || “Google and Facebook think tying up with Reliance Jio will open doors, shut out competitors. Indira Gandhi bludgeoned media with ‘jhatka’; Narendra Modi uses the ‘halaal’ technique” || Paranjoy Guha Thakurta

There once used to be a time when any new announcement by Reliance Industries would be put under the microscope by the media and examined with a fine toothcomb.  A rights issue, a new venture. a tie-up, even a routine annual general meeting (AGM). Everything would be inspected with forensic detail by newspapers like the Indian…

“The information dissemination lapse is the greatest lapse for India and Indian democracy”: Ajai Shukla’s devastating indictment of media stenography on the Chinese pullback in Ladakh

There are at least 50 reporters in Delhi on the defence beat. But for nearly six weeks, from early-May to mid-June, all but a couple of them were in the dark, or in patriotic denial, of the Chinese incursion into Indian territory at Ladakh. The killing of 20 soldiers on June 15 provided the necessary…

J-POD || Podcast || “Indian TV is not a force-multiplier in Nepal, it’s a force-subtractor. Its sexism, misogyny and ultra-nationalism is ruining India’s ties not just with Nepal but also with China” || ‘Himal’ founder Kanak Mani Dixit

*** Even the most uninformed Indian might be able to understand India’s troubles with Pakistan and China. But even a genius will find it difficult to make sense of India’s current relationship status with Nepal. When it came to power in 2014, the BJP-led NDA government was naturally expected to develop deeper linkages with what was…

A Gandhian Editor—an oxymoron in Indian journalism—returns to a real farm house in the countryside, after staying 43 years in an orphanage

In Delhi, Editors living in farm houses are a benchmark for #PannaPramukhs still aspiring and perspiring to clamber up the greasy totempole. Sainik Farms has a number of #EditorialWarriors. A super-expensive mansion on Malcha Marg in Delhi’s diplomatic hub, allegedly owned by a “reporters’ editor”, has kept tongues wagging for years and even prompted a…

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

“India has ceded territory to China”: near-unanimous newspaper editorials call the Modi government’s bluff—and reaffirm the value of print journalism

Editorials in India’s major English newspapers on the “mutual disengagement” that India and China have agreed upon, are nearly unanimous in their verdict: under “strong man” Narendra Modi, India has surrendered its territory to China. The mature and considered reading of the newspapers is in marked contrast to TV news channels parroting the BJP-led NDA…

Anthony Parakal, the ex-Railway man whose “byline” appeared over 4,000 times on the edit pages of newspapers and magazines for 50 years, is dead

On page 8 of The Times of India in Bombay today, a name which appeared hundreds of times on the edit page of the newspaper, when it had an edit page for adults: Anthony Parakal. A former railway employee, Parakal arrived in Bombay from Kerala in 1954, and appalled by the miserable living conditions got…

J-POD || Podcast || “Coverage of border conflict is a dangerous new low. It signals to China that the incursion doesn’t matter very much or the government has controlled the media” || ex-FT journalist Rahul Jacob

Like nearly news event these days, China’s incursion into Ladakh has revealed the deep fault lines in the media. For weeks, most Indian newspapers and nearly all TV channels pretended nothing was amiss at the border. The exceptions—Ajai Shukla of Business Standard, Sushant Singh of The Indian Express, Manu Pubby of The Economic Times—could be…