Category Archives: Newspapers

‘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.…

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…

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…

‘The Daily Telegraph’ journalist who found Nirav Modi in London was, er, not quite looking for the diamond fraudster that Narendra Modi had happily let go

Journalism doesn’t always happen by design. When The Daily Telegraph found the fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi hailing a taxi in London, and peppered him with questions, it was not because a crack investigative team was actively looking for the man who had defrauded banks in India of Rs 13,000 crore. It was because the paper’s magazine…

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…

Darryl D’Monte, the Bandra boy whose grandfather probably owned half of Bandra, but took a local train to and from work, even when he was Editor of ‘Indian Express’ and ‘The Times of India’

Indian Journalism Review records with regret the passing of Darryl D’Monte, former resident of The Indian Express and The Times of India in Bombay. He was 75. Both papers carried obituaries of D’Monte, an environmental crusader who, even as Editor, travelled to and from Bandra by local train because cars polluted the air. ToI graciously…

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 happens in the Northeast shouldn’t stay in the Northeast: ‘The Indian Express’ stands shoulder to shoulder with ‘The Shillong Times’ and tells Meghalaya HC to back off

Media solidarity sees a dramatic upsurge when biggies like NDTV are raided, or The Hindu is attacked. Industry bodies gallantly bounce into the picture and flex their notional muscle. Protest marches are taken out; editorials written. Not so when smaller players, especially in Kashmir or the Northeast, are affected. Or, language publications. Or, individuals. Thankfully,…

Made in Sivakasi: How newspapers front-paged the announcement of general elections 2019 in a mad riot of colours, cartoons, graphics, boxes, numbers

The dog’s meal that is Indian newspaper front pages, on big news days. Text, graphics, pictures, cartoons, photo-illustrations, boxes, highlights, numbers, colours, all in one right royal mess, with nothing to hold the eye. Even on a such as this, the announcement of #GeneralElections2019, there were newspapers like Dainik Bhaskar (Hindi), Divya Bhaskar (Gujarati), and…

100% more editorials, 225% more opinion pieces: How Pothan Joseph’s ‘Dawn’ beat Pothan Joseph’s ‘Deccan Herald’ 77-49 and demonstrated the true role of a newspaper as a conscience-keeper

*** The hollowing out of Indian news media—from being serious, agenda-setting, conscience-keepers, to frothy, gutless, market-driven beasts without a soul—is all too obvious, but it was never more apparent than during the recent India-Pakistan kerfuffle. As the two nuclear powers peered into the abyss, there was a barely a commentary in any part of the…

In Meghalaya, an Editor’s posts on Facebook prove costly as she fights (and loses) a contempt of court notice against ‘The Shillong Times’ in three months flat

*** The editor and publisher of The Shillong Times, a well-regarded newspaper from Meghalaya established two years before India became independent, have been held guilty of contempt of court in an extraordinary case that has implications for freedom of expression enjoyed by mainstream and social media voices across the country. The Meghalaya High Court rejected the…

Listening to Vineet Jain’s and Rahul Joshi’s cringe-worthy speeches welcoming Narendra Modi, you are left with only one doubt: was the text approved by the Prime Minister’s Office or its propaganda division, Niti Aayog?

“After #Pulwama, the Indian media proves it is the BJP’s propaganda machine“ This was the headline of an article in the Washington Post, on March 4, by two researchers of The Polis Project, who looked at the “contradictory, biased, incendiary and uncorroborated” reports in a number of media vehicles including India Today, NDTV, News 18, The…

Usually journalists try to enter politics during elections, but when a first-class, four-time Member of Parliament decides to return to journalism, it is news

When elections loom into view, journalists with an eye on the main chance, fancy a stint in politics. But in Odisha, the four-time Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Tathagata Sathpathy, a stand-out parliamentarian, has taken the opposite route: back to journalism. Satpathy, owner and editor of the well-regarded Odia newspaper Dharitri, and its sister English…

74 full-page advertisements in 3 English newspapers over 6 days: Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal show how media silence can be bought before an election by the square centimetre

*** Fact: government advertising is what sustains “free media” in India, and pulling back government ads is standard operating procedure. Fact: the government was the biggest advertiser in print and on television before the 2014 elections, overtaking FMCG, automotive, etc. *** Still, it takes the breath away to see the quantum of public money being…

“I keep hearing about the problems media organisations and journalists have undergone [in the Modi era], but the truth is I never faced one: Mukund Padmanabhan on editing ‘The Hindu’

The change of editorship at Indian media houses is (usually) a sinister cloak-and-dagger affair, done in the dead of night sans any grace. Publishers rarely ever feel the need to inform readers why Editor X has left or why Editor Y has come in. Not so, The Hindu. Three months ago, the “Mountroad Mahavishnu” announced…

A masterclass in grace, gratitude and decency from ‘The Hindu’ on how to bid goodbye to an outgoing employee

Decency is not a virtue much in demand in Indian newsrooms, where the mercenary and the mercantile are valued higher. But there is always the rare exception. The Hindu gives its Editor Mukund Padmanabhan (in picture, above) a first-class sendoff upon his retirement, with a graceful (and grateful) front-page acknowledgement of services rendered by him…

Kashmir’s small English dailies show more balance and sobriety than mainland India’s gung-ho newspapers in putting out the casualty figure in the air strikes on Pakistan

Verification is a vital function of the news media, especially when the reader-viewer-surfer is exposed to relentless propaganda via electronic and social media. India’s air strike on Pakistan on February 26 posed a test of the newspapers and television against the backdrop of opposing claims made by the two countries. As if to prove the…

Kashmir newspaper editors vow to fight “deliberate strangulation and subversion of media in the state” after Modi government freezes ads to two dailies

The first casualty of war is said to be truth, a statement attributed to various worthies. In Kashmir, the first casualty of the gathering clouds of war is newspaper freedom. As India and Pakistan begin shadow-boxing after the deadliest attack in Kashmir in 30 years of militancy, The Telegraph reports that government advertisements have been…