Category Archives: People

The Drumbeaters of Dystopia: Wrapped in the tricolour, Indian news media can barely contest the establishment narrative in Kashmir—global outlets can only find holes in it

*** Forty days into the Kashmir “lockdown”—stupid American jargon for a brutal and undemocratic suppression of fundamental rights—there are three, possibly four, “narratives” of what is happening in the valley. There is the local Kashmiri view, which we do not know much about, and possibly they themselves don’t. There is the mainland India view, which…

“Indian media is in a structural crisis that is neither accidental or random”: Ravish Kumar’s words reflected in the silence of many top newspapers on his Magsaysay Award acceptance speech

Just nine out of 24 newspapers in nine languages found NDTV India’s Ravish Kumar winning the Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2019 worthy of attention when the prize was announced in early August. Not surprisingly, only seven of them have news of the TV presenter picking up his award in Manila yesterday, or space for the searing…

“I feel threatened in Delhi and Kashmir. I fear for my life, family and career,” says ‘Deutsche Welle’ journalist stopped from leaving India for conference in Germany

Gowhar Geelani, a well-known Kashmiri journalist who works for the German radio and TV station Deutsche Welle, was last night stopped from flying out of New Delhi’s international airport to attend an “Editors’ Advanced Programme” in Bonn. Geelani—who believes both India and Pakistan should stay off Kashmir—was stopped by an immigration official after he had…

An ‘Indian Express’ reporter recounts a bone-chilling story of pure horror in Kashmir, as India’s media bodies beat around the bush

24 days after the “lockdown”—jargon for a brutal, undemocratic suppression of civil liberties—in Kashmir began, life continues to be hell for journalists in paradise. The physical, professional, psychological and commercial implications of the communications blackout on reporters, photographers, cameramen, editors and owners have been much catalogued. In today’s Indian Express, Adil Akhzer recounts a personal…

45 tweets on Arun Jaitley by reporters, editors, presenters and owners, is all it takes to understand journalism, Delhi style: the scams, the papers, the gossip, the plugs, and the headline management

Arun Jaitley‘s “proximity” to the media, to put it mildly, was New Delhi’s worst-kept secret. Actually, South Delhi’s worst-kept secret, because beyond the southern borders of the BJP headquarters, nobody cared a flying fig for the man whose mass base, as Arun Shourie once put it, consisted of “six journalists” (here, here). Jaitley’s “affable” nature,…

In the middle of an inexorable conflict situation in Kashmir, despite a brutal, undemocratic crackdown on civil liberties, there’s only one thing on the mind of a ‘saas’ who was once ‘bahu’

Mothers will be mothers, but reporters can be saviours. Vijaita Singh, a journalist with The Hindu, on assignment in Kashmir, met a woman in Srinagar, at a so-called “helpline” where citizens are allowed to make a phon calls, like prisoners. In the midst of a massive clampdown on communication networks in the Valley, Harvinder Singh…

Ravish Kumar’s citation (878 words) compared to Arun Shourie’s (575 words) is a testament to how much media freedom has shrunk in India under “popular authoritarianism”. It is a tight slap on Narendra Modi’s tax terrorists—and a salute to Prannoy and Radhika Roy.

In 1982, in the wake of Indira Gandhi‘s Emergency, the Ramon Magsaysay foundation awarded Indian Express editor Arun Shourie with the Magsaysay Award. Shourie’s citation was 575 words long. In 2019, NDTV India’s Ravish Kumar has been honoured with what is considered to be the “Asian Nobel”. Kumar’s citation is 878 words long. The length…

When a journalist feels great about his profession these days, it is news—and it is news to celebrate

These aren’t the days when journalists wake up and feel great about the world—or their profession. But Man Aman Singh Chhina of the The Indian Express has enough reason to feel proud of the power of the press even in these gloomy times. On Friday, July 26, his paper front-paged a report on a Kargil…

Wisdom at the ‘Sangam’: Journalist Jawid Laiq has called seven elections in the last 42 years with greater accuracy than exit pollsters just by dipping his finger in the Ganga. Will 2019 reverse that trend?

After watching Indians at a polling booth and failing to read their mind on which way they were inclined to vote, James Reston, the late executive editor of The New York Times, grandly concluded that an election was a secret communion between a voter and democracy—it is sacrilegious to pry.  Now, where “Scotty” wrote this…

How five Prime Ministers before the ‘Divider-in-Chief’ dealt with the media—from the pen of a Kannadiga who (honourably) served four of them, under three different political formulations

Today is the second death anniversary of I. Ramamohan Rao, the genial Kannadiga who served as the principal spokesman of the government of India under four prime ministers and under three different political formulations. There is an advertisement (above) in the Delhi papers to mark the date. Rao, who like most Dakshina Kannada boys of…

The amazing rise and dramatic fall of Ravi Prakash, a competent but colourful journalist who built one of India’s biggest, most influential news networks: TV9

TV9 “chairman, CEO and editor” Ravi Prakash, who shared the stage with prime minister Narendra Modi at the launch of ‘TV9 Bharatvarsh’ just 40 days ago, has been shown the door by the network’s new owners whom he, ironically, brought in to buy the company from its original promoter six months ago. An official spokesman (see statement,…

From ‘what’ to ‘why’ and ‘what’s next’: four ways in which robots and Artificial Intelligence will change journalism in the future, according to Bloomberg News’ editor-in-chief

From Johannes Gutenberg‘s printing press to Tim Berners Lee‘s world wide web, and the telegram, radio and television in between, journalism has been constantly shaped and changed by technology—and not always for the worse. In the 21st century, the news media business is grappling, like other industries, with the prospect of machine learning and Artificial…

It is World Press Freedom Day today. It is a good day to salute Kalki, Padmini and Kajal: the transgender media personnel who also serve in their own quiet ways

May 3 is World Press Freedom day, to celebrate “the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.” “3 May acts as a reminder to…

In Gauri Lankesh’s home-state, a frighteningly real story of ‘fake news’, with the clumsy footprints of BJP and RSS—and embedded ‘sangh’ journalists and newspapers. (And, yes, a fake news peddler followed by Narendra Modi.)

*** A leading Kannada newspaper owned by a former three-term BJP MP and a serial fake news peddler followed by Narendra Modi on Twitter, have been embroiled in a forged letter scandal, following the arrest of a “journalist” owing allegiance to the RSS. # The newspaper is Vijaya Vani owned by former Dharwad (North) MP Vijay Sankeshwar. #…

“The ‘Golden Hour’ is the most important hour in your life”: On the third anniversary of his second life, six lessons Sachin Kalbag learnt when he collapsed in ‘The Hindu’ newsroom

Journalists strut around as if they are masters of the universe. As if nothing can happen to them. As if nothing can stop them. As if the Chief Editor Up Above (or down below) has different plans for them, unlike other mortals. Not so, of course. Sachin Kalbag was just 42 and in the prime…

Everybody’s favourite MP, P.Rajeev—the Chief Editor of ‘Deshabhimani’—is digging deep in Ernakulam to find out which side of the brain makes voters decide: left, or right?

Drawing room chats on the state of Indian politics almost always end up in collective kvetching, before everyone drowns their miseries in a glass of hypocrisy—and returns to forward the latest WhatsApp bile with their signature emoji. 🙏 “Wish we didn’t have to choose the best from among the worst.” “Wish our parties would stop…

Nine journalists arrested in Telangana for reporting and recording EVMs being shifted in the middle of the night in private vehicles

Mohammad Mohsin, an IAS officer of the Karnataka cadre posted as an election observer in Odisha, has been suspended for “dereliction of duty”. His offence: checking the helicopter of Narendra Modi, days after a black box had been hurriedly carried off the PM’s chopper in Karnataka. *** Now, nine journalists in Telangana have been arrested…

“We have very few checks and balances. Almost none. That is a dangerous, and depressing, situation to be in”: Tony Joseph, author of the most important book ever written by an Indian journalist

There was a time when young journalists in Bombay used to hear, in awe, that Aveek Sarkar, the paterfamilias of the Anandabazar Patrika (ABP) group, secretly considered Tony Joseph as the “ideal journalist”. That was high praise coming from the sophisticated owner of Anandabazar Patrika, Business Standard, and The Telegraph newspapers, and Sunday, Business World, and Sports World magazines.…

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…

How an ‘Economic Times’ reporter’s tweet enabled a 68-year-old Wayanad woman, who survives on Rs 36 a day, to get the photo (and a hug) of a lifetime

  On Wednesday, April 3, Indulekha Aravind, a feature writer with The Economic Times, was in Kalpetta town, in Wayanad in Kerala, meeting people a day before Congress president Rahul Gandhi was to file his nomination papers from the constituency. It is the cliched election vox-pop—a big-town reporter in a small town trying to gauge public opinion,…