Category Archives: People

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…

When a business journalist—a former media advisor to the prime minister, no less—cannot buy a bottle of booze, it’s news

All the booze that’s fit to print. Former Business Standard editor Sanjaya Baru, the former media advisor to prime minister Manmohan Singh, and a policy wonk who has a solution for every problem on earth, falls victim to an online scam. Screenshots: courtesy The Hindu, Amar Ujala, Navbharat Times *** Sanjay Daru got cheated ₹24,000…

J-POD || Podcast || “No ruler would be so foolish as to openly declare censorship today. There are enough subtle ways to bring it in quietly” || Coomi Kapoor on the best-kept secret of the Emergency

*** An acclaimed Indian Express journalist, whose husband was jailed during the Emergency of 1975, says governments no longer need to take Indira Gandhi’s route of introducing censorship to control the media or the message that reaches the people. “Parties have found enough ways to control the media without having to formally declare censorship. Governments…

Nidhi Razdan says (maybe) it was a mistake to throw Sambit Patra out of her NDTV show ‘Left, Right & Centre’

Nidhi Razdan, the NDTV anchor who famously sent BJP spokesman Sambit Swaraj out of her 9 pm show Left, Right and Centre when he accused the channel of having an “agenda” three years ago, says she would not do it were it to happen again. In an interview with the writer and columnist Amit Varma…

The two veterans who unmasked the Chinese incursions “with the tenacity of the NYT reporters who broke the Pentagon Papers”

Mainstream media’s preferred posture on the Chinese ingress in Ladakh, simmering since early May, had been one of denial bordering on wilful neglect, till it exploded in the face with the killing of 20 Indian soldiers on June 15. In Business Standard today, Rahul Jacob, the former Hong Kong bureau chief of the Financial Times,…

Where should journalists park their money for a rainy day? News you can use, courtesy the travails of a retired ‘Times of India’ scribe and his wife

Can even a savings scheme floated by the Prime Minister be trusted any more? Vidyadhar Date, a fine byline from The Times of India of yore, invested Rs 30 lakh with his wife, Hemlata Date, in March. Their investment instrument: the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY), a assured returns scheme for senior citizens, which…

Barkha Dutt’s father and the Netflix founder Marc Randolph’s father have one thing in common: a hobby that hooked them for life

Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph‘s father was a nuclear engineer who, after returning home every day, would slip into overalls, head into the basement and assemble toy trains. The paragraphs above appear in Randolph’s book That will never work. *** In today’s Sunday Mid-Day, there is a similar story of TV journalist Barkha Dutt‘s father, S.P.…

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…

How do English newspaper readers look? And how do they compare to their Hindi brethren? A visual representation.

What is the profile of readers of English newspapers compared to those who consume newspapers in the languages? Over the last week, as distribution has eased in its key market, Bombay, the Times group has run a campaign on its news pages in The Times of India and Navbharat Times, to “reclaim the city”. The…

Everybody loves Rashid Irani: When a fine movie critic—a restaurant owner who doesn’t own a stove or a fridge, and can’t cook—gets stuck at home

How did a Bombay film critic who lives alone, without a cooking range, TV or fridge, and who has eaten all his meals outside for 35 years, live through the 75-day lockdown? Rashid Irani, long time movie reviewer for The Times of India and then Hindustan Times, recounts his saga in Sunday Mid-Day. “Though I…

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 || “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…

In the good old days, when journalism was still fun, before the nerds and “grads” arrived and sucked the oxygen out of the newsroom…

Khushwant Singh said he cooked up the weekly astrological predictions for The Illustrated Weekly of India for a couple of weeks when the designated crystalball gazer was rendered hors de combat. The claim was difficult to ascertain given the general record of its source. In the Bombay tabloid Mid-Day, its former staffer Mark Manuel recounts…

“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…

When a teenage prodigy with 34,347 international runs grinds his way to a slow and steady 25, it is news to celebrate

In the Bombay tabloid Mid-Day, its group sports editor Clayton Murzello marks the silver jubilee of batting legend Sachin Tendulkar‘s wedding, 25 years ago today. Clayton writes that he gifted the couple a marble Ganesh idol, and recounts Behram “Busybee” Contractor making mental notes for his Round & About column in the Afternoon Despatch &…

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,…

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…