Category Archives: People

How Steve Bannon was shaping India’s shrill anti-China rhetoric on Zee-owned ‘WION’ and ‘Times Now’ even before the Ladakh intrusion

Steve Bannon, the former investment banker who was editor-in-chief of the right-wing US website Breitbart before he became a key architect of Donald Trump‘s 2016 presidential election victory, has been arrested, masked and charged with swindling nearly $1 million (approximately Rs 7.5 crore) in the name of building the wall on the US-Mexico border. But…

B.N. Nayak, an unsung hero of Indian journalism, one of the many pillars on which ‘The Times of India’ stands, departs at 70

“Telling people, who did not know Mr So-and-So was alive, that Mr So-and-So is dead,” is one of the better definitions of the basic functions of journalism. And so it comes to pass that newspaper readers in Mysore, who (mostly) did not know who Mr B.N. Nayak was, are being informed today that B.N. Nayak…

“Journalism is in an extraordinarily healthy place right now. I can’t think of a time when we mattered more”: Malcolm Gladwell shuts down the prophets of doom

The acclaimed New Yorker writer and best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell on journalism, and the future of journalism, in a podcast interview with Anna Maria Tremonti of the Canadian public service broadcaster CBC. Listen to the full show: Malcolm Gladwell

Facebook, BJP and Narendra Modi: The real story about the ‘WSJ’ expose is not just Ankhi Das’s role, but how FB began meddling in Indian politics before 2014

Facebook’s shady role in Indian politics—hunting with the majoritarian hounds and fuelling the communal fires, for a price—has been blazingly apparent for over eight years now. But it has taken a devastating expose in The Wall Street Journal to reveal why Indian media has been so disinterested in such a juicy story. The August 14 WSJ…

“There can be no finer guarantee to a nation’s welfare than a free press in the service of a free nation”: Mountbatten’s 1947 message

The following is the full text of the message sent by Lord Mountbatten, the outgoing Viceroy, on India’s Independence Day in 1947. *** “I send my greetings and best wishes to the Indian press and all your readers on this historic day. It is good to know that paper restrictions have been relaxed to enable…

‘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…

“Mr Prime Minister, why do you look so unkempt?”: How Amar Singh rescued Karan Thapar after a testy interview with Chandra Shekhar 30 years ago

Never speak ill of the dead, maybe, but a week after his death, Amar Singh would go down in most people’s books as a fixer, as an operator, whose chief asset was an enviable (and enjoyable) collection of audio and video CDs—and a PABX machine which recorded every call. But, in Delhi, a city of…

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.…

J-POD || Podcast || “In 1992, journalists had to be beaten up to stop them from telling the Ayodhya story. Today it will appear on page 8. English media will go Hindi way soon” || Seema Chishti on covering the Babri Masjid demolition

*** Most journalists will confess that “changing people’s lives” was one of the reasons they got into the profession. Some might even remember this or that story that indeed changed a few lives. But not too many can claim that they actually reported a story that changed a billion lives, in fact changed a nation. The demolition…

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…

Kailash Budhwar, the former BBC Hindi and Tamil head, who played Aurangzeb and Salim

Amit Roy, The Telegraph‘s excellent London diarist has an obit of Kailash Budhwar in today’s paper. “Kailash Budhwar, who died in London on July 11, aged 88, was head of Hindi and Tamil at the BBC from 1979-1992, the first Indian to be appointed to the post. There was a big following in India for…

‘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…

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…

Vinod Dua tells the Supreme Court: “I have freedom of speech and I have the right to criticise the government. I don’t have to answer the police as to why I criticised the government”

Charged by Himachal Pradesh police with sedition for remarks made “against” prime minister Narendra Modi on a YouTube video, veteran broadcaster Vinod Dua tells the Supreme Court: “I have freedom of speech and have the right to criticise the government. Till date, the police have refused to give us details on the nature of the…

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…