Category Archives: People

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…

What you (really) need to know today: Jubilant Generics, the “single-source” of 82% COVID cases in Mysore that went below the media radar, because, maybe, it wasn’t in Delhi, or the Tablighi Jamaat

For over 50 days now, R. Sukumar, the editor of the Delhi newspaper Hindustan Times, has written a daily wrap titled ‘COVID-19: What you need to know today‘. But three words have never appeared in it: Jubilant Generics, Nanjangud. Jubilant Generics, is a subsidiary of Jubilant Life Sciences, a pharmaceutical company founded by Shyam S.…

Soon streaming on a screen near you: Anushka Sharma-backed Amazon Prime show, based “on a line” from ex-Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal’s true story of his assassins

Say what you will, Anushka Sharma is a woman of her word. In March 2019, the actor backed a web series based on disgraced Tehelka editor Tarun J. Tejpal’s book The Story of my Assassins despite the cloud of sexual harassment charges hovering over him. The Bombay tabloid Mid-Day reports today that the project is…

J-POD || Podcast || “No substitute for credible journalism. Media has to cut costs, get into new areas. Journalists need to be multi-skilled in new era” || ex-INS president and ‘Malayala Manorama’ director Jayant Mammen Mathew

*** Battle-weary journalists, who have been there, done that and seen it all, think they know exactly how the media houses which employ them should deal with the existential threat posed by the #Coronavirus pandemic.  You could call this the sentimental view, the belief that, at this inflection point for the media business, the least…

When a warm tribute to a dead journalist is mostly about a humourist who never met him despite 32 years in the same city

Jug Suraiya pays tribute to R.V. Smith, the former news editor of The Statesman, in a column in today’s Times of India. The tribute is interesting for three reasons. One, it is mostly about Jug Suraiya, not the recently deceased Smith. Two, despite having lived in Delhi for over 30 years, Jug Suraiya admits their…

Only ‘The Telegraph’ and ‘Deccan Chronicle’ have AP photographers in Kashmir winning the Pulitzer Prize on page one. For most of the rest, it is routine news. Any wonder India is No. 142 on World Press Freedom index?

There has been nearly nothing to celebrate for Kashmiris, or at least for Kashmiri media, after they were confined to their own homes on 5 August 2019, without phones, without wifi and without the internet. The Coronavirus lockdown on top of their own lockdown only compounded the misery. Naturally, the prestigious Pulitzer Prize being awarded…

J-POD || Podcast || “Hindi media has swung majorly towards Modi govt. Big newspaper chains have become mammoth like Google and Facebook. News desks are at the forefront of communalisation” || ex-Hindustan editor Mrinal Pande

*** Hindi journalism has been such an unquestioning and uncritical proponent of majoritarian establishment causes for so long that it is an accepted axiom now, but the outbreak of #Coronavirus has decidedly taken it to the next level. The ease with which newspapers and news channels in the heartland have surrendered their professional tasks and…

Srinivasan after Srinivasan: The Hindu’s business editor will be the next editor of ‘The Hindu Business Line’

The Hindu group has announced Raghuvir Srinivasan as the next Editor of Business Line. He will succeed Raghavan Srinivasan upon his retirement. A former chartered accountant, Srinivasan has been with the group since 1993, alternating between the flagship and its business daily.

A true love story: How a Parsi journalist at ‘Current’ met the Editor of ‘Onlooker’ magazine and lived happily forever, but got excommunicated from her community

Two weeks after her death in the middle of the COVID pandemic, The Telegraph‘s fine London correspondent Amit Roy has a long obituary of Gulshan Ewing nee Mehta. Gulshan Ewing was the editor of the women’s magazine Eve’s Weekly for 23 years, from 1966 to 1989, and also editor of the film magazine Star &…

J-POD || Podcast || “If you cannot afford the people that you have, however good they are, do not think twice before rightsizing” || ‘Ananda Vikatan’ chief B. Srinivasan on the big lesson from Corona

*** In the manner in which the mythology of contemporary Indian media is constructed, it would appear that concepts like “reader-friendly” and “marketing” and “brand innovation” were alien in our journalism till Samir Jain of The Times of India arrived on the scene in the mid-1980s. It is only then, we are told, that Indian…

When a journalist gets a proper obituary, it is news: R.V. Smith of ‘The Statesman’ get the kind of salute that underlines the value of print journalism

*** Ronald Vivian Smith aka R.V. Smith, the nomadic chronicler of all things quaint and quirky in India’s national capital, has received the kind of obituaries to die for. Mr Smith, who worked for The Statesman in its hey day, gets a warm and wonderful sendoff from all newspapers except, of course, The Times of…