‘Magazines, like mushrooms, should grow in dark’

26 November 2007

It’s raining Tina Brown in New Delhi. Newspapers, magazines, television programmes are all full of the better half of Sir Harold Evans, explaining why she won’t blog, how the famous Demi Moore cover for Vanity Fair came about, how she was expelled from school for describing her teacher’s bosom as an unidentified flying object, and how the Clintons are approaching JFK, Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana in their iconic status.

On NDTV’s Walk the Talk programme, Tina spoke to Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta:

# “I think editing has never been more complex than it is now. I think it is a very hard thing for editors today to keep their focus because they are being assailed from every direction by this ambient news everywhere they go and to keep that focus and to keep yourself aware of what the priorities are.

# “The problem today, with so much media, is that everybody’s famous but nobody’s interesting. We all know too much about everybody. How do you distinguish yourself from the crowd apart from being assassinated?

# “An editor has to find the very best talent that you can… and then listen to what they want to write, but sometimes also guide them to what they don’t want to write. I find that often journalists are great writers but they don’t necessarily have great ideas. The important thing is to notice that gleam in their eyes.

# “Magazines are like mushrooms; they should grow in the dark without being vegetative… one must never forget that magazines are leisure things. If you are going to be serious and edifying, you must find a way to do it in a dramatic, even theatrical, way to make people read it.”

In an interview with Shoma Chaudhury of the newsweekly, Tehelka:

# “The challenge is not to stop doing 12,000 word stories on crop rotation, but to make them sexy to make people read. Find the angle, the headline, the presentation that will compel people to read.

# “Corporatisation is the biggest challenge facing media. The sophistry of the big conglomerate guys is to say there’s never been more plurality of outlet. Sure. We have a thousand and one outlets now, but their circulation is zip. There isn’t a place to have any meaningful public discourse. You’re just talking to yourself. Most publications and networks don’t have the critical mass. And the major networks and newspaper don’t want to do the work.

# “The worst reverberation of saturation journalism is that we actually don’t end up knowing anything about anybody.

# “Magazines have a limited role to play. There’s no use covering basic news, but people still want context, want perspective. These readers need to be nurtured and cultivated. You need committed, visionary managements for that.

# “People keep asking me to blog, but I’m not going to lower my standards, and why should I write for nothing? Haven’t done that since childhood.”

Read the Walk The Talk transcript here: I think people remember Demi Moore more for the Vanity Fair cover than any movie she did

Read the Tehelka interview here: What’s killing us is the dumbocracy of news

***

Illustration: E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

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