‘Indian journalism is regularly second-rate’

20 June 2010

Indian media doesn’t know. That is the conclusion that has been reached by Aakar Patel, formerly of Asian Age, Deccan Chronicle, Mid-Day and Divya Bhaskar, as he tears into the Indian media in a column in Lounge, the Saturday supplement of the business daily Mint.

Indian journalists do not know how to ask questions. Indian journalists look for validation of their views rather than fresh information. Indian newspaper proprietors are more knowledgeable than editors. Indian writers are rarely asked to write for publications abroad because they are so bad.

And, since he is writing in a business paper, Patel takes care not to bite the hand that feeds.

“There are good journalists in India, but they tend to be business journalists. Unlike regular journalism, business journalism is removed from emotion because it reports numbers. There is little subjectivity and business channel anchors are calm and rarely agitated because their world is more transparent.

“Competent business reporting here, like CNBC, can be as good as business reporting in the West. This isn’t true of regular journalism in India, which is uniformly second rate….

“You could read Indian newspapers every day for 30 years and still not know why India is this way. The job of newspapers is, or is supposed to be, to tell its readers five things: who, when, where, what and why. Most newspapers make do with only three of these and are unlikely to really you ‘what’….”

Where would Indian journalism be if it weren’t for its columnists?

Photograph: courtesy My Space

Also read: SEBI chief: Business journalism or business of journalism?

Raju Narisetti: ‘Good journalists, poor journalism, zero standards’

New York Times: Why Indian media doesn’t take on Ambanis

CNBC barbs that resulted in a Rs 500 crore lawsuit

Pyramid Saimira, Tatva, and Times Private Treaties

How come none in the Indian media spotted Satyam fraud

Vir Sanghvi lashes out at Mint ‘censorship’

When a music mag (Rolling Stone) takes on Goldman Sachs

When Jon Stewart does the business interview of the year

External reading: Aakar Patel on working at The Asian Age

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6 Responses to “‘Indian journalism is regularly second-rate’”

  1. Mysore Peshva Says:

    Your comment — “And, since he is writing in a business paper, Patel takes care not to bite the hand that feeds” — seems like a cheap, snarky shot.

    Aakar Patel is right in holding up a much-needed mirror for one of India’s most verbose, unruly tribes — journalists.

  2. Samuel Says:

    Business journalism in India is nothing but brochure journalism or PR. “Unlike regular journalism, business journalism is removed from emotion because it reports numbers.” True far removed from emotion, but very close to other interests and private treaties. Hype is the middle name of business journalism. There are a very few instances of analysis or investigation. Companies are not transparent either. Despite strong competition and high salaries, standards are going down.

  3. no gravitas Says:

    There are good journalists in India and they tend to be business journalists.”
    “Competent business reporting here,like CNBC, can be as good as business reporting in the West.This isn’t true of regular (sic) journalism in India, which is uniformly second rate.”
    “Unlike regular journalism, business journalism is removed from emotion because it reports numbers.”
    “There’s little reason for Singh to engage Indian media, especially Hindi media …”

    Patel makes many more sweeping remarks like the above. In his enthusiasm to trash the Indian media for being “banal,” and “subjective,” he ends up being so himself.

    He also seems to hold Western media in great esteem. Have we all forgotten how journalists in the US agreed to become “embedded” during the Iraq war? He invokes the NYT, wondering if its readers would stop reading the paper if its reporting was up for sale.

    The NYT is indeed a great paper but consider how it messed up that story about John McCain in which the presidential candidate was accused of favouring a D.C.lobbyist because of a suggested romantic fling. Its readers certainly didn’t stop reading the paper after that (Newspaper subscriptions are anyway falling in the US but that’s a different story).

    This is not to say that all is well with the media in India. Yes, newspaper space and air time have become tradeable. Top journalists are accused of developing a nexus with corrupt politicians and officials. Some sections of the media resort to reckless sensationalism.

    And why is Manmohan Singh rarely interviewed by the Indian media? I don’t think it is because he holds a dim view of the Indian media (may be his media advisor, a respected journalist, does?). You can’t really blame the media if the man doesn’t want to be interviewed for whatever reason.

  4. mysore peshva Says:

    *no gravitas*

    rolling stone’s michael hastings, the nemesis of america’s “runaway general,” was also an embedded reporter.

  5. hilal mir Says:

    I agree with akar patel, because he was so ignorant about Kashmir when he wrote a piece about Kashmiri freedom struggle that he couldn’t get the addresses of two major separatist leaders right. There were other factual errors too. I won’t go into the article, you can imagine what it would be like when you have got your facts wrong

  6. m. r. dua Says:

    akar needs to learn about the grand traditions of indian journalism. since he’s already been kicked out by three-four indian presitigious newspapers, that show his worth.
    second, since he censures the quality of indian media writing, it’s time he started a school to teach ‘good media writing techniques’. the mint’s owner, shobhna bhartiy, should be a proud financiar for such a project.
    all the best akar !


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