Archive for January, 2012

A journalist, a newspaper founder, and a martyr

31 January 2012

***

Gopalkrishna Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma, in the Hindustan Times:

“The immortals, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev had just attained martyrdom on the gallows of the British Raj. The country was astir, angry and aspiring to acts of supreme courage for the country’s liberation.

“Yet another kind of martyrdom, no less demanding, no less needed, was just round the corner. And its site was not the altar of freedom but the public square of humanity.

“The most savage communal violence had engulfed Kanpur’s mixed mohallas. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, teacher, journalist, founder of The Pratap and president of the UP Congress Committee in 1929, did not phone the police. He did not go to newspaper offices to fulminate against communalism. He did not lapse into prayer, wailing or rhetoric. He did just what Gandhi wanted satyagrahis to do in communally-charged situations.

“Over four days, Vidyarthi saved the lives of several hundreds of Hindus and Muslims from the blind fury of murderous hordes. On March 25, his biographer Anandi Prasad Mathur tells us, when Vidyarthi heard of violence having erupted in Maida Bazar, he left home for the locality, despite pleadings from his wife. ‘You fret for nothing,’ Vidyarthi told her, ‘I have not displeased any community, no one will harm me… God will help me…’

“A man running for his life asked Vidyarthi to save some people who were hiding nearby. Not for the first time that day Vidyarthi was in the direct line of death. Someone tried to save him by pulling him to a side gully. ‘Why are you dragging me?’ Vidyarthi said, ‘If these people’s anger is to be quenched by my blood, so be it…’

“And then blow upon blow raining on him, sharp instruments pierced his thin frame. Gandhi wrote in Young India: “The death of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi is one to be envied by us all… Let this noble example stimulate us all to similar effort should occasion arise again.”

Image: courtesy Hindustan Times

Read the full article: Incidentally, we must not forget

Also read: Thus spake the editor-in-chief of the Harijan

What a newspaper editor told Mahatma Gandhi

James W. Michaels: the man who reported Gandhi‘s death

Absolute Annarchy, and what’s more it is online

30 January 2012

An online exhibition of cartoons by E.P. Unny, the chief political cartoonist of The Indian Express has gone live. Curated by Sundara Ramanathaiyer of the Centre for Comic Arts (CCA), the cartoons examine the Anna Hazare campaign through the eyes of India’s foremost political linesman.

Visit the exhibition: E.P. Unny

Sachin Tendulkar, Mid-Day & the Indian Express

28 January 2012

Thankfully, Sachin Tendulkar‘s below-par performance on the Australian tour has dimmed the spotlight somewhat on the Indian media batting for a Bharat Ratna for the cricketer in quest for his 100th hundred.

In Lounge, the Saturday section of the business daily Mint, columnist Aakar Patel argues why, among other reasons, Sachin shouldn’t get the nation’s highest civilian honour:

“On 15 April 1999, just before the World Cup, Sachin Tendulkar’s car hit a Maruti 800 in Bandra. Tendulkar got [Shiv Sena chief] Bal Thackeray to telephone Mid Day, the paper I joined the following year.

“He warned them against carrying the story. This was surprising because nobody had been seriously hurt in the accident.

“Thackeray told the paper running the story would damage “national interest”.

“What was this national interest? Mohammad Azharuddin was about to be sacked, Thackeray explained, and Tendulkar was likely to become captain again. Such stories could spoil his chances. Except The Indian Express, no newspaper ran the story. In July, Azhar was sacked and Tendulkar was named captain.”

Since that story, Tendulkar and Thackeray, Bandra-ites both, have had a small run-in over the batsman’s statement that “he was an Indian first and Marathi too, but Mumbai belongs to all“.

Read the full column: Why Sachin shouldn’t get the Bharat Ratna

Also read: ‘Indian journalism is regularly second-rate’

Prime minister, maybe, but not a very good sub-editor

Shobha De tears into Vinod Mehta in India Today

27 January 2012

There are two tried and tested formulas for commissioning reviews in the shockingly incestuous bordello of Indian books that has now spread its wings into Indian journalism.

The supposedly dignified formula is to get an author’s friend or associate to do the unctuous needful (say a Khushwant Singh to “review” a David Davidar) so that reputations are protected, nothing damaging is said and everybody gets called for the next orgiastic party.

Its opposite recipe is to get a hired gun who will fire at will (say a Mihir S. Sharma to pump into Suhel Seth) so that the old gasbag is punctured, some buzz is released, and major “trending” happens in blogosphere.

India Today magazine uses the latter technique in the latest issue while belatedly reviewing Outlook* magazine editor-in-chief Vinod Mehta‘s memoirs.

In Lucknow Boy, published nearly three months ago, Mehta gives the sultana of scuttlebutt, former Stardust editor Shobha De, some chosen ones— for not including an introduction to a book she had commissioned him to write and then for not having had the courtesy to inform of it, despite bumping into him off and on, etc.

De has returned the favour in kind (and more) in the India Today review calling the 306-page tome “that’s filled with Delhi style bragging… rather dull”—a loosely strung account of job-hopping full of old-fashioned self-righteousness and tedious justifications:

#What happened? Something obviously got in the way, and let’s blame it on Delhi. Had Mr Mehta continued to live and work in Mumbai, I am certain he would have written a far more readable book.

# Mr Mehta’s sepia-toned recollections may be of some interest to his colleagues and assorted politicos who wish to be featured in the magazine he so ably edits. Give them Sunny Leone‘s unedited life story in ten easy chapters intead—now that’s riveting stuff.

# The biggest letdown in this memoir is the absence of any asli masala….

# The Mumbai Mehta was an amiable chap. He wasn’t boastful. And he could out-bitch anybody in the room. Most of the time, the bitching was about those absent. Everybody laughed—including his highly “intellectual” friends tiresome then, far worse now. But Mr Mehta had not turned as pretentious… nor did he drop names.

# The one magazine Mr Mehta missed editing and he could still do a brilliant job of it, is Stardust.

* Disclosures apply

Illustration: courtesy Keshav/ The Hindu

Also read: Vinod Mehta on Arun Shourie, Dileep Padgaonkar

It isn’t easy telling tales of even dead editors

Wife-beater? Freeloader? Menace to society?

N.Ram denies ‘landgrabbing’ charges

27 January 2012

After the AIADMK won the Tamil Nadu assembly elections in a landslide last year, several DMK ministers and leaders have been slapped with landgrabbing charges by the Jayalalitha government.

N. Ram, who remitted office as editor-in-chief of The Hindu last week, has been dragged into the controversy, reports the Hindustan Times. He is now threatening legal action against all media outfits that carried the “scandalous falsehood”.

In March 2010, Ram had threatened civil and criminal proceedings against the “demonstrable falsehoods and defamatory assertions” in an Indian Express story on the squabbles in the Hindu family, but nothing more was heard of it.

Image: courtesy Hindustan Times

How Hindu aimed at The Times but shot DNA

25 January 2012

It is never a pretty sight when a giant wakes up after a nice, long slumber.

After snoring through the thinly veiled insinuations of The Times of India that it was a sleeping inducing newspaper, The Hindu has woken up with a jolt through three TV, super-aggressive commercials that are already airing on television channels in the South.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that while the young and ignorant reader of The Times of India fed on the 5Fs—fun, frolic, froth, fashion, and fornication—-is clearly its target, The Hindu‘s TVCs seem like a direct assault on ads issued by The Times‘ competitor in Bombay, DNA, for its city supplement, After Hours, last year.

Worse, as longtime media watchers will remember, Stay Ahead Of The Times is a cliche as punchline which several of Times‘ competitors have used, including Hindustan Times in Delhi in the mid 1990s.

Also read: Good morning, it’s time to go back to bed

Only one journalist on 109 Padma Awards’ list

25 January 2012

For the second year in a row, there are no working journalists— i.e. those still burning the phone lines and greasing the totempole in anticipation of the big day—in the 2012 Republic Day honours’ list.

Aside from the recently deceased cartoonist Mario Miranda has been decorated with the nation’s second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan, there is only one other living journalist on the 109-name list —Vijay Dutt Shridhar of Madhya Pradesh—who gets the Padma Sri.

In 2011, too, there was nobody from the Delhi set, although a number of names had done the rounds. Only the nation’s first woman news photographer, Homai Vyarawalla, and the veteran editor, author and columnist T.J.S. George had been found fit for the honour last year.

***

2008: Padma Shri VD, Padma Shri RDS and Padma Shri BD

2008: Why Rajdeep and Barkha Dutt must decline Padma Sri

2009: Third highest civilian honour for Shekhar Gupta

2010: Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria gets Padma Bhushan

2011: Padma Awards for Homai Vyarawala, T.J.S. George

2011: Did Niira Radia tapes impact journos’ Padma awards?

2011: Why Barkha Dutt needn’t return her Padma Sri

Are journalism’s best practices in your DNA?

25 January 2012

On the eve of the nation’s 63rd Republic Day, the Bombay newspaper DNA, from the Dainik Bhaskar and Zee groups, devotes its front page to publicising its code of ethics.

Before laying out its key principles—responsibility, freedom, independence, truth and accuracy, impartiality, fair play—the code reads:

“Our Constitution, protecting freedom of expression, guarantees to the people through our press a constitutional right, and places on journalists, like us, a particular responsibility. Journalism demands of its practictioners not only industry knowledge but also the pursuit of a standard of integrity proportionate to the journalist’s singular obligation.”

Link via M.V. J. Kar

Image: courtesy DNA

***

Also read: Good morning, your paper is free of paid news

ET: It’s never too late to get yourself a code of ethics

IRS sparks TOI-Mumbai vs DNA-HT battle

Is it all over for DNA in the Mumbai market?

External reading: The Mint code of ethics

Times group, Hindustan Lever & Shrijeet Mishra

24 January 2012

On Saturday, The Times of India carried on its business pages (top) news of a senior Hindustan Lever executive leaving the company, the second in a year. On Tuesday, The Economic Times followed suit on the front page of the third major exit from HUL in the last 18 months.

Fact: Shrijeet Mishra, one of the HUL worthies mentioned in both stories, joined The Times group as chief operating officer in July last year.

Just.

Images: courtesy The Times of India, The Economic Times

Why Prabhu Chawla didn’t become media advisor

23 January 2012

Prabhu Chawla, editorial director of The New Indian Express and Sunday Standard:

“Personally, I’m against the idea of journalists associating with the government in a formal advisory capacity without joining the ruling party. When former Prime Minister V.P. Singh offered me his media advisor’s job in 1990, I reluctantly declined. I suggested Singh not to hire any journalist, as he would only be adding to his already very long list of foes.

“At the age of 44, I couldn’t risk my journalistic career for a lackey’s loft, and make the prime minister the target of my own numerous enemies, also from within my profession.

“I hate to admit there isn’t much love lost between most senior journalists. Over the years, journalism has become divided along ideological lines. Like most humans, journalists also carry their predilections, preferences and biases around. In spite of our best efforts, we try to impose our choices on political leaders.(And imagine we succeed.)

“In the process, the leader ends up facing the ire of other journalists who end up targeting him, thanks to the one in his service. Many journalists have visible or invisible political ambitions. It is more honest to join a political party than masquerading as a self-proclaimed professional while accepting a job from the ruling party.”

Read the full article: A lose-lose situation

Also read: At 7, Race Course Road, this is Pankaj Pachauri

Why the PM is hopelessly wrong about the media

How well is the PM’s media advisor advising him?

Because when dog bites dog, it’s news—I

Because when dog bites dog, it’s news—II

Never believe anything until it’s officially denied

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,696 other followers

%d bloggers like this: