Archive for the 'For the record' Category

‘The Hindu’ sets up anti-harassment panels

1 December 2013

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Following the Tarun J. Tejpal meltdown at Tehelka, media organisations are scrambling to put in place in-house mechanisms as mandated by law to deal with potentially similar incidents.

As of today, 1 December 2013, The Hindu, which has a woman Editor at its helm in Malini Parthasarathy, has constituted internal complaints commissions in its offices to deal with sexual harassment.

A six-page document accompanying the announcement defines sexual harassment as:

# Physical contact and advances, or
# A demand or request for sexual favours, or
# Sexually coloured remarks, or
# Showing pornography, or
# Any other unwelcome physical, verbal, non-verbal conduct of sexual nature

.

Online appeal to protect Tehelka journo’s privacy

22 November 2013

The following is the full text of an online appeal to protect the privacy of the Tehelka journalist whose complaint against the magazine’s editor Tarun J. Tejpal resulted in his “offer” to recuse himself from office for six months.

To all editors, journalists, bloggers, users of social media, and the public:

Some websites and blogs are posting the Tehelka journalist’s complaint to the magazine’s management or reproducing parts of it, perhaps with the intent to expose a grave act of sexual assault by a man occupying a powerful position.

However, in doing so, they are violating basic ethical and legal injunctions on the way cases of sexual assault must be reported.

The journalist’s complaint to her company is a private document and not a public one.

While private documents can be leaked in the ‘public interest’, this principle is applicable to the emails of Tarun Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhury sent to Tehelka staffers, not to the journalist’s emailed complaint.

In cases of sexual assault, it is a well established principle that the media can name the perpetrator, but not the victim.

The identity and privacy of a victim must be protected at all costs.

We are distressed that many people are circulating the journalist’s emails, and other journalists, bloggers and users of social media are publishing it in parts or whole.

Some have argued that the leaked email has exposed the gravity of the assault, which justifies it coming into the public domain.

While we are determined to report violence against women, we also believe in doing it sensitively.

It is possible to report and comment on sexual crimes without providing explicit accounts that cause additional distress to the victim.

While we stand behind the journalist in her courageous fight, let her choose how she wants her experience reported in public.

In the past week, the journalist has, through her friends, requested several times that her privacy and dignity be protected and that her personal email not be shared.

Please remember that the woman’s private email may be used only with her written consent.

We request all users of social and mainstream media to refrain from infringing on a woman’s privacy.

We request those who have posted such content to remove it immediately. Let us be sensitive as we extend support to the journalist.

If you wish to support the petition, please email reportresponsibly.india@gmail.com

Link via Supriya Sharma

Tarun Tejpal steps aside as ‘Tehelka’ editor

20 November 2013

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The following is the full text of the letter sent by Tarun J. Tejpal, founder-editor of Tehelka, to the managing editor of the magazine, Shoma Chaudhury, at 2.58 pm today.

The subject line is: Atonement.

My dear Shoma,

The last few days have been most testing, and I squarely take the blame for this.

A bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation, have led to an unfortunate incident that rails against all we believe in and fight for.

I have already unconditionally apologised for my misconduct to the concerned journalist, but I feel impelled to atone further. Tehelka has been born and built, day on day, with my blood, toil, tears and sweat, and that of many others, against near-insurmountable odds.

It has lived for and fought the big battles of our time, always on the side of the oppressed and the wronged, always on the side of equity and justice. Its voice has travelled the world and changed policy and perceptions. It has been a beacon for those who would do the right thing.

Through bad, and worse, times I have protected Tehelka and its journalists from the inevitable demands of power and corporations. I have always allowed every journalist’s sense of the right to flower and express itself. No one has ever been asked to do what they don’t believe in.

I have always held that Tehelka the institution, and its work, have always been infinitely more important than any of us individuals. It is tragic, therefore, that in a lapse of judgment I have hurt our own high principles.

Because it involves Tehelka, and a sterling shared legacy, I feel atonement cannot be just words. I must do the penance that lacerates me. I am therefore offering to recuse myself from the editorship of Tehelka, and from the Tehelka office, for the next six months.

You have always been stellar, Shoma, and even as I apologise to you and all my other colleagues, for this unfortunate incident, I leave Tehelka in your more than capable and safe hands.

In apology,
Tarun

***

The following is the full text of the email sent by Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury at 7.03 pm today, forwarding Tejpal’s letter to all staffers.

Dear All,

This may come as a rude surprise to many of you.

There is a letter from Tarun appended to this mail. There has been an untoward incident, and though he has extended an unconditional apology to the colleague involved, Tarun will be recusing himself as the editor of Tehelka for the next six months.

Tehelka is an institution he has built, and which many journalists both current and former, have contributed to in the most profound ways. Throughout our 13-year career, we have proudly articulated and tried to live by the highest standards.

We have also believed that when there is a mistake or lapse of any kind, one can only respond with right thought and action. In keeping with this stated principle, and the collective values we live by, Tarun will be stepping down for the period mentioned.

This is a hard time for all of us, and I hope all of you will stand by the institution.

Best,
Shoma

Photograph: courtest Outlook

Also read: Tarun Tejpal on the five facets of his life

How Congress regime stepped in to help Tehelka

A magazine, a scam, a owner & his Goan house

NYT, WSJ weigh on Tehelka‘s Goa controversy

Tehelka promoter says he didn’t turn off FW tap

Sachin Tendulkar, Sigmund Freud & the media

18 November 2013

As the Indian (and global) media—print, electronic and digital—reports Sachin Tendulkar‘s retirement from cricket as if it’s the end of the world; as breathless reporters, writers, anchors and tweeters ask “What will happen to cricket now that Sachin is gone?”, now is a good time as any to remember Harold Ross and James Thurber.

Ross was the founder of the New Yorker magazine, and Thurber its most famous cartoonist, who could also write. Twenty-six years after he founded the legendary weekly, Ross passed away, as all of us must, in 1951.

Here’s what Thurber writes in ‘The years with Ross‘ (page 272):

“People still speak of ‘Ross’s New Yorker’, and his name is heard in conversations and seen on printed pages. At least half a hundred people in the past seven years have said, or written, to me, ‘I never knew Ross, but when he died I felt I had lost a dear friend’.

“One man, a literary agent who gets around town, told me, ‘You could feel the sorrow all over the city the day after Ross died. I don’t think I have ever experienced such a sense of communal grief about a man most people I met had never seen.’

“We were all asked, a hundred times, ‘What will happen to the New Yorker now that Ross is dead?’ We had our separate answers to that, but Joe Liebling’s is perhaps the one that will last: ‘The same thing that happened to analysis after Sigmund Freud died’.”

Id est, life goes on.

Chill.

Also read: A front page with two mastheads for two jewels

Sachin Tendulkar, Mid-Day and the Indian Express

Poonam Pandey, Sachin Tendulkar and The Telegraph

India’s cricket reporters are too soft on cricketers

Today’s cricket journos are chamchas of cricketers

On National Press Day, a shop floor then & now

16 November 2013

The Hindu office-composing room-1950

Today, November 16, is National Press Day.

The photograph above, excerpted from Madras then, Chennai Now by Nanditha Krishna, Tishani Doshi and Pramod Kapoor (Roli books, 2013), is the floor of the composing room of The Hindu from the 1950s, a far cry from the ultra-modern printing towers of today.

As the text accompanying the picture in the book notes:

The Hindu was the first newspaper to introduce colour in 1940 and the first to own its own fleet of aircraft for distribution in 1963. In 1969, the Hindu adopted the facsimile system of page transmission. In 1986, it began using a transmission satellite. Computer-aided photo composition commenced in 1980. In 1994, text and graphics were fully integrated in computerised page make-up and remote imaging.”

***

Below is the picture of the offices of The Hindu at 100, Mount Road, where it was housed for more than half a century, starting 1883.

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And, below, is the newsroom of The Hindu, as seen in circa 2005.

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For the record, Pramod Kapoor used to publish the Sunday Mail newspaper from Delhi in the 1990s before he sold it to the Dalmias who, after a revamp under T.V.R. Shenoy, shut it down.

Photographs: courtesy Roli Books, and Outlook

‘Corporatocracy is cause of Indian media’s ills’

5 November 2013

Below is the abridged text of a message sent by Justice P.B. Sawant, former chairman of the Press Council of India (PCI), to a seminar on the state of the media held by the Editors Guild of India in New Delhi on November 2, to mark the 100th birth anniversary of Nikhil Chakravartty, former editor of Mainstream:

***

By P.B. SAWANT

“The deterioration in the standard of journalism that is often complained of, is on account of many contributory causes. The low mental, moral and intellectual calibre particularly at the top, being not the least important among them.

“But here, it is necessary to draw distinction between different media outlets.

“The corporate-owned and dominated media-houses have their journalists on the leash, and many times appoint them only to fill the post. On account of the hefty pay packages and alluring perks, many do not mind being the call-boys of the management.

“It is common knowledge that the views injurious to the interests of the owners, their friends, political patrons, the advertiser and co-businessmen are not allowed to be published, and the editors have to submit to the management policy from time to time.

“Gone are the days when the independent editors strode the path with majesty. They had value of their own and commanded respect and readership on account of their intrinsic qualities. The newspapers were identified by their names and the readers moved with them to different newspapers.

“That breed of journalists cannot be expected in the philistine world of today. Those who cannot adjust to the present ambience, fight their lonely battles, and except a few, fail to survive.

“Even the average readers of the day, have no time and taste for serious journalism. The values have changed and are changing fast. The role of the journalist is reduced to the commentator on the events. The comments have also to be within the framework laid down.

“Unfortunately for the last some years, the foreign element has also become prominent in quite a few editorials, main articles, reportage, and anchoring and interviews. When the government and non-government so called experts also crawl before the foreign interests, this is not surprising. And yet, some plead for the wholesale entry of the foreign media.

“There is enough documentation on the role the foreign agencies have been playing through many dubious devices including the media, to spread economic imperialism, and to weaken the countries and their governments. There is a fleet of journalists in every country on the pay-roll of the foreign intelligence agencies.

“Our journalists have to be on guard lest they fall an easy prey to the alluring alien snares. On the other hand, they should, in the national interests, expose these insidious rackets.

“Some apologists argue that today the journalists do not have lofty causes to pursue as the freedom struggle, the initial phases of nation building, sharp ideological skirmishes, wars with Pakistan, emergency, cold-war and regional hot wars, etc, which not only sharpened the pen of the former generation journalists, but shaped their characters.

“It is therefore not proper to compare the present generation journalists with their predecessors. It may at once be agreed that it is not fair to weigh the present generation with the earlier generation in any field, for obvious reasons. But it is incorrect to argue that we are not faced with as important problems as did the past generations.

“Every generation has it its own problems and some of them are graver than any faced by the earlier generations. We are today confronted with aggressive casteism and communalism, rampant corruption in every field, growing criminalisation of public life, galloping economic imperialism all over the world euphemistically called neo-liberalism and globalisation, all round environmental destruction and pollution, piling of atomic, chemical and biological weapons, blatant unilateral invasion of countries for plundering their oil, minerals and other natural resources and capturing their markets, anti-national policies and projects, treaties and agreements, enormous economic inequalities, terrorism born of deep social and economic injustice as well as of fanaticism etc. But there is no crusade against any of these national evils and disasters.

“On the other hand, the voice of the media is muted on some of these issues, lest the vested interests and patrons are hurt. The comments on these developments, when made are superficial. No attempt is made to delve into the basic causes, with the result that the real culprits remain free to indulge in their nefarious activities.

“Journalism, one thought was for educating the people, and not for satisfying their curiosity by any feedback.

“The lack of independence of the journalists is the main weakness of journalism today. That is on account of corporatocracy is undisputed. It can only be cured by the ownership of the media by the journalists themselves either through co-operative or company structure. The venture will succeed, if the journalist concentrates on journalism, and hand-over the administrative and business part to the professional managers. The Le Monde of France may serve as an example.”

Photograph: courtesy Outlook

Also read: The editor who decline the Padma Bhushan

Also read: Editors Guild backs Times Now in libel case

HT springs to TOI’s support in Times Now libel case

The Editor who declined the Padma Bhushan

3 November 2013

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Today, 3 November 2013, is the birth centenary of Nikhil Chakravartty, the “barefoot reporter” who founded the journal Mainstream.

NC or Nikhilda, as most who knew him called him, plunged into active journalism as a special correspondent with the Communist Party organ People’s War (1944-46) and People’s Age (1946-48), and later Crossroads (1952-55) and New Age (1955-57).

He then set up a feature news service, India Press Agency (IPA) in collaboration with another Communist journalist David Cohen.

In 1959, IPA shot into prominence with a report of the then prime minister’s personal assistant M.O. Mathai, that rocked Parliament, forcing Mathai to resign.

Nikhil Chakravartty quit the Communist Party for its support of Indira Gandhi‘s emergency and played a key role in opposing press censorship (1975-77) and Rajiv Gandhi‘s anti-defamation bill in 1989.

Tellingly, he declined the Padma Bhushan conferred on him by the National Front government In 1990, with a dignified letter to the then President, “pointing out that a journalist carrying out his professional obligation should not appear to be close to any government and/or any political establishment.”

A commemorative issue of Mainstream, released at a seminar organised by the Editors Guild of India in New Delhi yesterday, records:

“He always called himself a ‘reporter’. He did have the finest attributes of a reporter, and despite airing his own views in commentaries and editorials never discarded fairness in reporting or tampered with facts.

“His fidelity to facts was extraordinary. And he knew what to report and what not to report—always preserving the confidence reposed in him by his interlocutors.”

Nikhil Chakravartty passed away on 27 June 1998, by which time he had stepped down as editor of Mainstream to become its editorial advisor.

Mainstream is now edited by his son Sumit Chakravartty.

Also read: Why Rajdeep, Barkha must decline Padma Sri

Lessons for Vir Sanghvi & Barkha from Prem & Nikhilda

Did Radia tapes impact Padma awards for journos?

External reading: Usha Rai on Nikhil Chakravartty

”The Hindu’ situation had become irremediable’

29 October 2013

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The “professional” editor may have been eased out by redesignating him; the services of the “professional” CEO may have been summarily terminated; and the front page of the paper may have returned to its past.

But The Hindu saga is not over yet.

After six board members on the 11-member board of Kasturi & Sons (K. Balaji, K. Venugopal, Ramesh Rangarajan, Lakshmi Srinath, Vijaya Arun and Akhila Vijay Iyengar) wrote to the other five against the removal of Siddharth Varadarajan and Arun Anant, the chairman of the board N. Ram has responded in kind through a seven-page response, with the operative paragraphs on pages 3 and 4.

“The discussions on the performance of Mr Siddharth Varadarajan as Editor of The Hindu was in fact a continuation of the discussions in the Board meeting held on August 20, 2013 as reflected clearly in the minutes of the meeting approved unanimously at the meeting on October 21, 2013. Not a single Director had any words of praise for or defence of his performance. Mr Siddharth Varadarajan had been informed in detail by me as Chairman of the previous meeting Board meeting of the view of the Board and some Directors had raised such issues with him periodically. Mr N. Murali, Mr. N. Ravi, Ms Malini Parthasarathy, and I referred to many instances of gross and continued violation of the binding Code of Editorial Values in terms of editorialising in the guise of news coverage, unfair and exaggerated reporting, banning or downplaying coverage of certain personalities with personal preference and prejudice, overriding professional news judgement, unsatisfactory coverage in the in main Chennai market, frequent absences from Chennai, and inadequate time and commitment to the overall task of editing the newspaper. Some of you wanted these issues address with Mr Siddharth Varadarajan. I pointed out that these issues had been taken up with him repeatedly to no effect and Mr. N Ravi expressed the view that the situation had become irremediable.

“Mr. K. Venugopal made the suggestion at the meeting that the Board should vote on reposing confidence in the then CEO and the erstwhile business and editorial arrangement. I then put the following resolution to vote: “Resolved that the present structure be retained”. Mr K. Venugopal declared that he was voting for his resolution and five others voted in favour. As rightly noted in your letter, six Directors opposed the resolution and the motion consequently failed in the absence of a sufficient majority. It was therefore evident that the erstwhile management structure had become untenable and the Company could not continue to repose trust and confidence in the then Editor and the then CEO. Of necessity and solely with a view to preventing the newspaper’s activities from coming to a grinding half, the managerial supervision of the business and editorial affairs of the Company had perforce to be reorganised.

“It was in this vacuum that I circulated the draft of a resolution of the new structure and allowed the Directors time to go through it before starting discussions on it. The main elements of the proposed structure had been discussed repeatedly in Board meetings as well as outside. Thereafter, discussions on the proposed structure followed with some Directors expressing support and others expressing opposition to it. When the draft resolution assigning that I, in my capacity as Chairman, out of necessity and in the interest of the Company, exercised my casting vote to approve the resolution. Failing this, not only would an unacceptable crisis have arisen in leadership but the very citadel of the newspaper built over more than a century would have been grievously threatened. Such a situation would certainly have been exploited by the Company’s competitors to the obvious disadvantage of the newspaper’s loyal readers. Consequently, the management of the Company who undoubtedly have tremendous experience and credentials in this regard….”

Also read: In family-owned paper, only furniture is fixed

The Hindu issue is more complex than you think’

Hindu‘ family chucks out ‘professional’ redesign

‘International Herald Tribune’ becomes INYT

14 October 2013

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The legendary International Herald Tribune (IHT) has published its last print issue today with its current mastead. From tomorrow, 15 October 2013, it will be sold under the name-plate “International New York Times” (INYT).

IHT’s name-change isn’t the first.

The New York Herald, launched in 1887 in Europe, became the New York Herald Tribune, which became the International Herald Tribune. International New York Times marks the complete takeover of the IHT by NYT after The Washington Post pulled out of the collaboration a few years ago.

The Indian edition of IHT has been published by the Deccan Chronicle out of Hyderabad despite the group’s extraordinary troubles, by a complex circumvention of publishing laws. And despite his exit from The Asian Age, also published by DC, M.J. Akbar was IHT‘s titular editor.

Also read: How International Herald Tribune is made

Ex-IHT journalist goes missing from Rishikesh

When everyone forgets, the family remembers

1 October 2013

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An ‘In Memoriam’ advertisement appearing in New Delhi newspapers on September 30, for Soumya Viswanathan, the Headlines Today journalist, who was found murdered in Delhi in 2008, shortly after leaving work for home.

In 2009, United News of India (UNI) reported that Soumya’s employers, TV Today Network, were fined Rs 250 for violating the capital’s working hours. The 26-year-old journalist had left her place of work at 03:02 am, say police, who got word of the incident at 3.41 am.

Also read: What we can learn from The Daily Telegraph

S.D. Rohmetra: founder-editor of Daily Excelsior

Charudatta Deshpande: journalist turned corp comm manager

Sivanthi Adityan: editor of Tamil daily, Dina Thanthi

Alfred D’ Cruz: TOI‘s first Indian sub-editor

Tarun Sehrwat, 22 and killed in the line of duty

Chari, a lens legend at The Hindu

Harishchandra Lachke: A pioneering cartoonist

T.N. Shanbag: Man who educated Bombay journos

Rajan Bala: cricket writer of cricket writers

Jyoti Sanyal: The language terrorist and teacher

Russy Karanjia: The bulldog of an editor

Sabina Sehgal Saikia: The resident food writer

M.G. Moinuddin: The self-taught newspaper designer

Naresh Chandra Rajkhowa: Journo who broke Dalai Lama story

J. Dey: When eagles are silent, parrots jabber

E. Raghavan: Ex-ET, TOI, Vijaya Karnataka editor

Prakash Kardaley: When god cries when the best arrive

Pratima Puri: India’s first TV news reader passes away

Tejeshwar Singh: A baritone falls silent watching the cacophony

N.S. Jagannathan: Ex-editor of Indian Express

K.M. Mathew: chief of editor of Malayala Manorama

Amita Malik: the ‘first lady of Indian media’

***

K.R. Prahlad: In the end, death becomes a one-liner

M.R. Shivanna: A 24×7 journalist is no more

C.P. Chinnappa: A song for an unsung hero

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