Posts Tagged ‘Caravan’

18 factoids in ‘Caravan’ profile of Shekhar Gupta

1 December 2014

shekhar The December “media issue” of Caravan magazine has a 20-page profile of former Indian Express editor-in-chief and shortlived India Today editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta.

Authored by Krishn Kaushik, the profile is titled “Capital Reporter”, with the strapline “How profit and principle shaped the journalism of Shekhar Gupta”.

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# The son of a minor bureaucrat from Haryana, Shekhar Gupta‘s annual salary at The Indian Express sometimes exceeded Rs 10 crore ($1.6 million) per year. Current chief editor Raj Kamal Jha got Rs 1.25 crore, Jaideep “Jojo” Bose of The Times of India was paid under Rs 2 crore.

# Shekhar Gupta made Rs 36.67 crore in “capital gains” in 2009-10, through the demerger of the Indian Express‘s real estate wing and the newspapers, which resulted in the sale of the iconic Express Towers at Nariman Point in Bombay.

# Gupta is not too bothered with his exit from The Indian Express or his even hurried exit from India Today: “Look, I am a bit of a big fish right now for these factors to bother me now.”

# A senior television journalist is quoted as saying: “He is a social terrorist. He will look at you for five seconds, then look at the next person coming in.” Congressman Mani Shankar Aiyar says Gupta once “cut me dead and walked away” at a party.

# Paranjoy Guha Thakurta: “He looks down upon you [if you are unable to make use of the opportunities the free market throws up, work hard and make it to the top].”

# After interviewing over 50 people, the reporter Krishn Kaushik writes that “detractors of the ‘Shekhar Gupta phenomenon’ contended that Gupta’s wealth compromised the “Journalism of Courage” he promoted at the Indian Express.

# Gupta categorically says: “Nobody can ever find a paisa which will be a surprise to my taxman or to any of my employers.”

# Fallen Tehelka editor Tarun J. Tejpal who is quoted several times in the story, says: “If in reviving the Express he made money, not just the lala, I don’t know what the problem is.”

# When an Indian Express report on the alleged violations in the acqusition of land for Reliance Industries chief Mukesh Ambani‘s Antilla tower was to appear in the Bombay edition, he called resident editor Samar Halarnkar “from a train in Italy” although in fairness, he did not block the story.

# Krishn Kaushik writes that at least half-a-dozen current and former members of the Express news team gave the reporter “specific instances” of stories being killed, allegedly without discussion with those reporting them—stories that went against a top industrialist, a cabinet minister, a real-estate group.

# One journalist described how Gupta once had him debrief a foreign government agency, which seemed irrelevant to any of the stories he was working on.

# Former Union home and finance minister P. Chidambaram was the ‘holy cow’ in the Express newsroom. “You could not criticise him.” The Express staff “sort of had the feeling that the Ambanis were untouchable.”

# Around the time Shekhar Gupta became CEO of Express, a gentleman called B.S. Raman would come to Express Towers in Bombay for a few hours every day from the nearby Reliance Industries’ office at Maker Chambers. Raman tells the reporter he was asked by his office to help Viveck Goenka‘s company.

# A Express staffer told the reporter that the C-story  “The January night Raisina Hill was spooked” had been pushed by P. Chidambaram, who was then the home minister, and Nehchal Sandhu, then the director of the intelligence bureau.

# Kaushik writes that Chidambaram pushed for Shekhar Gupta to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2009, which was eventually given to former Tribune, Express, TOI and Hindustan Tims editor, H.K. Dua. However, both Gupta and Chidambaram deny the claim.

# “Ashutosh Rais” was the pen name of former Business Standard editor T.N. Ninan, for pieces which he wrote for Democratic World, where Shekhar Gupta held his first formal journalism job as an assistant editor.

# Shekhar Gupta had been in touch with Aroon Purie of India Today from around the time he relinquished the CEO role at The Indian Express in August 2013.

# Gupta’s mentor Arun Shourie said the jump to India Today as vice-chairman and editor-in-chief was a mismatch: “Yeh shaadi galat ho gayi hai.”

Anant Goenka, the son of Viveck Goenka who heads Express‘ online push and whose arrival in 2010 is widely seen as propelling Shekhar Gupta’s exit, did not speak to the Caravan reporter, saying he did not want to discuss an “ex-employee.”

Also read: Shekhar Gupta gives up his managerial role

To all Express employees. From: Shekhar Gupta

From Viveck Goenka. To: Indian Express employees

The Indian Express, Shekhar Gupta, Gen V.K. Singh

The Indian Express, Reliance and Shekhar Gupta

Network 18’s right-wing swing on Caravan cover

30 November 2013

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The December issue of Caravan magazine has a 16-page cover story on how the Raghav Bahl founded Network 18 has taken a turn towards right-wing politics after its takeover by Mukesh Ambani‘s Reliance Industries.

Headlined ‘The Network Effect’ and written by Rahul Bhatia, who authored the Arnab Goswami profile last year, the article chronicles a number of instances to underline the group’s rightward lurch.

# First Post editor-in-chief R. Jagannathan began attending Forbes India meetings in February 2013 as part of a planned integration.

“Glancing at a sheet of paper he had arrived with, Jagannathan yelled: ‘You’re doing it wrong. Forbes is about the wealthy. It’s about right-wing politics. You guys are writing about development and poverty. If you guys don’t get it, I’m going to make sure that you do.”

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# “Last year, CNBC TV18’s Vivian Fernandes, who co-wrote Raghav Bahl’s book, was despatched to interview Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. A person involved with the production of the interview recalled that Fernandes asked a difficult question about water conservation in Gujarat.

“Modi’s organisers had asked to see the questions before the interview, and demanded the water conservation question’s removal.

“When Fernandes sprung it on him anyway, Modi broke away from the camera and glared at a public relations executive in the room.

“‘Why is he talking like this?’ the person recalled Modi saying. ‘Are we not paying for this interview?'” The production crew realised that the interview was part of a promotion for Modi.”

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# “In the weeks leading up to the group’s first Think India conference in April, Raghav Bahl told his management that he wanted to start a foundation called Think Right.

“CNN-IBN editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai and deputy editor Sagarika Ghose, objected to the name, believing that it was certain to be misinterpreted. ‘they believed that ‘right’ would come to mean Hindutva, you know?’ a person involved in the discussions said.

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# “‘There was a concerted effort to drive a large visible campaign to prop up Narendra Modi in the run-up to the Think India platform,’ former Forbes India editor Indrajit Gupta said.

Each channel, publication and website had to carry promotional material of some kind. ‘They wanted a Modi cover story from Forbes India.'”

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# At the group’s senior management getaway in Macau in early 2013, “the editors’ mood sank further when Raghav Bahl let the large gathering know he favoured Narendra Modi as India’s next prime minister.

“Until last year, Rajdeep was the most important person here. Now after Mr Ambani, Modi is the most important person.'”

“I spoke to the editor again in the middle of November. ‘It’s serious. They have started putting indirect pressure on editors to not criticise Narendra Modi,’ the editor said. ‘I think Think India was created to promote him.'”

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# “Early on November 9, Rajdeep Sardesai travelled to Nagpur to meet RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Two senior editors in touch with Sardesai independently confirmed that Raghav Bahl had pressed him to meet Bhagwat and other RSS leaders.

“‘Raghav is keen on promoting right-of-centre policies. He believes Indians have enterprise in our blood,’ the person involved in the decision over the Think India foundation’s naming said.”

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# “Network 18 is not alone in its rightward swing, but as Modi’s value in the attention econmy continues to rise, no one in English-language broadcasting has traded more on his appeal than CNN-IBN.

“For four days in October and November 2013, the Centre for Media Studies, an independent thinktank in Delhi, monitored the primetime political coverage of some major English news channels.

“Of the five they surveyed, CNN-IBN covered Modi for over 72 minutes, a greater duration than anyone else. At the same time, it covered Rahul Gandhi for approximately 18 minutes.”

Also read: ‘Media’s Modi-fixation needs medical attention’

How Narendra Modi buys media through PR

Modi‘s backers and media owners have converged’

‘Network18′s multimedia Modi feast, a promo’

For cash-struck TV, Modi is effective TRP

Not just a newspaper, a no-paid-news newspaper!

When a Delhi journo joins New Yorker, it’s news

10 October 2013

J

India’s bankrupt politicians routinely detect a “foreign hand” behind every disaster that befalls the nation. The Indian media, on the other hand, has been somewhat blessed to benefit from foreign hands on the deck.

Caravan the defunct-fortnightly from the Delhi Press group which was reborn as The Caravan of longform journalism three years ago was particularly lucky to have Jonathan Shainin on its ranks early on.

After seeing The Caravan through its infancy, Shainin, a former fact-checker at The New Yorker magazine, returned to his alma mater as news editor of its website this week.

Below is the full text of the email shot off by Caravan‘s executive editor Vinod K. Jose, announcing Shainin’s exit.

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Dear Team,

This coming week, our dear colleague, Jonathan Shainin is moving back to New York. Jonathan joined by the end of the first year of relaunched Caravan, and is heading home after a very memorable, and extremely productive 3 years with us. The time and attention that he has given to the stories he edited is remarkable, and if anyone ever pays attention to the institutional history of Caravan, Jonathan’s role will be remembered and celebrated with reverence.

In 2009 and 2010, from the period I call the “guerrilla operation phase,” the staff whose strength was in single digits, we have today come a long way with the magazine/brand becoming the outcome of a massive amount of collective editorial energy of 25 people.

The number of editors, and staff writers have gone up, and the family of freelancers and contributing editors have grown as well.

With Jonathan’s impending departure, more associate editors had joined close to a year in advance, and we are right now in the process of hiring more editors to increase the level and quality of attention a piece/writer gets. The more the torch-bearers of the particular Caravan editing and writing philosophy we produce, the more stable the space of longform narrative journalism in India becomes.

In the same vein, I also wanted to celebrate the small, but meaningful flame of good ethical journalism that Caravan was instrumental in doing, which to me worked hand-in-hand with the longform identity we created in the craft space; here again, Jonathan was such an uncompromising editor, and I wish everyone who comes and joins us/after us always build on the hard work/careful walking we have managed all these years, and between us, right now, we shall remind each other how we need to help each other in making the flame retain its virility, and get bigger and bigger if possible in the years to come.

I wish Jonathan a wonderful future ahead, both professionally and personally.

Vinod K. Jose

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Photograph: courtesy Aayush Soni

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Also read: Manmohan Singh, Washington Post & the Caravan

Suhel Seth shows Jonathan Shainin why he’s such a cute tweetiya

US scribe at Caravan discovers India’s Abu Ghraib at Bhogal

Vir Sanghvi clarifies on Caravan profile of Arnab Goswami

Why Arun Jaitley is called ‘Bureau Chief’ in BJP

11 July 2013

One impossibly apocryphal story from the 2004 general election election is of a major newspaper group getting sucked in by the India Shining hype and making key editorial leadership changes on its reporting side, in anticipation of the BJP-led NDA returning to power, and falling flat on its face with the UPA’s surprise win.

An equally apocryphal story from the last few years is that most “scams” broken by the media (barring some honourable exceptions) are force-fed by political, corporate and legal interests seeking to score points against their rivals or, worse, against one of their own.

Both those pieces of gossip—and unsubstantiated gossip, they certainly are—gain fresh oxygen on the eve of the 2013 election season in the July issue of Caravan magazine.

In a cover story on the BJP putting all its eggs in the Narendra Modi basket, the journalist Poornima Joshi writes of the manner in which Nitin Gadkari was ousted as party president after it emerged in the media that his Purti group had been financed by shell companies.

“Although L.K. Advani had championed the effort to forcefully eject Gadkari from the president’s chair last year—over the fervent objections of the RSS—he was later convinced that Gadkari had been the victim of a conspiracy to tarnish him with an orchestrated campaign of planted stories in the media.

“Inside the BJP, suspicions pointed to Arun Jaitley, the Rajya Sabha opposition leader, who is known within the party as “bureau chief” for the extraordinary influence he wields at two large-selling national dailies where his favourite journalists run political bureaus.

“Although nobody knows whether Jaitley was actually responsible for the stories, most people in the BJP, including Advani, believe that he was. Jaitley and Advani, who were once seen as pupil and teacher, have been in enemy camps since last December, when Advani put forth his acolyte Sushma Swaraj, the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha and Jaitley’s bête noire, as a nominee to replace Gadkari as president.”

Read the full article: Strategems and spoils

Illustration: courtesy Rinelaff.com

Also read: Who are the journalists running and ruining BJP?

Don’t laugh: do journalists make good politicians?

Suhel Seth shows why he is such a cute Tweetiya

30 November 2011

Those who live by the media shall die by it, was not what the editor-in-chief of the Harijan said. But he would well have had he been around in the era of Suhel Seth. The adman cum image consultant cum lobbyist cum columnist cum TV regular, who counts media bigwigs and gasbags among his many admirers, has known nothing but a fawning press.

But a scalding review of the balding Seth’s book Get to the Top by the Indian Express journalist turned Business Standard journalist, Mihir S. Sharma, in the latest issue of the monthly magazine Caravan, has seen the boarding school-boy from St. Paul’s school, Darjeeling, lose his shirt and civility—and on Twitter.

Seth called Caravan a magazine no one reads and the Harvard-educated Sharma an unemployed economist sacked from every job he has held. As blogosphere heated up, Seth, who was recently sued by tobacco major ITC for Rs 200 crore for a set of similarly senseless tweets, got the message and pulled out the tweets.

Thankfully, Caravan senior editor Jonathan Shainin has captured the exchanges between author and critic for posterity.

Screenshots: courtesy Jonathan Shainin/ Caravan

Read the review: The Age of Seth

US scribe discovers India’s Abu Ghraib at Bhogal

10 October 2009

joel statement and t#1D0E8AJOEL ELLIOTT, an American freelance journalist working as a “staff writer” at Caravan magazine in Delhi since May this year, has been the subject of a bizarre torture incident.

According to a signed statement issued by Elliott, a recipient of the Payne Award for courage, he was assaulted by Delhi police personnel on the morning of October 6, allegedly for “trying to steal a taxi”, while in fact he was only seeking cover from the rampaging cops who were pounding some other person.

Elliot, who claims he was “tortured” by the police and “inhumanly treated”, has now left for the US.

Below is the full text of Eliott’s signed statement, released by Caravan, in which he demands a compensation of half of million dollars for “the pain and suffering and mental anguish” inflicted upon him.

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joel statement

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