Posts Tagged ‘India Today’

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

24 September 2013

For the second time in 18 months, the northern edition of Viveck Goenka‘s Indian Express (sold in the south as The National Standard) has been drawn into a blazing row between the Congress-led UPA government and the then (and now retired) chief of the Army staff, General V.K. Singh.

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In April 2012, the Express put out a front-page, full-page, eight-column, triple-decker banner-headlined story that on the day Gen Singh’s petition before the Supreme Court on his date of birth was coming up on January 16, 2012, two units of the Indian Army had moved towards Delhi

In effect, that Express story—bylined “by Shekhar Gupta, Ritu Sarin, Pranab Dhal Samanta, with Ajmer Singh“—was making the thinly disguised insinuation that the general had tried to stage a coup in the national capital but without using the dreaded “C” word.

The Express story was denied by defence minister A.K. Antony, and most newspapers punched holes in the Express story, but the paper stuck to its guns.

express

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Last Friday, September 20—five days after Gen Singh had shared the dais with the BJP’s “prime ministerial candidate” Narendra Damodardas Modi—the Express front-paged an eight-column, double-decker, half-page story, by Ritu Sarin, that a unit set up by Gen Singh had, among other things, tried to topple the Jammu & Kashmir government headed by Omar Abdullah.

In effect, a “C” minor.

But unlike the first occasion, when the General was still in his uniform and constrained from speaking out on its veracity, this time he has let loose a volley of personal criticism on Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta, who has a demonstrated record of top-flight reporting on defence matters, both at Express and his previous port of call, India Today magazine.

First, on Twitter, General Singh called Shekhar Gupta a “UPA stooge” and gave oxygen to a number of unsubstantiated charges on his assets and income-tax returns, even drawing Gupta’s spouse, Neelam Jolly, into the picture.

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Then, on the 9 pm news on television, after he had filed an application under the right to information seeking the Army report on which Express said it had based its story, General Singh went for the jugular, both against Express and its editor.

In an interview with Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of Times Now, Gen Singh said:

“This paper first accuses me of trying to topple the government in Delhi, now it accuses me of trying to topple the government in J&K…. How did Indian Express know about it? If there is a leak (of the Army report) to a paper, why can’t it be made available to me?

“I don’t consider Indian Express a newspaper which can be believed. Sorry. A paper which can dub a movement of two units on simple mobilization as a ‘coup’ should be thrown out into the wastepaper basket.”

Express reported the latter criticism in its editions today, quoting Times Now, but conveniently excised the middle portion, which questioned the veracity of its April 2012 “C” report.

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Then, in an interview Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief of CNN-IBN, Gen Singh answered a few questions:

Who is behind this ‘motivated report’?

When I say motivated, I am only going by what the Indian Express has reported. With my previous experience of their putting out a ‘coup’ story, I feel it is highly motivated…. If a newspaper can have this report or parts of this report, I think I as a person directly affected must have a copy.

Sir, you have also today on social media made comments about the editor of the Indian Express, Shekhar Gupta.

I don’t know if it is a personal battle for him. If a person comes to my house, has a meal, understands the situation, then goes and does a banner headline on spooking the government, and a coup, based on two units that moved, what was the agenda?

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In an interview with Nitin A. Gokhale, NDTV‘s defence editor, 17 days before the Express report, Gen Singh said:

(M)isunderstandings are created deliberately by people who hobnob with certain journalists, who seem to be having an axe to grind and there are some of them very prominent ones. Why the axe is there to grind, whether it is because they have been bought over or something else I really can’t comment on. But it appears quite obvious.

In this particular instance there was, you know, banner headlines. Army is spying, Army is bugging, Army is doing A, B and C…

I have tried to clarify it once earlier.  But I find same reports keep coming up. In fact this great paper called Indian Express had done the same report with just a minor variation of figure by the same reporter couple of months back. He has brought it up again, same thing no change in it, just a minor variation. So much for the journalistic talent that this paper has….

For a paper to say Rs 8 crore is missing, have they seen the logbooks? Have they gone through the details?  They haven’t. No, I think lot of things that this paper has been doing is totally wrong.

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While the rest of mainstream media stayed silent on the Twitter war between Gen Singh and Shekhar Gupta, it briefly popped up as a news item on NewsX, the news channel.

But, on social media, as the paper’s reputation was taking a pounding, the Indian Express scion Anant Goenka felt it fit to enter the debate (here, here).

#”To the haters: you can allege a variety of vested interests but our history shows we take up issues that no one else has the courage….

#”Fact is that Express is and has always been feared because we don’t care who hates us…I think our readers expect nothing less from us.”

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Update: NewsX, which put out a news report on V.K. Singh’s allegations against Shekhar Gupta, issued a clarification on 14 October 2013:

“News X would like to clarify that its report of September 23 in no capacity an endorsement of the claim or reflects the editorial view held by the channel with regard to Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekha Gupta. News X was only reporting the Tweets as put out by the General on his individual account.”

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Also read: What they are saying about Express ‘sue’ report

Adolf Hitler reacts to Indian Express ‘C’ report

Is the Indian Express a pro-establishment newspaper?

When an editor draws a cartoon, it’s news

13 September 2013

MJ

Indian print editors have done book reviews (Sham Lal, Times of India), film reviews (Vinod Mehta, Debonair), food reviews (Vir Sanghvi, Hindustan Times), music reviews (Chandan Mitra, TOI, Pioneer, The Sunday Observer; Sanjoy Narayan, Hindustan Times), elephant polo reviews (Suman Dubey, India Today) etc, but few have done cartoons.

When The Telegraph, Calcutta, was launched Pritish Nandy (who later became the editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India) would do a daily, front-page pocket cartoon, with Mukul Sharma (who later became the editor of Science Today) writing the caption, and vice-versa.

Even today, former Statesman and Indian Express editor S. Nihal Singh is a happy doodler.

In the latest issue of Open magazine, its editor Manu Joseph (who has set crossword puzzles at his previous port of calling, Outlook) puts his signature on a cartoon. Let the record show that “Pope” Joseph‘s handwriting bears a close similarity with Dr Hemant Morporia, the radiologist who draws cartoons.

Also read: If The Economist looks at Tamil News, it’s news

When a stringer beats up a reporter, it’s news

When the gang of four meets at IIC, it’s news

When a politician weds a journalist, it’s news

When a magazine editor marries a starlet, it’s news

When dog bites dog, it’s news—I

When dog bites dog, it’s news—II

Sex, godman & a very hard product placement

30 August 2013

asaram

Long years ago, when the divide between church and state was better protected in journalism and the business side had no inkling what was happening on the other side, the editors at Time magazine ran an interview with Mother Teresa with the quote-headline, “I’m just a pencil in the hand of god.”

When the issue came out, much mirth ensued when an advertisement for pencils graced the page opposite the interview.

In the latest issue of India Today magazine, something similar happens. A story on the alleged sexual indiscretions of the godman Asumal Sirumalani alias Asaram Bapu carries an advertisement for “Vacurect“, a “US FDA-approved medical device for men who cannot enjoy with their partner”, on the opposite page.

The tagline for the ad reads: “get the power to play harder”

Also read: How NDTV gives a nice plug for Lenovo

Aaj Tak bites into a nice piece of Barfi

What happens when a monk meets a nun

The reporter who scooped Olympic dope scandal

27 July 2013

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In his weekly column National Interest, Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta writes on a pre-internet era incident from the 1988 Olympic Games at Seoul, which he covered for India Today magazine:

On one sleepless night, after India had had one more disastrous day at those medal-less Olympics, my friend Lokesh Sharma (then reporting for The Telegraph) and I were generally whiling away our time, playing with the computers at the Press Centre.

I was, in fact, playing with a new app (the Koreans had invented one then already!), where you hit an athlete’s name and could check out his/her bio-rhythm on any given date. And then Lokesh came sprinting in, as if he had seen a miracle.

Oye, tujhe pata hai kya hua,” he asked.

Kya hua?” I said.

“Oye, woh Ben Johnson, uska su-su….” Lokesh said.

Kya Ben Johnson ka su-su?” I asked.

Oye, woh uska su-su fail ho gaya,” Lokesh was so breathless.

This is just after the Canadian had made history, beating the more fancied Carl Lewis in the 100m sprint. Lokesh had overheard two lab technicians talking about his urine sample having failed the dope test.

We were now sitting on a world scoop.

But at 5.30 in the morning at Seoul (3 am in India) we were past all deadlines and it was no use for me anyway as I worked for a fortnightly, India Today. But Lokesh would always land on his feet. He sold the scoop, his greatest ever, to AFP.

No wonder he soon outgrew sports journalism to rise as India’s most successful sports entrepreneur, a kind of first Indian Jerry Maguire, and has never looked back since.

Photograph: courtesy India Today

Read the full article: Running debate

Learning photography 10,000 feet above sea

21 April 2013

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What can two photojournalists with enviable CVs do when the bug to do something away from the straight and narrow of daily and weekly deadlines, bites them?

T. Narayan and Sanjay Sharma provide some inspiration to their kinsmen with a photography workshop 10,122 feet above sea level.

The first batch will be held from April 25-28, the second from May 16-19. For further details, call Narayan on 08826212122 or Sanjay on 09811083888. Email: tnssphotography@gmail.com

Shekhar Gupta storms into India Today powerlist

19 April 2013

Thirteen out of India Today magazine’s 2013 ranking of the 50 most powerful people in India have interests in the media, but only two of them (former Indian Express editor Arun Shourie, Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta) are pure-play journalists.

The chairman of the press council of India, Justice Markandey Katju, is a new entry at No. 50, just as Gupta is at No. 45, Hindustan Times bosswoman Shobhana Bhartia at No. 39 and Star India CEO Uday Shankar at No. 26.

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No. 1: Mukesh Ambani, chairman, Reliance Industries and “virtual owner” of TV18 (up from No. 3 in 2012)

No. 4: Kumaramangalam Birla, chairman Aditya Birla group, and 27.5% stake holder in Living Media (up from No. 5): “sings Hindi film songs, although only in close family circles”

No. 7: Samir Jain and Vineet Jain, The Times of India, down from No.6 last year

No. 26: Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India (new entry)

No. 28: Kalanidhi Maran, chairman and MD of Sun Group (up from 49 last year)

No. 31: Mahendra Mohan Gupta and Sanjay Gupta, chairman and CEO, Dainik Jagran (No. 31 last year)

No. 35: Subhash Chandra, chairman, Zee television and DNA (No. 35 last year)

No. 39: Shobhana Bhartia, chairman and editorial director, HT Media (new entry): Her home in Friends Colony (West) in Delhi was acquired from the erstwhile royal family of Jind.

No. 36: Raghav Bahl, MD, Network 18 (up from No. 44)

No. 38: Arun Shourie (new entry): His dictum: “We must learn to be satisfied with enough and enough is what we have at the moment.”

No. 41: Arnab Goswami (up from 46): “Plays loud music on his iPod before every show to unwind.”

No. 45: Shekhar Gupta (new entry)

No. 50: Justice Markandey Katju, chairman, press council of India (new entry): The Ph.D. in Sanskrit asked Lucknow lawyer S.K. Kalia who entred his court, ‘Ab tera kya hoga Kalia‘?

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Photograph: courtesy Indian Express

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Also read: 12 media barons worth 2,962, 530,000,000

10 media barons in India Today 2010 power list

26% of India’s most powerful are media barons

An A-list most A-listers don’t want to be a part of

Blogger breaks into Businessweek most powerful list

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The Indian Express power list

2012: N. Ram, Arnab Goswami crash out of power list

2011: Arnab Goswami edges out Barkha Dutt

2010: Arun Shourie more powerful than media pros

2009: 11 habits of highly successful media people

When Shekhar Gupta met Dawood Ibrahim

30 March 2013

In his Saturday column in The Indian Express, editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta recounts his encounter with India’s most wanted man, the Bombay-born underworld don, Dawood Ibrahim, when he was at India Today:

“I had had one long, and partly on-record conversation on the phone with Dawood Ibrahim before the Bombay blasts, set up through my colleague [rediff.com editorial director] Sheela Bhatt, who edited the Gujarati edition of India Today and was a veteran on the underworld beat in Bombay.

“This was in 1992, just after Dr Manmohan Singh, as finance minister, was freeing up the economy and opening up imports, even of gold. I called Dawood (in Dubai) and asked if this had not harmed his smuggling business. He said what we called smuggling in India was a legitimate business activity in Dubai, so he was breaking no law.

“He also said he welcomed what “Manmohan ji” had done, except that somebody should have done that much earlier. He did not regret losing some business, he said, as “my country benefited from such reform.” He was at pains to underline his patriotism.

“Even in cricket, he said, he always supported and betted on India and was so distraught (he spoke in language more colourful than this, but unpublishable) that India had lost to the West Indies in the World Cup that morning — that is why we know that the conversation took place on March 10, 1992, when the West Indies walloped India by five wickets at Wellington.

“He said any time I wanted a more proper interview, I only had to let him know….

“He spoke to Sheela Bhatt again after the bombings (published alongside my story in India Today, April 15, 1993) and said he was being victimised by Bombay Police. He fulminated over how badly Muslims were targeted in the Bombay riots, how their women had been humiliated and children burnt, but denied any role in the serial bombings whatsoever. If the government set up an inquiry consisting of RAW and the CBI in Delhi, but excluding Bombay Police, he would even present himself before it. Of course, no such thing was to happen as his gang’s role in the conspiracy became clearer by the day.

I decided now to take him up on his earlier offer of a more “proper” interview, and called him. He said he couldn’t promise that “right now”. But after some cajoling, he agreed to see me if I came to Dubai, though only if I agreed to keep the meeting off the record unless he agreed to come on record.

“I did visit Dubai in the first week of April, 1993 and presented myself at his “workplace”, the 17-storey Pearl Building housing many airline offices in the buzzing Al Fahidi Street, a kind of subcontinental shopping paradise then.

“Dawood and his brother Anees were at their 12th floor office, decorated with gold-inlaid paintings of Ajmer Sharif and Quranic verses. It was just around noon, but I was struck by the fact that the morning’s Times of India (Bombay edition) lay on his table — the don stayed in touch with the latest!

“He was in the news then and, of course, all references to him and Dubai in a front-page story had been blackened out by Dubai censors.

“Dawood was not willing to give an interview now. Not even to acknowledge that he was in Dubai. “When we do the interview, bhai,” he said, “you won’t come to Dubai just like this.” He would call me back again, he said, and then “my car will go and receive you at the tarmac and bring you to me… you will be my guest… and my people will also take you shopping” etc, etc. But for now, he said, please do not even mention that you met me here, “as it creates problems for my hosts”.

“I persisted, nagged and talked around him as reporters usually do, and all he would concede was that I mention I visited his office, without quoting any conversations. And then, as I turned around to leave, making no secret of my dismay and even reluctance, he sensed something.

Ai bhai,” he said, as I turned around, hoping somehow that he had changed his mind.

Dekhna bhai, likhna nahin maine jo kaha (see, brother, do not report what I said)”, “dekho na, achcha nahin hoga (see, it won’t be nice)”.

It felt as if the temperature had suddenly dropped 30 degrees below zero, and yet I was sweating on the forehead. That memory isn’t selective, nor is it convenient. And it hasn’t faded even a bit after two full decades.”

Photograph: courtesy Outlook

Read the full story: Lest we forget

What an NYT writer learnt by reading an IT issue

5 February 2013

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Tyler Cowen, a New York Times contributor, has pored through the 37th anniversary issue of India Today*, and writes about what he learned by reading “every last word” published by the magazine.

“The most striking feature of a late December issue of India Today is its aspirational tone and near-relentless gloss and promotional fervor. An article about the ‘Indians of Tomorrow’ describes them as ‘Dreamers and Doers’….

5. There is much more talk about the relations across the generations than you would find in a comparable Western magazine….

12. Ashok Mitra opines that “The Left is the only hope for the country, the rest are all scum.” This quote is pulled out for display, which struck me as odd for such a culturally conservative magazine….

“I fear that a more consistently mainstream editor eventually will make this periodical much less interesting, so in the meantime I am glad that the editor is the daughter of the owner.”

* Disclosures apply

Read the full column: What I learned from reading every word of IT

‘Media’s mandate is to also chronicle good news’

14 January 2013

Business Today, the business magazine from the India Today group, is celebrating its 21st anniversary with a special issue that lists “66 reasons to keep faith in India”.

On the back page, editor Chaitanya Kalbag writes:

Shine on, you crazy diamonds

“I remember back in the 1970s, when a new India was just over a quarter of a century old, Geoffrey Moorhouse, in his foreward to his Calcutta wrote: ‘The imperial residue of Calcutta, a generation after Empire ended, is both a monstrous and a marvellous city. Journalism and television have given us a rough idea of the monstrosities but none at all of the marvels. I can only hope to define the first more clearly and to persuade anyone interested that the second is to be found there too.’

“The Japanese possess a very fine aesthetic, and their poets transformed what they observed into written pointillism in the form known as haiku—a 17-syllable composition in three lines. Read this haiku by Basho (1644-1694): ‘Seen in plain daylight/ the firefly’s nothing but/ an insect.’ So true. it is only against the ink-black night that light flares out brightest, and it is only against the backdrop of the rancour and vitriol that we respond positively, and eagerly to good news and tidings of the better side of human nature.

“We have much to look forward to, there really is a lot that is going right. When every “news-hour” on prime-time television actually a showcase for a shouting, berating, finger-wagging “anchor”—heaven knows what they are anchoring when they are ricocheting so much—you are hard put to really get near the real news. If you read the vernacular press you information couched like agendas; you rarely get dispassionate reportage.

“So where do you turn for positive news on what is happening across the vast United States of India? You will find one repository of good news at www.goodnewsindia.com. Its progenitor D.V. Sridhran writes that he stopped the website in 2006 to concentrate on a land restoration project. The website has been revived in 2012 and you will find several good stories.

“We do have a responsibility to ourselves to chronicle the tides rolling in. It is not easy finding these inspiring tales. Our antennae need to become super-sensitive to pick up those feeble radio signals. Sometimes we do tune in to them, and the sounds we hear are music to our ears.”

The man who hasn’t read a newspaper for 5 years

15 December 2012

Nikhil Pahwa, the editor and publisher of the media website Media Nama, is among the “37 Indians of tomorrow” in India Today magazine’s 37th anniversary issue.

The 29-year-old digital journalist paints a scary picture of the future for dead-tree media professionals who still latch on to the innocent belief that their word is gospel.

“The pace of growth and the spirit of the community in the digital industry is like a drug to me. I haven’t read a newspaper in the past five years. Twitter is my breakfast, Google is my lunch, and Facebook is my dinner,” says Pahwa.

India Today says Pahwa joined the website Freshlimesoda.com12 years ago and made 22 friends, none of whom he met. The site closed down in 2003 and Pahwa says he is still in touch with all of them.

Photograph: courtesy Pinterest

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