Posts Tagged ‘K.N. Hari Kumar’

In a family-owned paper, only furniture is fixed

21 October 2013

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Nothing is what it appears to be in the thicker-than-water but funnier-than-fill-your-metaphor-here world of family-owned newspapers.

Siddharth Varadarajan, installed as editor of The Hindu in a G.Kasturi-N.Ram putsch in 2011, ostensibly to professionalise the paper but allegedly to prevent Malini Parthasarathy from ascending the throne, has resigned dramatically via a Twitter announcement.

“With The Hindu‘s owners deciding to revert to being a family run and edited newspaper, I am resigning from The Hindu with immediate effect.”

The resignation came after a meeting of the board of Kasturi & Sons removed Arun Anant as CEO, and redesignated editor Varadarajan as “Contributing Editor and Senior Columnist”.

Only two days ago, on 19 October 2013, the well-regarded Varadarajan had posted a picture of his renovated office in Madras, in what seemed likely a preparation for the long haul.

At 3.40 pm, roughly two hours before Varadarajan announced his decision to quit, the Janata Party-turned-BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, whose petition on Varadarajan, an American passport holder, helming a newspaper is hanging fire, tweeted:

“Will US citizen turned Naxal survive as editor. Just read Company law which states even NRI editor is FDI for a newspaper.”

The reactions were mixed.

Siddharth’s elder brother, former Newsweek International editor Tunku Varadarajan, who called thambithe best journalist in India” in a recent magazine interview, tweeted on his brother’s exit:

“The only decent editor The Hindu has had in nearly a decade has been ousted in a squalid boardroom putsch. Hey Ram!”

In contrast, Anant Goenka, the scion of the family-owned Indian Express, tweeted:

“Happy the family seems to be sorting their issues out—stability at The Hindu, especially before elections, will benefit India.”

***

A statement put out by N. Ram, who was appointed chairman of Kasturi & Sons Limited at Monday’s board meeting, read:

N. Ravi has taken over as Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, and Malini Parthasarathy as Editor of The Hindu. Arun Anant is no longer the Chief Executive Officer of Kasturi & Sons Limited, the company that owns and publishes The Hindu Group of publications. N. Ram has become Chairman of KSL and Publisher of The Hindu and Group publications; and N. Murali, Co-Chairman of the company. These decisions were taken by the Board of Directors of the Company at its meeting on Monday.

“In consequence, Siddharth Varadarajan, who was made Contributing Editor and Senior Columnist, The Hindu, has submitted his resignation.

“The Board also decided to allocate specific responsibilities to other Directors.

“The decision to make deep-going changes was made chiefly on the ground that there were recurrent violations and defiance of the framework of the institution’s longstanding values on the business side, and recurrent violations and defiance of ‘Living Our Values’, the mandatory Code of Editorial Values applicable to The Hindu. The whole effort is to restore employee morale, good industrial relations, and the trust of this newspaper’s more than two million readers.

“The existing editorial arrangements for Business Line, Frontline, Sportstar, and The Hindu (Tamil) will continue unchanged and the process of professionalisation, now involving a mix of shareholder-Directors and other professionals, will continue.

“The 135-year-old institution reaffirms its commitment to its core editorial and business values, and excellence in journalism.”

Below are the facsimiles of the board resolution:

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20131022-122811 AM.jpg

***

For the record, G. Kasturi, who played a pivotal role in the last round of blood-letting in the paper (several members of the family including N. Ram’s brothers N. Murali and N. Ravi, and cousins Malini Parathasarathy and Nirmala Lakshman resigned at Varadarajan’s appointment), passed away in September 2012.

At the time of quitting, Malini Parathasarathy (who now runs The Hindu centre for policy and public policy) had tweeted:

Siddharth [Varadarajan] far junior to me appointed as Editor makes it untenable to continue“… “Tremendous family jealousy and misogyny

Kasturi’s sons—K. Balaji and K. Venugopal—have, among others, reportedly put on record their opposition to the latest changes.

Also, for the record, the Bangalore-based family-owned newspapers Deccan Herald and Praja Vani have seen a similar rearrangement of the editor, depending on board-room dynamics, but all within the family.

First, the eldest of the three brothers K.N. Hari Kumar was ousted as editor after his younger brothers K.N. Tilak Kumar and K.N. Shanth Kumar joined hands. Then the first and second joined hands to remove the third. Eventually, the second and the third joined hands to restore status quo ante.

***

Photograph: via Facebook

Also read: N. Murali: Hindu is run like a banana republic

N. Ravi: Why I quit The Hindu

Malini Parathsarathy: Why I quit The Hindu

Nirmala Lakshman: Why I quit The Hindu

South meets North: ‘Deccan Herald’ now in Delhi

11 December 2011

Karnataka’s oldest English newspaper, Deccan Herald, has made a brave northwards foray with the launch of its New Delhi edition on 11 December 2011, 100 years after political power moved to the national capital from the east.

Vol 1, No 1 of the 63-year-old Bangalore daily arrived this morning in the usual quiet, understated manner in which The Printers (Mysore) Pvt Ltd conducts things: no carpet bombing of copies, no “roadblock” of hoardings, no massive pre-subscription drives.

“We are happy to start the Delhi edition of Deccan Herald today. It’s the seventh edition since we launched the newspaper in Bangalore in June, 1948. Our strength is the trust we have won from our readers—a trust built on credibility and our commitment to objectivity. We offer you comprehensive coverage of news without bias,” said a front-page note from the paper’s editor, K.N. Tilak Kumar.

The launch issue with a cover price of Rs 5 has a 20-page main edition and this being a Sunday, an 8-page weekend culture section titled Sunday Herald. During the week, DH will serve Delhi versions of its usual fare:  a four-days-a-week city supplement titled Metrolife and a lifestyle supplement on Saturday titled Living.

Printed at the Indian Express press in Noida, DH‘s Delhi edition with four local pages gives the regional daily a more national profile, useful for reporters and newsmakers; and an additional publication centre that can be used to good effect on the advertisement tariff card.

But it also comes with massive challenges. The “Deccan” in the paper’s title has a distinctly south Indian feel; will it find resonance among readers in the North? Second, the New Delhi morning market is crowded with over a dozen newspapers with at least two more coming; can DH aspire for anything more than “organic growth”?

However, for sheer chutzpah, the timing of the Delhi launch takes some doing. Newspapers like The Telegraph have  pondered coming to Delhi for at least 15 years but have not found the strength to do so. Also, DH (designed by Palmer Watson) comes at a time when the Indian newspaper industry is facing several existential issues.

But DH has established itself as a horse for the long race over six decades. The arrival, therefore, of a serious newspaper from a group which has no interests other than journalism, when the Indian media is being asked probing questions on its methods, motives and motivations, can only be good augury.

Former India cricket captain Anil Kumble (centre), the chairman and joint managing director of The Printers (Mysore) Pvt Ltd K.N. Tilak Kumar (right), and the veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar at the launch of the Delhi edition of 'Deccan Herald' in New Delhi on Sunday, 11 December 2011

Also read: Coming soon, Deccan Herald from New Delhi

Finally, a redesign not done by Mario Garcia!

How Deccan Herald welcomed the Republic of India

Coming soon: ‘Deccan Herald’ from New Delhi

24 August 2011

Bangalore’s oldest English newspaper, Deccan Herald, is launching an edition in New Delhi, making it the first South Indian publication to reach out to readers and advertisers in the North with a decidedly South Indian title.

There has been no formal announcement from the family-owned group yet, but the buzz is that the edition may take off as early as this December, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of New Delhi as the capital of India.

An advertisement in the Delhi edition of The Hindu makes DH‘s plans clear. The ad seeks a news editor, sub-editors, city and sports reporters, artists and photojournalists “for its edition in the national capital.”

The Madras-based Hindu has long printed an edition from Delhi, but “Hindu” is a generic name with wider appeal. And the Hyderabad-based Deccan Chronicle comes out in Delhi and other cities as The Asian Age.

The “Deccan” in DH‘s title presents an altogether different challenge in terms of acceptance, especially among non-Karnataka readers unaware of the brand, its values or its core strengths.

The 63-year-old Deccan Herald pondered the possibilities of editions in the southern States in the mid 1990s, but was pegged back by a fractious family fight among the three brothers who own the paper (K.N. Hari Kumar, K.N. Tilak Kumar and K.N. Shanth Kumar) and the concomitant success of the revamped Bangalore edition of The Times of India.

DH‘s northern foray in 2011 comes after a division of responsibilities in the family helped stave off the challenge thrown by new entrants Deccan Chronicle and DNA on its home turf, and retrieve some lost ground, although ToI is the leader in Bangalore by a long way.

Also read: How Deccan Herald welcomed the Republic of India

Finally, a redesign not done by Mario Garcia

A package deal that’s well worth a second look

K.N. Shanth Kumar back as editor of Praja Vani

17 February 2009

Exactly two years to the day after he was ejected as editor of the Bangalore-based newspapers Deccan Herald and Praja Vani, K.N. Shanth Kumar (in picture) has been reinstated on the hot seat of the preeminent Kannada daily published by the family-owned The Printers (Mysore) Limited group.

Shanth Kumar took over from elder brother K.N. Tilak Kumar, who had replaced him at the editorial helm of the two papers in a midnight putsch on 14 February 2007. (The removal had been challenged in the courts and later withdrawn.)

Tilak Kumar, however, continues to remain editor of Deccan Herald.

The return of Shanth Kumar marks a clear but happy division of labour in the warring Netkalappa family. Deccan Herald lost its status of market leader to The Times of India in the late 1990s, and in recent years has had to face stiff competition from newer players like Deccan Chronicle and DNA.

Praja Vani, on the other hand, has managed to claw its way back to the top of the discerning Kannada reader’s mind, although Vijaya Karnataka (now part of the Times Group) continues to be ahead in the numbers game. But there is talk of fresh competition in the form of a Kannada daily from the stable of Rajeev Chandrashekhar of Jupiter Communications, which already has a presence in Karnataka through the Suvarna and Suvarna News Kannada channels.

Photograph: courtesy Facebook

Also read: The inside story of the Deccan Herald coup

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