Posts Tagged ‘Newsweek’

In ‘The Last Mag’, Nishant Patel is Fareed Zakaria

2 July 2014

DILIP CHAWARE writes from New Jersey: The Last Magazine is Michael Hastings’s novel which has been published a year after his death. This controversial young journalist, who worked for Newsweek as a war correspondent, died last year in a car accident in Los Angeles when he was just 33.

Very few were aware about this book, which was resurrected from his laptop.

The novel, though, is a portrayal of real life within a major news organisation, the nexus between the government and the media and broadly discusses the relevance and future of the print medium.

Hastings is back in the news owing to his Rolling Stone article published in 2012, surrounding the recent release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl by the Taliban. The article dealt with Bergdahl’s army platoon.

Various references in the novel The Last Magazine clearly identify its main players.

The character of Nishant Patel is in fact Fareed Zakaria, then international editor of Newsweek. Patel is painted as having a mega ego.

Zakaria’s bête noir is Jon Meacham, (Sanders Berman in the novel), the managing editor.

Patel and Berman vie with each other to appear on television.

Both want to be visible and compete to write cover stories for Newsweek.

Hastings captures a turbulent period of half a decade, beginning 2002. It is a difficult time for a sensitive journalist and centres on the war with Iraq.

Hastings implies by innuendo that the news media in the US collaborated with the government while covering the conflict. He lampoons all and sundry, based on his firsthand experience as a frontline war correspondent.

Hastings lost his girlfriend Andi Parhamovich, who was killed in 2007 when her convoy was ambushed in Iraq. She was an aid worker. He wrote a book I Lost My Love in Baghdad, based on that experience.

His second-last book, The Operators was published in 2012. It is about the US military presence in Afghanistan. That book was a result of an article Hastings wrote in Rolling Stone.

The incisive article proved to be the death knell for the career of Gen Stanley A. McChrystal, the US supreme commander in Afghanistan.

Hastings worked as an intern in Newsweek for a year 2002-3. This was the time the US escalated its war with Iraq. This was also the period when the electronic medium was seen overshadowing the print medium.

The Last Magazine deals with a professional’s dilemma and the dejection he felt due to the decline of professionalism of the print medium. His grim predictions proved too true in the case of Newsweek, which had to fold up.

His wife Elise Jordan was instrumental in publishing the unfinished novel on the first anniversary of his death. Hastings was 25 when he first went to Baghdad.

Due to the death of Andi Parhamovich, he was diagnosed of suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder. Jordan, a Yale graduate was a speechwriter for then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She was an avid advocate of war against Iraq.

Hastings and Jordan’s courtship started in 2010 in Kabul. While he was working on the McChrystal article, she was on a freelance assignment a magazine. They married in 2011.

Hastings died at 4.20 am last year on June 18 as his Mercedes crashed into a tree in Los Angeles. His death became grist for the conspiracy theorists for some time. But the coroner declared that he had marijuana and trace methamphetamines in his blood.

Hastings is no more but the debate he unleashed rages on.

(Dilip Chaware is a former journalist with The Times of India, Bombay)

Photograph: courtesy Amazon

Also read: Will this man be the next US secretary of state?

Fareed Zakaria: a barometer in a good suit

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And, so, the ‘best journalist in India’ is…

12 September 2013

Tunku Varadarajan, former editor of Newsweek International, on his thambi (younger brother), Siddharth Varadarajan, editor of The Hindu, in the September issue of The Indian Quarterly:

“I think he’s the best journalist in India. He’s serious, he’s knowledgeable, he writes wonderfully. But what drives him is the urge to educate people, to edify. What he wants to get out of a piece is to improve somebody; what I want is a good read.

“I’m not a mindless provocateur, but I do believe that, if an issue raises hard questions, journalists ought not to play the ball safe with a dead bat; they out to try and square the ball to the boundary.”

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

Also read: India’s three best cartoonists are…

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The cover of the ‘last print issue’ of ‘Newsweek’

24 December 2012

photo

Newsweek, the iconic American newsweekly, has just published its final dead-tree issue with a hashtag on the cover indicating the digital direction it it heading towards.

Seventy-nine years in print, the magazine published 4,150 issues, saw 11 logo redesigns and had 17 editors at the helm, including the Indian-born Fareed Zakaria.

Also read: Second editor of Indian origin for Newsweek

Who, when, how, why, where, what and WTF

How a slumdweller became a Newsweek reporter

‘Magazines, like mushrooms, should grow in the dark’

‘Newsweek’ prize for South Asian commentary

2 May 2012

PRESS RELEASE: The American newsweekly Newsweek and the website The Daily Beast are offering a prize for the best commentary writing in South Asia in partnership with the Open Hands Initiative in order to celebrate and nurture outstanding talent and find fresh voices covering the region.

The aim of the prize is to promote and support the work of an individual who has contributed thoughtful, important, and engaging commentary on the great social, political, and cultural issues of their region.

The prize offers $25,000, a one-month residency at the Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and a biweekly column for a year on The Daily Beast. The winner will be honoured at a dinner at the Asia Society in New York City on June 20.

Any nominated columnist, journalist, or writer based in and writing about South Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh) is eligible for the prize. Only commentary written in the year prior to submission will be considered eligible for the prize.

Nominees must be available to travel to New York for the June 20 prize ceremony.

Editors, publishers, and writers across South Asia may nominate the best English-language columnists and journalists  or apply by sending us three to five examples of their work and writing a brief letter explaining why that particular individual deserves this recognition.

A panel of prominent international journalists and media experts— including writer and historian William Dalrymple, Editor of Newsweek International Tunku Varadarajan, Newsweek & The Daily Beast books editor Lucas Wittmann, author and journalist Sir Harold Evans, and Madhulika Sikka, executive producer, NPR—will read the submissions to select one winner and two finalists.

To submit a nomination, email commentaryprize@newsweekdailybeast.com

Why hasn’t India thrown up a media mogul?

30 December 2011

Indian media houses, promoters and practitioners are gung-ho about foreign direct investment (FDI) in all sectors except the media, under the specious argument that the media is not a “commodity”, etc.

Media barons who justify the worst excesses of modern Indian media under the this-is-what-the-consumer-wants logic, somehow find it convenient to block FDI in media although this is also what the consumer might want.

Raghav Bahl, the founder of the heavily bleeding TV18 network (and reported to be considering a dalliance with Reliance Industries’s Mukesh Ambani), gives the protectionist argument some more air in a supplement brought out by the Indian Express, to explain why India hasn’t thrown up a media mogul:

“In India, thanks to the liberal FDI policies and the high proportion of English language speakers, a Google will come and set up base and then use this to gradually move into local Indian languages. In China, however, a Google can’t enter and you need a Baidu. So a Baidu will get market cap in China, while in India it will be Google or Facebook.

“The inroads global media firms have made in India is good from its citizen’s point of view but when it comes to creating value and scale for a local media firm, this is not good news…

“The largest Indian media firm Zee TV has a market cap of $2.5 billion—thats puny by global standards. Few Indian media firms can, for instance, buy a Newsweek but a Baidu can easily do this. Can I compete with a Google or Facebook? The only other company (other than Zee) to get scale of that sort is Network 18. UTV sold out and no newspaper has really created meaningful scale, But we have a market cap of just $300-400 million even after being the biggest to scale up and we have a very levereaged balance sheet because of this,…

“The short point is that India’s advantages for a thriving media industry will be disadvantageous for the Indian who dreams to become the next media mogul. For such an aspiration, countries with closed media markets, such as China, offer an advantage since this allows local firms to build up the capital base that is essential to becoming a serious player in the technology space, so vital to being a global media firm.”

External reading: Network 18: mega hotch-potch of companies

Also read: What the prime minister told Raghav Bahl

‘If we don’t get it first, why should we want it?’

What Raghav Bahl could learn from Samir Jain

Business journalism or business of journalism?

The endgame is near for TV18 and NDTV

Is this man the new media mogul of India?

NYT, WSJ weigh in on Tehelka’s Goa controversy

11 November 2011

The controversy surrounding Tehelka magazine’s Goa conference, ThinkFest, had so far been largely confined to sections of blogosphere, which used an editorial page piece in Hindustan Times by the theatreperson Hartman de Souza, and Tehelka editor Tarun J. Tejpal‘s response to it, as a trigger.

Only Deccan Herald among the large English dailies gave any play to the kerfuffle kicked up by remarks reportedly made by Tejpal at the end of the first day of the conference, that since they were in Goa, they could eat, drink, be merry and “sleep with whomever you want.” (Also see “Crusader turns Collector“)

Possibly because Tehelka‘s conference had international backers in Tina Brown‘s Newsweek and its sister website, The Daily Beast, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have both found the controversy over the location and sponsorship juicy enough to put out stories today.

***

Lydia Polgreen in NYT:

The slick and well-attended conference led some in the Twitterverse and blogosphere to wonder: had Tehelka sold out to India’s mining barons and real estate tycoons?

The festival was sponsored by some of India’s top corporations and held at a hotel allegedly owned by men in jail awaiting charges involving the 2G telecommunications scam.

Potentially even more damaging, Tehelka faced accusations that it withheld an investigative story about illegal mining in Goa in exchange for the Goa state government’s support for the festival, an allegation the magazine’s editors strenuously deny. A version of the article was later published by Firstpost, a news Web site….

Tarun J. Tejpal, Tehelka’s editor, said that he was unaware of who owned the hotel or any environmental violations in its construction when his staff scouted the location months ago.

“When we looked for a hotel that could accommodate the scale we wanted, we couldn’t find a single hotel that could find a hall that could accommodate 600 to 700 people,” until they found the Grand Hyatt, which was still under construction. “Much later on the virtual eve of the fest we began to hear of these other issues.”

By then it was too late to shift to another location, he said.

Essar, one of the corporations sponsoring the festival, runs huge mines in Chhatisgarh and elsewhere, and some press critics have accused Tehelka of softening its criticism of the mining giant in exchange for sponsorship.

Tejpal flatly denied this, and said it was spurious to claim that his magazine’s journalism was somehow suspect, arguing that no publication has done more to highlight the plight of India’s dispossessed than Tehelkha, which frequently runs exposés of corporate and political misdeeds.

“There is a kind of absurdity for these arguments,” Tejpal fumed. “At the end of the day, by that count, virtually everything in India is suspect.”

Lucy Archibald in the WSJ:

However, some of the controversy merits a closer look. Most contentiously, writing in the Hindustan Times, Hartman De Souza, the sexagenarian theatre veteran and activist, accused the Tehelka editor of compromising a story about Goa’s illegal mining in order to get a green light for the festival.

According to De Souza, Tehelka reporter Raman Kirpal visited the state in March and discovered the illegal mining of iron ore at several times the environmentally cleared rate. This allegedly amounted to an illegal profit of Rs 8 billion ($163.5 million). Subsequently, the state-appointed Public Accounts Committee reportedly put the figure lost by the state exchequer closer to Rs 3,000 crore.

De Souza contends that Tejpal delayed the publication of the story just when he was in talks with Goa’s Chief Minister Digambar Kamat about approval and sponsorship for the event. And so far no such story on Goa’s illegal mining has run in Tehelka.

The reporter has since left the magazine and published his story on Firstpost.com, where he has now taken up a staff position. Coverage of the mining scandal followed in various local media outlets.

Several Goan government officials, including Kamat, were allegedly castigated in the committee’s report…. As a result of all this, De Souza objects to the inclusion of the Goan government as a sponsor of the ThinkFest event.

Tejpal published a strong riposte pointing out that the reporter in question was fired by Tehelka “on account of poor performance.” He strongly rejected De Souza’s version of events, calling his article “bizarre and baseless” and its author “full of rage at the world, but no facts.”

He also pointed out that they “actively refused sponsorship from all the Goan mining companies.” The festival was partly sponsored by companies including Aircel, Essar and Tata Steel.

Photograph: courtesy Newsweek

Also read: A magazine, a scam, an owner and his Goan house

Tarun J. Tejpal: “We haven’t bent or violated any rule”

Shoma Chaudhury in ‘150 most powerful’ list

9 March 2011

Shoma Chaudhury, managing editor and one of the promoters of the weekly magazine Tehelka, has been named among the “150 Women Who Shake the World” in the re-launch issue of the American newsweekly, Newsweek.

“Champions women in India’s celebrated newsmagazine Tehelka,” is the seven-word caption for Chaudhury.

Newsweek has been relaunched this week under Tina Brown, former editor of Tatler,  Vanity Fair, New Yorker and Talk, who currently runs the webzine The Daily Beast.

Chaudhury had interviewed Brown during her 2007 India visit and written for The Daily Beast founded by her in 2009. Tehelka editor Tarun J. Tejpal interviewed Tina Brown during the Jaipur literature festival in 2009, was crowned muckraker-in-chief by the webzine earlier this year.

Tina Brown has been quoted as saying that “Tehelka is one of the most exciting news magazines in the world. Its probing in public interest, its vitality, enterprise and tenacity give it influence beyond the subcontinent.”

Also read: Arun Shourie: ‘Intolerant, abusive, dictatorial’

Newsweek: Who, why, when, how, where, what, what the…

Sudip Mazumdar: How a slumdweller became a Newsweek reporter

Second editor of Indian origin for ‘Newsweek’

10 December 2010

Tunku Varadarajan, the Indian-born, US-based writer-educator, has been named the new editor of Newsweek international, becoming the second journalist of Indian origin after Fareed Zakaria to hold the reins at the American magazine.

Tunku broke the news through a tweet on Wednesday: “My news: Looks like I’ll be editing Newsweek International”.

Born Patanjali Varadarajan, 48-year-old Tunku—named after the father of Malyasia’s independence—is currently writer-at-large at The Daily Beast, the online magazine floated by legendary British editor Tina Brown. His appointment comes as part of the revamp of the struggling magazine, after the Washington Post company sold it to stereo tycoon Sidney Harman for one dollar (Rs 45) earlier this year.

Tunku, whose brother Siddharth Varadarajan works for The Hindu in New Delhi, has served as the correspondent of The Times, London, in Madrid and New York; worked at the editorial and op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal; and taught business at New York University and journalism at Stanford.

When his old boss Rupert Murdoch (who owns The Times) bought the WSJ, Tunku left to join Forbes.com.

In 1997, the 50th anniversary of India’s independence,  a  New Yorker item listed the nattily dressed Tunku, then 34, as one of New York City’s “most in-demand bachelors”.

“‘At the Times, we used to have a rule. Always dress as if you might have to go to a funeral or interview a Cabinet minister’…

“How often is he invited out? ‘Every day, I fear. A lot of these calls I take completely blind,’ he says, sipping a Scotch-and-soda. ‘If the person’s voice sounds nice, I tend to say yes. I suppose this could get me into a lot of trouble.’

Cricket-mad Tunku, a firm believer in the gung-ho vivacity of British newspapers as opposed to the deadly dull objectivity of their American counterparts, called Pakistan a “State of nothing” on that midnight child’s 50th anniversary.

Photograph: Tunku Varadarajan with wife Amy Finerty. The couple have a son, Satya (via Facebook)

***

Also read: Who, when, how, why, where, what and WTF

How a slumdweller became a Newsweek reporter

‘Magazines, like mushrooms, should grow in the dark’

China wants to be a media tiger, too. India?

19 May 2010

The American newsmagazine Newsweek is up for sale.

C. Raja Mohan, the strategic affairs editor of The Indian Express, writes that Chinese academics are salivating over the prospect of picking it up as part of the grand media strategy the Middle Kingdom seems to have embarked upon.

Writes Raja Mohan:

Bi Yantao, director of the communications research centre at Hainan University laid out the case for China buying the American journal. He declares that China has the talent to run Newsweek on a thoroughly professional basis and make it profitable once again.

“Prof. Bi argues that “One can’t learn to swim on land. If China is going to improve its international influence, it needs to jump into the media pool.” Only by operating news outlets in foreign countries and reporting international affairs from a Chinese perspective can China master the battle of world opinion,” he concluded.”

How come Indian media majors and investors, flush with cash and entertaining visions of India as a superpower, aren’t interested in Newsweek as a property?

Or are they?

Image: courtesy The Indian Express

Also readWho, why, when, how, where, what, what the…

Newsweek‘s Fareed Zakaria gets Padma Bhushan

Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria gets Padma Bhushan

25 January 2010

Fareed Zakaria, the Bombay-born editor of Newsweek International and the host of CNN’s GPS, has been decorated with India’s third highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan.

Zakaria’s name finds mention in the annual Republic Day honours’ list released by the ministry of home affairs.

Zakaria, whose mother Fatma Zakaria was one of the stellar names of the now-defunct Illustrated Weekly of India under Khushwant Singh, is the only journalist on this year’s list of 130 names, in this the 60th year of the founding of the Indian republic.

“I am deeply honoured and humbled. I am absolutely delighted to be in the company of people with extraordinary achievements,” Zakaria told Press Trust of India.

“I believe India and the US are moving on a path of inevitable partnership. (There are) so many broad forces pushing these two countries together — from strategic forces to cultural forces to intellectual force. I believe that we would see the 21st century in which the US and India ideas, interest, values and increasingly cooperate on the global stage.”

Also read: Will this man be the next US secretary of state?

Who, why, when, how, where, what, what the…

Third highest civilian honour for Shekhar Gupta

Why Rajdeep, Barkha must decline Padma Shri

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