Posts Tagged ‘The New Indian Express’

‘Tarun Tejpal was trapped in a skin not his own’

25 November 2013

unnamed

Former Outlook* publisher, Maheshwar Peri, who now runs Pathfinder Media, the magazine company which publishes Careers 360, on his friend and former colleague Tarun J. Tejpal**.

***

MaheshPeri

By MAHESH PERI

The stupidity of our nation gets greatly exposed with the extreme reactions to Tarun J. Tejpal—the cult following of his journalism at one end, and the lynch mobs baying for his blood, following the outing of his sexual escapades, at the other.

Tarun comes across as a sexual predator, on the prowl, in search of his next victim. He used his power and influence over young women half his age. The girl is his daughter’s friend and his friend’s daughter.

However, this should not take away some of the most seminal work that the journalists of Tehelka have done over the years.

***

Tarun’ s story in itself is an alchemy of desire. He was like most of us: chirpy, fun-loving, naughty. However, post Tehelka, he donned the robe of a saint. He became preachy and started espousing causes that he never stood for and never could.

He was nothing that the nation started acknowledging him for.

He was a normal guy with all the flaws, fallacies and weaknesses.

It was a facade he had to put on for the survival of Tehelka, which was losing money, each year. Only the power exuded by Tehelka could make it viable.

He glorified himself when not due. He “owned” the company when the money came from others. He acted the hero while he was just a team member.The existence of Tehelka is not just because of Tarun.

Tehelka exists because of:

1) The financial contributions of many citizens, celebrities and most importantly [the banker] Shankar Sharma, and,
2) The work of Aniruddha Bahal and Ashish Khetan.

If Tarun’s lofty objective was to start a not-for-profit free and aggressive media enterprise, he could have made all contributors as shareholders. He crowd-funded Tehelka but did not part with ownership. The new shareholders include K.D. Singh, a Trinamul Congress MP, who bought his way into Rajya Sabha.

Any intelligent person should have cried foul then.

It is too late now.

***

Sometime in 2009 when my fledgling publication wrote against an educational institution with doubtful credentials, we got into a lot of trouble.

Editors like Aditya Sinha (New Indian Express), Vir Sanghvi (Hindustan Times), Shekhar Gupta (Indian Express) personally supported us.

We were going through multiple cases and draining all our resources.

When Tehelka decided to do a story to the subject, we were too happy. Who can espouse the cause of investigative journalism better? Only till we got the questions from the journalist. We realised that it was a story being done on behalf of the institution to throw insinuations at us.

I was very upset because I knew Tarun personally but for him, it didn’t matter. We responded professionally, sticking to facts. I dared them to do a story despite the facts. It was no coincidence that the dubious institution is Tehelka‘s biggest advertiser taking all its back covers.

The story never appeared, because our response didn’t leave any gaps. And the owner of the institution was at the THINK fest in Goa, rubbing shoulders with the then HRD minister Kapil Sibal and gained access to a ministry that should have punished him.

Kapil Sibal later attended a special screening of a movie produced by this institution, and the picture was advertised/showcased all over to unsuspecting parents and students. For me, THINK became a place which conducted an orgy over social issues.

I stopped following it.

***

This is not just about Tarun.

It is about abuse of power, by a journalist, an editor and a man. A self-styled messiah. Each time, they believe they can get away with unfair demands, they push the envelope further.

People in power with no humility can destroy like nothing else. The desires, fantasies and a coterie is a very potent combination.Tarun is a victim of his own facade, fantasies and greed. He was never what he was portrayed, then and now. He was never a saint and neither can he be a rapist.

He is trapped in a skin not his own. We couldn’t stop people from hailing him as God, as much as we cannot stop them from calling him a devil.

Alas. It is too late now.

* Disclosures apply

** This comment was first posted by the author on Facebook

Photographs: courtesy Karamchand Jena, and Campaign India

Also read: Tarun J. Tejpal steps aside as editor of Tehelka

Life yourselves up, dearie, or get into my elevator

POLL: Is sexual harassment rampant in Indian media?

Online petition to protect Tehelka journalist’s privacy

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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

‘Hindu family’ chucks out ‘professional’ redesign

25 October 2013

hindu

Four days after The Hindu board summarily decided to pause its ongoing “professionalisation” process, the Mount Road Mahavishnu has reverted to its previous design, as promised by chairman N. Ram in a tweet (below).

On the left (top) is the October 21 issue, the last with Varadarajan at the helm, and on the right is the October 24 issue with editor-in-chief N. Ravi back in the editorial saddle.

Very little of Deepak Harichandan‘s “chic new design” is left in the new “old” paper, which was designed by India’s favourite Spanish designer, Mario Garcia after Ram’s return as editor.

The banner-panels are gone; the story slugs are gone; the “Short Takes” on the left have shifted to the right as “Briefly”; the font of the lead story is back to the past; the emblematic blue colour for story jumps gives way to beige, etc.

Only the tagline “India’s National Newspaper since 1878″ remains, although its colour too has changed from blue to red.

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deepak Like all redesigns, Harichandan’s visualisation for The Hindu—a “pastiche‘ of The Times of India and The New Indian Express, where he had worked—had its fans and foes, amongst journalists within The Hindu and, more importantly, readers.

While the younger lot said it was the way to go if it had to catch up with the times, the “old school” squirmed at design taking precedence over text, while older readers complained of how difficult it was to navigate through the paper and virtually impossible to read the graphics.

Photograph: courtesy newspaper design

Also read: The great grandmother of all newspaper battles

Another boiler-plate redesign from Mario Garcia

Good heavens, another Mario Garcia redesign

Yet another paper redesigned by Mario Garcia

How come Mario Garcia didn’t redesign this one?

Finally, a redesign not done by Mario Garcia

‘UFO’ sends South Indian papers into a tizzy

19 June 2013

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PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: Two south Indian newspapers, the Malayala Manorama (in picture, above) and the New Indian Express, have reported the sighting of an unidentified flying object (UFO) in Kannur district in Kerala.

According to Manorama, the picture was taken by Major Sebastian Zachariah, an Indian army officer serving on the UN mission in Congo, when he was testing his new mobile telephone.

UFO

The Express (above) followed suit, and quoted the major’s wife:

“My husband had a new mobile (HTC-1) and he was checking the features by clicking photos randomly. It was around 4.30-5 pm and suddenly he screamed saying that he got a UFO image. We couldn’t believe it first and thought he was playing a prank,” Divya who hails from Kannur said over phone.

“He did not see the UFO with his naked eye. We checked every frame carefully and only one had a flying saucer on it. We looked in the sky to spot something unusual. We came back home and did a thorough search on the internet and even scanned the NASA website.”

Thankfully, Express also quoted Professor Jayant Murthy of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bangalore, who rejected the claims.

“Due to reflections of some optics there could have been illusions. People sometimes experience camera illusions and they are not UFOs. These are nothing real.”

The wellknown rationalist, Sanal Edamaruku, wrote on his Facebook page:

“UFO attacks can be “recorded” with new HTC-1 mobile phone App. UFO-logists have enough stuff for some time.”

Edamaruku also suggested a You Tube link to show how it is done:

However, one blogger put the whole thing in perspective:

“HTC–1 is a powerful phone with a very powerful camera. HTC -1 produces perfect images with one-press continuous shooting, VideoPic, and a camera that captures 300% more light. It has a very powerful Ultra Pixel camera supporting continuous shooting. It looks like the picture got captured only because of this powerful camera. Hence we cannot rule out the possibility that this a genuine UFO phenomenon caught on film due to a very powerful, advanced camera phone.”

Also read: How a giant pig fooled the American media

How a newspaper’s prank exposed websites

How Indian TV slayed a dangerous superstition

The only place black magic works is in your mind

A national newspaper goes ‘local’ in Bangalore

17 June 2013

NEWHINDU

The Hindu has unveiled a new hyper-local look in Bangalore with the tagline “Bringing Bangalore Back to You”.

Writes the paper’s editor Siddharth Varadarajan in a front-page note:

“Why you might ask. After all, Bangalore has known The Hindu for its credible, fearless and unfettered reportage. For never dumbing down. For vanguard journalism that brings the world to your doorstep. But Bangalore has evolved, and so have we. So we bring Bangalore back to you….

“We bring the city to you in a chic new design with a fresh clutch of content: sharp investigative stories and new columns in the main edition, and a crosses and mains neighbourhood view of your locality in Bangalore Local, our weekend special.”

For the record, The Times of India leads the Bangalore market, with Deccan Herald a distant number 2, followed by Bangalore Mirror. The Hindu, The New Indian Express, Deccan Chronicle and DNA are all jostling for the fourth to seventh places in India’s most crowded English newspaper market.

‘TV doesn’t want debate; it wants whipping boys’

12 June 2013

The dastardly ambush of a Congress party convoy by Maoists in Chhattisgarh on May 25, in which 28 people including the founder of the Salwa Judum movement Mahendra Karma perished, led to the by-now ritual witchhunt of human rights activists on television—and their ostracism by newspapers.

On one level, in a Pavlovian sort of way, the media randomly accused “Naxal sympathisers” of staying silent. On another level, the media was accused of allowing them to speak. (In fact, one former IAS officer even goes so far as to say that he “almost felt like taking a gun and shooting these people, as also the TV anchors who gave them time and space.”)

Lost in the noise is nuance—and balance.

Here, Nandini Sundar, a professor of sociology at the Delhi school of economics, provides perspective on how the media is distorting the debate with its shrill “us vs them” tone.

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By NANDINI SUNDAR

I am sick to death of TV panel discussions which ask whether human rights activists are soft on the Maoists, romanticise the Maoists and so on. Why doesn’t someone ask if our honourable politicians and security experts are soft on police torture and extra judicial killings?

Television is not interested in a serious discussion – all they want are whipping boys.

The sight of Arnab Goswami mocking Prof Haragopal for giving an “academic analysis” was especially nauseating, compounded by his showing off about “Emily Durkheim” (sic).

Why bother to have a panel at all,  if only hysterical calls for the army to be sent in to wipe out the Maoists count as ‘analysis’, and every other viewpoint is seen as biased?

The media’s vocabulary is also very limited.

I remember a particular excruciating interview with Binayak Sen where he said he “decried” violence and the anchor repeatedly asked him if he “condemned” it. As far as I know, the two words mean roughly the same thing.

Nowadays, even before the media asks me, I start shouting “I condemn, I condemn.” I wake up in my sleep shouting “I condemn.” I am scared to use other words to describe complex emotions, because the media is unable to understand anything else.

The only reason why I agree to participate in any TV discussions at all or give interviews to the media, is because I have such limited space to express my views. Most of the time the media is completely unconcerned about what happens in places like Bastar, and when there are large scale deaths of civilians, no-one runs non-stop news or panel discussions.

Perforce “human rights activists” have to speak in unfavourable circumstances, because that’s the only time when the media is interested in our views; and that too, not because they want to hear us, but because they need a “big fight” to raise their ratings.

That’s what is called ‘balance’.

One can almost see visible disappointment on the anchor’s part when panelists who should disagree actually agree on many issues.

Since May 25 I have been inundated with calls from journalists asking for my views. But when I want to write, there is little space. A leading national newspaper refused to publish me on the killing of Mahendra Karma, till they had enough pieces which promoted a paramilitary approach.

Even when I do get published it is under strict word constraints. I wrote the first opinion piece ever written in the national media on the Salwa Judum in 2006, but was given 800 words, under the fold. In the first year of Salwa Judum, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of articles on Salwa Judum.

I personally met several editors and showed them photographic evidence; and begged TV editors for panel discussions, but no-one was interested. If they had been interested then, perhaps things would not have come to such a pass.
I am unable to write my own book on Salwa Judum because of the court case and all that it takes.

I have been wanting to write on it since 2005 because I am, above all, an anthropologist.  In any case, my mental space is so clogged by the media noise and the strain of being confined to “opinion pieces” that keep saying the same things because no one is listening, that I can’t write.

I am almost glad the IPL has taken over again, and we can all forget about Bastar and the Maoists till the next major attack.

***

I reproduce below an extract from my article, Emotional Wars, on the public reactions to the death of the 76 CRPF men in April 2010.  This was published in Third World Quarterly,  Vol. 33, No. 4, 2012, pp 1-17:

“Government anger was directed not just at the Maoists but at their alleged ‘sympathizers in civil society’, whose verbal and written criticism of government for violations of the Constitution and fundamental rights, was morally equated with the Maoist act of killing in retaliation for those policies.

“Within minutes then, given the government’s role as the primary definer of news, whether the alleged sympathizers had adequately condemned and expiated for the attack, became as critical to the framing of the news as the attack itself. 

“The largely one-sided government and media outrage – the targeted killings or rapes of ordinary adivasis rarely, if ever, invite direct calls upon the Home Minister to condemn each such incident – easily summon to mind Herman and Chomsky’s distinction between “worthy and unworthy victims” as part of what they call the media ‘propaganda model’.

“While news coverage of the worthy is replete with detail, evokes indignation and shock, and invites a follow-up; unworthy victims get limited news space, are referred to in generic terms, and there is little attempt to fix responsibility or trace culpability to the top echelons of the establishment.

“…In times of civil war, the emotions performed by the state range from the inculcation of fear to a calculated display of indifference to the exhibition of injured feelings, as if it was citizens and not the state who were violating the social contract, and that the social contract consisted of the state’s right to impunity.”

Also read: EPW tears into TV’s ‘hawks, hotheads, hysteria’

‘TV is now a site for manufacturing news, consent’

‘Is news TV becoming a national security hazard?’

Why Prabhu Chawla didn’t become media advisor

23 January 2012

Prabhu Chawla, editorial director of The New Indian Express and Sunday Standard:

“Personally, I’m against the idea of journalists associating with the government in a formal advisory capacity without joining the ruling party. When former Prime Minister V.P. Singh offered me his media advisor’s job in 1990, I reluctantly declined. I suggested Singh not to hire any journalist, as he would only be adding to his already very long list of foes.

“At the age of 44, I couldn’t risk my journalistic career for a lackey’s loft, and make the prime minister the target of my own numerous enemies, also from within my profession.

“I hate to admit there isn’t much love lost between most senior journalists. Over the years, journalism has become divided along ideological lines. Like most humans, journalists also carry their predilections, preferences and biases around. In spite of our best efforts, we try to impose our choices on political leaders.(And imagine we succeed.)

“In the process, the leader ends up facing the ire of other journalists who end up targeting him, thanks to the one in his service. Many journalists have visible or invisible political ambitions. It is more honest to join a political party than masquerading as a self-proclaimed professional while accepting a job from the ruling party.”

Read the full article: A lose-lose situation

Also read: At 7, Race Course Road, this is Pankaj Pachauri

Why the PM is hopelessly wrong about the media

How well is the PM’s media advisor advising him?

Because when dog bites dog, it’s news—I

Because when dog bites dog, it’s news—II

Never believe anything until it’s officially denied

Swamy and his media friends (and enemies)

25 December 2011

In the latest issue of Tehelka magazine, Ashok Malik has a profile of the “irrepressible” Subramanian Swamy, the maverick economist-politician behind the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

The profile is occasioned by Harvard University’s recent decision to not renew Swamy’s teaching contract for a venomous column in DNA in July on “How to wipe out Islamic terror“:

“There’s an old story about Subramanian Swamy that even if apocryphal and probably untrue still merits retelling simply because it’s part of urban folklore in Lutyens’ Delhi.

“One day, a powerful editor with a blackmailing tendency walked into Swamy’s basement office in his south Delhi residence, and threw a sheaf of papers on the table.

“‘Dr Swamy,’ he thundered, ‘I have a file on you.’

“Unperturbed, Swamy reached out for a folder in his bottom drawer, placed them on the desk and said, calmly, with the chilling certitude so typical of his voice, ‘Mr Editor, I have a file on you’.”

Swamy, who is currently seeking to re-enter Parliament through the BJP, brought down the Atal Behari Vajpayee government in 1998 by getting arch-rivals Sonia Gandhi and Jayalalitha to drink tea together; another matter of course that Sonia is now a prime target of Swamy and Jayalalitha’s recent court appearances are based on a Swamy plea.

“At the end of the day, Swamy is trusted by few but ignored by even fewer. He can plug into extremely diverse social groups — serious economists, the loony right, the Janata parivar, the TamBrahm fraternity. He can hold both Ram Setu and N. Ram [the Marxist editor-in-chief of The Hindu] close to his heart (or profess to).

“For all his right-wing politics, the Hindu has been a loyal platform and publisher. His dogs have come from N. Ram’s litter, as indeed have Sonia Gandhi’s dogs — but that’s another contradiction, for Swamy to spin another day.”

Elsewhere, Swamy becoming persona non grata for Harvard thanks to his newspaper columns provides occasion for James Fallows, the national correspondent of The Atlantic Monthly, to recount the role played by Swamy in his getting into journalism:

“In the late 1960s, I had been a freshman at Harvard, ready to study around the clock in preparation for medical school. To earn extra money I had signed up as an ad salesman for the Crimson, and during the unbelievably bleak and frigid January “reading period” of my sophomore year, I was in the newspaper’s office one night, laying out an ad dummy for the next day’s paper.

“All the regular writers and editors were gone, cramming before final exams to make up for the courses they had skipped through the semester. So when a variety of fire alarms and sirens started going off, for what proved to be a big fire at the Economics Department building, I was the one on hand to run out after grabbing a camera and a reporter’s notebook.

“I had seen snow only once in my life before going to college; and in my high school jobs, manning smudge pots in the local Southern California orange groves on “cold” nights, we would trade tales about whether human beings could actually survive exposure to temperatures that dipped below 32F. But at the Economics Department, it was so cold — well below 0 F back in those pre-warming days — that the Cambridge Fire Department had trouble putting out the fire: water from the hoses would freeze in the air.

“I saw an upset-looking gentleman alongside me watching the fire. I asked why he was there. He said that all the notes and research for his current book, inside that building, was literally going up in smoke. That was Subramanian Swamy, then a young economics instructor. I wrote up his story in the paper — my first story for the Crimson, and the beginning of my shift from the ad staff (and pre-med) to the news staff.”

Let the record show that Swamy’s daughter Suhasini Haidar is a journalist with CNN-IBN; his sister-in-law Coomi Kapoor is a consulting editor with the Indian Express as is her husband Virendra Kapoor, a former editor of the Free Press Journal.

Let the record also show that James Fallows had narrated this story in 1996 at a commencement address at the Meddill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Photograph: courtesy Shailendra Pandey/ Tehelka

Also read: Does Swamy‘s DNA column amount to incitement?

Is UPA hitting back at TOI, India Today, DNA?

Swamy & friends: a very, very short story

When Prabhu Chawla called up Amar Singh…

12 May 2011

The Supreme Court has lifted a five-year ban on the airing of the infamous Amar Singh CD which, along with the Niira Radia tapes, must be made required listening in journalism schools for the unvarnished view it offers of how politicians, industrialists, bureaucrats, film stars, celebrities, middlemen and journalists operate.

Among the two-dozen conversations  on the Amar Singh CD—fondly referred to in media circles as “Amar Singh ki amar kahaniyan“—is one involving Prabhu Chawla, the former editor of India Today and currently the editorial director of The New Indian Express.

The conversation is centred on a press conference Amar Singh is threatening to call to tell the world about how an Aaj Tak reporter (Prachi Jawadekar Wagh, now with NDTV) sneaked into a hospital ward in Bombay, where the film star Amitabh Bachchan was recuperating and allegedly invaded his privacy. Chawla’s call to the then Samajawadi Party leader is aimed at stalling the press meet.

For the record, Chawla also figures in the Niira Radia tapes, and Chawla himself has put up the transcript of his conversation with the lobbyist on his website to set the record straight.

Also read: ‘TV is dishing out cheap opinion’

Prabhu Chawla: ‘TV is dishing out cheap opinion’

5 May 2011

Prabhu Chawla, the editorial director of the New Indian Express, delivered the convocation address to the class of 2011 at the Indian institute of journalism & new media (IIJNM), in Bangalore, on Monday.

Chawla’s salient points:

# Something is rotten in the state of Indian media: Journalists have forgotten that they must report violations, not commit them. Journalists have forgotten to ask tough questions. Instead, they prefer to be supercops, judges and hangmen, all rolled in to one.

# Media is ailing from negligence and ignorance: Journalists no longer seem to have curiosity or the hunger for news. Instead, they seem to be losing credibility. Stories are not based on facts, but manipulated by politicians and corporate houses.

# Generation Next is suffering from lack of training: Most journalists are not looking for a good story any more. Neither are editors pushing them for better stories. TV channels have found the easy way of dishing out opinions instead of giving viewers information.

# Good journalism needs support from consumers: If Indian media has to be liberated from the clutches of advertisers, consumers have to pay for what they read or view. With a business model based on paid news and private treaties, advertisers have begun to dictate what goes into the news.

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View Prabhu Chawla’s PPT presentation

WHAT AILS_JOURNALISM TODAY?

***

Photograph: Prabhu Chawla, editorial director of the New Indian Express, leads the faculty to the convocation of the class of 2011 at the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, in Bangalore on Monday, 2 May 2011. To his left is Kanchan Kaur, vice-dean. (Karnataka Photo News)

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Ask Prabhu

Vol I. No.I: Straight drives from the man behind Seedhi Baat

Vol I. No IIHome truths from the man behind Sachchi Baat

Vol I. No. III: My greatest feat and my greatest failure

Vol I. No. IV: No one can destroy Ramnath Goenka‘s Express

Vol 1. No. V: Media doesn’t need a regulatory mechanism

When a film star weds a journalist, it’s news—II

26 April 2011

Indian film stars—like politicians, businessmen, cricketers and others—rarely have anything nice to say about journalists and journalism, except when they have something to sell. Some, like Amitabh Bachchan and Ram Gopal Verma, have built a cottage industry biting the hand that feeds them to the masses.

How nice therefore to find an inhabitant of tinsel world say “I do” to one of our own.

The Malayalam heartthrob Prithviraj Sukumaran tied the knot with Supriya Menon, the BBC’s business correspondent based in Bombay, in the latter’s home town of Palghat, on Monday. A reception has been planned in Ernakulam for May 1.

The two apparently met a year ago while Supriya was reporting on southern cinema, presumably for the BBC weekend programme, India Business Report, of which she was anchor-correspondent for a while.

“My wife was working as a reporter for a TV news channel. Being a South Indian, she was assigned to do a feature on South Indian cinema. When she called me, I was watching a special screening of SRK’s Don and could not talk to her and told her I would call her back. Next day, when I returned her call, coincidentally she was also watching Don. While that feature did not happen, due to this one call, we started talking and we discovered that we had the same view on the film. Also, we were coincidentally both reading The Fountainhead at that time. And then Shantaram happened and I was so fascinated by how Gregory David Roberts painted Mumbai in the book that I wanted to come to Mumbai and see Haji Ali and Leopold cafe. She showed me around and we fell in love through Bombay that later lead to us getting married.”

But Indo-Asian New Service (IANS), quoting the bride’s groom’s mother reports, that the two families knew each other for a long time and the couple were “childhood friends”.

The Times of India, quoting unnamed sources, says what attracted the film star to the journalist was her “intellectual quotient”.

The New Indian Express reports that local photographers and TV channels were not allowed inside the wedding venue. While over a dozen private photographers covered the function, the bride and groom left “without speaking to the journalists waiting outside the gate”.

Deccan Chronicle, which apparently broke the news of the “whirlwind romance” and the impending wedding only for it to be described as “baseless journalism” by the actor, reports that Prithviraj’s wedding to the journalist has broken the hearts of thousands of his female fans.

Photograph: courtesy Deccan Chronicle

Also read: When a politician weds a journalists, it’s news

Watch Supriya Menon reporting: Barter during a downturn

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