Monthly Archives: January 2007

When Nathuram Godse pulled the trigger

On this day in 1948, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was cremated. Slate marks the anniversary with an extraordinary assemblage of pictures shot by Henri Cartier-Bresson, founder of the Magnum photo agency and the French man considered to be the founder of modern photojournalism.

Click here to turn the photo album.


You are only as old as you think you are

As a hard-nosed journalist who doesn’t believe anything until he sees it himself with his own eyes—several times over, if required—Eapen Panicker inspects the latest “video” doing the rounds with the same toothcomb he uses for the daily post-mortem. Our intrepid photographers (in alphabetical order) Ravindra Nayak C H and A Veeramani capture the moment for posterity.

12 and a half rules to be a good journalist

12. DO WHAT YOU LOVE: Be passionate about what you choose to do. Remember: If there’s no love in the kitchen, there is no taste on the table. Never reject the impulses of your youth. Be responsible for your life, don’t blame others for what you become or don’t become.

11. WAKE UP ANGRY, AMBITIOUS: Get the fire in your belly to do something, set things right. Respond to injustice, inhumanity, corruption. Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable. Don’t think it is somebody else’s job. Be the change you want to see.

10. DON’T BE THE LOYAL MEMBER OF ANY PARTY, GROUP, CLUB, NGO: Credibility is everything. Retain your independence, be skeptical not cynical. Don’t mortgage your integrity. It’s like virginity—once you lose it, you have lost it forever.
9. BE CATHOLIC OF WRITERS AND WRITING: Read newspapers, magazines, books across the board. Admire writers/writing irrespective of ideology. In the age of the internet, you have no excuses for your ignorance.

8. FIND YOURSELF A ROLE-MODEL/MENTOR: Have a hero or heroine who has been there, done that. Keep in touch with people who will help you achieve your aims. Meet at least one new person every day.

7. BE A THRIVER, NOT A SURVIVOR: Don’t coast along, don’t be afraid to try out something new. Aim high, dream, have an ambition, set yourself a goal. Take a risk, think big, think differently, don’t be predictable.

6. NEVER WORK WITH SUCCESS/ REWARD IN MIND: Work for fun and the satisfaction, the rewards will come on their own. Don’t fall for cheap praise and don’t be stalled by even cheaper criticism.

5. WRITE, DRAW, SHOOT, CREATE EVERY DAY: Eventually your habits become you. Practics makes you perfect. Develop the three Ds—discipline, dedication, determination—and reward and recognition will naturally follow.

4. KEEP LEARNING EVERY DAY: You cannot learn eerything in the classroom or the newsroom. It’s a constantly changing business, keep learning. Again, in the age of the internet, you have no excuse not to do so.

3. FEAR NOBODY, QUESTION EVERYTHING: You are in the business to get the answers. Don’t be in awe of big names, power, reputations, status. This business is all about meeting total strangers and asking them questions you wouldn’t ask your parents.

2. NEVER BE EMBARRASSED TO ASK STUPID QUESTIONS: There are no stupid questions, only dumb answers. Talk less, listen more. Be humble of your ignorance.

1. CHASE YOUR DREAM: Stop living for others, avoid temptation, life is not all about money. Let your reputation never be under question. It’s true—it’s possible to earn decently and live honourably as a journalist.


And this half-rule

If POSSIBLE MARRY OUTSIDE THE PROFESSION: There’s nothing more boring and dreadful than waking up with somebody who goes through the same pangs and pangas as you.


(With grateful acknowledgement to Dr Ramachandra Guha, the eminent historian and writer, who delivered the convocation at the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media (IIJNM), two years ago, from which this piece has been adapted and expanded)

How smoking kills worms in the stomach

Ryszard Kapuscinski, the legendary Polish foreign correspondent whom Gabriel Garcia Marquez called “the true master of journalism”, and who has just passed away at the age of 74, covered 27 coups and revolutions across the world.

The Daily Telegraph, London, says his way of life and slim means took him close to the edge. He fell prey to tuberculosis and cerebral malaria. Short of food to appease the worms in his stomach, he took to smoking them out.

“After 40 cigarettes a night, the worm would just finally die,” Kapuscinski recalled. (Read the obituary here)

The Times, London, speaks of Kapuscinski’s irritation at journalists who, when on assignment, pulled out their phones to call home. Once he accompanied a British camera team to film in Ethiopia.

“On reaching high land, the team took out their mobile phones and rang home. This was not Kapuscinski’s way. “In their thoughts, they had never left London”, he complained. Rarely, if ever, did he make contact with his wife, the paediatrician Alicja Mielczarek, during months of travel. For him, there was only the truth on the ground, a gritty but often magical reality.” (Read the obituary here)

The Guardian, London, reports on why Kapuscinski considered the Greek historian Herodotus the world’s first great reporter, and elucidated on his three-step formula for great reporting.

“First, be willing to submit to hard, painstaking travel to get information first hand. Then, be able to listen carefully and respectfully to people. Third, do your homework, be investigative and precise. Journalists must be missionaries, translators and messengers.” (Read the obituary here)

An encyclopaedia who no longer walks

M K VIDYARANYA writes: Karnataka’s seniormost journalist Y K Rajagopal, who passed away in his sleep last night after a glorious 60-year innings in journalism, was a walking encyclopaedia who had trained many journalists right from the days when he was the chief reporter of Deccan Herald in the early 1960s.

A bachelor and a celibate he practised what he preached and was sincere to the core. Having participated in the freedom struggle, YK, as he was popularly called by his friends, was a socialist.

Born on September 19, 1920 to Yapamakula Krishna Setty, a leading cloth merchant of the time, YK, who pursued his higher studies at Maharaja’s college in Mysore, jumped into the freedom movement . He started manufacturing crude bombs inside the Kaveripatnam Hall in Mysore city. He used to wear only a khadi jubba and a dhoti.

A college mate of H Y Sharada Prasad, former information advisor to three Prime Ministers, internationally known photojournalist T S Satyan and others, YK traveled in the forests around Mysore, Bangalore and Hindupur to keep alive his anti-British activities, published information hand outs and supplied bombs.

After the country gained independence YK helped his father in his business and spend his time in marrying off his six sisters and a brother. However, he himself remained a bachelor.

YK who left for Bombay for business, got an offer from Deccan Herald to become its stringer and when he came back to Bangalore he was asked to join the organisation as a staffer.

As a chief reporter of that paper he was the first to publish the Mahajan Commission report on Karnataka-Maharashtra border issue. He was also the first to interview Dalai Lama who had fled Tibet took refuge in India and visited the Tibetan refugees colony at Bylakuppe near Kushalnagar in Kodagu.

Had he continued in that paper, he would have ended his career as one of the top journalists in the country. But destiny willed it otherwise. When he had a tiff with the editor of Deccan Herald over a trifling matter, YK decided to resign as chief reporter to ‘save’ the owner K A Nettakallappa from embarrassment.

After quitting Deccan Herald, YK worked as correspondent of INFA news agency of late Durga Das and also as state correspondent for now defunct Motherland English daily during Indira Gandhi‘s infamous emergency.

During the evening of his life, the destiny was so cruel that a man who rubbed shoulders with governors and chief ministers right from Karnataka’s first Chief Minister K C Reddy up to S M Krishna, had to spent his days waiting in queue for food at the ‘Ashakta Poshaka Sabha’ in the VV Puram area of Bangalore as there was no one to look after him.

YK had refused to accept the Karnataka Rajyotsava Award as a matter of principle.

Rest in peace.

Cross-posted on churumuri

Where a legal eagle dares

It’s interview time for many Vijay Times staffers as rumours of the-end-of-the-world-as-they-knew-it hit the roof. And today it was the turn of senior reporter Vicky Nanjappa to present himself before the reigning triumvirate of The Last Post (Narender Pani‘s fantastic work of fiction on Deccan Herald).

Mr Nanjappa, who thinks he is the cat of all things legal—and probably is—was subjected by helpful colleagues to a grilling session of possible questions the previous night, instructed to go in a tie, and to be nice and friendly with his co-interviewees because there were “trained psychologists” who were monitoring the interpersonal skills for candidates behind two-way mirrors.

As he waited for his turn in the first floor lobby of the directors, the world’s first “textcast” took placed between senior editors V S Karnic, Sudhakar Nair, and chief reporter Nirad Mudur. The specific instructions were 1) Wear your tie till you reach Brigade Road because the HR hawks will be watching how you present yourself in public, 2) Act nice, humble and less arrogant, and 3) Don’t smoke or chew jarda.

As he emerged out of 75, M G Road, ex-Vijay Times photographer Saggere Radhakrishna hid in the bushes to capture the ex-Coffeeland News reporter in all his humble glory. Karnataka Photo News editor Saggere Ramaswamy has helpfully encircled what he thinks is the tie that Vicky wore. Look and enjoy.

Statutory Warning: This piece is only for those with a sense of humour.


The simplest path to success

On Poynter, Sreenath Sreenivasan does his annual countdown of the most useful tips, web sites and columns for journalists and student journalists. Read the full article here.

Also, check out the list of The Best 50 Life Hacks for Your Life, designed to help you be productive. Fourteen ideas to communicate ideas better, the 9 top secrets of naturally born organisers, 5 ways to improve your productivity, 9 steps to define your goal destination and devise a plan to get there, 5 steps to get out ot debt.

Yes, there’s also the simplest path to success.