The Times of India, The Indian Express, Malayala Manorama, The Pioneer, Aaj Tak, NDTV… all have set up journalism schools. Now, Tehelka joins the club.
Archive for June, 2010
Another day, another ranking of India’s top-10 institutes of mass communication. This time from Outlook* magazine’s annual ranking of India’s best professional colleges, conducted by the market research agency MDRA.
* Disclosures apply
The Bhopal Gas Tragedy—not the 1984 one but the 2010 repeat—had everything going for it to be quickly consigned to the deepest crevices of our consciousness. A ridiculously long overdue verdict, a farcical sentence, poor (mostly Muslim) victims in a non-metropolitan city, the short memory of the public.
And then the fact that 1984 happened before the era of satellite TV.
“Will media activism secure justice for Bhopal?” was, therefore, a question well worth asking on 8 June, after Judgment Day saw the eight accused get a comical two-year term (with a proviso for immediate bail) for killing 15,274 and maiming 574,000 people 25 years and six months earlier.
Would the media go hyper like it had done for Aarushi, Jessica and Ruchika, was a doubt on many a cynic’s lip.
To its redounding credit, it has.
The Bhopal issue has had an incredible run over the last two weeks, each day unravelling new and unknown facts and facets of the complicity of politicians, bureacurats, diplomats, industrialists—all those who allowed the tragedy to happen, all those who let the killers to run away, all those who want us to forgive some and forget the rest.
The media is often accused of lacking stamina and hunting in a pack. But for once, print and television—and indeed online—rose to the challenge, in India and the United States. And if the prime minister has had to constitute a group of ministers, the other reason is media pressure; the main reason of course is obvious.
The grid above gives a sampling of the vast array of people the media tapped over the last 12 days. Quotes, photographs, videos, official documents, CIA reports, newspaper clippings have all been unearthed to get to the bottom of the story and piece together the jigsaw.
So much so that former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson‘s house was staked, and his wife was interviewed at her doorstep.
The media hasn’t done a favour to the nation, of course, but a service that is expected of it. But in the ocean of cynicism that surrounds the media—of political patronage, ideological bias, paid news, corruption, etc— surely there is no harm in saluting a passing island?
The ghosts of Jammu & Kashmir seem to repeatedly haunt the BJP Rajya Sabha member and editor-in-chief of The Pioneer, the very erudite Chandan Mitra.
Over a decade ago, the journalist-activist Kuldip Nayar, then a member of the upper house, moved a privilege motion for an overly enthusiastic editorial that questioned Nayar’s patriotism.
In February this year, Mitra had to issue a front-page condemnation for the “wilful misrepresentation of views” expressed by him by a Kashmiri commentator in Kashmir Times.
“I am aghast at the diabolical attempt by certain persons with obvious separatist sympathies to distort my article “A ‘moth-eaten’ India?” by Ifthikar Gilani. A canard is being spread by a Kashmiri commentator Iftikhar Gilani, who writes for the Kashmir Times, that I have argued against the BJP’s stand on Jammu & Kashmir and advocated “free Kashmir or joint sovereignty” for the State. I am truly appalled by the deliberate and motivated distortion of my beliefs by Gilani and his ilk.”
And now this self-explanatory apology for a piece by G.N. Shaheen, general secretary of the J&K high court bar association, which carried the G-word thrice and began thus:
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh talks of ‘zero tolerance’ on human rights abuses, but does nothing to rein in the Army from implementing a new policy of genocide which targets children—this renders his calls for peace bogus.”
The piece also carried this paragraph:
“Under the new pattern of genocide carried out by the authorities, young school-going children are targeted purposefully to deter future generations from embarking on the path of freedom. Asiya and Nelofar’s double murder at Shopian, the death of a class 7 student, Wamiq Farooq of Rainawari, the killing of class 9 student Zahid Farooq of Brian Nishat are but symbolic of this official policy. None of these children were militants or remotely connected with any political party, yet they had to loose their lives at the hands of the armed forces.”
Read the original piece here: New genocide policy in J&K
Also available here: Defence Forum of India
It’s that time of the year again, when magazines and newspapers publish a ranking of professional colleges. Today’s Hindustan Times runs the top-10 mass communication institutes, as ranked by the market research agency C-fore.
Image: courtesy Hindustan Times
Also read: India’s ten best communication schools
PRITAM SENGUPTA in New Delhi and PALINI R. SWAMY in Bangalore write: Vijaya Next, the weekly Kannada newspaper launched by The Times of India group for the “upwardly mobile Kannadiga population”, is said to be looking for a new editor, just three weeks after the paper hit the stands.
Sources at Times House on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg claim the paper’s first editor, Deepak Thimaya, put in his papers days after the 24-page, all-colour paper was launched on May 28 and has been relieved. He is said to be serving his notice till the end of the month.
“Yes, we are searching [for a new editor],” messaged a Times insider.
There were indications in Bangalore that something was seriously amiss at the paper from Day One.
Thimaya, a well-regarded interviewer for Udaya TV of the Sun group and a noted quiz compere and emcee, was conspicuously absent from the first issue of the paper itself. There was no article or interview by him, and the only place his name appeared was in the imprintline.
In fact, Vijaya Next staffers were surprised that the paper was introduced to the “upwardly mobile Kannadiga” in a signed piece not by Thimaya, the paper’s editor, but by Visweshwar Bhat, the editor of the group’s flagship Kannada daily, Vijaya Karnataka.
Times sources in Delhi are understandably tightlipped over what went wrong as the hunt for a new editor gathers pace. Insiders at Vijaya Next in Bangalore say Thimaya was out of sorts in the new medium although this must have been blindingly obvious to Times managers who wooed and hired him.
“It’s all a big mess. They bought a Kannada paper (Usha Kirana) and turned it into ToI Kannada. They got rid of its first editor (Venkatanarayana) by bringing in Ishwar Daitota. They shut ToI Kannada down and launched Vijaya Next. They brought in Deepak Thimaya to get rid of Daitota, and now even he is gone,” said an exasperated Times insider.
The first indications of trouble came when, even before Vijaya Next was launched and with Thimaya already on board, Vijayanand Printers Limited (VPL) president Sunil Rajshekhar roped in E. Raghavan, former resident editor of The Times of India in Bangalore, in a consulting role.
Rajshekhar and Raghavan had been part of the team that launched The Times in Bangalore, although Times managers claim “old school” Raghavan had to be pushed to The Economic Times in 1996 to begin the “reforms” process at ToI that eventually enabled it to overtake market-leader, Deccan Herald.
The first three issues of Vijaya Next have come out under Raghavan’s stewardship to a tepid-to-cold market reaction. Most of the claimed circulation has come from complimentary copies slipped in with Vijaya Karnataka.
Last Saturday, Thimaya had this telling status update on his Facebook account:
Times House insiders in Delhi say the group isn’t looking at Raghavan, who retired from the Times group to serve as a consultant to arch-rival DNA in Bangalore, as a replacement for Thimaya. A number of names, including that of a theatre activist, is doing the rounds.
Sunil Rajshekhar who left Times to launch indya.com for Rupert Murdoch returned to the group to head Times Internet Limited (TIL) and was then shafted to Times Private Treaties (TPT), from where he returned to Bangalore to replace Chinnen Das as president of VPL, the BCCL subsidiary, that the group purchased in 2007.
Photograph: courtesy deepakthimaya.com
Also read: Vijaya Next gives ToI Crest a Kannada avatar
Chandan Mitra, the editor-in-chief of The Pioneer, has been elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha for a second term, this time as a nominee of the BJP. In a piece in his paper, Mitra once again addresses the conflict of interest in being the editor of a paper and an active politician.
“While it is true that strict separation of news and views is a tall order, in recent years I have confined myself to giving broad directions to my editorial colleagues rather than working on reports hands-on. I love journalism, my profession for over 26 years and it still remains my first instinct.
“But politics has driven me throughout; it holds a charm that I find irresistible. After my election as MP this time, I don’t know if time will permit me to keep wearing two hats both of which I love, but I hope to continue doing so as long as I can….
“In 1980 I went to Oxford University to pursue a doctoral degree in history, returning in 1984 to join The Statesman and embark on a career in journalism. Taking a break from political involvement, I delved deep into my new profession resuming my interest in current affairs and amateur psephology.
“Although I got drawn towards the BJP, away from my earlier Leftist beliefs, in the early-1990s, I never thought of plunging into active politics for many years.
“Probably my ability to save The Pioneer from certain closure in 1998 and the robust nationalist tinge I lent to the paper’s editorial policy impressed then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani sufficiently to recommend my name to the President of India for nomination to the Rajya Sabha in 2003. Thus I became an MP without contesting an election.”
Photograph: courtesy visfot.com
Read the full article: A confessional tale of elusive elections
David Davidar, the former magazine journalist who rose to become publisher of such stellar Indian literary names as Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie, Khushwant Singh and Shobha De, has been sacked from Penguin Canada following charges of sexual harassment.
Davidar, 52, part of the team at the now defunct monthly, Gentleman launched by Minhaz Merchant, has been “asked to leave” the firm after a former rights and contracts director at the company, Lisa Rundle, “brought an action” against him, Penguin Canada said in Toronto on Friday.
The new statement was in marked contrast to an earlier release on June 8 that suggested Davidar had left the company on his own to return to India to pursue his writing projects and other endeavours. Davidar is the author of two novels, The House of Blue Mangoes and The Emperor of Solitudes.
“I just felt I wanted to see if I could do something other than managing a company,” Davidar, had said in a boiler-plate exit interview. He said he and his wife were planning to return to India to live.
In a new interview, Davidar confirms he had a “friendship with my colleague” that went on for three years but says he is “dismayed Penguin Canada chose to respond to the charges by directing me to leave Penguin”:
“Earlier this week it was announced that I would be leaving Penguin Canada. At Penguin’s request, I agreed to publicly state that my departure was voluntary. The truth is that a former colleague accused me of sexual harassment and Penguin terminated my employment.”
Saturday’s Globe and Mail has further details of the scale of the alleged harassment as detailed by Lisa Rundle in her complaint before the Ontario superior court of justice on June 9. It suggests that Rundle was sexually harassed repeatedly over three years culminating in “outright assault” at the Frankfurt book fair last fall.
The accusations are accompanied by quotations from several e-mail messages Davidar allegedly sent to Rundle, whom he described as “utterly gorgeous,” “a vision in pink sipping a champagne cocktail.”
The court statement says:
“At the Frankfurt book fair last October Davidar appeared at Rundle’s hotel room door, ‘wearing excessive cologne, with buttons on his shirt undone down his waist’.
“Lisa stood in her hotel room into which Davidar had bullied his way, with her arms crossed, still near the door, and asked what he needed to discuss. He told her to relax and just let him come in. She refused and said she wanted to go to sleep.
“Rundle claims she climbed on a windowsill to avoid her boss and again asked him to leave. ‘He forcibly pulled her off the ledge and grabbed her by the wrists, forcing his tongue into her mouth’.”
David Davidar, who launched the Indian imprint of Penguin for the Anand Bazaar Patrika (ABP) group, moved to Canada in 2003 as head of Penguin Canada. August 15 is to be his last day at work.
Photograph: courtesy The Globe and Mail, Toronto
The Times of India‘s weekend supplement on contemporary and new-age spirituality, The Speaking Tree, a pet-project of bosswoman Indu Jain, is inviting applications for the post of assistant editor.
Qualifications: MA or PhD in comparative religion or theology.
Also read: You’ve read the column, now read the paper