S. Mitra Kalita, the US-born Indian-American who did a two-year stint at the business daily Mint before returning to the Wall Street Journal, has just done a book on her Indian experience, titled My Two Indias.
In an interview with Aseem Chhabra of India Abroad, the “daughter of Assam”, shares her thoughts on Indian journalism:
What was your experience with journalists in India?
“The challenge in India is that it is so competitive, cutting corners becomes a way of doing things….”
As compared to the journalists you met at The Washington Post and the WSJ, how would you rate Indian reporters?
“Indian journalists have a whole lot of heart and hustle. Every morning I wold get those nine newspapers at my doorstep and they were a reminder of what those reporters were up against.
“The complacency that has set in American journalism was pretty absent in Indian journalism.
“In the US, I could be working on a feature story for three or four days. In India if you have a great idea, you have to do it right away, because everybody else may also have the same idea.
“When I went back to the Journal, it was redefining itself as a more general newsy paper. So I could apply the lessons I learnt in India. It is interesting because once upon a time your Indian journalism experience counted for nothing….
“I still think that a lot of the downall of the newspapers in US—yes, some of it was caused by the internet, but some of it, in other industries too, was driven by complacency. In India, you just can’t be complacent. From the time you wake up and turn on the faucet—and there’s no guarantee that you will get water—there is no room for complacency in India.”