Monthly Archives: October 2011

Aman Sethi bags Red Cross journalism prize

Aman Sethi, The Hindu‘s correspondent in Chhattisgarh, has bagged the international red cross committee’s award for best print media article on humanitarian issues, for his March 2011 piece on homes and granaries that were torched by police commandos in three villages in the Naxal heartland.

Tehelka ‘s Umar Baba took the second place, while the third prize went to Reji Joseph of Rashtra Deepika. The consolation prize went to Anup Sharma of The Times of India .

Bombay-born Sethi, who studied business journalism at Columbia University’s graduate school of journalism, worked for the Hindu‘s sister publication, Frontline, before being posted to Chhattisgarh. His debut book “A Free Man“, an account of the life of a homeless, migrant labourer was published recently.

Read the award-winning piece: The Hindu

Read an excerpt from his book: Caravan

Read Aman Sethi’s articles: Kafila


Also read: EPW journalist bags Appan Menon award

Rema Nagarajan of ToI bags Nieman fellowship

Mint‘s Monika Halan among Yale fellows

Chameli Devi prize for Tehelka scribe, K.K. Shahina

Pallava Bagla bags ‘Oscar’ of science journalism

Saikat Datta bags prize for using RTI for story

India-China friendship award for Pallavi Aiyar

Knight fellowship for Frontline’s Dionne Bunsha


Fareed Zakaria: ‘a barometer in a good suit’

The liberal American magazine The New Republic has compiled a list of “the most over-rated thinkers in Washington D.C.“, and Padma Bhushan Fareed Zakaria, the Bombay-born former editor of Newsweek International and an editor-at-large at Time magazine, makes it with ease:

“Fareed Zakaria is enormously important to an understanding of many things, because he provides a one-stop example of conventional thinking about them all. He is a barometer in a good suit, a creature of establishment consensus, an exemplary spokesman for the always-evolving middle.

“He was for the Iraq war when almost everybody was for it, criticized it when almost everybody criticized it, and now is an active member of the ubiquitous “declining American power” chorus.

“When Barack Obama wanted to trust the Iranians, Zakaria agreed (“They May Not Want the Bomb,” was a story he did for Newsweek); and, when Obama learned different, Zakaria thought differently. There’s something suspicious about a thinker always so perfectly in tune with the moment.

“Most of Zakaria’s appeal is owed to the A-list aura that he likes to give off—“At the influential TED conference …” began a recent piece in The New York Times. On his CNN show, he ingratiates himself to his high-powered guests. This mix of elitism and banality is unattractive.

“And so is this: “My friends all say I’m going to be Secretary of State,” Zakaria told New York magazine in 2003. “But I don’t see how that would be much different from the job I have now.” Zakaria later denied making those remarks.”

Also read: Fareed Zakaria gets the Padma Bhushan

Will this man be the next US secretary of state?

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

Iran to China, Newsweek has the story covered

The Hindu: the most readable daily in the world?

Khushwant Singh may have decided to no longer write his weekly columns, but the “dirty old man of Indian journalism” has not said he will stop writing for good.

He has shot off a letter to the editor of The Hindu, which the family-owned paper, given its recent and continuing turmoil, has gladly boxed on the editorial page today:

“I go over a dozen morning papers every day.

“The only one I read from cover to cover including readers’ letters is The Hindu. I find its news coverage reliable, authentic and comprehensive.

“I cannot say that about any other daily, Indian or foreign.

“It is a pleasure going through its columns: they inform, teach and amuse. I even wrestle with its crossword puzzle every day. You, Mr. Editor, and your staff deserve praise for giving India the most readable daily in the world. Congratulations.”

Khushwant Singh, New Delhi

Also read: Top six dailies devote only 2% to rural issues

Shekhar Gupta: ‘Stimulating, intelligent, empowering’

The four great wars of N. Ram on Hindu soil

N. Murali: The Hindu is run like a banana republic

The ‘sardar in the lightbulb’ signs out suddenly

Seventy years after he started needling readers and 42 years after he wrote his first column, the “sardar in the lightbulb” will shine no more. Khushwant Singh, the dirty old man of Indian journalism, says he is now too old (and maybe just a little less dirty) to dish out malice towards one and all any more.

“I’m 97, I may die any day now… I’ll miss the money, and the people fawning over me to write about them in my columns,” Singh says in on his self-imposed exile into silence, in Outlook* magaqzine.

Singh began his career as a journalist in1940, writing for The Tribune, contributing book reviews and profiles under the byline ‘KS’. His first regular column appeared in the planning commission journal Yojana.

Editor’s Page, in the Illustrated Weekly of India under his now famous sardar-in-lightbulb logo, first appeared in 1969. The column migrated with Singh to National Herald, and in 1980, to the Hindustan Times. The now-defunct Sunday Observer was the first to buy the rights to it in 1981.

After he left Hindustan Times in the mid-’80s, Khushwant began syndicating his column. His two columns appeared every week without fail for the last 30 years in a dozen national dailies and translated into 17 languages.

* Disclosures apply

Also read: Khushwant Singh on his last day at Weekly

Why Khushwant Singh fell out with Arun Shourie

Barkha Dutt tarred by pure malice: Khushwant

Khushwant Singh stands up for Barkha Dutt, again

Nothing romantic about a candle-light newscast

Loadshedding, power cuts, outages, 2-phase supply etc are near-permanent words in the lexicons of news organisations in a country where electricity shortage is an everyday occurence.

So how can the media bring some life to such a routine news story?

In Karnataka, where scheduled loadshedding will be in force from today, Suvarna News, the 24×7 Kannada news channel owned by the member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrasekhar, took an unusual step on Sunday.

All day, from 6 am to 11 pm, anchors sat in suitably darkened studios and read out the news with a candle on top of their desks to convey the impact the loadshedding was going to have on viewers.

According to the channel’s editor-in-chief Vishweshwar Bhat, the candle was used as a symbol of the looming power crisis; not as if there was no electricity in the channel’s studios.

Hopefully, the channel’s viewers had electricity back home to see the candle-light bulletins.

Kannada Prabha, the daily owned by Rajeev Chandrasekhar and edited by Bhat, followed up on Monday with an all-black front page with a candle as the lead image.

‘Reporter lets Steve Jobs die on sidewalk’: RIP

Newsrooms across the world which have Apple machines in the design and editing sections, will remember Steve Jobs, who passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer.

Walt Mossberg, the iconic technology correspondent of the Wall Street Journal, writes on the Jobs he knew in today’s paper:

“After his liver transplant, while he was recuperating at home in Palo Alto, California, Steve invited me over to catch up on industry events that had transpired during his illness.

“It turned into a three-hour visit, punctuated by a walk to a nearby park that he insisted we take, despite my nervousness about his frail condition.

“He explained that he walked each day, and that each day he set a farther goal for himself, and that, today, the neighborhood park was his goal.

“As we were walking and talking, he suddenly stopped, not looking well. I begged him to return to the house, noting that I didn’t know CPR and could visualize the headline: “Helpless Reporter Lets Steve Jobs Die on the Sidewalk.”

“But he laughed, and refused, and, after a pause, kept heading for the park. We sat on a bench there, talking about life, our families, and our respective illnesses (I had had a heart attack some years earlier). He lectured me about staying healthy. And then we walked back.

“Steve Jobs didn’t die that day, to my everlasting relief. But now he really is gone, much too young, and it is the world’s loss.”

Read the full article: The Steve Jobs I knew

Enter: The queen bee of Bombay film journalists

Anju Mahendroo (in picture), the colourful actress who once boasted of an off-field partnership with cricket legend Gary Sobers, is to play the role of the gossip columnist Devyani Chaubal in The Dirty Picture, based on southern sleaze queen Silk Smitha‘s life.

Devyani Chaubal wrote the saucy Frankly Speaking column in the now-defunct film magazine Star & Style, mixing insider knowledge with insinuations in bitchy Hinglish prose, a style emulated by several of her contemporaries, including Shobha De.

According to Mumbai Mirror, it was Anju herself who suggested to the movie’s director that her character should be based on Devyani.

“I told Milan Luthria that I knew Devyani at a personal level and it would be easier for me to base my character on her.

“In one scene, Vidya Balan [who plays Silk Smitha] comes up to me and asks ‘Who are you?’

“When I introduce myself, she shoots back, ‘Oh so you are the one who writes all the nasty things about me’.

“And then I answer back, ‘Well, it’s better to be written about than not’.”

Read the full article: Anju turns controversial journo

View a sample of Devyani’s writing: here

Also read: For some journos, acting is second string in bow

Finally, Karnataka gets an ‘acting’ chief minister