Category Archives: Verbatim

‘More like police briefings than news reports’

Mukul Kesavan in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“English language newspapers and news channels in India have much to be proud of: their determination to tell the truth and to document atrocity during the pogrom in Gujarat in 2002 was an outstanding example of how a free press can bear witness when the State fails its citizens. The awfulness of Nandigram would never have come to light in a country with a more pliant press.

“But on some issues the press and the news networks seem to suffer a collective breakdown: the scepticism about narratives sponsored by the state that marks out good journalism is replaced by a willing suspension of disbelief.

“Since 9/11, stories that can be classified as instances of Islamic or Muslim terrorism read more like police briefings than news reports. The press coverage of S.A.R. Geelani’s arrest in connection with the attack on Parliament seven years ago was one example of the near-hysterical collusion between the news media and government agencies. Geelani’s subsequent acquittal made several newspapers and television news channels look both craven and credulous.

“The reporting on the Student’s Islamic Movement of India, banned since 2001, is shaping up to be another such story.”

Read the full article: Presuming innocence

‘Journalism: mankind’s greatest achievement’

At a time when cynicism of the Indian media is growing, both within and without, Rupashree Nanda of CNN-IBN,  the winner of the Chameli Devi Award for outstanding woman journalist of 2007, has delivered a rousing acceptance speech, in which she underlines the core values of what Gabriel Garcia Marquez called “God’s Chosen Profession”.

“I believe, journalism is the most significant human achievement. Not man’s landing on the moon, or the splitting of the atom, or the Vietnam war, or communism. It is the very simple idea of news.

“I believe just as it is the nature of water to wet, of fire to burn, it is the nature of journalism to effect change. And just as the water that nourishes can also kill, fire that sustains can also destroy, journalism can effect change for better or for worse. I believe, it has no limitations except the ones it imposes on itself.

“I believe, if it is true to its nature, it is radical, it cannot be otherwise.”

Read the full text here: ‘Such deprivation is ugly’Also read: Eloquent images of struggle

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

‘It’s all about irreverence, not subservience’

Indian journalist Seema Mustafa on the genesis of her opposition to the India-US nuclear deal, which some speculate could have contributed to M.J. Akbar being eased out of his position as editor of The Asian Age:

“It had to do with a certain commitment with which I joined the profession—a belief that journalism was powerful enough to change the world.

“I was fortunate in working with the greatest editors in Indian journalism, who not just added to this conviction, but also taught me that a good journalist was not one who made his or her peace with the establishment (as that is very easy and very comforting), but who questioned policy and wrote about the pitfalls.

“Journalism, they said, was all about irreverence, and had nothing to do with subservience.”

Excerpted from a column by Seema Mustafa in India Abroad

A fast, inswinging toe-crusher from a paceman

“There are a lot of newspapers I take seriously, but Friday Times is not one of them. It’s mind over matter. I don’t mind and they don’t matter.”

—Pakistani cricketer turned politician Imran Khan in an interview with Karan Thapar

‘There’s no place for emotion in an anchor’s life’

The BBC anchor Nik Gowing in an interview with Krishnakumar P. of rediff.com:

You were the one who brought the death of Princess Diana and you were on air for more than seven hours after the 9/11 attacks. Can you describe how you felt when you had to do it?

I have likened it to being a doctor. My job is to get it right on air. My job is not to worry about my emotions. For different reasons, I was very tired at the time Princess Diana’s death came in. But when I had to go on air and make that announcement, there was no emotion. It’s the same thing whether it is Diana or a disaster. You have to be cool and sharp in your observations and analyses.

Read the full interview: ‘The world is not flat’

‘A newspaper isn’t just about news, supplements’

Peter Wright, editor, Mail on Sunday:

“Any editor who believes he can sell his newspaper entirely on news and that magazines, supplements, promotions and yes, CDs and DVDs, are simply embarrassments imposed on them by commercial management is not going to succeed.

“Any editor who wants his paper still to be here in 2020 needs to be constantly thinking about what he can add to his newspaper and what he can put into his polybag (plastic wrap) that will make his newspaper better value to the reader.

“When the history of newspapers is written, it may well be that the greatest innovation of our generation is the humble polybag. Newspapers are no longer mere news services but “cultural packages … put together by a remarkable collection of people with fingers on the pulse.”

Link via Editors’ Weblog

If you’re full of shit but want to make a living…

Matt Taibi, Rolling Stone political reporter:

“If you have no real knowledge or skill set and you’re lazy and full of shit but you want to make a decent wage, then journalism’s not a bad career option.

“The great thing about it is that you don’t need to know anything. I mean this whole notion of journalism school—I can’t believe people actually go to journalism school. You can learn the entire thing in like three days.

“My advice is instead of going to journalism school, go to school for something concrete like medicine or some kind of science or something and then use the knowledge you get in that field as a wedge to get yourself into journalism.

“What journalism really needs is more people who are reporting who actually know something. Instead of having a bunch of liberal arts grads who’ve read Siddhartha 50 times writing about health care, it would be really nice if some of the people who are writing about health care were doctors.”

Read the full interview: The vigilante journalist