Sunanda K-Datta-Ray, former editor of The Statesman, in the Business Standard:
“A media that sits in judgement on the world must itself be blameless.
“W.T. Stead, the famous English journalist who once edited the Northern Echo and who is credited with inventing investigative journalism, grandly told a Royal Commission, ‘The simple faith of our forefathers in the All-Seeing Eye of God has departed from the Man in the Street. Our only modern substitute for Him is the Press.’
“Some of India’s best-known newspaper magnates have been megalomaniacs without Stead’s talent. But no modern working journalist would be so pretentious though I can think of a non-working journalist editor who used equally bombastic language about himself.
“What was infinitely worse was that behind the mask of pious crusader rampaged a grasping womaniser who left the institution of which he acquired control virtually bankrupt. One thinks of another editor who sacked a junior when the latter’s wife who was his mistress (with her husband’s acquiescence) took up with another man.
“In a third case, revenue officials were disconcerted to discover that the cash donations a businessman they were watching made every month and recorded in his private diary were not to a leading politician but an editor with the same initials. I wouldn’t add open political affiliation as another sin but a paper’s politics is often surreptitious and paid for.”
Read the full column: The media as Caesar‘s wife
sans serif records with regret the demise of N.J. Nanporia, the half-Parsi, half-Japanese former editor of The Times of India and The Statesman in Poona. He was 88 years old.
Sunanda K. Datta-Ray pays a warm tribute in Business Standard:
“No other Indian I have known in 54 years in journalism has been so reluctant to push himself into the limelight. George Arthur Johnson, my first editor, and Nanporia were both silent men whose power lay in their pens. Neither was a pretentious phony prancing around the country and world. Both knew everything that happened without venturing out of the editor’s room. Nanporia’s editorial maturity, wisdom and breadth of knowledge were sorely missed in the vacuum after he was pushed out in 1975.
“One manifestation of his catholicity was the expansion into other fields of his collection of Chinese porcelain. A Ming vase needed a carved table, so he bought one. The table couldn’t stand on the bare floor. He got the right period carpet. The wall behind called for suitable decoration. And so it went on. I didn’t see his treasures. But he showed me photographs and letters from Christie and Sotheby authenticating his pieces.”
In his recent memoir, Kuldip Nayar wrote about Nanporia:
“I was unhappy in the Statesman. C.R. Irani had reduced me to the position of consulting editor from resident editor. He then wanted me to vacate my room as well, and asked me to sit somewhere else. Subsequently, he withdrew my peon and telephone too.
“The only person who stood by me during those days was my secretary, G. Barret. She refused to work with Nihal and preferred to stay on with me. I was reduced to writing only my weekly column, ‘Between the Lines’. Irani tried to stop that too but did not succeed because the editor N.J. Nanporia refused to permit that.”
Photograph: courtesy The Times of India
When the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao visited India in December 2010, he was critical of the Indian media, saying it repeatedly sensationalised the border situation, causing damage to bilateral ties. He even lectured a group of editors to play a more active role in enhancing friendship between the two countries.
However, when the Chinese president Hu Jintao faced aggressive questioning at a joint press conference with his US counterpart Barack Obama in Washington D.C. last week, he couldn’t muster the courage to castigate the American media. He was defensive, evasive , even conciliatory.
Why did Wen not bother with the diplomatic niceties that his president employed?
The veteran columnist Sunanda K. Datta-Ray in The Telegraph, Calcutta:
“One reason is that no Indian publication is any longer taken seriously as an interlocutor like the Post and Journal in the US…..
“National papers of record have become vehicles of private interest. Some are trivial, some project a borrowed ideology, others are obsessed with what are called ‘Page Three people’….
“Wen is dismissive about media freedom and contemptuous about its “sensationalizing” because he knows his diplomats can buy favourable coverage by extending hospitality to leading commentators and doling out what passes for exclusive titbits of information.”
Read the full article: A study in contrasts
Also read: Censorship in the name of ‘national interest’
If a report isn’t ‘wrong’, surely it must be ‘right’?
Chinese hackers break into The Times of India
Never believe anything until it’s officially denied
One paper’s 40% threat is another’s 60% dud
Sunanda K. Datta-Ray, the former editor of The Statesman and a wordsmith par excellence, in The Telegraph, Calcutta:
“Speaking many years ago at Secunderabad’s Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages on editing an English-language newspaper in India, I recalled having to explain to young journalists that a district is a geographical term and does not always have to have a collector or magistrate.
“I also recalled trying to stress the inappropriateness of writing juggernaut in the archaic English sense of an unstoppable force that crushes all obstacles.
“‘James Cowley uses it,’ the reporter protested, referring to the paper’s elderly London correspondent. When I said that was Anglo-Indian usage, the surprised young man asked, ‘Cowley is Anglo-Indian?'”
Read the full article: For maximum gain