Tag Archives: The New Indian Express

When Prabhu Chawla called up Amar Singh…

The Supreme Court has lifted a five-year ban on the airing of the infamous Amar Singh CD which, along with the Niira Radia tapes, must be made required listening in journalism schools for the unvarnished view it offers of how politicians, industrialists, bureaucrats, film stars, celebrities, middlemen and journalists operate.

Among the two-dozen conversations  on the Amar Singh CD—fondly referred to in media circles as “Amar Singh ki amar kahaniyan“—is one involving Prabhu Chawla, the former editor of India Today and currently the editorial director of The New Indian Express.

The conversation is centred on a press conference Amar Singh is threatening to call to tell the world about how an Aaj Tak reporter (Prachi Jawadekar Wagh, now with NDTV) sneaked into a hospital ward in Bombay, where the film star Amitabh Bachchan was recuperating and allegedly invaded his privacy. Chawla’s call to the then Samajawadi Party leader is aimed at stalling the press meet.

For the record, Chawla also figures in the Niira Radia tapes, and Chawla himself has put up the transcript of his conversation with the lobbyist on his website to set the record straight.

Also read: ‘TV is dishing out cheap opinion’


Prabhu Chawla: ‘TV is dishing out cheap opinion’

Prabhu Chawla, the editorial director of the New Indian Express, delivered the convocation address to the class of 2011 at the Indian institute of journalism & new media (IIJNM), in Bangalore, on Monday.

Chawla’s salient points:

# Something is rotten in the state of Indian media: Journalists have forgotten that they must report violations, not commit them. Journalists have forgotten to ask tough questions. Instead, they prefer to be supercops, judges and hangmen, all rolled in to one.

# Media is ailing from negligence and ignorance: Journalists no longer seem to have curiosity or the hunger for news. Instead, they seem to be losing credibility. Stories are not based on facts, but manipulated by politicians and corporate houses.

# Generation Next is suffering from lack of training: Most journalists are not looking for a good story any more. Neither are editors pushing them for better stories. TV channels have found the easy way of dishing out opinions instead of giving viewers information.

# Good journalism needs support from consumers: If Indian media has to be liberated from the clutches of advertisers, consumers have to pay for what they read or view. With a business model based on paid news and private treaties, advertisers have begun to dictate what goes into the news.


View Prabhu Chawla’s PPT presentation



Photograph: Prabhu Chawla, editorial director of the New Indian Express, leads the faculty to the convocation of the class of 2011 at the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, in Bangalore on Monday, 2 May 2011. To his left is Kanchan Kaur, vice-dean. (Karnataka Photo News)


Ask Prabhu

Vol I. No.I: Straight drives from the man behind Seedhi Baat

Vol I. No IIHome truths from the man behind Sachchi Baat

Vol I. No. III: My greatest feat and my greatest failure

Vol I. No. IV: No one can destroy Ramnath Goenka‘s Express

Vol 1. No. V: Media doesn’t need a regulatory mechanism

When a film star weds a journalist, it’s news—II

Indian film stars—like politicians, businessmen, cricketers and others—rarely have anything nice to say about journalists and journalism, except when they have something to sell. Some, like Amitabh Bachchan and Ram Gopal Verma, have built a cottage industry biting the hand that feeds them to the masses.

How nice therefore to find an inhabitant of tinsel world say “I do” to one of our own.

The Malayalam heartthrob Prithviraj Sukumaran tied the knot with Supriya Menon, the BBC’s business correspondent based in Bombay, in the latter’s home town of Palghat, on Monday. A reception has been planned in Ernakulam for May 1.

The two apparently met a year ago while Supriya was reporting on southern cinema, presumably for the BBC weekend programme, India Business Report, of which she was anchor-correspondent for a while.

“My wife was working as a reporter for a TV news channel. Being a South Indian, she was assigned to do a feature on South Indian cinema. When she called me, I was watching a special screening of SRK’s Don and could not talk to her and told her I would call her back. Next day, when I returned her call, coincidentally she was also watching Don. While that feature did not happen, due to this one call, we started talking and we discovered that we had the same view on the film. Also, we were coincidentally both reading The Fountainhead at that time. And then Shantaram happened and I was so fascinated by how Gregory David Roberts painted Mumbai in the book that I wanted to come to Mumbai and see Haji Ali and Leopold cafe. She showed me around and we fell in love through Bombay that later lead to us getting married.”

But Indo-Asian New Service (IANS), quoting the bride’s groom’s mother reports, that the two families knew each other for a long time and the couple were “childhood friends”.

The Times of India, quoting unnamed sources, says what attracted the film star to the journalist was her “intellectual quotient”.

The New Indian Express reports that local photographers and TV channels were not allowed inside the wedding venue. While over a dozen private photographers covered the function, the bride and groom left “without speaking to the journalists waiting outside the gate”.

Deccan Chronicle, which apparently broke the news of the “whirlwind romance” and the impending wedding only for it to be described as “baseless journalism” by the actor, reports that Prithviraj’s wedding to the journalist has broken the hearts of thousands of his female fans.

Photograph: courtesy Deccan Chronicle

Also read: When a politician weds a journalists, it’s news

Watch Supriya Menon reporting: Barter during a downturn

‘Media doesn’t need a regulatory mechanism’

Prabhu Chawla, editorial director of The New Indian Express, in his “Ask Prabhu” column on the website of the South-based paper.

Vol I. No. V.


What is the real motive in having “Ask Prabhu” forum in NIE? I am following your Q/A season from very beginning but sorry to say that 90% of questions are meaningless, and I guess it’s better to have editor’s choice!

I like feeling to indulge in debate and ask questions even if they sound meaningless to some of us. A live interaction with readers also provides ideas and feedback for us follow stories.

You pick, choose and answer questions according to your convenience and avoid answering tough questions. Can you publish those questions which remain unanswered by you or have guts to answer those?

I don’t omit any question. Most of them are answered except the ones which defame others.

Which of the English dailies do you think people in South India are more likely to read?

They are reading almost all of them which are published from South India. I feel people in the south still read much more than the people from other parts of the country.

Don’t you think the newspapers in India should be classified as aligned and non-aligned by a regulatory body based on their reporting?

We don’t need a regulatory mechanism. Our readers are much more qualified to classify their newspapers. Have trust in yourself and not in any government sponsored institution.

Where should one read “carefully” to see the serial number of the questions? Were you referring to the 1,2,3,4 at the bottom of the page?

Your question no is 1796. If I can see it, why can’t you? Let me get it examined.


Prabhu Answers

Vol I. No.I: Straight drives from the man behind Seedhi Baat

Vol I. No IIHome truths from the man behind Sachchi Baat

Vol I. No. III: My greatest feat and my greatest failure

Vol I. No. IV: No one can destroy Ramnath Goenka‘s Express

‘No one can destroy Ramnath Goenka’s Express’

In which, Prabhu Chawla, the new editorial director of the South-based The New Indian Express, tackles readers’ queries on the media and the launch of The Sunday Standard from Delhi, with trademark frankness.

Vol I. No.IV.


Q: How much did Jayalalitha and her associates pay to get paid news published in your daily? Not even one article about Karunanidhi‘s massive election rallies.

A: The person is yet to take birth on earth who can compromise the paper founded by late Ramnath Goenka.

Q: In one of your answers you tried to defend Tehelka, but it is known fact that father of Tarun Tejpal of Tehelka was a close associate of [the late Congress leader] Arjun Singh and Tehelka was started at the behest of Arjun Singh to go after BJP. Why shy from reality?

A: That is your view. Why do you blame the son for what kind of company Tarun’s father keeps. Tarun has worked with me in India Today. He is one of the best writers in the country.

Q: What is your monthly income?

A: Income Tax department knows it very well.

Q: I will pick up the hard copy of NIE from news stalls if at least the front-page lay out/news is appealing. How long do we have to wait for improvement?

A: Start doing it now and you will get a surprise sooner.

Q: Your Sunday Standard looks like a paper from the 1980s. There’s no glamour to it and its design is no match for the likes of Hindustan Times. Inside pages are worse still. Please do something about it.

A: We welcome your feed back. But huge numbers of readers have welcomed both the content and the design

Q: Almost all English dailies in Tamil Nadu have an epaper for readers. Why is NIE trailing in this?

A: We want our readers to read the hard copy and feel and enjoy a new look paper.

Q: Is NIE thinking of entering into electronic media, like other newspapers? Why not go in for a 24/7 news channel?

A: Slow and steady wins the race. Please wait and watch.

Q: ‘Don’t stretch your legs before you sit’ is a saying in Malayalam. The NIE should have taken action to stop its marginalisation in the south, because of its trash-like production quality, before venturing to capture New Delhi with Sunday Standard. Don’t you think so?

A: I am sorry. I don’t share your pessimistic opinion. Even in the wake of powerful competition, NIE is the only newspaper to grow by more than 20 percent in circulation in South. We know our business very well.


Prabhu Answers

Vol I. No.I: Straight drives from the man behind Seedhi Baat

Vol I. No IIHome truths from the man behind Sachchi Baat

Vol I. No. III: My greatest feat and my greatest failure

‘A heritage title’ returns to the capital of India

The Sunday Standard, the new weekend paper from the Madras-based New Indian Express group, has been launched from Delhi. The 16-page paper with a 16-page magazine section, lists former India Today names Prabhu Chawla as editorial director and the writer-cartoonist Ravi Shankar as executive editor. The paper is priced at Rs 4.

The launch issue of the paper has a brief introductory note on page one, column one:


It is with great pleasure that we launch The Sunday Standard in Delhi today. The venture is new, but the title is old. Started by N.J. Hamilton in Bombay in 1936 with R.K. Karanjia as editor, The Sunday Standard was taken over by Ramnath Goenka and built into a beloved icon of the early years of Independence.

That it is part of a great legacy carrying with it the imprint of eminent writers and managers besides the incomparable Ramnathji himself is a fact that fills my colleagues and me with humility. At the same time, we are proud to bring a heritage title to life in the national capital at a very critical time in the history of our country.

We seek your support in our endeavours. Ultimately, a newspaper is a public service and we wish The Sunday Standard to be seen as a such. We would like nothing more than being a partner alongside you in building a tomorrow that will make all of us proud f this precious country.

Thank you and best wishes.

Manoj Kumar Sonthalia

Chairman, The New Indian Express group

The first issue has an opinion poll, introduced by another ex-India Today staffer V. Shankkar Aiyar, which says the BJP’s Narendra Modi is seen as the top opposition choice for prime minister. Among the other columnists in the launch issue are Shiela Dikshit, Khushbooo, Manish Tiwari and Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

Also read: Will The Sunday Standard set the Yamuna on fire?

Vol I. No.I: Straight drives from the man behind Seedhi Baat

Vol I. No IIHome truths from the man behind Sachchi Baat

Prabhu Chawla: My greatest feat, and failure

Prabhu Chawla: My greatest feat, and failure

A fresh selection of media questions from readers to the editorial director of The New Indian Express group, Prabhu Chawla, and answered with trademark candour.

Vol 1. No III.


Q: Why did you quit India Today group? I am asking this question because I am a big fan of your show Sidhi Baat.

A: I am now 65 year old. I wanted to do something new. You can watch my show Sachchi Baat on all the ETV channels on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.

Q: Once the Indian Express was the largest selling newspaper in the country with an impact which was unmatched. Why don’t the TNIE and IE merge? Please don’t evade the question by saying “I can’t comment”.

A: Of course, I can’t comment on an issue which involves the owners. I am sure both of them know what is good for both the organisations. Future of the Express spirit is great.

Q: What, in your own opinion, is the greatest achievement of your life? What is your greatest failure? If there is one thing that you could change in your past, then what would that be?

A: It is a tricky question. But greatest success has been in creating my successors who are better than me. My failure lies in that I haven’t learnt to be a good listener.

Q: If one analyzes the trend of this column, one can invariably reach the conclusion that some of the questions and answers are written by you yourself. Self praising column…as what more can be expected from you?

A: Please grant me the right to express myself. Don’t try to gag me as you will not succeed.

Q: I thought some of your columnists are anti-Hindu and biased, case in point is Jyoti Punwani‘s write up. Has paid news comes to TNIE? Please reply.

A: I didn’t know that if an article doesn’t support your point of view becomes a paid news? We allow free flow of expression and can’t be intimidated by those who are arrogant and intolerant.

Q: When India Today was facing strong attack from the newly launched Outlook*, in 1990s, Aroon Purie chose you to command the counter charge. Under your command, India Today won the war. Shall we expect a repeat of that feat now at the NIE?

A: Let us hope for the best. NIE is a very strong and credible brand. With the support of loyal readers and well wishers like you, we will make it better than the best.

* Disclosures apply

Also read: Prabhu Chawla out, M.J. Akbar in at India Today

Khushwant Singh: Why Aroon Purie ‘elevated’ Prabhu Chawla


Prabhu Answers

Vol I. No.I: Straight drives from the man behind Seedhi Baat

Vol I. No IIHome truths from the man behind Sachchi Baat