Sunday, March 30, 2008

More articles on free press (links)

[1] Even as we were having our open mike on Free Press, M.J.Akbar had been sacked by Asian Age a week before that. After the sacking of M.J.Akbar by the Asian Age, Khushwant Singh has the following to say:
The hard truth about Indian journalism is that proprietors matter, editors do not; money counts, talent does not. The latest instance of money trashing ability and experience is the unceremonious sacking of M.J. Akbar, founder-editor of the Asian Age. He is perhaps the most distinguished living member of his tribe. He started the weekly Sunday and the Telegraph for the Ananda Bazaar group of papers based in Calcutta. He has been elected member of the Lok Sabha and is the author of half-a-dozen books, all of which have gone into several editions. Fifteen years ago, he, with a set of friends, launched the Asian Age. It was a bold venture as the Asian Age came out of all the metropolitan cities of India as well as London. It had little advertising but had a lot more readable material taken from leading British and American journals than any other Indian daily. It was as close to being a complete newspaper as any could be. Besides these unique qualities it also published articles by writers critical of the government and the ruling party. It was probably this aspect of the journal that irked Akbar's latest partner in the venture; he had political ambitions of his own and wished to stay on the right side of the government. So without a word of warning, on the morning of March 1 while he was on his way to office, Akbar learned that his name was no longer on the Asian Age masthead as its editor-in-chief. It was an unpardonable act of discourtesy committed by someone with less breeding and more money.
F*** all editors! The hard truth about Indian journalism: proprietors matter, editors don't.
By Khushwant Singh

[2] Pritam Sen Gupta, from New Delhi, on MJ Akbar's sacking:
Akbar joins a long list of fine editors who have been unceremoniously shown the door by publishers Arun Shourie, B.G. Verghese, Dileep Padgaonkar, V.K. Narasimhan, Vinod Mehta… But as the only elected Member of Parliament among the lot (he served as a Congress MP from Kishanganj at the instance of Rajiv Gandhi), Akbar has seen Indian politics like not too many Indian editors have. In the end, Indian journalism’s loss may be Indian politics’ gain.
Never let your head stoop as a journalist.
By Pritam Sen Gupta

[3] Thejas from Madras in the Churmuri blog on the changing face of The Hindu --
When my newspaper is no longer my newspaper.

[4] A rather interesting essay on the media in India by Fulbright scholar James Mutti; link courtesy the folks at SAJA Forum
The media may do a good job of providing news to the estimated 300 million members of the Indian middle class – in fact, coverage of political issues tends to be quite good – but as long as over 700 million Indians are sidelined from the media’s gaze by their inability to conspicuously consume, the media’s role as public service is severely limited.
MEDIA: India, democracy and the press.
By James Mutti
(More links on media and India at the SAJA Forum, and at the bottom of the above article.)

[5] P. Sainath's article link sent by Gaurav on the yahoogroups (archival here)
Another interesting article by Sainath on this year's budget -

I have quoted from the article about the repsonse from the press to the loan waivers in this years budget.
On budget eve one anchor posed a question to his panel in words to this effect: "Will it be a pro-poor, aam aadmi budget or will Mr. Chidambaram use the opportunity to do something good [for the country] in terms of reforms."

When the budget rolled out, one anchor said: "And now for the budget bad news. India Inc.'s plea for a cut in corporate tax rates went unheeded."

[6] Jawed Naqwi's article in the Dawn on the role of press as PR for the government, posted by Vinod on the yahoogroups (archival here):
Check out Jawed Naqvi's editorial in the Dawn -- a very interesting perspective (and an interesting story) on Free Press in India --
"Press assuming the role of government PR"!