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Return of the natives No business like show business Aggressive TOIís impacts The Hindu Shooting oneís mouth off Small is no longer beautiful 100,000 publications. OMG! A deafening media silence... Churning the ocean of journalists
Churning the ocean of journalists

ET jokes: or, did we miss something

200 crore trees across 1 lakh kilometers is what Nitin Gadkari plans to plant, ET reported. Gadfly and his party can say what they want but isn’t it the job of a journalist to check feasibility?

Look at it this way. 200 crore trees across 1 lakh kilometres means 20,000 trees per kilometre. Since the road has two sides, it’s 10,000 trees each side. A kilometer has 1000 metres. So we are talking of 10 trees per metre.  A metre has 100 centimetres. So we are talking about planting 1 tree across every 10 centimetres. Baffling. Okay even if there were two rows on each side it would be 1 tree for every 20 centimeters. Pooh.


Full circle

Back in the 1980s an investigative journalist called Swaminathan Gurumurthy drew blood against the darling of Dalal Street, Dhirubhai Ambani. It is another matter that in later years an outfit, of which the journalist was a part, received gratuitous support from the Ambanis.

Cut to 2014: Mukesh Ambani has taken over TV18 and the assorted channels including CNN-IBN that come under its umbrella. This is by early conversion of loans given to Network 18 by RIL in 2012.  Promoter and original owner Raghav Bahl, the unsung hero of the television industry, is no longer the boss. A business house with deep, deep pockets could buy up a television house!  It means that the famous Rajdeep Sardesai and his spouse Sagarika Ghose could go on a long leave; and no one knows if they will return.

Haider’s reverse swing

Petite Suhasini Haidar, prime time anchor and daughter of mercurial Subramaniam Swamy, resigned from CNN-IBN to join The Hindu preferring ‘long-format’ journalism.

There is perhaps a tinge of the real reason in what she wrote in her blog: “first, the obvious change is that there is a new government in the country. The new regime has made it clear that it will not just change the cast of characters at the top, but perhaps the issues they will tackle and the causes they will hold dear. Secondly, there are the big changes in the media industry. There are new owners, new editors in many media organisations and a churning as a result. Some of those changes have been necessitated by profits, some by ideology, some simply because old owners are tired of the uncertainty of the media business and want to hand over the baton.”


Other movers and shakers

Hard talking Karan Thapar moved to Headlines Today. Shekhar Gupta, Editor in Chief of the Indian Express resigned after his 25-year stint with the newspaper and has joined the India Today Group as vice chairman and group editor.  Wasn’t that where M J Akbar moved before moving into politics via TOI?

Journalists are also resigning due to political reasons.  India TV editorial director Qamar Waheed Naqvi resigned on the grounds that he did not appreciate an interview in Aap Ki Adalat, alleging that it was ‘fixed.’ A senior journalist of The Hindu resigned after she allegedly received threat calls for a political piece that she wrote last year.

The Hindu has a new Managing Director and CEO in Rajiv C Lochan. As a Board member, he will head all non-editorial operations. Formerly,  as a Partner with McKinsey & Company and founding location manager of McKinsey’s practice in Chennai, his focus in McKinsey was to help teams drive performance and cultural transformation of their organisations. Remember McKinsey gave the plan for restructuring The Hindu a couple of years ago? So one part of the recommendation, of inducting outsiders into the board, is now implemented. Charity begins at home!  Now he will be required to implement what he preached.

The takeover by the private corporate giant combined with the mass resignation of top journalists and family run journalism passing down through generations within such a short span has raised further doubts and speculation as to whether the autonomy of media and editorial will be maintained in the new political environment.  The questions now are: one, do these resignations prove that the media has always been devoid of freedom of speech? Two, is the churning just a beginning of a sea change in Indian journalism? Or, is this the beginning of the end of freedom of speech altogether?


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