Vinod Mehta on the sinking credibility of journalists and why NDTV banned him

First published in Scroll.in on 29 November 2014.

Veteran editor Vinod Mehta was promoted in 2012 to the ceremonial post of editorial chairman of theOutlook group. That was two years after he published the Radia tapes story in Outlook magazine. On the eve of the publication of his second set of memoirs, Editor Unplugged: Media, Magnates, Netas and Me, he spoke to Scroll.in about the state of the media. This is the first of a two-part interview.

It’s surprising you have joined Twitter, considering you recently wrote that social media and you are strangers.
For the moment, flogging my book is my number one priority. Continue reading “Vinod Mehta on the sinking credibility of journalists and why NDTV banned him”

The reader is not interested in the story

First published in Scroll.in on 9 December 2014.

Some years ago, I was a reporter in the founding team of a new news magazine. When the magazine launched, the marketing team sent journalists an email saying that we could gift four free subscriptions to anyone we liked, but could we please make sure the four recipients fell within the magazine’s TG?

I wondered what TG meant. The only TG I knew was transgendered. The marketing team explained that the TG they were referring to was Target Group. Our Target Group wasn’t merely SEC A++ as with most English language media. (SEC? Ah, socio-economic category.) There was more to the definition of our TG. The magazine’s ideal reader was someone whose monthly household income was Rs 2 lakh. Some months later they felt that was too ambitious, so reduced it to Rs 1.5 lakh. Wait, there was yet more. There was a category called bull’s eye. We’d hit bull’s eye if we could capture the attention of the reader who lived in one of the big metros, spent weekends in places such as malls where disposable income is spent, had a smart phone (which wasn’t yet ubiquitous), took at least one foreign holiday a year and had a “Segment C” car (which cost above Rs 5.5 lakh in those days). Continue reading “The reader is not interested in the story”

A brief history of the decade that saw social media redefine the ‘mainstream’ news outlets

First published in Scroll.in on 26 December 2014.

It is the biggest natural disaster in living memory. It killed 2,30,000 people in 14 countries. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami struck at a time when many were busy with Christmas holidays. It was exactly ten years ago.

There is a lot for the world to remember and learn, but for many of us it is also an anniversary of another kind. When the tsunami struck, bloggers Peter Griffin, Dina Mehta, Bala Pitchandi, Sunil Nair, Angelo Embuldeniya and others got the TsunamiHelp blog going. The TsunamiHelp blog became a global news story by itself. Large media organisations such as the Guardian, the BBC and CNN wondered how a bunch of bloggers were able to collect and disseminate information about the tsunami much faster and better than the mainstream media with all its resources. Media coverage of the tsunami was quite bad to begin with, because it was holiday season, nobody knew what the tsunami was, and the locations were remote and widely spread. Continue reading “A brief history of the decade that saw social media redefine the ‘mainstream’ news outlets”

Rajdeep and Sagarika to resign as Reliance takes over Network 18

For Scroll.in on 30 May 2014

Celebrity TV journalists Rajdeep Sardesai and Sagarika Ghose are likely to resign from CNN-IBN by end of June, as Reliance Industries Ltd is taking over the channel’s holding company, Network 18. They are likely to go on leave from June 1 and resign by June 30, Network 18 officials told Scroll.in. In between, they will sell to Reliance Industries their minority shares in the company. Continue reading “Rajdeep and Sagarika to resign as Reliance takes over Network 18”

Rajdeep Sardesai on his relationship with Arnab Goswami, and other anecdotes from his book

For Scroll.in, 3 November 2014
Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai’s book, 2014: The Election That Changed India, is a gripping account of the general elections that made Narendra Modi India’s prime minister. Among other things, the book reflects on the role and the use of the media in the elections.

Here are a few anecdotes about the media from the book.

1. On Arnab Goswami: That the two star news anchors are not on good terms is well known. A profile of Goswami in The Caravan magazine two years ago had said, “Goswami had worked under Sardesai for almost a decade, and despised him so deeply that his son had made a charming drawing of Goswami triumphing over his former boss. Goswami is a dedicated father, and he proudly displayed it in his office.” The coldness between the two when they came together on stage in June this year was noticeable.

Continue reading “Rajdeep Sardesai on his relationship with Arnab Goswami, and other anecdotes from his book”