3rd & 4th August 2018

#MediaRumble: Word limit-bound reportage has turned journalists into authors

August 8, 2017

Non-fiction writing is a rigorous form of journalism, says Manu Joseph. The Media Rumble’s third session, The Author as Journalist, featured Manu Joseph, Prayaag Akbar and Rahul Pandita. The panel moderated by Anubha Bhonsle discussed non-fiction writing as a rigorous form of journalism and the stories behind journalists turning into authors. While Joseph is a journalist and author of The Illicit Happiness of Other People, Akbar has authored Leila and is Scroll’s former deputy editor, and Pandita, author of Our Moon has Blood Clots: A Memoir of a Lost Home in Kashmir, has reported extensively from conflict zones. Speaking to the journalists-turned-authors on the panel, Bhonsle said there is a gap in mainstream journalism, a lack of space for a certain kind of reportage that leads to the making of a journalist as an author. “I think of myself as a journalist first,” said Pandita. “I wanted to be a journalist because I wanted to write about these things that could not be contained in 600-word reports,” he said, referring to reporting from conflict zones. “Journalism is understanding a small slice of life but there is so much that you see which can’t become part of a journalistic writing,” Akbar said, describing his reasons to author a book. To hear more about the panel’s journey and reportage, watch the session below.

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#MediaRumble: ‘If you want to do away the Lutyens’ media mindset, you have to do away with Lutyens’

August 8, 2017

Kanchan Gupta and Nalini Singh, Mihir Sharma, and Swapan Dasgupta discuss the might of the Lutyens’ media. The Media Rumble’s second session, The Power of Lutyens Media, was moderated by Ashok Malik, the newly-appointed press secretary to the incoming President of India. The panel included veteran journalists Kanchan Gupta and Nalini Singh, columnist and ORF fellow Mihir Sharma, and Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta. The panel’s discussion ranged from the mythical Lutyens’ media and its impact on news narratives, the credibility of mainstream media and the problems facing the Delhi-centric media. Kanchan Gupta was of the view that, “The problem with Lutyens’ media is that you decide what is good for your reader, you set the agenda.” He also said that media themselves are responsible for the lack of credibility. Taking about Lutyens’ media Singh said, “We are the only country in the world which has socialist ‘socialites’.” Following a critique of the Lutyens’ media’s coverage, Dasgupta said, “If you wish to do away with the Lutyens’ media mindset, you have to do away with Lutyens.”

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Investigative journalism needs organisational as well as financial backing to succeed

Investigative journalism needs organisational as well as financial backing to succeed

August 8, 2017

The panel debated the importance of providing journalists with security. Media organisations cannot rely on freelancers for investigative stories. They prefer staffers as this decreases the chances of law suits, said Ritu Sarin, the Executive Editor of The Indian Express. The Media Rumble’s session on investigative journalism featured the Boston Globe’s Michael Rezendes, Delhi-based independent journalist Neha Dixit and Sarin, moderated by Madhu Trehan. Dixit mentioned that there have been instances “when I filed the story, some organisation have refused to carry the story.” By virtue of being a freelancer ,these stories, however have published elsewhere. Sarin said that there is tremendous pressure on journalists while reporting, “it’s good to insulate the reporter from pressure. The reporter doesn’t need to know about all phone calls and pressure.” This can unsettle the reporter. “I can say with pride that at The Indian Express, I have never been asked to kill a story” she declared. Rezendes emphasised on the importance of accuracy and keeping secure, detailed notes. The best protection from libel, he said, is accurate reporting. He cited the Globe’s own spotlight team’s incredible stack of papers and date from their Pulitzer prize-winning story on the Catholic church’s sex abuse cover-up.

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The BJP has coopted the media far more successfully than the Congress, says Pavan Varma

The BJP has coopted the media far more successfully than the Congress, says Pavan Varma

August 8, 2017

Journalists and former lawmakers discuss the ways in which a healthy conflict is needed between the media and government. “Is it ethical for the journalists to represent the government in power?” was the question posed by Madhu Trehan at the fifth session of The Media Rumble, The Relationship between Media & Government. This was addressed to former Congress MP Kapil Sibal, diplomat and former MP, Pavan Varma, Piyush Goyal, Power minister and Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta. Dasgupta responded with “I have views”, to much laughter. The discussion ranged from the consumption of news, and what the role of journalism was in relation to holding the government accountable. Trehan also pointed out that there was an increasing trend in debate show formats as “People want to read what they already agree with and not to learning something new”. Varma said that “The relationship between government and media is of cooperation and adversity, with all governments trying to influence the media to project them better.” Pausing for laughter, he quipped, “I’d applaud the BJP for coopting the media far more successfully than the Congress ever could.” Sibal argued that the fundamental problem with journalism was that most media houses were owned by big businesses, and these same businesses depend on the government to “get their work done”. A point tackled by an earlier panel on investing in media. Dasgupta asked what function journalism served—“to fawn over the government or launch a crusade against it?” On the matter on reporting from conflict zones, the panel debated if it was the government’s responsibility to issue guidelines on how to report from conflict affected areas and if journalists should be licensed, the way lawyers and doctors are.

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It’s not fake news, it’s fictional news

It’s not fake news, it’s fictional news

August 8, 2017

Most people think what they share is the truth and that cannot change unless each and everything is checked. Fake news is not a problem for just the people and journalists but also for platforms like Google and Facebook who are afraid that the epidemic will impact them, said Govindraj Ethiraj, the founder of IndiaSpend, BoomLive and FactChecker. Speaking at The Media Rumble session on False News in the Post-Truth World, he said the platforms will eventually be hit when they realise people have lost faith in them due to the plethora of fake news on them. They also will lose advertising revenue due to this, he said. AltNews founder Pratik Sinha said the platforms escape flak by claiming too many people are uploading fake stuff while they can make a difference to content posted by people with a history of posting false and fake news. Swarajya editorial director R Jagannathan said readers are best to judge what is fake instead of having an institutional mechanism to verify fact every time it is to be posted. HuffPost India deputy editor Shivam Vij said fake news will flourish into a big full-fledged industry by 2019. He said people will be working in offices to churn out one fake story after the other. Media houses will have to verify all facts and will need to seriously consider fact checking teams, he said. Ethiraj said that on WhatsApp, the velocity of the sharing of a news or an image ensures people take it for granted that it is true. People just tweet or Facebook it since it is hot or happening, he said. On bias, Jagannathan said people are prone to share what they are comfortable with in terms of political stance and don’t even now they are promoting fake news.

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Will corporatisation harm news?

Will corporatisation harm news?

August 8, 2017

The media needs money to do good work, and to think of it as unprofitable is a mindset we need to get out of. The third session on Day 2 of the Media Rumble was News as Investment, with Bala Srinivasa, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Siddharth Nautiyal and Siddharth Yog with moderator Abhinandan Sekhri. The panel opened with a discussion on why businesses invest in news. Nautiyal, an investment partner at Omidyar Network, said that media is a classy industry for innovation and investment. The panel agreed that the future of news was investments in digital media. Plus, argued Nautiyal, the trend towards digital also had a lot to do with its personalised and interactive nature, which lured in more consumers. Talking from experience, Chandrasekhar, a two-time Member of Parliament to the Rajya Sabha, spoke about news as a source of revenue. Profitability, Chandrasekhar said, is the best way of keeping a company focused and the media needs to get out of the mindset that news is not profitable. Chandrasekhar also questioned the myth that news becomes less pure when money is involved. “Why assume that going to the markets will automatically affect the purity of news?” he asked. Srinivasa, a partner at Kalaari Capital and Yog, a global investor and serial entrepreneur, also chimed in on the subject. You can watch the entire session here:

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#MediaRumble: Madhu Trehan speaks to a reporter who went undercover in North Korea

#MediaRumble: Madhu Trehan speaks to a reporter who went undercover in North Korea

August 8, 2017

People live under constant fear of persecution in North Korea, says Kim A South Korean-born American journalist, Suki Kim, went undercover in North Korea to report about the country’s state of affairs. In a one-on-one conversation with Newslaundry’s Madhu Trehan at The Media Rumble, Kim spoke about fear that surrounds the lives of everyday North Koreans. “One way people justify war is by dehumanising the subject,” Kim said speaking about how can people deal with issues such as war. Kim also spoke about her undercover role as a teacher and her interaction with the students who have no access to the outside world. While North Korea is not a society where students can express their frustration of the regime, they are also raised differently, Kim said, adding, “students are under tremendous pressure because if they don’t follow the regime’s guidelines, they and their families will be persecuted.” Kim also spoke about the isolation and stress one faces during such projects. She spoke about her living conditions, realities of being under cover and the courage it takes to be embedded. To hear more Kim’s undercover reportage, watch In Conversation with Suki Kim below.

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#MediaRumble: Sarah Shourd talks about her year-long confinement in an Iranian prison

#MediaRumble: Sarah Shourd talks about her year-long confinement in an Iranian prison

May 15, 2017

While the media plays a crucial role, misinformation fed to the media needs to be challenged and dealt with nuance. Sarah Shourd speaks to Sandip Roy in a one-on-one conversation about cruelty and overuse of solitary confinement in US prisons. Shourd is a California-based journalist, author and educator and was awarded the 2016 Community Hero Award by San Francisco’s GLIDE Memorial Church. Speaking about her over a year-long detention by the Iranian government, Shourd speaks to Roy about how she survived isolation while in prison, “psychological torture” and how her critique of the Iranian government led to the eventual release of two other detainees, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. Speaking about the power and limitations of the media in such situations, Shourd said, while the media plays a crucial role in such situations, misinformation fed to the media needs to be challenged and dealt with nuance. To watch the full video, click on the link below.

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#MediaRumble: Europe’s youngest editor-in-chief talks about subscription-driven news models

#MediaRumble: Europe’s youngest editor-in-chief talks about subscription-driven news models

May 15, 2017

Most traditional newspapers know that they are dying—ad revenues are reducing, drop in numbers of readers—but they continue to slowly dismantle the news organisation, says Rob Wijnberg.   In a one-on-one conversation, Newslaundry’s Abhinandan Sekhri talks to Robert Wijnberg, the youngest editor-in-chief of a national daily newspaper in Europe, about a new, counter-intuitive news model based on subscription.  Describing himself as a “thinking journalist”,  Wijnberg talked about the news process in mainstream media. He said, “News is more about scoop or news first.” In present-day newsrooms, it isn’t as much about thinking these days, he added.  Journalists, therefore, end up doing what they are supposed to do instead of doing what they want to do, Wijnberg said. In facilitating the journalists to write what they want to write about instead what they were supposed to, Wijnberg was able to increase subscriptions and circulations multi-fold.  “Most traditional newspapers know that they are dying—ad revenues are reducing, drop in numbers of readers—but they continue to slowly dismantle the news organisation.” They fail to keep the long-term view in mind, Wijnberg adds. To read more about Wijnberg’s philosophy, watch the video below. 

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Ideate: Freedom to dream

May 15, 2017

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

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