‘Ban us, you big baby’

“Donald Trump misunderstands — or, more likely, simply opposes — the role a free press plays in a democratic society. Reporters are supposed to hold public figures accountable. Any American political candidate who attacks the press for doing its job is campaigning in the wrong country. In the United States, under our Constitution, a free press is a check on politicians of all parties.”

 This brilliant rant by the editors of The York Dispatch is worth reading for its own sake — and because the central message is equally true of our times, our world.

“According to informed sources…”

An infallible resource for understanding the workings of the government — any government, anywhere — is Jonathan Lynn and Anthony Jay’s Yes Minister. Remember this clip?

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Zee News redux

This, now, offered without comment (Apologies for the formatting, it’s how it came to me):

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More on “Chee News”

The details follow the pattern — condemn, defame, amplify it all, on the flimsiest of threads, and cloak it all under the shroud of patriotism.

The sting, and the irony, is at the very end of this news report:

Signed by Naseeruddin Shah, Sharmila Tagore and Shubha Mudgal amongst others, the petition calls upon the Press Council of India and the Broadcast Association “to take note of this criminality and initiate necessary action against the channel”.

What can you do but laugh?

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An epitaph to the newspaper

The business I love has put a lot of good people on the street and left behind a lot of empty buildings. I love it anyway, and so do the people who came by the paper Thursday, not so much to say goodbye to the old building but to say hello again to one another. I did most of the best work of my life with those people, and had most of the good times I’ll ever have, and met the woman I married. Newspapers can break your heart. But I’ll let it be broken every time for what I got out of the deal.

Of my 26 years in journalism, 20 have been spent in the digital space — and it’s been good. Mostly. Yet it is the time I spent in newspapers — the daily Indian Post, the Mumbai-based Mid-Day and its ambitious Sunday offering, the then Ambani-owned Sunday Observer — that provided the best memories.

This piece says everything I want to say about the magic of the newspaper office — and the sense of loss at the realisation that time has passed.

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Yang Jisheng, author of a book on the devastating four-year-long Great Famine of China, was named for the Louis Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism. His acceptance speech is one every journalist needs to print out and keep in their pockets, like a talisman. A brief tasting clip below, but please read the full thing:

The Nieman fellows are all distinguished journalists. I fervently love the profession of journalism. After more than forty years of being tempered in this position, and based on my experience and observation, this is how I evaluate journalism as a profession:

This is a despicable profession that can confuse right and wrong, reverse black and white, manufacture monstrous falsehoods and dupe an audience of millions.

This is a noble profession that can point out the ills of our times, uncover the darkness, castigate evil, advocate for the people and take on the responsibility of social conscience.

This is a banal profession that evades conflict, ignores questions of right or wrong, plays it safe and willingly serves as a mouthpiece of the powerful.

This is a sacred profession that cherishes all under heaven, contemplates eternal questions, criticizes the political situation, monitors the government, communicates with society and makes the news media the Fourth Estate.

This is a shallow profession that anyone can take on, requiring only the ability to write a coherent narrative and a minimum of knowledge, demanding no brilliant insights but only obedience and submission.

Over to the courts

The Delhi government has reportedly initiated action against channels, as yet unnamed, for airing doctored videos in the JNU case. (Earlier, the government had ordered a probe into the events of February 9 and after — the resulting report, with extensive annexures, is online in full.)

This should suit Zee boss Subhas Chandra to a T. He has talked of having served notice on Bloomberg (which, last heard from, hadn’t apologised) and also of “being in the process” of taking similar action against some Indian media houses.

So now he can go into court, get his actions validated, and there’s his basis for filing all the defamation cases he wants. No? Particularly since he believes that the Delhi government, which is initiating this action, has already cleared his channel: