Post fact ergo…

Arnab Goswami is again in the news. This time, for making up an entirely fictitious account of his encounter with a lynch mob during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

“Making up an entirely fictitious account”, which is how I described the act in the previous para, is of a piece with “alternate facts”, the coinage popularized by Kelyanne Conway — epistemological obfuscation. What Goswami did, shorn of such window dressing, is: he lied.

Rajdeep Sardesai and other senior journalists who were Goswami’s colleagues at NDTV at the time were right to call out the lie. One of the issues with the press is that it takes unto itself the power, and the responsibility, to ‘speak truth to power’, but when it comes to wrongdoing by peers, falls strangely silent.

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What rubbish!

Update“We are out here cleaning India Gate. Cleaning programmes are going on across the country. The message is we have to keep India clean. Everybody and not just government officials will have to participate in this. And it has to be an everyday operation, not just once in a year and not just for the camera.”

Alphons Kannanthanam, a recent inductee into the Union Cabinet, was doing his bit for the Swach Bharat cause — pity that he first arranged for cameras and the press, and then had volunteers litter the India Gate lawns so he could “clean it up”. That he then lectured about camera-ops is merely the ironical icing on the cake.

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‘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.