‘Indian daily journalism is uniformly second-rate’

Bill the bard, put it better, of course: “‘Tis the time’s plague, when madmen lead the blind.”

Aakar Patel is no Shakespeare, but he makes a similar point: Indian media doesn’t know but they are trying to show us the way. Patel, formerly of Asian Age, Deccan Chronicle, Mid-Day and Divya Bhaskar, tears into our information providers in a column in Lounge, the Saturday supplement of the business daily Mint.

Indian journalists do not know how to ask questions. Indian journalists look for validation of their views rather than fresh information. Indian newspaper proprietors are more knowledgeable than their editors. Indian writers are rarely asked to write for publications abroad because they are so bad. Etcetera.

“There are good journalists in India, but they tend to be business journalists. Unlike regular journalism, business journalism is removed from emotion because it reports numbers. There is little subjectivity and business channel anchors are calm and rarely agitated because their world is more transparent.

“Competent business reporting here, like CNBC, can be as good as business reporting in the West. This isn’t true of regular journalism in India, which is uniformly second-rate….

“You could read Indian newspapers every day for 30 years and still not know why India is this way. The job of newspapers is, or is supposed to be, to tell its readers five things: who, when, where, what and why. Most newspapers make do with only three of these and are unlikely to really you ‘what’….”

Where would Indian journalism be if it weren’t for its columnists?

Photograph: courtesy My Space

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Also read: Aakar Patel on working at The Asian Age

Prime minister, maybe, but not a very good sub