Hafta Letters: On the quality of journalism and the “fairer sex”
NL Dhulai

Hafta Letters: On the quality of journalism and the “fairer sex”

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

By NL Team

Published on :

Hi Newslaundry,

Here are a few comments about Hafta 245 as a listener and subscriber:

1. The quality/form of journalism going down

I would want to add what was missing from the discussion-

a) “Freedom of Expression (FoE)” and non-interference from the government.

One of the reasons Newstrack was good was probably because the government did not interfere with so much, and that is the reason why US media has a lot of high-quality journalism.

b) Change in demographics of the consumers

As people become richer, they demand more of what they enjoy from the market. At the time of Newstrack, the demand was coming from few rich (and at the risk of inviting the epithet of elitist) more informed people, and in the words of Tavleen Singh, from “people who had a world view.”

And I know that Abhinandan is going throw a fit, but it is by the law of statistics that half of the people will have a below-average IQ and below-average capacity for analysing complicated and nuanced arguments. And that means as people with lower intelligence get access to the market of media content, they will demand stuff which appeals to their taste. The same can be seen in cinema. There will always be more demand for “Judwa 2” than “Queen” (see their box office collections). But that doesn’t mean there won’t be space for movies like “Lunch Box” and connecting it to my first point, that for quality content to be created to have access to the market of listeners who enjoy nuanced arguments, you would need freedom of expression which is limited in our country. And to the extent FoE is not controlled, you do have people like Hartosh,  Manu Joseph and platforms like The Lallantop (and to some extent Newslaundry, though I understand you are not making much money) who can earn a living by informing people and making nuanced arguments.

I know I have crossed the word limit so much that there is barely any space left for praise. But I think you are doing great work it was refreshing to have the full panel with Madhu, Abhinandan and Anand, all together.

One suggestion/demand: Can you please organise some sort of debate/more provoking discussions between Hartosh and Amit Varma moderated by you and Saurabh Dwivedi and if Anand can develop an appetite for pushing back hard without getting irritated, it would be great to have him there also.

Because I think significant intellectual growth only happens if two friends disagree and debate, without having too much of personal ego amp them.




Hi NL team,

Long-time subscriber here, not a doctorate this time, sorry. Just another software engineer from Bangalore.

I listen to most of your podcasts including Hafta (although with some difficulties due to the very well-known tech issues). I normally write to AnA (only twice so far) as it is a light-hearted podcast and I find it easier to discuss.

I have been a silent listener of Hafta for a long time and I admire the wide range of knowledge each panelist shares and yet none of them take themselves seriously enough to not take a joke.

Regarding the femme-fatale story from Kerala from a couple of episodes back, I, being a male (like to think myself a feminist too), can’t really know what women feel when they hear about such crimes from the “fairer” sex but I am with Manisha here.

I think, Manisha was happy that women are not just seen as the fairer sex and can do no wrong (of this magnitude) and thus it can instill some sense of equality in the Indian male psyche (which is still in its nomadic state being a developing nation with a young age of about 70, although it is sure improving).

Supporting article for the male psyche on Quartz India:

Kerala’s men can’t accept that a woman can be intelligent and deadly enough to be a serial killer: https://qz.com/india/1731872/keralas-jolly-cyanide-murders-spark-sexist-social-media-memes/

I felt Madhu gave too much of a hard time to Manisha on it (that’s what I got from the audio, maybe it was just a banter)

Also please stop munching or sipping during your turn to talk in the podcast (heard in the latest Hafta), it was kind of off-putting and bit unrespectful to your audience. You can eat/drink when not talking (a gentle nudge to your sound-engineer  

 ) or wait till the recording is done

Thanks for the wonderful contribution called FREE media, the strongest pillar of the democracy if done right, which I believe you guys are doing a very good job of.