Barkha Dutt is one of India’s most prominent journalists. Currently, she helms her own news outlet, Mojo Story.
She speaks with Abhinandan Sekhri of Newslaundry to talk about her experiences driving across India to cover the coronavirus crisis and the resultant migrant exodus.
She also talks about the challenges of donning the hats of journalist and entrepreneur at the same time, her fallouts with promoters and whether small independent news operations can match the impact of the legacy media.
Talking about her coverage of the migrant crisis, Barkha recalls that she had not planned to embark on a journey that would eventually take over a hundred days, covering thousands of miles. But the lack of Big Media attention or government intervention made her realise that she needed to give it full attention. “That end of the first week is when I realised that I can't sit inside my office, inside my house and tell the story. I didn't know the scale of what I was going to witness when I set forth, but I gave myself a week in the capital observing this, observing the invisibility of the story," she adds.
She recounts some of the stories that impacted and stayed with her, how her team managed to travel and find places to stay in a pandemic while the country was on lockdown, and how it felt being in a PPE for a few hours.
Asked why she has changed several organisations over the past few years, Barkha explains that she quit NDTV over the issue of editorial integrity and Tiranga TV because the employees hadn’t been paid their salaries.
Barkha and Abhinandan also discuss the future of journalism, the new economic models Indian media are experimenting with, and why she would opt for the "Guardian mode" if she could.
Transcribed by Dhyanesh Vaishnav.