Dear Team NL Hafta,
I have been listening to your podcast for over a year now. I took the subscription two months ago, as soon as I got the new job. I am just a small contributor, but I promise I will increase my monetary support as soon as I stabilise in my new job. If my writing is not correct grammatically, I want to apologise. I don't want my name to be mentioned.
I have a query about how you verify a story. Recently, there was a gruesome murder of Rinku Sharma in Delhi. The version of both police and the victim's family are different. The Delhi police is known for its incompetence and peddling of lies and particular narrative. So, which version should we as readers believe? In journalism, do you give importance to victim story or police story?
I have seen a lot of hate and bigotry right now on social media, and it's impossible to argue with people who have already made up their mind.
In the end, I really like the opinions of Mehraj, he always brings nuance and makes me think about the topics from different perspectives.
A Newslaundry subscriber
Dear NL team,
Visakhapatnam Steel Plant is up for sale and employees are protesting. A bit disappointed to see no articles or reports on the Vishaka Steel issue.
Thanks and regards,
On Sunisht Goel's email last week, he sounds much too sensible (for 24) and he almost forced me to write this email to ask him not to get bogged down by the noise around. I have nephews and nieces his age who are blissfully unaware and careless of what is going on in the space they occupy. Sunisht's email came as a breath of fresh air even though he sounded anxious. I wish him well and can tell him that deleting my presence from all social media outlets five years ago has made me a calmer person. I couldn't care less about new memes or shows. I get my doze from A&A, Morning Brew, Washington Post, NYT, Caravan, the Ken, and Hafta.
PS: Nikku, please recommend two songs this time because the fabulous recommendation from last week was already reco-ed by you in a past episode of Awful and Awesome. (anyaaaay!)
PS 2: Much love to everyone at NL forever, unless otherwise stated, because I cannot be wasting my word quota on mandatory love and awkward air-hugs to you all in every email.
PS 3: How is it that we still don't have NL masks? How about a mask with the text: nanochip inside #PTKNF
PS 4: Does Anand Vardhan ever smile or *shudders* laugh?
Dear Hafta team,
I have a few observations I want to share about E315 of Hafta:
(1) Andolan jeevi: I know you folks mentioned Yogendra Yadav as an andolan jeevi. I have no problems with that labeling. What you failed to mention in the podcast is that Mr Modi suffixed andolan jeevi with parjeevi, or parasite. This is deeply problematic. However comical his involvement with protests seems, YY and his ilk are not parasites, and giving any credence to the PM's labeling legitimises the rest of his narrative. You can do better, can't you?
(2) Twitter: Mehraj mentioned that Twitter has no authority to say something is against the constitution. I strongly disagree. If I was being framed in a case, don’t I have the right to defend myself by challenging the legality of such framing? I know we look at corporations differently, but they have an equal right to challenge the government on their interpretation of the laws and the constitution. Of course the courts can weigh in, but Twitter can’t be a sitting duck until the courts intervene. We need independent regulation for social media so we can weed out biases, but in the meantime, Twitter as a private corporation needs to have all the rights that say, Reliance/ Tesla/Tata have. I think our discussions related to social media regulation tend to be a bit reactionary and I’d urge you to organise a deeper discussion on this topic.
Thanks as always,
I am an entrepreneur and am among the few who deeply appreciate both Newslaundry and the BJP as institutions and as the future.
They have similarities too :)
- Both have disrupted the existing ecosystem and created their own
- Both act as laundries (read: CBI cases)
- Both suffer from cognitive biases and rarely come out of it
Taking up from cognitive biases, do you guys think you have strong anti-government biases because of your business model? Or is it that you purposely ignore the good things and leave it to Godi media to attend to? Or the government is not good at all. Or is it anything else?
It is here that India Today scores over the mainstream media. Get two pretentious, biased anchors to debate with each other and let the Kangressi and bhakts take away what they want to from this balancing act. Everyone wins (and news suffers).
Dear NL Team,
I am a subscriber funded by your kind student subscription. I don't have much to say but I was listening to Hafta 299 and came across the survey you conducted to improve NL Hafta.
In Hafta 216, the panel was discussing religion. So, I had a suggestion. Could you add a segment of 30-60 minutes to Hafta, maybe twice a month, where you talk about general stuff like religion, caste, society, etc? I find these conversations the best part about Hafta because this general stuff surrounds our lives and it helps me to think from diverse perspectives. I think it sharpens my mind to some extent.
On the regulation of the public narrative:
The latest set of rules and regulations put forth by the government only shows its desperation to regulate the public narrative under the guise of internet media regulation.
In the recent past, many web series like Sacred Games, Laila, and now, Tandav have made strong and blunt remarks over the ongoing issues in the new India of this BJP regime. FIRs and court cases against such content have become a norm.
It is also true that it is the digital news media which is the torchbearer of quality journalism in India. The Print, Newslaundry, Scoopwhoop and many other big and small online news platforms have broken stories which were not only critical of the government but, more importantly, were needed to be told to the citizens of this country.
The government already has so much power, which is unchecked too, that it can suspend internet in Jammu and Kashmir for about 18 months and does not lift the restrictions even after court orders to review such a blanket ban. The new set of rules will only exacerbate the situation.
The three-tier grievance redressal system, with bureaucrats being at the top, will ensure a favourable narrative towards the government being projected in OTT content.
Social media can also be ordered to track the first source of information, which can only be done with a breach in user privacy. Although it is ironical that the same people were asking WhatsApp to respect Indian users' privacy a few days ago.
These rules, and the way these are proposed by the government, can and should be challenged in the court over their weak legal and constitutional backing.
But if the court shows a flexible backbone in upholding the fundamental right of free speech and the legal right to information, then it can be inferenced that this would prove to be a big step in the series of efforts in consolidating a narrow and communal image of India as the control of the narrative will be in the hands of the government.
Hello NL team,
I begin by expressing my gratitude to Newslaundry for teaching me the significance of media literacy and revenue models based on subscription. Nowadays, the Print (the TOI of digital India) is also relying on this model.
I want to know the views of the Hafta panel on an analytical piece written by Hartosh Singh Bal in the Caravan's December 2020 print edition. In this piece, Hartosh analysed the coverage of the Indian Express over the last six years.
Contrary to my expectations, his piece only revolved around Express columns written by BJP ideologues (Ram Madhav and Rakesh Sinha) and Anant Goenka's interview to journalist Shoma Chaudhary in which he said a few thing that I also do not agree with.
Hartosh's piece would have been excellent had he analysed how Express covered gigantic events like demonetisation, the CAA protests, the migrant crisis triggered by the Covid lockdown, and many other. The yardstick to judge a news publication should be its reportage, not its opeds. Express is not the New York Times of India, definitely. It is also not the Republic or Zee of print media. If it publishes articles by Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Suhas Palshikar, and Christophe Jaffrelot, then it does not become a mouthpiece of the anti-Modi tribe, nor can it be categorised as a member of the pro-Modi tribe if it publishes any article by a BJP patron.
Unfortunately, some liberals appreciate the work only of those journalists who are ideologically as partisan as the Wire is.
Dear NL Hafta team,
I’m Abhishek, a recent subscriber, just a few months old.
When in India, I was repulsed by the established media and the farce that goes on there and had completely stopped news consumption. I searched around and finally decided to subscribe to you guys as I really like the mix of level-headed and in-depth reportage along with some fun stuff. Being from Karnataka, I've devoured NL Sena reports like the one on Cauvery. I love the discussions, and all the great work you guys do.
I do have some bones to pick though, from an older Hafta episode (315). I agree with Abhinandan and Hridayesh's points of not ceding ground to extremist views of either side of the spectrum and/or any religion, and that this endeavor has not been genuine in India.
I was disappointed by Mehraj’s way of justification of Jaziya. I think here Hridayesh wasn’t poking at Islam and its intentions, but rather questioning the interpretation and execution that occurred due to a certain sanctioned clause in it. Even if it was conceived as a wealth tax, when a state power wields this law, there is little chance of it not becoming an exploitative tool. It can be extended to any organised religion or any school of thought. When there is an organised religious or ideological structure, there is always room for dogmatic expression.
I think in addressing this, Mehraj or anyone needs to:
(1) Address the truthfulness of the events
(2) Acknowledge the event and the thought process behind it, dissect it and reach the conclusion of what’s wrong
(3) Talk about how to rectify and/or prevent or minimise repetition of the said event
After this, there can be room to mention whether it was the intent of the religious text. I think when a question is asked about an action, answering it with “intent” doesn’t serve any purpose, because what matters is the result due to actions fueled by religion. Be it an active or passive encouragement, written scripture, or someone’s interpretation of it, it is valid to hold the views culpable by association. I do concede that free thinking that is independent of preconceived notions is extremely difficult. But if defensive justification takes the centre stage, then the discourse stops and the rest is just a performance.
Similarly, saying blasphemy laws were not taken from the actual Quran text, but from the teachings of an Imam from the 2nd century, is equal to saying Manusmriti or Garuda Purana is not valid because it is not written in the Vedas or Upanishads. Both examples are essentially an interpretation or application of the base treatise and must be treated as associative entities and not independent.
Regarding the point of whether religion is inherently bad, I would disagree with Manisha. Religion and religious people have mostly been evil and bad. Historically so as well. Most of the religious authorities have committed a VERY high scale of atrocities that completely offset the good some have done. Including but not limited to: witch hunts, persecution of minorities including homosexuality, brutal murders littered throughout history, whipping mass hysterias, actively hindering scientific progress throughout the dark ages, to honor killings that happen today, ISIS beheadings, "love jihad" nonsense, A LOT OF VIOLENCE has been unleashed due to religious zeal.
That is not to say there are no good people. There are good and bad people everywhere, and that is by nature. The concept, however, and almost all of its applications ARE EVIL. Similarly with ideological biases as well. Be it communism, anarcho-socialism or capitalism: as ideas, each have their merits, but they will eventually fall to human vices and get corrupted.
It must also be mentioned that when Abhinandan described his experience during the IAC days, it is reflective of how the state always has tried to muzzle dissenting voices. It is alarming, however, to see the frenzied mindless mobs ready with pitchforks to burn you at the stake.
Sorry for the long-winded email, keep doing your great work! Hi to all of you guys!
This week, I read the report compiled by Shambhavi and Meghnad. They have really done very good work and their hard work is visible on the pages of their report published in Newslaundry.
By the way, these types of Telegram and WhatsApp groups began much earlier. Almost in 2015-16, when we were brainwashed by rightwing propaganda, we used to operate a similar WhatsApp group "Jai Hindu Rashtra", where we used to openly advocate the idea of a Hindu Rashtra. After seeing all this, I really feel ashamed of myself, that we did these types of things under the influence of the BJP's divisive ideas.
Unfortunately, this is the reality of our system, where most people were brainwashed by the people in power. That means if Disha and Greta share toolkits, it is considered antinational. But when Kapil Mishra shares a toolkit, that is acceptable.
By the way, I would like you to pay attention to a very different problem. As you know, most of the newspapers have compromised and are serving the government very well. Your mission and the news you publish is not reaching the people of rural India, who are mainly dependent on newspapers and TV channels for news. Therefore, why don't you start an ad-free newspaper with the same level of subscription-based model, so people of rural India can also have the same information without bias, and without the control of the government or corporations?
Uttam Kumar Verma
Hi Hafta team,
I am writing from Switzerland. I must say I am enjoying Hafta a lot and it's often what I play in the background as I work from home or in the office. It really gives me a nice feel of the overall background behind a situation and I also like it when you get voices from the south. I hope the collaboration with the News Minute continues.
So, I have been wondering for a long time: why does Abhinandan look so young? I know he is 44 or something, but come on! If he walks into my room, I would say he is not a day above 30. Whenever he says to Manisha, 'you were not born then', or 'you were not around at that time', or recollects his memories from the 1970s, I often wonder: what is the secret of his youth? Kya khaate ho bhai?
Regarding Shekhar Gupta's hypocrisy on MSP, after the new Australian news code for Google and Facebook came out, he came out strongly in support of it, saying a price fixation for news content is necessary. That can be seen in his Cut The Clutter here, where he shamelessly says an MSP and regulation of market is needed for news. But at the same time, this friend of the Reliance Group says an MSP for farmers will distort the market and work against the market's run of play. What explains this hypocrisy? Can Abhinandan and Raman Sir elaborate?
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