2001-2016 --- What a Hoot!

BY THE HOOT| IN Media Practice | 21/03/2016
Enfants terrible grow old, a lurch to the Right, family coups and the rise of Arnab the Terrible.
THE HOOT muses over many media transitions


The Hoot turns 15 this week. It  set out in March 2001 to monitor the media. Here’s what the owl saw over this tumultuous period.


> Arnab Goswami has gone from playing second fiddle to Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai in NDTV,  to being the Terror of Prime Time News  with whom they struggle to compete.

> Swapan Dasgupta has gone from being CM Modi’s earthquake rehabilitation chronicler to PM Modi’s weekly defender in the Pioneer.

> Raghav Bahl  transitioned from a cashless media empire to lots of cash and very little empire.

> In 2001 Zee News gleefully bought rights to Tehelka’s Operation West End and telecast raw footage of the expose of a BJP government across 15 channels.  Today it would consider such behavior high treason. 

Tehelka began as an enfant terrible which reinvented media investigation ethics and foundered more than a decade later after Tarun Tejpal  reinvented office ethics.

> The Times Group transitioned from notoriety for espousing paid news in 2004 to notoriety for professing to be in the advertising business in 2012.

> NDTV went from English news supremacy in 2001 to operating losses a decade later.

The Hindu tumbled through three family coups and returned to N Ram’s invisible hold.

> From being Shekhar Gupta’s paper The Indian Express went back  to being the Goenkas’ paper.

> Digital media brands have less  evocative titles now. We’ve gone from Tehelka,  to the more prosaic Catch, Quint, Scroll, Wire.

> Journalists have gone  from being financed by the Ambanis,  to being employed by them.

> In 2001 Video had not replaced text, YouTube was not on the horizon and only birds tweeted. By 2016 Twitter had become the film star’s and politician’s best friend and hacks could live off readymade news.

> Free Speech has gone from being taken for granted to something  that you are now accused of unreasonably demanding.

> Left-liberal  journalism is rapidly ceding ground  to right wing journalism.

> PR evolved.  By 2002 PR companies were already helping people get into the news, or stay out of the news, and blocking direct access to corporate honchos.

> By 2010 the Radia tapes told us how the good lady was teaching her flock to differentiate between what journalists needed and what proprietors needed and to supply both.

> From the Talwars to Tarun Tejpal  to Indrani Mukherjea media trials multiplied, and TV channels  prospered, even as a Delhi High Court bench admitted in 2015 that media trials do influence judges and affect trials.




Darius Nakhoonwala who began a column on newspaper editorials in the Hoot’s  early years retracted his claws and retired out of sheer boredom, in 2015. 



In its 15th anniversary year The Hoot will run articles from its archives, linked to what is making news today.

Cartoon by: Nituparna Rajbongshi


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