Mayank Austen Soofi, Ruined by Reading, November 14, 2006
During the second session of the Indian Magazine Congress 2006 , Prabhu Chawla, India Today Editor, asked why there was so much focus on content and so little discussion on the marketing of magazines. (Source: Agency News)
Collage by Ms. Renu Rani Tyagi
India Today was a great magazine.
Once India Today launched the careers of eminent professionals like photographer Raghu Rai, psephologist Prannoy Roy, and editor Shekhar Gupta. Now the editorial philosophy of this media institution is directed by closet-politicians like Prabhu Chawla. Once it used to publish full-fledged editorials. Now they have been replaced by half-heartedly written from the editor-in-chief columns where Aroon Purie, undoubtedly India’s most successful newsman, hurriedly jots down pompous outlines of the cover story.
Once the writing in India Today was a labor of love. Now it reeks of a meet-the-deadline style. Once it designed covers that were canvasses of art. Now they are as bland as the last night’s cabbage. Once India Today excelled in investigative exposes. Now it finds its high in accessing files leaked by conniving politicians.
The magazine has tumbled down a steep slope.
The suicide of a Delhi socialite deserved more attention in India Today than the killings of Indians during the 2002 Gujarat riots
Once India Today was secular. Now it is so casual that it actually chose to put a dead Delhi celebrity (Natasha Singh), rather than a riot victim, during the midst of horrific inter-religious killings in Gujarat in 2002!
Once it read as smoothly as The Economist. Now it resembles Playboy. Once it had the eloquence of a Jaswant Singh. Today it has the accent of an Amar Singh. Once it was as sexy as Parveen Babi. Today it is as obscene as Rakhee Sawant.
Once India Today was India’s best news magazine. Today India Today is merely India’s largest selling news magazine.
Once was India Today.
What happened? How did things fall apart? What happened to India Today – once every thinking Indian’s piece of pride; India’s answer to America’s Time?
This blogger had been a devotee of this Living Media publication since childhood. He still remember the issue he read for the first time: a cover-story on the Rio Environment Summit that had Planet Earth on the front-piece.
Since then, which was the year 1992, the blogger has not looked back. No, he did turn. He fell so much in love with India Today that he made it a passion to collect all the special issues that were published in its short history since 1975 – Operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Bhopal Gas Tragedy, Rajiv Gandhi’s death; Punjab terrorism; Zia-ul-Haq’s plane crash; Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan, Indian Army’s battering in Sri Lanka, Babri Masjid demolition, Bombay riots, Bombay blasts, Bombay blasts again…and so on.
This blogger’s library presently has all the cover pages dating back to the first India Today issue. The archive has it all – all the Nehru-Gandhis, sport stars, film stars, tycoons, trends, scams, terrorists, and sex surveys.
In fact, pursuing the covers in the sequence of their years is the most direct approach to trace the demise in the quality of the magazine.
Okay, every media establishment has a right to its ideology and it is acceptable to take sides in political debates. But India Today shows its bias not in editorials but in reporting news. No crime is more serious for a respectable news organization that wants itself to be taken seriously.
Considering its rich past, it is sad to witness the growing dumbness and dishonesty of this highly influential citadel of Hamilton House.
But I tell you once there was India Today.
[In order to be honest with the readers the blogger declares his preference for Outlook magazine, India Today‘s great rival.]