Madhu is co-founder and current Editor-in-chief at Newslaundry. She is also the founding editor of India Today; Editor-in- Chief of Newstrack for TV Today Network.
In this interview with Acadman, she talked for the first time, about her college life, Journey in Journalism, cherishing memories with her father, brother & Much More
Would you like to tell us about your initial educational journey and your aspirations at that time?
My life in school was not something I would want my children or any young people to emulate. I just interested in having the most fun which included breaking a lot of rules.
What made you join Harrow Technical College & School of Arts in London? How was the life there?
I thought I could make a career of journalistic photography. But Harrow was tough. I had to deal with racism and all kinds of discrimination.
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Why did you go for master’s degree at Columbia University in New York? How did it help you in your professional career?
At that point, I decided that I wanted to make journalism my career. Columbia’s journalism school had the best reputation in the world. It was a great experience.
You have been the founding editor of INDIA TODAY Magazine. What is the future of the print magazines in India?
Obviously, all the print publications are struggling to survive all over the world. Digital has taken over.
You have also been the editor of Newstrack. Why didn’t you go for TV journalism?
Today the survival of TV channels is tough. The high carriage fees and the expense on infrastructure makes it untenable. There is far more freedom to pursue good journalism on the Internet.
Why did you leave the prestigious India Today Group?
Wanted to try different things.
How do you look at the Indian journalism today? Especially TV journalism.
It’s not breaking news that TV journalism is a mess. It is no longer the kind journalism where you chase a story, go out and actually report on it and then put the story together so the viewer then understands all the issues. Just screaming eat everyone seems to have today’s journalism.
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With what amount of budget the Newlaundry started? Were you assured of the funding while launching?
We started with the minimum money of our own and there was no assurance that funding would come in. We took a personal risk.
What are the skills you look for while hiring new journalists?
Hunger for getting a story, ruthlessness in accuracy, non-partisan approach, not watching the clock on how many hours worked, fairness to those covered, balance in every story, enthusiasm for good journalism.
Is it true that you left your job for your family responsibilities in 1977? Would you like to tell us about a bit?
Yes, I was keen to start a family and spent the next 12 years bringing up my children. I loved it.
On what set of skills should a journalism student focus, to be successful in the field?
Mastering taking down notes every time he goes to cover a story, the ability to see more than what stereotype journalists are seeing and writing on the same old track, the ability to speedily push out a story with great, creative writing to make it unforgettable.
Please tell us some memorable things about your father, VV Purie?
Well, when I gave a bad review to a film his friend had made, B R Chopra, he said, “Koi toh dost choddoh!”
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You had to apologize for a report related to the high court and you were convicted. The question is whether the press, practically, has freedom of speech or not?
I regret that apology. I do feel that journalists and the public have a right to assess judges.
Any interesting memories while working with Aroon Purie?
He was a ruthless editor known for rejecting mediocre copy. He once made a writer rewrite a cover story 12 times, all completely different. The reporter did not complain but saw it as a learning experience. I doubt that would happen now. A lot of whining goes on.
How often Aroon Purie and you meet as brother & sister? Any cherished childhood memory of Aroon?
Often enough. He taught me how to drive and would hit the back of my head when I did things wrong. Also, go crazy when I was in charge of the Charkhi while he flew kites and he got into a panga with another kite.
What would be your message to students of journalism across India?
Bury your ego. Be willing to learn learn learn. Follow ethical journalistic practice. Do not misquote. Wait for the other side to respond. Be honest and that is a subversive idea in this climate.
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