Aparisim “Bobby” Ghosh is editor-in-chief of Hindustan Times. He was previously TIME Magazine’s World Editor. He was the first non-American to be named World Editor in TIME’s more than 80 years. He has previously been TIME’s Baghdad bureau chief. He has written stories from other conflict areas, like Palestine and Kashmir. He started his career at the age of 17 at Rs 150 a month plus some amount per word which he never got. You can follow him on twitter at @ghoshworld
To read the interview in which he talked about his early days in India to becoming first non-American World Editor at TIME Magazine, covering Middle-East, how being an Indian helped him in Middle-East and Much More CLICK HERE
How you came working with Hindustan Times? How was it to switch yourself from a global media to an Indian media?
When the offer from HT came, it was hard to say no. There are very few big newspapers left in the world, and fewer still in countries where newspapers still matter. I started my career in newspapers, and was attracted by the idea of returning to them. And as a journalist, the India story, in all its shades, was compelling. It was a no-brainer, really.
The switch was not very difficult: after all, I started my career in India, and worked as a journalist here for 10 years before leaving the country. I’d kept myself up-to-date on developments in India, and of course I had many friends in the journalism community here.
What is the future of Print Journalism in India?
I am optimistic that there is a future for print journalism, especially for newspapers. But there are important caveats. Newspapers, AS THEY ARE TODAY, will not survive the digital onslaught. In essence, today’s newspaper looks and feels like newspapers have done for the past 50 years. But today’s readers aren’t consuming news like they did 5 years ago, never mind 50 years ago.
So, the survival of newspapers depends on their ability to change. What can we offer you at 7am that you didn’t already get from your smartphones and tablets and laptops yesterday? The newspapers that answer that question will survive, and thrive. We’re aiming to make HT one of those.
On which skills a student willing to make a career in Journalism should focus on? What would you like to say to those who are thinking to join the profession just for the sake of money, power and glamour?
If you’re looking for money, power and glamour… try your luck in Bollywood. Come to journalism if you have curiosity: that is the most important quality in any journalist. You have to have the itch, the hunger, to know things…. To find out things you don’t know. This is not a skill that can be learned, it is innate. If you have curiosity, you’re one-third of the way to becoming a journalism. The other things you need can be tought: how to find information, how to process it, evaluate and analyze it, and finally, present it.
India was ranked 136th in the Press Freedom Index. Where do you think Indian Journalism stands and in which direction it is moving today?
Indian journalists come under more pressure today than at any time since the Emergency. There’s political pressure, pressure from companies (who are advertisers), pressure from religious groups, pressure from organized-crime groups. These pressures are felt especially by those who work for small, non-English newspapers, in small towns and cities. This is bad enough for a democracy. What is worse is that our political class shows great hatred and contempt for journalism, and encourages society at large to feel the same way. This makes journalists highly vulnerable.
It should be a matter of great shame for a country claiming the mantle of the world’s biggest democracy to be ranked 136th in the Press Freedom Index. But you’ll never hear a politician say that… and that is even more shameful.
Some say, there is nothing called objectivity; a reporter or editor should just try to be fair. How do you look at it?
I think you can be objective AND fair. It isn’t easy… but why should we expect it to be easy? Training your mind to be objective is part of the training of a journalist, just as it is part of the training of a judge, for instance, or a policeman. Some people learn, others don’t.
Interns from all the fields often complain (in general) that they didn’t get paid. So, if an intern is working in a media house and learning while working 10am to 4pm; should they be provided with at least the minimum wage rate?
Interns should be paid. There should be no debate on this.
You have extensively reported from the conflict zones across the world, including Kashmir. So, if you would have to give your opinion, what are the solutions of Kashmir conflict? Is our government taking necessary steps to solve the problem?
My experience in conflict zones has taught me that the only durable solutions are political and social… never military. War is sometimes necessary, but only to create the conditions where a political and social solution can be arrived at. In Kashmir, my view is that India’s leaders have for three decades passed the buck to the security forces, putting the burden on the Army, BSF, CRPF and police to find solutions to problems that are for the most part political in nature. This is an unfair burden on the security forces. Politicians, in Delhi as well as in Srinagar, should do their job. Given how much water has flowed down the Jhelum in the past 30 years, finding the solution will be hard and time-consuming. But it has to start and end with the politicians.
As you have a very vast experience in the field, What would be your parting message to students and young journalists?
Never stop being curious. Never stop asking questions. Never be satisfied with the answers. Always read, read… and then read some more. Journalism is a not a profession so much as a purpose. Never forget that.
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