New Delhi: The Media Rumble (TMR), the first day of the two-day news forum took place in the heart of Lutyen’s Delhi, Bikaner House, on July 21. The first-of-its-kind forum was organised by Newslaundry and Teamwork Arts featuring some of the most experienced news professionals from across the world and India including Mike Rezendes, R Jagannathan, Ashok Malik, Robert Wjinberg, Diksha Madhok and others.
As some of the best in the media business got together to talk news—reporting it, sustaining it and protecting it, Newslaundry’s founder and editor-in-chief Madhu Trehan’s inaugural address raised the importance of collaboration in a competitive industry.
Todays’ series of panels, The New News, Hindi Medium, In Conversation, Making News Viable, Tyranny of Distance and Humour: The First Line of Defence and Offence, discussed the importance of news and information across genres.
The first session of the day, The New News had Diksha Madhok of Quartz India and Huffington Post India Editor-in-Chief Sruthijith KK, Swarajya Editorial Director R Jagannathan and senior columnist Ashok Malik. The panel discussed the evolution of digital media and Madhok declared that, “Digital media can’t survive by relying only on clickbait, it has to get into a long-term relationship with the reader,” to which Malik added, “News is now a service to be delivered to the consumer and not a sermon.”
The panel discussed the conflict between the two languages—Hindi and English—including Hindi’s fight with domination of English despite the role of Hindi in policy making.
The third session, was a conversation between Michael Rezendes and Abhinandan Sekhri. The two discussed the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer prize-winning investigative reporting on the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse cover up which was made into Academy Award winning film Spotlight. Rezendes talked about reporting under Trump, the importance of financially sustaining months long reporting and the role of the reporter in exposing the truth and ensuring no “collateral damage”.
The next panel, Making News Viable, was on news revenue models including subscription-driven, trust-run and non-profit. The panelists, Durga Raghunath, Robert Wijnberg, Rohin Dharmakumar, Siddharth Varadarajan—all of whom represented each of the models. Raghunath is the co-founder of Juggernaut Books and FirstPost, Wijnberg is the editor-in-chief of a European national daily, nrc.next, Dharmakumar is the co-founder and CEO of The Ken, a subscription-based business journalism site and Varadarajan is the founding editor of The Wire, also discussed the impact news business models have on the news landscape, consumer behaviour, public’s interest in paying for news, the overall ability of news models to survive independently.
The fifth panel, The Tyranny of Distance, had The News Minute editor Dhanya Rajendran, Monalisa Changkija, the editor, proprietor and publisher of the Nagaland Page, Rising Kashmir Editor-in-Chief Shujaat Bukhari and moderator Sandip Roy. The cornerstone of discussion was the failure of the mainstream media to cover protests and other news events in the northeast and south India while every “nukkad protest in Delhi” receives prominent coverage.
The last panel, Humour: The First Line of Defence and Offence, had stand-up comedian Anuvab Pal, All India Bakchod’s Ashish Shakya, comedian, filmmaker and author Radhika Vaz, stand-up artist Sanjay Rajoura and actor Vir Das. The panel discussed the role that humour and news have in bringing out the truth and pointing out the absurdities of the lived experience. And in an era where both have come under fire frequently for offending sensibilities, they stressed the importance of free speech and in protecting it.
The day was brought to a thunderous close by Anuvab Pal who while mocking the foibles of the technologically challenged, almost took the media to task for its more outlandish figures.