How legal arm-twisting by corporates is shackling reportage and undermining democracy in India
 

Co-Author: Paranjoy Guha Thakurta

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta (www.paranjoy.in) is an independent journalist and an educator. His work experience, spanning 37 years, cuts across different media: print, radio, television and documentary cinema. He is a writer, speaker, anchor, interviewer, teacher and commentator in three languages: English, Bangla and Hindi. His main areas of interest are the working of the political economy and the media in India and the world, on which he has authored/co-authored books and directed/produced documentary films. He teaches and speaks on these subjects to students, general audiences and also trains aspiring—and working—media professionals. He participates frequently in, and organises, seminars/conferences, He is a regular contributor to newspapers, magazines and websites. He is featured regularly on television channels and radio programmes as an anchor as well as an analyst and commentator.

Born in October 1955 and educated at St Stephen’s College, University of Delhi (1972–75) and at the Delhi School of Economics (1975–77) in the same university from where he obtained his master’s degree in economics, he started his career as a journalist in June 1977 and has been employed with various media organisations including companies bringing out publications such as Business India, BusinessWorld, the Telegraph, India Today and the Pioneer. He worked with Television Eighteen (now Network 18) for almost six years between 1995 and 2001 when he anchored a daily discussion programme called 'India Talks' on the CNBC-India television channel. Between 2007 and 2013, he anchored two one-hour-long weekly programmes for Lok Sabha Television (the channel owned and operated by the lower house of the Parliament of India). He has anchored programmes for other television channels. He is (or has been) a visiting faculty member at reputed educational institutions including the Indian Institutes of Management at Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Bangalore and Shillong, University of Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration and Visva Bharati University.

Guha Thakurta served as a member of the Press Council of India nominated by the University Grants Commission (UGC) between January 2008 and January 2011. In April 2010, as a member of a two-member sub-committee of the council, he co-authored a 36,000-word report titled Paid News: How corruption in the Indian media undermines democracy. He was the founder director of the School of Convergence (SoC), and has been a consultant at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, making presentations and writing papers on Indian politics. He has been associated with a number of projects of United Nations organisations, including the International Labour Organization (ILO).

He is a director/co-director/producer of number of documentary films. The films, Idiot Box or Window of Hope (2003), Grabbing Eyeballs: What’s Unethical About Television News in India (2007), Advertorial: Selling News or Products? (2009), Freedom Song (2012) were all produced by the Public Service Broadcasting Trust. Other films include Hot As Hell: A Profile of Dhanbad (2006–07), Blood & Iron: A Story of the Convergence of Crime, Business and Politics in Southern India (2010–11), The Great Indian Telecom Robbery (2011), A Thin Dividing Line (2013) on the India-Mauritius double-taxation avoidance treaty, Coal Curse: A Ddocumentary on the Political Economy of Coal Energy in India (2013) and In the Heart of Our Darkness: The Life and Death of Mahendra Karma (2013).

Guha Thakurta was one of the first journalists to write about the telecommunications spectrum scandal in November 2007, and was one of the petitioners in the public interest litigation on the subject in the Supreme Court of India. He has co-authored a book with Shankar Raghuraman titled Divided We Stand: India in a Time of Coalitions (2007) and written Media Ethics: Truth, Fairness and Objectivity, Making and Breaking News (Oxford University Press, second enlarged edition, 2011). He has contributed articles and chapters to books (including Realizing Brand India edited by Sharif D Rangnekar; [Rupa, 2005], India: The Political Economy of Reforms edited by Bibek Debroy & Rahul Mukherji [Bookwell, 2004] and Journalism: Ethics and Responsibilities edited by Seema Mustafa [Har Anand, 2013]). In 2014, he co-authored Gas Wars: Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis with Subir Ghosh and Jyotirmoy Chaudhuri.

Paranjoy is currently editor, Economic and Political Weekly. He is also engaged in authoring/co-authoring/editing other books and producing/directing documentary films. Besides, he is a partner of Media Network of India, a firm engaged in designing and creation of content for all media, contract publishing, training of media personnel, establishment of radio stations and other consulting assignments in the media.

 

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