from fixing to sharing fake circulation data to compromising with criminals , Rakesh Krishnan Simha shares it all on a twitter thread. Read it here :
What you don’t know about Living Media Group which owns India Today and Aaj Tak.
1. I worked at India Today for nearly 2 years as Assistant Copy Editor. By the time I joined in 1999 it had degenerated into a racket, with editors who were fixers rather than writers.
2. Many editors used their power to blackmail politicians. Stories by honest investigative journalists were killed to protect corrupt judges such as Sumit Mukherjee.
3. Justice Mukherjee not only took bribes from property developers, he would also ask for calls girls. The code word for girls was “leg piece”. Despite CBI giving the case (including tapes of the judge talking to dalals) as an exclusive to India Today, the story was killed.
4. Electoral polls. These were fixed from the get-go to suit their narrative. Once I met the head of one of these polling firms. I said, you guys are complete fakes, why do you do this. He replied: “India Today pays us and we give them the results they ask for. Simple economics.”
5. Circulation. India Today at one point claimed they had a circulation of 250,000. Or maybe 400,000. I was quite proud to be part of this magazine. I was so pure! An insider told me their paid subscription was no more than 25,000. In fact, their print run was 40,000 tops.
6. This guy worked at Thompson Press which is owned by Living Media. Only the people at Thompson Press knew the real story. The circulation was inflated to hoodwink advertisers. But there’s another indication of abysmally low circulation.
7. Every week the copy editor used to ask the desk team to create fake “Letters to the Editor”. The reason was that for a magazine with a claimed circulation of 2-4 lakh and a readership in the millions, we got at most 5-6 letters. Sometimes zero! You just can’t make this up.
8. Even those 5-6 letters were from nutcases. We suspected that 2-3 of these letters were by the same person. Anyway, I really enjoyed writing these fake letters and would give funny names such as “Toofan Ghosh, Calcutta” or “Banduk Chatterjee, Asansol”. Also, family and exes.
9. Point is the culture of fakeness that prevailed in Living Media. IndiaToday became a catalogue of articles to sell art displayed at Art Today, owned by Living Media. Editors hired were those who could influence the govt so the company could get FM and satellite TV licences.
10. The other big thing was Best States of India surveys. These annual surveys were a sham. The chief minister who bought the biggest chunk of advertising supplements would be the best CM and his state would get ranked at the top. We used to laugh even as we edited these pages.
11. Books Today. One editor Raj Chengappa wrote a book which was touted as a best seller. Books Today couldn’t hide the figures from us – the book had sold 900 copies. Chengapppa claimed he was India’s leading strategist. Again, lots of mirth for us lowly copy editors.
12. I had grown up reading India Today when it had giants like Inderjit Badhwar. But by the time I got in, it was a place where fixers ruled. It is therefore not surprising that Rajdeep Sardesai was hired by Living Media because he fits the description of what they need.
13. Sardesai has no morals or scruples. The fact that he danced on screen when the Congress party won a state election shows he does not even pretend to have scruples.
14. His interview of Sonia Gandhi, in which the hardest question he asked was about her cooking, shows he is ideal for hatchet jobs like the Rhea interview. He is no journalist. He is just a dalla, fixer of whom there are hundreds in Delhi.
15. Similarly, outfits like Living Media are not media companies any more than Osama is a Buddhist monk. They are influencer peddlers and fixers. They don’t care about the truth or justice or creating a better world. They just want cash at all costs.
16. Who knows how much money changed hands for the Rhea interview. Only time will tell.
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