Saturday, July 21, 2007

Chaitanya Kalbag's stint with Hindustan Times is over

Chaitanya Kalbag was supposed to bring radical changes in Hindustan Times. He came from Reuters and except the initial days, he hardly seemed to bring any positive change to the newspaper.

As an 'unbiased disinterested by-stander' with no likes or dislikes for him, I feel that he failed to deliver on most counts. His articles--those on edit page and the other stories--were mediocre and failed to interest the reader.

The day fire broke out in HT office, he wrote a page 1 article, which I read and my first reaction was, 'Oh my god, does he have any idea what he is writing about'. Many others shared this opinion. His lack of knowledge of India was also apparent.

When Kashi Ram died, he reportedly said that the story should be taken on page 8, until he was told who Kashi Ram was and what was his importance in changing the Indian politics. I remember once he wrote a piece on how the 'world was changing and newspapers will not be the same ten years from now....blah blah'. It was quite like a 'foreign-return' lecturing the ignorant 'desis'.

So he was writing about Korea, without giving a thought to the fact that there are hundreds of districts in India which still don't have 50% literacy. Yes, not even Hindi. Newspapers will continue to grow in this country. Tens of crores (Hundreds of millions) can't even recognize alphabets in this country let alone knowing English. So at least, English newspapers' circulation growth is not going to stop in the next 2-3 decades here. Worst was his treatment of ordinary reporters and sub-editors who were mis-treated and often fired.

May be it was the Barkha Dutt episode which led to his exit. Barkha's edit page article which appears on Saturday had not been published recently because Kalbagh had reservations about it and felt she was projecting her organisations (NDTV) through it. She got pissed off and in protest didn't send the article next week. She also spoke to Mrs Shobhana Bhartia, reported The Hoot recently.

The problem was that he was Editor-in-Chief of a big group but was taking interest in too petty things that should have been left for the Bureau Chiefs, Assistant Editors, Coordinating Editors, REs etc and his mere direction was enough but his intervention worsened things and made him unpopular. Also, during his stint the HT website took the new avatar.

It was a great news site but after the recent change it is neither a news site, nor a portal. They tried to make it a portal but the USP of was that it was a pure news site, which it lost after the transformation.


Anonymous said...

U have a fan in me! fantastic stuff i must say


Anonymous said...

Hi there,So who is going to take his position? Where is CK heading>?

Anonymous said...

ck is joining a legal book publisher

Sunny said...

Even though I don't agree to what you say and on his style of journalism, I give you the benefit of doubt. Maybe you haven't ever worked with him. And if you have, you lack the understanding of importance of globalization and that Indian journalism will have to head towards that.

Also, in your "so called" beautiful write-up you have misspelt Kalbag in the third line of the sixth paragraph.


Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with the writeup..he is one of a unique character with tones of will lead him no where on day.

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