31 October, 2020

Suddenly, The Ticker Was Flashing

Did Modi sarkar attempt to take the helm at PTI, India’s largest news agency? If so, it was stalled.

Photo by Jitender Gupta
Suddenly, The Ticker Was Flashing

News agencies, whether in India or in other parts of the world, are oceans of faceless journalists, thanklessly feeding the news cycle with staid but solid copy from places the boldfaced names of the media world wouldn’t be caught dead in. Rarely are the bylines of their stars known to the newspaper reading class; obscurer still are the shenanigans that take place in the boardrooms that run their newsrooms. But make no mistake, the power of news agencies in shaping the discourse is immense. And so, it app­ears, is the desire of governments to control their levers.

At 11 am on Friday, February 26, when the directors of India’s largest news agency, the Press Trust of India (PTI), assembled at the offices of the 67-year-old agency in Delhi for a board meeting, it was expected to be the sort of clubby congregation that fatcat media barons have before breaking off for a leisurely lunch followed by a round of golf. Except that it turned out to be anything but. An animated discussion on the Narendra Modi government’s bid to interfere in its affairs broke out...



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