17 May, 2021

The Art Of Speaking

Media and democracy—the themes recurred at the Vinod Mehta Memorial Lecture and Outlook SpeakOut Awards

The Word
Former President Pranab Mukherjee at Outlook SpeakOut Awards nite; seated, from left, Rajan Raheja, Arun Jaitley, Naveen Patnaik and Rajesh Ramachandran
Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari
The Art Of Speaking

When they call journalism the first draft of history, it seems to denote a breathless pursuit of events in the here and now, without a moment of pause for reflection on the procedures of truth-finding, or on the ethics of judgement-making that precedes the writing. That first draft is in reality a document produced after a process of vetting and self-critical analysis. The method is not without flaws—which method is?—but it doubtless exists and its inner rigour is what keeps alive a shared public space that is of vital importance, fraught and fragile though it may seem at times.

For our team at Outlook, there couldn’t have been a better way to commemorate the magazine’s iconic founding editor-in-chief Vinod Mehta than by instituting an annual lecture in his name, two years after his passing. We conceived of it as a space where, in a sense, journalism publicly thinks about itself. The first Vinod Mehta Memor­ial Lecture was delivered by Steve Coll, acclaimed American journalist-­writer and Dean of Journalism...

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