Instead of the traditional models of family-owned, corporate-funded and controlled or advertising-driven newspapers, websites and TV channels, can we reimagine the media as a joint venture in the public sphere between journalists, readers and a concerned citizenry? One in which decisions over what to cover and how, who to hire and where to send a correspondent or photographer, are taken by editors on the basis of professional judgment, without worrying about what a proprietor or politician, official or advertiser might think or want.
In a democracy, this is the least that readers or viewers expect. And yet, the business model that underpins most Indian news media seldom allows editors the freedom they need. Worse, it has slowly eroded professional standards of reporting and contaminated the media ecosystem with toxic practices like rampant editorializing, paid news and ‘private treaties’. Increasingly, media houses are reluctant to spend money on newsgathering; and as they develop secondary business interests and ‘no go areas’ proliferate, their newsrooms suffer further collateral damage – especially as these interests often depend on proximity to politicians and bureaucrats. Is it any wonder that readers have begun to notice the erosion of professional standards, ethical breaches and fall in quality? They now feel shortchanged.
The founding premise of The Wire is this: if good journalism is to survive and thrive, it can only do so by being both editorially and financially independent. This means relying principally on contributions from readers and concerned citizens who have no interest other than to sustain a space for quality journalism.
As a publication, The Wire will be firmly committed to the public interest and democratic values. Apart from providing authoritative analysis and commentary, the aim, as our resources grow, is to build ourselves as a platform driven by good old-fashioned reporting on issues of national and international importance and interest. Being on the web also means using new media technologies to change the way stories are told. With data and interactive charts, video and audio as integral parts of the narrative structure when warranted.
We start today on a modest note, constrained not by our vision but by our resources. In the meantime, we make a simple appeal: read us, share and tweet our content, and send us your feedback.
Founding Editors of The Wire
Siddharth Varadarajan is a Founding Editor of The Wire. He was earlier the Editor of The Hindu and is a recipient of the Ramnath Goenka Award for Journalist of the Year. He has taught Economics at New York University and Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, besides working at the Times of India and the Centre for Public Affairs and Critical Theory, Shiv Nadar University. On Twitter, he’s @svaradarajan.
Sidharth Bhatia is a Founding Editor of The Wire. He is a journalist and writer based in Mumbai. He was among the editors who launched DNA in 2005 and managed its editorial and opinion section. He writes on politics, society and culture. An Associate Press Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge University, Bhatia’s last book was India Psychedelic, the story of a Rocking Generation. He’s on Twitter @bombaywallah.
M.K. Venu is a Founding Editor of The Wire. As an active economic and political writer, he has held leadership roles in newspapers such as The Economic Times, The Financial Express and The Hindu. He has written extensively on economic policy matters for over a quarter century after India opened up its economy in 1991. He also wrote regular political economy columns on the edit pages of The Economic Times, Financial Express and Indian Express over the past two decades. He hosts a regular political-economy discussion called ‘State of the Economy’ on the national public broadcast channel RSTV. He has also been invited by Parliamentary Committees to give his views on public policy matters. He is on Twitter @mkvenu1.
Vasudevan Mukunth is the Science & Tech. Editor at The Wire. He has written for The Hindu, Scroll and Quartz, and has also been running a physics blog since 2009. He holds degrees in mechanical engineering and journalism. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @1amnerd.
Raghu Karnad is a Contributing Editor at The Wire. He has been a magazine editor, a reporter, and is the author of Farthest Field, an account of India’s Second World War. He is @rkarnad on Twitter.
Omair Ahmad is the Books Editor at The Wire. His last novel, Jimmy the Terrorist, was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, and won the Crossword Award. His last book was a political history of Bhutan and the eastern Himalayan region. He is concurrently the Managing Editor, South Asia, at The Third Pole. You can find him on twitter at @omairtahmad.
Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar is a Deputy Editor at The Wire. He was earlier Deputy Editor at The Hindu, where he served as city editor in Delhi and Chief of Bureau, Haryana and Punjab, at Chandigarh. He has also covered Congress, BJP and defence in the National Bureau. He began his career at the desk in The Statesman in 1994. On Twitter, he is @gaurav5173.
Hina Fathima is a video editor at The Wire and is interested in multimedia reporting. She graduated with a BA in political science from Haverford College. She’s on Twitter as @hina_fathima and her Instagram handle is @anih.fathima.
Preeti John is Assistant Editor at The Wire. She has worked extensively in print media as an editor and correspondent with national and international organisations, including the Economist Intelligence Unit. She holds a master’s in international relations from the University of Bristol, as well as a master’s and bachelor’s in journalism. She tweets at @PreetiLourdes.
Nehmat Kaur is a Copy Editor and Reporter at The Wire. She has a BA in political science from Swarthmore College. She has had pieces published in The Atlantic and Economic Times. Her Twitter handle is @nehmatks.
Amanat Khullar is a Copy Editor at The Wire. She holds a BA in Economics from Ramjas College, Delhi and an MS in Journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, New York. When not editing stories, she likes to read, find new places to eat and hike. She tweets @AmanatKhullar.
Akhil Kumar is Web Producer-cum-Correspondent at The Wire; he also manages the labour section for the website. He has previously worked as an editor with a few digital media startups, and also freelanced as a writer, editor and photojournalist focusing on politics, human rights and education for publications like Scroll.in, Kindle magazine and India Resists. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @Akhil1490.
Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta is Deputy Editor at The Wire, where he writes on the realpolitik and its influences. At his previous workplace, Frontline, he reported on politics, conflicts, farmers’ issues, history and art. He tweets at @AjoyAshirwad and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Devirupa Mitra is Deputy Editor and Diplomatic Correspondent at The Wire. A journalist with over 15 years of experience, she has covered nearly all beats, from transport to the civic beat at city desks. For the past seven-odd years, she has been focused in tracking developments in Indian foreign policy, with special interest in India’s neighbourhood – from the big picture trends to the minutiae of policy-making within the Ministry of External Affairs. Her twitter handle is @devirupam.
Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty is a Deputy Editor at The Wire, where she writes on culture, politics and the North-East. She earlier worked at The Hindu. She tweets at @sangbarooahpish.
Jahnavi Sen has a BA in Philosophy from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, and an MA in Development Studies from the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Geneva. She is a Reporter at The Wire and can be found on Twitter at @jahnavi_sen.
Titash Sen is a Copy Editor and Reporter at The Wire. She has a master’s in history from Jawaharlal Nehru University and tweets from @ts_cattiot.
Anuj Srivas is a Political Economy and Technology Correspondent for The Wire, where he writes and analyses issues at the intersection of technology and business. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @AnujSrivas.
Radhakrishna Muralidhar is The Wire‘s office manager. He was previously at the Times of India, New Delhi, for more than 30 years, working at different times with the accounts, advertisement, editorial and results & market development departments.