The Price You Pay, Somnath Batabyal, Harper Collins India, 2013
An ambitious rookie reporter, a veteran news editor with a secret, a trigger-happy policeman, a sensational kidnapping: The Price You Pay is the story of Delhi, told through the eyes of the journalists who frame it, the policemen who protect it, and the outsiders who claim it.
When Abhishek Dutta joins the Express as a trainee journalist, he has no idea how his life is about to change. Assigned to the crime beat by chief reporter Amir Akhtar, Abhishek encounters a motley cast of characters: DCP Uday Kumar, the ‘Dirty Harry’ of Delhi Police; ACP Crime Branch Mayank Sharma, who becomes a close friend; Samir Saxena, channel head of News Today, who mentors Abhishek’s move from print to electronic journalism; and dreaded gangster Babloo Shankar, who runs the Delhi mafia from exile. As he rides his beginner’s luck to unearth one sensational scoop after the other, Abhishek will soon discover that in the dog-eat-dog world of crime and politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies; it is every man for himself.
With a plot that twists and turns like the inner lanes of the city, Somnath Batabyal’s debut novel takes you into the dark underbelly of India, where common lives are mere pawns in deadly power games and where corruption lies at the very core.
Making News in India: Star News and Star Ananda, Routledge, 2012, New Delhi, London
Post-liberalisation India has witnessed a dramatic growth of the television industry as well as on-screen images of the glitz and glamour of a vibrant, shining India. Through a detailed ethnographic study of Star News and Star Ananda involving interviews, observations and content analysis, this book explores the milieu of 24-hour private news channels in India today. It offers insightful glimpses into the workings of one of the mightiest news corporations in the world and its ability to manufacture everyday reality for its audiences.
Based on fieldwork in Mumbai and Kolkata, this study not only provides a detailed description of the television newsroom, its rituals and rhythms, but ventures beyond it to investigate how editorial and corporate strategies converge increasingly in an industry driven by profit. Through analysing how TRPs work to produce a non-inclusive idea of the audience and examining hundreds of hours of news content, the book explores how news channels construct a vision of nationhood and of a successful and vibrant economy that caters primarily to the needs of the resurgent Indian middle class.
While it will be of particular interest to media and cultural studies scholars and students, and to journalists and media professionals in general, this lively, engaging book also aims to give the general reader the wherewithal to analyse and critique the continuous barrage of 24-hour news television today.
Indian Mass Media and the Politics of Change, Batabyal, Chowdhury, Gaur and Pohjonen (eds), Routledge, 2011, New Delhi, Abingdon
India has been the focus of international attention in the past few years. Rhetoric concerning its rapid economic growth and the burgeoning middle classes suggests that something new and significant is taking place. Something has changed, we are told: India is shining, the elephant is rising, and the 21st century will be Indian. What unites these powerful re-imaginings of the Indian nation is the notion of change and its many ramifications. Election campaigns, media commentators, scholars, activists and drawing room debates all cut their teeth around this complex notion. Who is it that benefits from this change? Do such re-imaginings of nationhood really reflect the complex social reality of large parts of the Indian population?
The book starts with the premise that it is within the mass media where we can best understand how this change is imagined. From a kaleidoscope of perspectives the book interrogates this articulation and the myriad forms it takes – across India’s newsrooms, television sets, cinema halls, mobile phones and computer screens.
Environment, Politics and Activism: The Role of the Media, Batabyal (ed), Routledge, 2014, India
This book examines the role of the media in environmental politics and activism in the 21st century. It highlights how politics is mediated in myriad ways through newspapers and news channels, through mobile telephony and through social networking sites. Further, it shows how the media creates and influences relevant discourses, builds campaigns and awareness, and adopts and discards issues.
With a range of perspectives on issues of environmental justice and equity, the volume scrutinizes how the media discourse on environment shapes our politics, and the role of international politics, finance, youth, newspapers, magazines and 24-hour television.
Bringing together academics, activists and media persons, this highly topical book will serve as significant reading for researchers and scholars of development studies and media studies, as well as policymakers, NGOs and environmental campaigners.
Articles in Edited Collections
‘New Delhi’s Times: Creating a Myth for a City’, in Chaturvedi (ed) Finding Delhi, Loss and Renewal in the Megacity, Penguin India, 2011, New Delhi
‘Editorial! Where art thou?: News practices in Indian Television’ in Indian Mass Media and the Politics of Change, Batabyal et al (ed’s), Routledge, 2011, New Delhi, Abingdon
‘Journalism, news content and objectivity: A re-appraisal’, pp. 200- 203, in Creative Writing, A Beginner’s Manual, Pearsons, New Delhi, 2008
‘For God’s Sake, Be Objective’, pp. 472- 480, Sarai Reader, 2005, Bare Acts, New Delhi
‘Constructing an audience: News television practices in India’ in ContemporarySouth Asia, 18: 4, pp. 387 – 399, 2011
‘Dilemmas of ethnographic research: The practitioner/academic quandary’,e-journal of The MeCCSA Postgraduate Network, ‘Networking Knowledge’. (ISSN no 1755-9944), 2007
(Forthcoming) ‘News Television in India: Constructing an affluent nation’ in Continuum, scheduled for 2012
Don’t Cut My Head Off, focuses on climate change and global negotiations and is co-produced with the Cluster of Excellence, University of Heidelberg. It has been screened at SOAS London, at IAMCR Conference, 2011 in Istanbul and in at the John Cabot University, Rome
Ecology of Participation: A walk through the Media Environment, Routledge, expected 2014