Vinod Mehta: When I became an editor, I started to learn (Video Report)

10 Nov,2011





In our tribute package to Vinod Mehta, we thought we should replay a video report of the launch of ‘Lucknow Boy’ where the late editor answered questions posed by Arnab Goswami. Read on… 





By Shruti Pushkarna


I used to be terrified at my ignorance, I knew absolutely nothing… when I became an editor, I started to learn.”

It was as candid as it could get. Addressing an elite gathering of politicians, journalists, close friends and family, Vinod Mehta, Editor-in-Chief, Outlook, was at his ‘truthful’ best, as he shared his life experiences and views. It was at the release of his memoirs, ‘Lucknow Boy’ in New Delhi yesterday that Mr Mehta confessed, “We journalists have the best seats in the tournament, but some of us, editors particularly, think that we are players. “

The book launch ceremony began with Mr Suhel Seth, Managing Partner of Counselage India, reading a few excerpts to an eager audience.


Editor-in-Chief of Times Now, Mr Arnab Goswami was then invited to moderate a short discussion with the author. Mr Goswami admitted that to him, Mr Mehta was like, ‘the god of journalism, whom I admire the most.” Adding further, he related an incident from the previous night when he posed two choices to Mr Mehta, asking him which work out of the two was he more proud of, Debonair centrespread or the last page of Outlook. The reply, said Mr Goswami was in line with his habit of being upfront when very easily he chose the last page of Outlook, his own work.


What followed was a candid one-on-one between the ‘king of television news’ as Suhel Seth billed Mr Goswami him, and one of the most ‘Independent’ editors of our times. Ranging from the reasons behind writing this book, to the greatest risks undertaken, to why a journalist and a politician can never be friends, Mr Mehta answered all questions posed by Mr Goswami. When asked if he were 35, would he do television, Mr Mehta, without mincing words, said, ‘Television does not interest me”.



On why he wrote his memoirs
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On why he doesn’t want to do Television
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On the need for editors to be able to ‘smell’ the news
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On why politicians and journalists can never be friends
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On how does it feel to look back
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On the best thing that has happened in journalism in the last 40 years
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And a reasonably fair attendance from the political world did not deter him from admitting that the one thing that he has hated all his life is to ask a politician a favour. Mr Mehta is of the strong opinion that politicians and journalists can never be friends. He said, “We follow two different vocations. Politicians are in the business of embellishment, spin, emphasis when emphasis is not necessary and sometimes they are in the business of telling lies. We as journalists on the other hand, with all our imperfections, are in the business of trying to get at the truth.”


On a lighter note, Mr Mehta also shared some bits of his journey as an editor, as a student and above all, as a person.


To recount some faces present at the gathering, first up politicians: MoS for Commerce & Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath, Union Petroleum Minister Jaipal Reddy, BJP MP Tarun Vijay, Chief Election Commissioner SY Qureshi, CPI National Secretary D Raja, Lok Sabha MP Jay Panda, MP and Chairman of IPL Governing Council, Rajiv Shukla and Former Minister of External Affairs, Natwar Singh. The media was represented by senior editors Tarun Tejpal, Saeed Naqvi and Paranjoy Guha Thakurta. Also, author Gurcharan Das and Indrajit Hazra of Hindustan Times, and of course the Outlook team.



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