A few months ago I was pleasantly surprised to see a large no. of new Indian political magazines on news stands. I thought I’ll see if there’s any I like. I stay away from The Week, India Today and Outlook because they are very metro centric, just chatter about intrigue in political parties or sensationalise a non-issue. Currently there are 3 magazines which I think are worth checking out frequently.
1) Tehelka (link) – This magazine got a reputation for investigative journalism early on, and was nearly destroyed by the BJP’s revenge mission. But it has bounced back and is a slick package of news and opinion. They also do real reportage, namely going into remote towns and villages to do detailed coverage. They also take on corporates. Some examples:
– This piece on a proposed nuclear park in Maharashtra is slightly rantish but still valid.
– Their coverage of the Naxal issue is great.
– A thermometer factory at Kodaikanal is the source of pollution
– Their coverage of Kashmir has been great too. A surgeon’s account of a typical riot day. Or more recently, their cover story Listen to the Stones.
– Their shorter pieces are equally good. I think they follow the Economist style guide or something. You’ll also find familiar names like Krish Ashok doing the lighter pieces.
2) Caravan (link) – Another genre of news reporting I like is narrative journalism. The one that runs into many pages, reads like a novella and remains in your mind for months. I’ve seen innumerable such pieces in the NYT and Guardian (like this, this, this, this or this). Indian newspapers don’t try this form. Caravan is a magazine that has explicitly taken up this task. Their piece about Bihar called The Great Leap Forward is a great example. The recent cover is about India in Afghanistan, again beautiful.
3) Open Magazine (link) – I have only tried this a bit but it’s very readable. This is more of a culture and urban lifestyle mag with stories like The fading away of parents or The MBA writer. They do some political reportage also.
By the way, I saw an ad in today’s Hindu saying Outlook has come out with a special edition for their 15th anniversary, and it’s all about the state of media in India. I bought the issue and read the whole thing end-to-end. It’s unputdownable!