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Why Mint Founding Editor Raju Narisetti Left India Earlier Than Planned

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The answer (from this NYT story): due to a “troubling nexus” of business, politics and publishing that proved to be “draining on body and soul”.

Raju Narisetti came to India in 2006 to set up a business newspaper for HT Media, leaving The Wall Street Journal, where he worked for 13 years and rose to become deputy managing editor. Mint was launched in February 2007 and won acclaim for the quality of its journalism. The latest round of the Indian Readership Survey said Mint was the country’s second-largest business paper after The Economic Times. (Disclosure: I worked at Mint for two years.)

Suddenly in December 2008, HT Media announced Narisetti was stepping down as editor of Mint. Narisetti did not send a newsroom-wide email prior or since explaining his decision to leave. Subsequently, he joined The Washington Post as managing editor.

In a June 2009 interview with Forbes India, Narisetti said this about his departure: “The succession planning process was always carefully thought through from the time Mint’s Editorial Leadership Team was put together. In the fall of 2008, it became very clear to me that key members of the team were ready and raring to take on larger roles … Rather than hold off smart successors because I had nothing else to do, I decided to look for jobs outside Mint. That I didn’t have anything specific lined up when I stepped down didn’t bother me as I could have actually used the break after nearly three all-consuming years in India.”

The New York Times, in a story on Indians trained in the West who find it difficult to come back and work in India, features Narisetti’s case.

19 Responses to “Why Mint Founding Editor Raju Narisetti Left India Earlier Than Planned”

  1. neelam v

    Fortunately this Mint employee is hardly representative of how most people who worked at Mint for Raju think. His only "evangelism" was to push for smart stories and tight writing. Yes he obsessed about it but when stories ran in Mint, you were proud of your byline. What puzzles me is this notion that he is saying something new. His blog is replete with the need for honest journalism and he also was publicly critical of Mint when it fell down. And admitted his own errors as the only paper that ran a summary of its mistakes and listed how many editing errors were contributed by him. I mean which paper has an honest corrections policy even three years after Mint started the tradition?
    Ultimately the issue isn't about Raju or US or India. It is whether what Mint did and does is good for readers. And doubt anyone of this comment list–whether they have an axe to grind or not about Raju–can say Mint's standards aren't good for its readers and for journalism in India.

  2. gopal ratnam

    Mint Employee–dude get over your inferiority complex. Move on with life. You can't blame Raju for timing if NYT called him when they called him? Would you have felt better if he said what he said soon after he left? Don't let your emotional angst about Mother India get the better of your emotions. Last I checked he is an athiest too so not sure about your god given illusions…Ethics and honesty and good writing and analysis is evangelism? If so, lets all be for evangelism in India. If people didn't share Mint's different ethos they wouldn't have made it what it is today–a terrific "INDIAN" newspaper.

  3. Mint employee

    Ex-Mint Employee, I am disappointed in you.
    I am disappointed in the fact that you think its perfectly okay for someone to say (in the New York Times, no less) that working in India is a drain on body and soul and that there 's a complete absence of ethics. What does it say about journalists such as yourself , the country that you are employed in and the work that you 're doing? I think its time you stopped the hero-worship and see people for what they are.
    I am not disputing the fact that he was a great editor or that he worked 9 to 11. I just have issues with the fact that he well and truly thought that he was sent to India on a god-given mission to reform Indian journalism and that people such as yourself were not good enough. Nothing and no one was good enough. His kind of evangelism is what I have a problem with. Evangelism, when it suited him.
    Sure, we have issues in journalism. Are those issues not there in other countries? Then why single us out? Most importantly, why now?

  4. ex mint employee

    I left Mint when Raju was still there. But I am disappointed at the comments of the Mint employee because Mint is what it is today thanks to a lot of effort by Raju and the current Mint leadership team including Sukumar, Anil, Priya etc. Even when he was there Raju never claimed to anything more than what he was–a decent editor who really encouraged his people to do honest and good work. He pushed hard but it was never about his ego. It is interesting all the people who attach motives to his quotes…he never said US is better. He said how he felt about his time here and having seen him work often from 9 to 11 pm, I suspect it was tough. And he protected Mint from all the craziness down below at HT. He doesn't say anything about returning to India and I have never heard him say one bad word about Mint or his successors. If anything, everything I have read since he left suggests he has taken great care to stay out of Sukumar and the current leadership team's hair.
    I, for one, am a better journalist because of my stint at Mint. I remember Raju's first (and last) "town hall" type staff meeting just before Mint launched where he said the true measure of Mint's success for his how well its people do–at Mint or elsewhere. And for me, Mint and Raju, lived up to that promise. We should celebrate path breakers and the success of Mint not get into a defensive mode about Indian journalism or say we can suck because, after all, Western media has issues too.

  5. Shiv Kumar

    Raju believed in values and ethics. It was very important for quality journalism. He delivered it. And the hangover continues!!! Wait and see the fate of Mint.

  6. Mint Employee

    My only response to that is that if raju were a true evangelist as he claims to be…he should have talked about these things when he exited the company or during his reign. Not when he's safe, tucked away at the Washington Post. Hinting at things is just not good enough, especially when he's always postured as a person who takes the bull by the horns.
    In light of his recent Twitter experience, can he say that the nexus between politics, publishing and whatever else, does not exist in the US? After all they don't seem to give him a free hand either. I don't see him taking on the Washington Post – do you?
    If he doesn't want to return to India because its a drain on his brain, body and soul, then so be it. The lord knows that we've had enough ex-pats coming in, who claim to know Indian journalism scene better than the journalists who have stuck it out in this country.

  7. vikram ramesh

    Mint employee–I once emailed Mr Narisetti about it for a journalism project I was working on. His response was telling. He said he didn't believe in former editors "casting a long shadow" and no one, including him, was larger than Mint, the organization, and that it was never a one-person show so it doesn't matter as long as the team that is there believes in Mint's "founding values." I thought that was admirable given how dithering old editors always hang around our journalism circles.

    To me the worrisome issue isn't if one country is the same or not…it is just the fact that there are such ethical issues that aren't being dealt with directly.

  8. Mint employee

    Mint's a great place to work in.
    And I am perfectly happy here.
    Why did Raju take more than an year to talk about this nexus between politics, business and publishing? And my question to him is -Is the US any different?

  9. anita–lets look.
    sukumar, niranjan, priya, anil, tamal, manas, venkatesha, harjeet from the narisetti regime, terrific additions in monika halan and nabeel….not sure what your point is. at least three left when narisetti was still running the show and a couple after.
    the leadership team is mostly who narisetti handpicked and put in place. their style is definitely different and it has an impact but isn't that the point of a change in leadership?

  10. Sachin–shouldn't the focus be on what he said about the nexus of media, politics and business than why he left per se or his comments about ethics?
    There are several tweets and a blog post elsewhere about Indian media that noted how most Indian newspapers ran that same NYT article but totally edited out Mr Narisetti's comments. Doesn't that prove his point? Not sure what or who will "investigate" since most editors, journalists, bloggers know all too well how media operates. Mint was and perhaps is a huge exception and that we owe Mr Narisetti a big thanks since he proved, it seems like, that with strong Indian homegrown talent a paper like Mint could indeed stay independent and do honest journalism. And if you needed evidence see the comment from Elizabeth Eapen. If I am not mistaken, she was until recently part of Mint's editorial leadership team and now at a rival paper. For an ex employee to publicly acknowledge Mr Narisetti's legacy is just yet another indicator of how unusual Mint and his leadership were.

  11. elizabeth eapen

    have fodder, will gossip. but vikram ramesh's comment above, that … "Mint continues to be a refreshing change from other business papers, a more interesting Narisetti legacy to focus on than the conspiracy theories that seem to abound in Delhi media circles." needs a resounding AMEN.

  12. Sachin Korgaonkar

    It is very difficult to adjust myself to agree with Mr. Narisetti's comments after following his blog on mint for one year. We must investigate and discuss these issues openly to avoid such cases, since it is affecting our growth internally.

  13. vikram ramesh

    seems to be consistent?…even in the Forbes interview he talks of "all-consuming" years and in the full NYT story talks about India taking a toll on "body and soul" I was a fan of Mr Narisetti's Romantic Realist blog where he often talked about these troubling issues. It is too bad there is no longer an editor in India willing to publicly raise these issues after Mr Narisetti left. Still, I find Mint continues to be a refreshing change from other business papers, a more interesting Narisetti legacy to focus on than the conspiracy theories that seem to abound in Delhi media circles.