Riveting tales of trailblazers
Reviewed by Abhishek Joshi

Making News, Breaking News, Her Own Way
Ed. Latika Padgaonkar & Shubha Singh. Tranquebar. Pages 321. Rs 250

Making News, Breaking News, Her Own Way is a compilation of insightful thoughts and experiences of some of the most outstanding women journalists of our times. Their work won them the Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Women Mediapersons, dedicated to Chameli Devi Jain, a simple housewife who joined the freedom struggle in Delhi. The stories range from the days of Prabha Dutt and Usha Rai to those like Tavleen Singh, Barkha Dutt and Madhu Kishwar. The book also pays tribute to pioneering photojournalist Homai Vyarawalla, whose camera has frozen many moments of historic change.

The book figures those who broke ground in reporting on rural and social development, tribal uplift, consumer affairs, war, scams, the stock market, communal conflict, foreign affairs, sex workers, environment, less covered regions, photography, culture, slum women and children.

Women journalists have come a long way from the time the profession was a stronghold of men, when they were relegated to covering flower shows and beauty pageants, to the present day, when no area is forbidden territory. Writing on the condition of Pahadias, a tribal group in Jharkhand, Vasavi Kiro says: "Due to poverty, many in this tribal group die of prolonged hunger. Yet, eventual death from prolonged hunger and malnutrition is not a 'hunger death' in the government's lexicon!"

Teesta Setalvad and Chitra Subramaniam's stories are telling reflections on the tragic disconnect between the common man's reality and political compulsions. Sunita Narain writes: "We have a country which prides itself on its scientific capacities, yet its governments are knowledge-proof." The apathy to witch-hunting in the North-East is perhaps more alarming than the evil practice itself as a write-up proves. The book is replete with behind-the-scenes anecdotes that offer a wealth of perspective for media enthusiasts, students and teachers.