In Outlook, style always trumps substance. Proof lies in the way you pamper Arundhati Roy by giving her a ready forum for elegant rubbish. And like Time magazine, which uses fact selectively to extol or damn someone, you cherry-pick facts to malign Modi and the BJP. Outlook proves that readability and credibility don’t coexist in Indian magazine journalism; one reads your magazine for entertainment, illumination. (Outlook founder Vinod Mehta—like another editor who people admired, Khushwant Singh—was rarely profound, but usually amusing and provocative, and always readable!)
You are at your best when you are non-political. Examples: your special issues on women, cinema, smart Indians or the Indian brand.
Which is the best issue of Outlook ever? No contest—it is the issue of June 20, 2006, when you analysed the 20 best Hindi film songs. You put together a panel of 30 composers, singers, lyricists, and writers etc to pick these 20 songs. This was a unique effort and probably the first of the kind in Indian magazine journalism, and I truly treasure this issue.
I hate Outlook when, like the rest of the Indian media, you devote tonnes of pages to the least likeable and the most despicable section of the Indian society—the politicians. Let your reportage and coverage be 90 per cent non-political—you’ll be amazed at the resoundingly positive feedback you will receive from your readers, and the leap in circulation!
S.R. Madhu, Chennai
Outlook first caught my interest with the investigation issue on death penalty in India. Since then, I have realised that Outlook caters to every age group and is beautifully holistic. Its tone is bold, liberal, urbane, introspective and incisive. What makes it unique is the way it takes the common issues that enrage us and looks at them through a different lens. The usp of the magazine, though, is the way you season your writing with humour.
The Deep Throat section, except for the minor glitch a while back, is amazing and has a sarcastic tone which is very appealing.
There are a few negatives I can find, and only because I like the magazine do I choose to give constructive criticism. It is a little opinionated and, at times, borderline biased. It needs to adopt a more centrist attitude while being polemical.
The cover story titled The Man who Killed TV was one of my favourite issues, although I was highly disappointed to see that in the very next one you were endorsing the same man and news channel you condemned a week before. I sensed hypocrisy and was deeply put off by this incident. One of the fieriest issues was sadly doused in the next edition.
Outlook should also try to introduce an international news column to up the ante. I admire the fact that Outlook doesn’t deter from publishing the brickbats along with the bouquets you receive in your reviews. “A sign of a brilliant journalism is one that doesn’t ignore its critiques.” The essay columns are sheer ingenuity! They are perfectly on the mark, well-researched, comprehensive, coherently worded and wrapped in a literary style that is almost lyrical. My last suggestion is perhaps to add a more legal and judicial perspective to every issue. This is one area that needs to be highlighted more. Nevertheless, Outlook is awaited eagerly every weekend.
Koshika Krishna, Mumbai
Sweet And Bitter
For the past 15 years I have been a regular reader and continuous subscriber of Outlook.
As the saying goes, “The face is the index of the mind”, so is the name Outlook. The cover pages of the magazine are always a great showcase of important subject matters and a peek into what lies inside. Over the years a lot of changes have taken place; new introductions like Par Avion, Seven days, Seven Stories We are Not Covering This Week, Biztro etc are all worthy readings, and Outlook’s articles, replete with facts and figures, are appreciated. But one big complaint I have with Outlook is its bias towards one party. Outlook must not lean towards the left, or the right for that matter, but should aim at following the middle path...or the golden mean!
K. Lakshminarsimha, Bangalore
Krishna Prasad, take a bow and tip over. Vinod Mehta must be doing the hoola hoops and turning turtle. I have been a self-appointed custodian standing up to many charades inflicted on unsuspecting readers, but given the irreverent flourish of VM, there was that magical story down the line to assuage readers. Krishna Prasad, the cover stories and the issues lack both the gravitas and joie-de-vivre of the past and, to be polite, are quite pedestrian. Sadly, I no longer miss the self-imposed ignorance of Outlook just looking at the cover page. You get the drift, don’t you?
Kiran Bagade, Bangalore
Outlook invites readers to take part in its 20th anniversary celebrations. Send us your bouquets and, more importantly, your brickbats. E-mail your entry to editor [AT] outlookindia [DOT] com