Copyright (C) 2003 by the individual authors
Behind The News: Voices From Goa's Press
Copyleft, 2003. May be copied provided entire text is
kept intact, and credit is given to all who have
contributed to this work. While every attempt has been
made to maintain accuracy, we would appreciate
inaccuracies being pointed out. Feedback may be sent to
This book was collaboratively written between August
2003 and October 2003, through Goajourno, a cyber
network of journalists and former journalists who have
worked in Goa.
Copyleft 2003. Writers of the respective individual
chapters retain their right to be identified as the
authors of their work.
This is work-in-progress. and currently is in draft
stage. Version 0.10 (draft release).
First e-version: October 10, 2003 (draft)
This e-book was created using Lyx, a free software
product that was created by volunteers and which is
freely sharable. We say a thank you to those whose work
on this and other Free Software makes our work feasible
and more practicable today.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Sixties' stories: Free Goa's first elections
Chapter 2 Goan journalism: Views from near and far
Chapter 3 West Coast Times : A dream ruined
Chapter 4 Novem Goem: The Roof Caves In
Chapter 5 The Herald of A New Ethos
Chapter 6 oHERALDo: an untold chapter
Chapter 7 The banyan tree: working under Rajan
Chapter 8 Rural Goa, unheard, unsung...
Chapter 9 A year apart... journalism and leaving home
Chapter 10 Growing up with the Herald...
Chapter 11 In black & white... newsdesk nuggets
Chapter 12 The proof of it all...
Chapter 13 Birth pangs at Sant Inez
Chapter 14 An era of free sheeters
Chapter 15 Journalism in Goa: An outsider looks in
Chapter 16 An accidental Bhailo
Chapter 17 Why Konkani failed its readers...
Chapter 18 Romi Konkani, hanging on a cliff
Chapter 19 Comrades in crime: Police reporting
Chapter 20 Of sports... and sports journalism
Chapter 21 From journalist... to publisher
If you believe in miracles, here is a small one. An
e-book, written collaboratively by over a
dozen-and-half journalists, many with amazing stories
to tell. Their willingness to do so, says something.
For one, it indicates a generosity to convert memories
into history, which would otherwise have been consigned
to the dustbin of amnesia. This is particularly true,
as the media seldom writes critically about themselves
in Goa. More importantly, it also suggests that there
are many in Goa who have a story, and are willing to
narrate it. If only they're given a chance. As
mediapersons, we need to ask ourselves why these
stories are not allowed (or encouraged) to surface in
the first place. It's impossible to believe that there
is such a drought of ideas and issues in Goa, and the
general lack of debate in the media would make it seem.
October 10, 2003 marks the 20th anniversary of the
Herald's English-language edition. Many of us
journalists who contributed here are no longer, or
perhaps never were, associated with that daily
newspaper. But, the launch of this product undeniably
opened up avenues for a generation of journalists in
the state. In addition, it rewrote the rules of
journalism for all of us here, for better or worse.
Hence the choice of this date for the first release of
What is being said along these e-pages refers to
critical times in the history of post-1961 Goa.
Needless to say, views voiced here stem from personal
experiences, oftentimes are subjective, and likely to
generate even more debate. But personal viewpoints are
also important, in that these help to complete our
understanding of particular events, episodes, and
individuals. It is no coincidence perhaps that this
series of essays is critical of some held up as icons
of Goa's journalism over the past four decades. You
might feel the criticism is unfair; but other versions
do need to be heard.
This is, of course, not the last word on the subject.
Nor does it claim to be a comprehensive account - what
got included depended on who was willing to write their
'story' when the call for chapters went out.
This unusual work is humbly devoted to those who are
not, or cannot, be with us, as we go down the corridors
of time and look at the past decades. Journalists whom
Goa has produced, but perhaps were never adequately
recognised over the years. Like the innovative Ivan
Fera, who died young along with the promise of immense
talent and many bylines in journals like The
Illustrated Weekly. Or, Norman Dantas, who's early
death was at least in part triggered off by despair
brought on by the unfair deal he got from journalism in
Goa. We need to also remember the many who are not here
with us, pushed out - both by limited opportunities,
as also politics in the press - to migrate far and
wide and earn a living on distant shores. To all of
them, and the unsung heroes of journalism of the
post-Liberation era, this e-book is devoted.
Sixties' stories: Free Goa's first elections
By Ben AntaoBesides his stint referred to in this chapter, Benedito
Martinho Herculano Antao (b, 1935) worked for the
Indian Express in Bombay (1965-66). He then won a
journalism award from the World Press Institute, moved
to the US for a year's study, work and travel. Later,
he spent 10 weeks at the Denver Post (1967), worked for
a Catholic weekly in Toronto, and was a copy editor in
the mid-seventies at a major Toronto daily. He also
taught high school English, drama and religion for 22
years, before retiring in 1998, and qualified as a
certified financial planner in 1988. Currently, he is
involved in fiction writing, for which purpose he sees
journalism as a "great training ground".
There is a truism in journalism that goes like this:
facts are sacred; comment is free.
When I first read it in one of the books on journalism
that I borrowed from the USIS library in Bombay in the
late 'fifties, I was filled with such fervor as to
consider the vocation in journalism that I was
contemplating on, at the time, akin to the priesthood.
The concept of 'freedom of the press' particularly
attracted and engaged my young mind, burning with
idealism to bring about genuine equality in Indian
society and to see us as a truly "honorable people" as
the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had said we were.
In other words, journalism would offer me a platform to
make a difference.
After a season of doing freelance sports reporting for
The Indian Express in the city now called Mumbai, I
felt much like a lover. One who is not content with
merely kissing but wants to explore the whole body. And
as a follower of another truism, namely, he who seeks
finds the way, lucky circumstance fell into my lap and
I found myself doing freelance work for the Goan Tribune,
a fortnightly published in Bombay to espouse the
cause of Goa's political freedom from the Portuguese rule.
Here I got the opportunity not only to write about
sports, but also to do general news reporting and
profiles of prominent Goans. In little over a year,
though, my budding love affair discovered a flaw in my
inamorata - the lady fancied the use of hyperbole and
propaganda as legitimate means to promote herself. My
idealism received a jolt of reality when Lambert Mascarenhas,
editor of the periodical then, engaged in
propagandist campaigning, suggesting that such slanted
writing was necessary to achieve the end. However, my
burning desire to express myself in writing overruled
After the Liberation of Goa in 1961, Lambert went to
Goa and became joint editor of a new English-language
daily, The Navhind Times, owned and published by the
Dempo Brothers, who had become wealthy in the mining
business. My fascination for the mistress of journalism
remained still intact, not to mention the hidden agenda
of my wanting to change the world.
So I went to Goa and joined the paper in June 1963.
Considering myself as a protege of Lambert, I enjoyed a
special status at the paper, doing both reporting and
sub-editing. It didn't take me long, though, to notice
that Vassantrao Dempo, the elder brother, was keenly
interested in the image of his newspaper and its
editorials. He had hired two editors, a Catholic and a
Hindu named T. V. Parvate from Maharashtra, ostensibly
to give balance to the paper's news and views. Often at
around 5:30 p.m., I would see Mr. Dempo carefully
perusing the editorial that Lambert or Parvate had
written before it came to the newsroom. The editors
wrote on alternate days. I would know, for example,
that Dempo had suggested a change in how a certain
point of view was expressed in Lambert's editorial
because Lambert often invited me to sit across his desk
while he wrote an editorial that was based on my news
report. Mr. Parvate, a fast and fluent writer, only
occasionally asked me into his partitioned office to
verify a fact or a figure.
Naturally, my curiosity propelled me to ask Lambert why
it was necessary for him or Parvate to have their
editorials okayed by the ultimate boss. After all, both
of them were professionals who knew and understood the
law of libel and defamation. Lambert, flashing his
customary smile by way of indulging me, a novice in the
game of politics, said it was a condition of his
contract. Besides, what was the big deal? An editor
could just as well express his own viewpoint as that of
the owner. It wasn't a loss of freedom. We live and let live.
I thought about it and gradually came to the conclusion
that reporters also indulged in self-censorship. Facts
may appear to be sacred, but as a reporter I choose
them to slant a 'story' in a particular way. Moreover,
space in a newspaper is always limited, forcing me to
write to a certain word count, in effect compelling me
to sacrifice many 'facts'.
The above was true not only in Goa and Bombay where I
worked as a general reporter for The Indian Express
(1965-66) but also in Toronto where I worked as a copy
editor on the foreign desk of The Globe and Mail in
1975-76. The foreign editor would throw at me reams of
teletype copy from Reuters, Associated Press,
Agence-France Presse, and The New York Times News Service
on a current story, such as race riots in
Johannesburg, or post-revolution democracy woes in Portugal
or the Patty Hurst kidnapping by the Symbionese
Liberation Army in San Francisco, and ask me for a
10-inch column story. This required that I cut out a
lot of 'facts' from the 2000 words of wire copy and
shape a news story in about 500 words.
Going back to Goa, I remember the one-sided coverage
that Navhind Times carried during the month-long
campaign for the historic, first general elections held
on December 9, 1963. And I was part of it.
Now Vaikuntrao Dempo, younger brother of Vassantrao,
was a Congress candidate in the Pernem constituency.
The Dempo Brothers had made a substantial cash
contribution to the national Congress Party, in effect
buying a ticket for Vaikuntrao in the Goa elections.
The local Goa Pradesh Congress Committee, headed by
Purushottam Kakodkar, a freedom fighter and an apostle
of Mahatma Gandhi, was deluged with names of suitable
candidates. It was hard pressed to make a judicious
choice, a key problem being the candidate's vision of
the future of Goa.
At this time, after the 30-member Goa Legislative
Consultative Council, headed by Maj.-Gen. Candeth, the
mustachioed military governor, was dissolved and a writ
for the first democratic elections was issued, two new
political parties came into being and declared their
election platforms. One was the United Goans, led by
Dr. Jack de Sequeira, which stood for a separate state
for Goa. The other was the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party,
with Dayanand Bandodkar at its helm, which stood for
Goa's merger with Maharashtra. The Congress, waffling
in between, promised that Goans would be consulted
about its future in the Indian union.
The elder Dempo let it be known that his paper would
support the Congress in the elections and, therefore,
all news coverage must be oriented towards Congress
candidates. And as the chief reporter at the paper, it
fell to my lot to deliver the news with this bias. On
the campaign trail, I traveled the length and breadth
of Goa, speaking to Congress candidates and often
manufacturing 'news' that purported to show that
people, by and large, were in favor of Congress
candidates. Lambert and I even drove to Pernem one day
to see how Vaikuntrao's campaign was coming along.
However, my one dependable contact was none other than
the 50-year-old Purushottam Kakodkar. His office in
Panjim was open to me at any hour of the day. Knowing
that our paper was solidly behind him, he was generous
with his time and forthcoming, giving me full access to
campaign reports sent to head office from the various
constituencies. During the campaign, Lal Bahadur Shastri,
the Indian Home Minister, visited Goa to lend his
support to the Congress candidates. Kakodkar arranged
for me an exclusive interview with the minister. In the
interview, Shastri affirmed that a separate status for
Goa was on the cards. A day after my story appeared on
the front page, Kakodkar told me that Shastri was
pleased with my report and had asked him to extend his
congratulations to me. I was more than touched by this
solicitude. I was feeling giddy, riding on the carousel
of a mutual admiration society.
My friend Ben Saldanha of PTI in Panjim filed a report
based on my interview; so did Joshi of The Times of India
bureau. As a representative of a news agency, Saldanha,
of course, had to be objective and he was. As a
matter of fact, he would often feed me stories about
the other two parties, based on the 'inside'
information he had received. He himself couldn't use
that information for his news agency, but I could. And
whenever I mentioned this 'fact' to my editors, I was
told to just let it pass.
Now, as the campaign was getting into high gear,
another friend L. S. Bhandare, an architect by
profession, who represented UNI (United News of India)
told me that the United Goans' campaign (workers
dashing about in open trucks with loud music and
handing out campaign literature) reminded him of
elections in London, England. He too drew my attention
to how successfully the UG party was appealing to the voters.
But having persuaded myself willfully with
auto-suggestion, and having been on a one-track
crusade, I remained convinced that Congress would win
the day. On the eve of the election, a day of pause in
electioneering, I wrote an upbeat story (about three
takes) and handed it to Mr. Salkhade, the news editor
from Maharashtra. He scanned the intro and set it in
the tray of stories for the front page. Then he looked
up and said to me, "You know, Kakodkar is going to be
the chief minister of Goa."
It was about 4 p.m. Something in the tone of his voice
gave me pause. Then a wild notion entered my head, a
spur-of-the-moment impulse, with no rhyme or reason, a
mad folly that sometimes seizes lovers at play. I
"Hello, Purushottam." Although only 28, I was now on
first-name basis with him.
"It's a day of rest for you today. Is everything okay?"
"I've just finished writing my lead story for the paper
tomorrow. Looks like Congress will win with an
overwhelming majority. You must be pleased with the
campaign. What do you think?"
"We have to wait and see," he said in a voice devoid of
any emotion, but not exhausted. In this respect,
Kakodkar came across as cool and circumspect, a man in
full control of his emotions.
Mr. Salkhade was busy editing copy at the other end of
the newsroom, beyond earshot. That wild notion came
rushing again, prompting me to make the pitch, even if
it was only hypothetical.
"Purushottam, can I ask you something?"
"Sure, of course."
"You know our paper has been very good to you and the
Congress. And I, more than anybody else, have been
responsible for all the publicity you've received. Soon
you'll become the chief minister of Goa. Now I want to
ask you: what will you do for me?"
A pause and, "What do you mean?"
"What I mean is, if you become the chief minister, can
I be your press secretary?"
"I can't answer that."
"I can't do it."
"Listen, I know you're not the chief minister yet. But
in the event that you do become the chief minister,
could you not at least tell me what your disposition
"You know, I can't believe you're saying this. I am not
asking you for a job. I already have a job. All I am
asking is, if you become the chief minister, what will
you do for me? That's all."
"I can't do anything," he said.
"That's the answer I get after all that I have done for
you? I am disappointed. Goodbye and good luck tomorrow."
"Thank you," he said and put the phone down first. I
pictured him, in his customary white khadi bush shirt
and pants, wearing a self-righteous expression on his face.
During this call, over the carriage of my Underwood
typewriter, I was watching the news editor for my voice
carried unusually far. But he was focused on his work
and didn't look up in my direction.
I lit up a cigarette and hunched over the typewriter,
dismayed beyond description. I had heard that Kakodkar
was a highly principled man, and then with a sinking
feeling in my gut, I realized I was being used, a means
to the end. I shall never forget that moment.
Then I walked to my favorite bar to nurse my bruised ego.
Three days later, the election results came out. The Congress
was wiped out without a single seat in Goa. The MG won
14 seats to the UG's 12, with two independents, plus an
independent winning in Diu and a lone Congress victory
I kept brooding about Kakodkar. Did he know something
that I didn't? Was that why he said he couldn't do
anything for me? I had no heart to ask him that. After
that personal and private telephone conversation, the
two of us carried on as if nothing had happened. And
during the next year, my encounters with Kakodkar
became strictly professional but cordial.
Echoes in Toronto
But the manipulation of news by newspaper proprietors
was not limited to Goa. I heard a similar echo in
Toronto in the nineties.
In the 1988 elections, the Progressive Conservative
Party of Canada, led by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney,
had won a second majority with 169 seats out of 295 in
the House of Commons. The Liberals were in opposition
with 83. In the ensuing five years, the Mulroney
government brought in a new bill called Goods and
Services Tax, a highly controversial measure that
proved unpopular with the majority of Canadians. Still,
the government went ahead and passed the tax bill - a
7% tax on all goods and services effective January
1990. During this term, Mr. Mulroney was also
criticized for being too friendly with the Americans.
In the 1993 election, the public was fed up with the
Tories (PC) as reflected in the opinion polls. But the
press and media had no clear idea as to how deeply the
people loathed the policies of the Tories. The shocker
came on the night of the election-October 25. The fall
from grace for the Tories was as stunning as it was
deserved. They won only two seats in total, each in the
province of New Brunswick and Quebec. The Liberals, led
by Jean Chretien, returned with a huge majority of 177
seats. The Liberals are still in power, having won the
next two elections in 1997 and 2000.
However, an interesting development regarding the power
of the press took place in 1998. A wealthy Canadian
newspaper mogul named Conrad Black financed a new daily
in Toronto called The National Post. Black told readers
that his paper would advance an alternative point of
view, a far right conservative position on politics in
Canada. As owner of London's Daily Telegraph, the
Jerusalem Post, and Chicago's Sun-Times, Mr. Black
hired top talent and spared no expense, at least for
the first two years, to make the Post successful in
creating and wooing the conservative voice in Canada.
In the 2000 election, his paper became as one-sided as
Navhind Times was in 1963. The paper supported a new
party called Canadian Alliance, a highly conservative
group drawn mostly from western Canada, and was
hell-bent to destroy Prime Minister Jean Chretien and
the Liberals. Alas, the people didn't buy it! And the
Liberals forged ahead with a third majority win.
During this time, Mr. Black's personal agenda of
wanting to be a peer in the House of Lords in England
came out front and centre. The British Prime Minister
Tony Blair recommended and the Queen accepted that
Conrad Black be made a Lord. But sweet revenge raised
its arms and Jean Chretien said Black couldn't be a
Lord while being a Canadian citizen. Black was forced
to renounce his Canadian citizenship. Not only that,
but Black sold the National Post in 2001 for a tidy
profit. He is now Lord Black of Crossharbour in the
House of Lords.
I started this article with the observation that facts
are sacred and comment is free. Both elements of
journalism, it seems to me, are flawed. Like beauty and
sex, freedom of the press is in the eye of the beholder
and in the loins of the performer. It's all relative,
Goan journalism: Views from near and far
Eugene CorreiaCanada-based Eugene Correia has worked for a wide range
of national-level newspapers published in India.
Besides those listed below, he has also written for
India Today, and a number of expat Indian publications
published from overseas. What stands out is this
journalist's sharp understanding of Goan issues and
politics, and his memory for detail, all the more
remarkable since he has been based outside Goa for
virtually his entire working life.
I must admit I have no direct connection with
journalism in Goa, in the sense of having worked in the
state. However, I was involved in Goan journalism in
Mumbai (then Bombay), but that too in a limited way. I
wrote few pieces for the Konkani-language papers such
as The Goa Times and Ave Maria and the English-Konkani
weekly, The Goan Sports Weekly. After Goa's Liberation,
and till I left India for Canada in late 1981, I took
more than a cursory look at how journalism is practiced
in Goa. I read The Navhind Times often, as the paper
was available in Mumbai during the 1970s.
I was involved in mainstream journalism in Mumbai since
my college days, first with The Indian Express and
later with the Free Press Journal. I provided freelance
services for both papers in the sports department. It
was my dad's cousin, Felix Valois Rodrigues, who
inspired me to take up journalism. A versatile writer
in English, Konkani and Portuguese, he worked for the
Indian Express in New Delhi till his retirement.
Getting into the field
Felix Uncle, as I called him, introduced me to the news
editor of Indian Express in Mumbai and I was given a
chance to work in the sports department under CSA Swami
. The news editor, S Krishnamoorty, popularly known as
SKM, who regarded by many as more powerful then the
editor because of his close relationship with Ramnath Goenka,
The Indian Express proprietor.
As a freedom fighter who served in jail for his
anti-Portuguese activities, Rodrigues was
well-connected in Goa. After my graduation, he gave me
an introductory letter to Lamberto Mascarenhas, who was
by then no longer the joint editor of The Navhind Times,
Goa's first English-language daily.
Mascarenhas, in turn, gave me an introductory note to
K.S.K. Menon, who had been co-editor with Mascarenhas,
and later promoted to editor. I took the letter to
Menon and, after reading it, said he would contact me
if any position arose.
He gave me back the note. I read the Mascarenhas'
scribbled note and was shocked. Mascarenhas had
introduced me as a "chap" from "my village". It was
true, we both came from Colva, but to a young man like
me seeking a job it was horrifying to read a learned
man like Mascarenhas call me a chap.
It's also true that Mascarenhas and I belong to
different strata in Goa's caste system. I couldn't
believe a man of his stature could introduce me in such
a demeaning way. I think I have the note somewhere in
my collection of memorabilia.
I never got a job at The Navhind Times. In later years,
I met Mascarenhas in the office of Goa Today. From his
days at The Navhind Times to owning Goa Today,
Mascarenhas had become an icon in Goan journalism. He