Gauri Lankesh lives on: Friends, associates of journalist-activist plan to revive tabloid by year-end

Close friends and associates of the late journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh are planning to revive her eponymous tabloid to keep her spirit alive.

The last regular edition of Gauri Lankesh (not Gauri Lankesh Patrike, as is commonly believed) was released on 6 September.

Unidentified gunmen shot at and killed Gauri right outside her house on the evening of 5 September. Her weekly tabloid, published in Kannada, was an extension of her firebrand persona and was known for its no-punches-pulled approach and write-ups critical of right-wing extremism.

Since Gauri would single-handedly manage multiple aspects of the tabloid—from planning and vetting stories to pagination to coordinating with the printing press—her absence has left a big void in the small organisation. After her murder, her staff brought out a commemorative edition on 12 September but the tabloid has been defunct since then.

Gauri has been posthumously honoured with the annual Anna Politkovskaya Award earlier this month.

Gauri Lankesh staff at the publication's Bengaluru office. Nivedita Niranjankumar/101Reporters

Gauri Lankesh staff at the publication's Bengaluru office. Nivedita Niranjankumar/101Reporters

Noted columnist and Gauri's long-time friend Shiv Sunder told Firstpost her friends have been mulling on how to revive her tabloid. He said all of them want Gauri Lankesh to be available again and have been holding discussions and taking steps towards this end. He informed that they had initially planned to relaunch the tabloid by mid-November but will have to postpone by a month because of operational hiccups.

He said they still need to figure out how to fill in for Gauri, since she took care of the lion's share of crucial work all by herself. "We will need immense manpower and many resources to put all of this in place," he said.

Well-known documentary maker Pradeep KP and former public prosecutor and Gauri's advocate BT Venkatesh also make up the core team that is working to revive the tabloid, which made a name for itself on the strength of its hard-hitting articles.

While the details of the core team is not known, Pradeep told Firstpost that Gauri's friends would be setting up a trust to look after the publication's affairs. He said they were yet to finalise a name for the trust, adding that all of it will be taken care of soon. He said the trust will hold a meeting soon and set up an editorial board to manage the tabloid's content.

Shiv Sunder said they were yet to decide the theme and content of the relaunch edition. He said discussion regarding this is still underway and they will have a brainstorming session with the publication's employees to figure this out. He said they will definitely try to have a story about the status of investigation into Gauri's murder but their priority right now is having the tabloid back on the stands.

As of last month, Gauri Lankesh had 35 employees: eight reporters in Bangalore, 15 in the rest of Karnataka and 12 employees in administrative roles. Her reporters told Firstpost that Gauri would preside over editorial meetings at their office in Basavanagudi, Bengaluru, every Friday and set the tone for the next week's editions, inviting story ideas and critiquing the latest edition.

After her father's demise in 2000, Gauri assumed the responsibility of the editor of Lankesh Patrike, a publication he had founded. While she took over the editor's role, her brother Indrajit handled its business side. The siblings had conflicting ideas about what the publication's ideology and slant should be and this led to friction between the two. After a fallout, the two parted ways in 2005 and Gauri launched her own tabloid.

Gauri Lankesh neither carried advertisements nor had a subscription model. It relied solely on sale from the stands. The tabloid is known as much for its insolent tone as it is for practising fearless journalism.

The author is a Bengaluru based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.


Published Date: Oct 13, 2017 04:13 pm | Updated Date: Oct 13, 2017 04:13 pm


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