Zero. That’s the number to keep in mind. Because zero is the number of people in the fact checking department across most mainstream newsrooms in India. Today.

It is a number that isn’t talked about much. It certainly should be.

“Let’s do this over a call,” said Sukumar.

When I wrote to him, I had a simple question. Whatever happened to fact checking in the country? It is like, this bit of journalistic process never existed.

Sukumar Ranganathan is the Editor of Mint, the business daily published by Hindustan Times. In a career spanning three decades, Ranganathan has worked at some of the largest media companies in India. Before Mint, he was the *Managing Editor of Business Today. And he started his career at The Hindu Business Line, the financial daily published by Kasturi and Sons Limited, the publishers of The Hindu. “Historically, we have never had fact checking in India,” he said. “No one has had the money to invest in a four or five member team of fact checkers.”

“But this does not mean that fact checking does not happen. The page one desk has the dual role of editing and fact checking. Most of the page one stories at Mint, at least two people take a look at it. People check data, facts, and names. We, of course, don’t fact-check quotes. Sometimes, especially when quotes are anonymous, our spider senses start tingling and we ask the reporter for names of the sources—which, according to our code, they have to share with the editors when asked. We don’t ask all the time—only when we feel something is wrong. Is this fool proof? Scientific? No. It depends on the spider sense of individuals. The only reason I don’t have a fact checking team is because of the budget.”

Money is the root of all problems. When it comes to journalism and fact checking, it exacerbates.

“When I started tracking the stories, I saw there is no sourcing, no attribution”

Jency Jacob is the managing editor of BOOM*. A media website which describes itself as India’s first independent online resource to cross check urban legends, myths, and rumours. Another matter altogether that BOOM wasn’t born for fact checking. In its earlier, more prosaic avatar it used to tell stories, using video as a medium. Online. That idea went some distance but in September last year, Govindraj Ethiraj, the founder of Ping Network, the company which runs BOOM decided that fact checking is the way forward. Ethiraj hired Jacob for the job.

We are sitting in a small conference room at BOOM’s office, in Mumbai. It is early in the afternoon, in August.

AUTHOR

Ashish K. Mishra

Ashish edits and writes stories at The Ken. Across subjects. In his last assignment, he was a Deputy Editor at Mint, a financial daily published by HT Media. At the paper, he wrote long, deeply reported feature stories. His earlier assignments: Forbes India magazine and The Economic Times. Born in Kolkata. Studied in New Delhi – B.Com from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University. Works out of anywhere, where there is a good story to be told.

View Full Profile

Subscribe to read this story

The Ken is the only business subscription you need. Questions?

 

Premium

  • 5 original and reported longform business stories every week
  • Access to ONLY India edition
  • Close to 250 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters
  • 4 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to ONLY Southeast Asia edition
  • Close to 200 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to all paywalled stories since March 2020
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters

Rs. 2,750 /year

$ 120 /year

India Edition
Subscribe Subscribe
Most Asked For

Borderless

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories

Rs. 4,200 /year

Subscribe
 

Echelon

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories
  • Bonus annual gift subscription
  • Priority access to all new products and features

Rs. 8,474 /year

Subscribe
Or

Questions?

What kind of subscription plans do you offer?

We have three types of subscriptions
- Premium which gives you access to either the India or the Southeast Asia edition.
- Borderless which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions
- Echelon which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions along with a bonus gift subscription

What do I get if I subscribe?

The Premium edition gives you access to stories in that edition along with any five subscriber-only newsletters of your choice.

The Borderless and Echelon subscription gives you complete access to The Ken across editions and unlimited access to as many newsletters as you like.

What topics do you usually write about?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics. We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

Our specialised subscriber-only newsletters are written by our expert, award-winning journalists and cover a range of topics across finance, retail, clean energy, cryptocurrency, ed-tech and many more.

How many newsletters do you have?

We are constantly adding specialised subscriber-only newsletters all the time. All of these are written by our team of award-winning journalists on a specialised topic.

You can see the list of newsletters that we publish over here.

Does a Premium subscription to your Indian edition get me access to the Southeast Asia edition? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

We recommend the Borderless or the Echelon Plan which will give you access to stories across both editions.

Do you have a mobile app?

Yes! We have a top-rated mobile app on both iOS and Android which allows you to read on-the-go and has some amazing features like the ability to bookmark stories, save on your device, dark mode, and much more. It’s really the best way to read The Ken.

Is there a free trial?

You can sign up for a free account to experience The Ken and understand our products better. We’ll send you some free stories and newsletters occasionally, and you can access our archive of previously published free stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

The vast majority of our stories, articles and newsletters can be accessed only by a paid subscription.

Do you offer any discounts?

Sorry, no. Our journalism is funded completely by our subscribers. We believe that quality journalism comes at a price, and readers trust and pay us so that we can remain independent.

Do you offer refunds?

No. We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Just write to us at [email protected] with details. We’ll help you out.

I have a few more questions. How can I reach out to you?

Sure. Just email us at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter.