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When a Delhi journo joins New Yorker, it’s news
10 October 2013
India’s bankrupt politicians routinely detect a “foreign hand” behind every disaster that befalls the nation. The Indian media, on the other hand, has been somewhat blessed to benefit from foreign hands on the deck.
Caravan the defunct-fortnightly from the Delhi Press group which was reborn as The Caravan of longform journalism three years ago was particularly lucky to have Jonathan Shainin on its ranks early on.
Below is the full text of the email shot off by Caravan‘s executive editor Vinod K. Jose, announcing Shainin’s exit.
This coming week, our dear colleague, Jonathan Shainin is moving back to New York. Jonathan joined by the end of the first year of relaunched Caravan, and is heading home after a very memorable, and extremely productive 3 years with us. The time and attention that he has given to the stories he edited is remarkable, and if anyone ever pays attention to the institutional history of Caravan, Jonathan’s role will be remembered and celebrated with reverence.
In 2009 and 2010, from the period I call the “guerrilla operation phase,” the staff whose strength was in single digits, we have today come a long way with the magazine/brand becoming the outcome of a massive amount of collective editorial energy of 25 people.
The number of editors, and staff writers have gone up, and the family of freelancers and contributing editors have grown as well.
With Jonathan’s impending departure, more associate editors had joined close to a year in advance, and we are right now in the process of hiring more editors to increase the level and quality of attention a piece/writer gets. The more the torch-bearers of the particular Caravan editing and writing philosophy we produce, the more stable the space of longform narrative journalism in India becomes.
In the same vein, I also wanted to celebrate the small, but meaningful flame of good ethical journalism that Caravan was instrumental in doing, which to me worked hand-in-hand with the longform identity we created in the craft space; here again, Jonathan was such an uncompromising editor, and I wish everyone who comes and joins us/after us always build on the hard work/careful walking we have managed all these years, and between us, right now, we shall remind each other how we need to help each other in making the flame retain its virility, and get bigger and bigger if possible in the years to come.
I wish Jonathan a wonderful future ahead, both professionally and personally.
Vinod K. Jose
[Terry: Feel free to disagree but over these long years since my parents bought me my first subscription at age 16, I’ve
come to realize that all the news you really need to survive is in The New Yorker and WIRED magazines.]
Block. It puts some writers down for months. It puts some writers down for life. A not always brief or minor form of it mutes all writers from the outset of every day. “Dear Joel . . .” This is just a random sample from letters written to former students in response to their howling cries as they suffer the masochistic self-inflicted paralysis of a writer’s normal routine. “Dear Joel . . .” This Joel will win huge awards and write countless books and a nationally syndicated column, but at the time of this letter he has just been finding out that to cross the electric fence from the actual world to the writing world requires at least as much invention as the writing itself. “Dear Joel: You are writing, say, about a grizzly bear. No words are forthcoming. For six, seven, ten hours no words have been forthcoming. You are blocked, frustrated, in despair. You are nowhere, and that’s where you’ve been getting. What do you do? You write, ‘Dear Mother.’ And then you tell your mother about the block, the frustration, the ineptitude, the despair. You insist that you are not cut out to do this kind of work. You whine. You whimper. You outline your problem, and you mention that the bear has a fifty-five-inch waist and a neck more than thirty inches around but could run nose-to-nose with Secretariat. You say the bear prefers to lie down and rest. The bear rests fourteen hours a day. And you go on like that as long as you can. And then you go back and delete the ‘Dear Mother’ and all the whimpering and whining, and just keep the bear.”