Media honcho with a perspective

Ritu Kapur — Co-Founder Network18 & The Quint

Ritu Kapur is the quintessential ‘High Achiever’ personality type with a high-flying career in media and several awards to her credit; albeit with a deep interest and commitment to deal with social issues. Ritu co-founded Network 18 alongwith husband, Raghav Bahl in 1992 – one of India’s biggest media conglomerates, with nearly 35 TV channels, 13 websites, a portfolio of niche magazines, and a movie production company.  Ritu was Features Editor at CNN IBN and used to head Programming at History TV18.

In 1995, Ritu conceptualized and produced— BHANWAR, a docu-drama based on real-life incidents.  Her shows ran to popular and critical acclaim and went on to win several awards. She has also led successful campaigns like Register to Vote and Power of 49 that championed a manifesto for women, who comprise 49 per cent of the population.

Ritu pioneered Citizen Journalism on Indian Television in 2008 when she launched “The CJ show” on CNN IBN (an English news channel).  The platform aimed to democratize news on television, enabling every Indian to contribute and raise issues, using the mobile phone as the news gathering tool. The show widened its reach, moving to the Hindi and regional channels and by going online with the CJ website (ibncj.com).  Several stories by Citizen Journalists led to an impact, in the form of suspension of doctors responsible for medical negligence or getting civic authorities to repair flyovers or getting the system to provide redressal in a case of burning for dowry. The show has won several awards.

Other projects developed by her include the Senior Citizens’ Awards that celebrates the spirit of the elderly working for communities; Veer – a campaign to create employment for the specially abled; REAL HEROES — an initiative wherein 24 ordinary Indians doing extraordinary work were recognized every year. 

Moving on from Network 18, Ritu has now co-founded Quintillion Media along with her husband. Their flagship digital site, The Quint, is her latest baby.   The Quint offers a modern, sharp take on the world, and guides people through topics ranging from politics, policy and entertainment, to sports, business, food and everything else that matters. A compelling combo of content, tech and distribution, it is high-value digital journalism, storytelling, and advertising at scale.

Growing up in Delhi, Ritu did her schooling from Mater Dei Convent, her BA (hons) in E-Literature from St Stephen’s College and then her Masters in Mass Communication from Jamia University.  While in DU, she grabbed every opportunity to escape the city – up to the hills of Himachal and Ladakh as a trekker and to the interiors of Maharashtra and Rajasthan as an environment activist.  

High point in career

“The one big high point in my career would be conceiving, writing and directing the docu-drama series “Bhanwar”. It was a series based on landmark Indian legal cases. Working on the series gave me an insight into the human mind and its vulnerability, India’s complex legal processes and of course, the heady experience of being on drama sets and working with actors. 

The other was launching Citizen Journalism at CNN IBN and IBN 7.  Empowering the ordinary person to bring his/ her issues and perspective to the fore via a mainstream news channel was quite an eye opener.  Every mobile phone is a potential media outlet and citizen journalism is definitely a powerful tool towards the democratization of news gathering. My current high is working with a very bright, young team as we explore and create innovative multimedia content for our mobile-first digital site – The Quint.” 

Most challenging assignment so far

“Every new assignment has been a challenge. Whether it was “self-teaching” screenplay writing and direction for Bhanwar, or initiating the concept of citizen journalism in India’s mainstream media.  Currently the challenge is unlearning two decades of television and climbing the steep learning curve of new media – the exciting world of digital content.”

Greatest inspiration

 “Never thought about any one person as a greatest inspiration but I have huge respect for working single moms.” 

Most important milestone in life

“That’s an easy one and the answer is a predictable one. The birth of my kids would definitely be defining moments of my life. They came along and altered my perspective on life.. Making it a more positive, exhilarating journey.”   

Women are the better halves. What does it mean?

“Women are multitaskers, with superior people and organizational skills. Our brains are wired to see the glass as half full and we are adept at getting a lot of very little. We have a sharpened native intelligence and rely a lot on instinct and gut. We know how to grit our teeth in adversity and bare them in unfair situations. I could go on .. But women don’t just make better “halves”  … We are pretty superior on our own  … Don’t always need another “half” to complement our strengths.”