There’s life to be lived, and then there’s life to be lived online. The smartphone is a tyrant monster stuck to our palms, demanding that everything be put on hold till our online alter ego is fed, ensuring that every moment becomes eternal in the warped mind space that the Internet occupies. Instagram, the photo-sharing app, perhaps channels this urge for picture-perfect existence like no other. It supplies filters—its big draw—that can bestow on the picture sadness, joy or any other desired emotion. Our cover “The Filter” examines the Instagram effect, the story of an app that has 200 million users who generate 55 million photos every day. It is changing the rules of the game in the fashion industry, celebrity PR, and even photojournalism, writes Alia Allana.
The Western Ghats, the most wondrous place on the planet, holds secrets about evolution that scientists are just beginning to study. The Sky Island Project is one such endeavour, which tracks the white-bellied shortwing, a bird found in the upper reaches of the Ghats, and which lives ensconced in its own habitat, so much so that two populations separated by 40 kilometres haven’t interacted in five million years. Do read Akshai Jain’s fascinating narrative (“Islands in the sky”) that tells what the scientists have found.
In other news, I am happy to report that Fountain Ink won five awards—including that of the Best Media Start-up—and a jury’s special mention at the Red Ink awards for excellence in journalism held in Mumbai last month. The awards, organised by the Press Club, Mumbai, are the only journalism awards that are given by a peer body. The recognition of our work here, in front of a collective from newsrooms across the country, is heartening. The awards came in the Crime, Business and Human Rights categories, and Srinath Perur’s science narrative (“The Origins of Indians”, December 2013) got the jury’s special mention.
You, the reader, deserve our special thanks. Amid all the talk of falling attention spans and that news snippets are what readers want, you have embraced our brand of long-form journalism. In that sense, the awards were also a vote of confidence for narrative journalism. The other big winners that night were The Caravan and Yahoo! Originals, both, like us, devoted to the craft of long-form.
Saurav Kumar, Editor