The guy with the most productive Friday evening in journalism
My most anticipated email of the week arrives every Saturday at 10 am. It's a weekly newsletter called The Nutgraf and it's written by Praveen Gopal Krishnan (COO at The Ken, India's foremost subscriber-driven business-news publication).
The Nutgraf is an indepth, 10-min analysis of a crucial topical issue - one that goes far deeper than the typical banalities and cursory analysis that make up for 'opinion pieces' in major dailies - and looks for 'connections and consequences' - in a way that makes the reader go "Ah, now I get it".
Reading these fascinating, immensely thought-provoking pieces, I used to think: Man, they've employed a person just to write one article a week. This is how, I surmised, his schedule must be like for the week:
- Monday-Tuesday: Research
- Wed-Thursday: Writing, rewriting and edits
- Friday: Final proof-reads and hitting publish for Saturday.
Then I realised that it was written by someone who was the Head of Product at The Ken (now COO). Surely, he must be busy with, erm, Product-related responsibilities?
The new narrative in my head was - perhaps he spends most of his time on Product (say 75%) and then spends the balance 25% on writing.
Boy, how wrong I was.
PGK is a 100% Product guy. His job Monday to Friday is to work on The Ken's product. And then, just as all of Bangalore finds its way into the pubs and restaurants in Indiranagar and Koramangala, our man starts. With his research.
In a manic, unprecedented, staggering five-hour marathon-sprint between 6 pm to 11 pm, PGK researches, understands, writes, edits and finalises the Nutgraf edition to be published the next day.
At around 10.30-11 pm he passes it on to his colleagues (God bless them) who review, edit and proof-read the content and add their comments.
The next morning, Praveen reviews the comments, resolves them and gets it ready for publishing. On some days, just in time at 10 am.
As I was saying, I was blown away.
In fact, when I heard about this writing process, I had one overwhelming thought: you remember the disclaimer you get at the beginning of an action reality TV series - something on the lines of “These stunts are done by professionals and must not be tried at home”?
Well, Praveen pulls off those kinds of stunts every week. He’s a bit of a maverick genius.
The Podcast conversation
In this podcast conversation, Praveen talks about
- The early influence of reading (especially re-reading) on his life
- The impact of theatre
- His strong belief in the effectiveness of the three-act narrative structure in storytelling
- His love for Aaron Sorkin and
- Most fundamentally - why is his newsletter called the Nutgraf!