The paper is an anthropological study of news-making practices in India. News-making is characterized as an interactive process that is shaped through the coordinated action of journalists and citizens and as such has consequences for the way local (political) life is recreated. The case study interrogates media activities accompanying the controversy about the making of the film Water by the Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta in the holy city of Benaras. The example demonstrates how patrons appropriate newspapers and turn them into instruments for the articulation, circulation and authentication of their claims to fame and importance. By recreating patronage politics in the newspaper ambitious leaders re-shape this element of the Indian political culture. They also weave new intersections between the media sphere and performative politics. The emerging public (sub)culture poses potential challenges to established political institutions and can be compared to the efficacy of 'small media' across the globe.