Archive for February, 2007

13 lessons newspapers can learn from Toyota

28 February 2007

Toyota, just 30 years old as a company in the United States, is set to overtake General Motors as the world’s largest car maker. Newspaper Next has an interesting piece on what Toyota did to achieve this, and what newspapers can learn from the experience:

1) Toyota started by focusing on overshot consumers, and its first cars sacrificed traditional benefits for new ones not previously available.

2) Toyota sees itself as a portfolio company, and it understands the “long tail” concept.

3) Toyota keeps a relentless focus on customer jobs to be done.

4) Toyota views its customers through life circumstances, not demographics.

5) Toyota uses jobs-to-be-done research to strengthen its core business.

6) Toyota keeps one eye on the future outside its own company.

7) Toyota invests heavily in research and development

8) Toyota understands the importance of process efficiency

9) Toyota makes problem identification an imperative

10) Toyota learns from failure rather than punishing it.

11) Toyota invests in customer feedback loops.

12) Toyota tries to make its innovations adaptable and “repeatable.”

13) Toyota has one clear, consistent set of values, relentlessly communicated.

Read the full article here: What can newspapers learn from Toyota?

DH board had nixed move to replace editor

28 February 2007

The Karnataka High Court has admitted a writ petition filed by dislodged Deccan Herald and Praja Vani editor K.N. Shanth Kumar. But, surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly) neither the news of the admittance nor the contents of the petition have been published by Bangalore’s newspapers, although the case comes up for hearing on Thursday, March 1.

Below are edited excerpts of Shanth Kumar’s writ petition, which provide a rare insight into the functioning of our newspapers—and how key decisions that impacts every reader are taken.

**

WRIT PETITION: 2888 of 2007

Before Justice Abdul Nazeer of the Karnataka High Court

**

Between K.N. Shanth Kumar, s/o K.N. Netkalappa, aged about 46 years (Petitioner)

vs

1. The District Magistrate, Bangalore Urban District

2. Registrar of Newspapers in India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Delhi

3. The Printers (Mysore) Private Limited

4. K. Ramchand, printer and publisher

5. K.N. Tilak Kumar, s/o K.N. Netkalappa, aged about 53 years (Respondents)

**

he petitioner begs to prefer this writ petition seeking a writ in the nature of declaration and certiorari, being aggrieved by the action of the first respondent in having authenticated a declaration in respect of the newspaper (Deccan Herald & Praja Vani) under provisions of the PNRB Act of 1867 filed by the fourth respondent at the instance of the fifth respondent, making it mandatory of the newspaper to publish the name of the fifth respondent as its editor without even ascertaining the validity of the declaration filed, and without constituting an enquiry and without adjudicating upon the objections filed by the petitioner herein.

**

The action of the respondents is illegal and is liable to be interfered with by this honourable court in exercise of its original jurisdiction on the following among other grounds:

The petitioner is the editor of the daily (Deccan Herald in English and Praja Vani in Kannada) and of two Kannada periodicals, Sudha and Mayura. The said publications are published by the third respondent which was established in 1948 by the late K.N. Guruswamy.

The publications, more particularly DH-PV, have had an illustrious past, and today continue to be the most leading and widely read newspapers in the State of Karnataka. They are printed and published from Bangalore, Hubli-Dharwad, Mangalore, Mysore, Davanagere and Gulbarga.

The petitioner and the fifth respondent are brothers. The petitioner, the fifth respondent, and their brother Shri K.N. Hari Kumar each hold 20 per cent share in the third respondent while they hold further shares indirectly.

The petitioner, fifth respondent and the said Hari Kumar in all control 75 per cent of the shares of the third respondent, while the balance 25 per cent are held by close family and friends.

The petitioner, fifth respondent and Smt Parul Shah are the wholetime directors on the Board of the third respondent.

The Board of Directors of third respondent comprise six directors: the petitioner, the fifth respondent, Parul Shah, Kuldip Nayar, Goverdhan Kumar and Narayansa. The regulation of printing press, the one run by the third respondent, and newspapers published by the third respondent, are governed by the provisions of the PRB Act of 1867.

**

The petitioner, holding the position as the editor of the company, had in the past been challenged by Smt Parul Shah and a resolution for his removal was placed before the Board of Directors of the third respondent way back in 2002.

The Board of Directors considered the resolution moved by Smt Parul Shah and affirmed the petitioner be continued as editor of the company.

It will be significant to point out that the fifth respondent has also mooted the topic of rearranging or distributing the offices held by various members of the family and in particular, the editor of the newspaper.

The issue having been considered by the post in the past has been adjourned with no decision taken by the Board of Directors.

**

On 13 February 2007, the fifth respondent, unilaterally and without the authority of the Board, instructed the fourth respondent to file a declaration with the first respondent asserting that the fifth respondent has been appointed the editor of the paper. Accordingly, the fourth respondent has filed a declaration with the first respondent herein.

It is submitted that under the provisions of the PRB Act, the editors holds a position of responsibility. No newspaper can be published in India without a declaration as to the name of the editor and his nationality.

The petitioner, having learnt about the declaration filed by the third respondent with the first respondent, on the same day filed his objection pointing out that the declaration is made without the authority of the Board of Directors of the company.

Notwithstanding that representation, the very fact that the name of the petitioner was sought to be changed and the fifth respondent was sought to be shown as editor warranted an enquiry by the first respondent.

It was pointed out that the fifth respondent has no authority to remove the petitioner.

The petitioner, having been appointed as the editor by the Board of Directors, it is the Board of Directors alone who would be entitled to remove the editor and appoint a new editor.

Accordingly, it was brought to the notice of the first respondent that the declaration be rejected. It is submitted that the illegallity having been brought to the notice of the first respondent, the first respondent ought to have instituted an inquiry into the validity of the proposed declaration.

**

On 14 February 2007, the fifth respondent unilaterally and without the authority of the Board of Directors further issued a direction to the Associate Editors of the respective papers, directing them to change the name of the editor from the imprintline, from that of the petitioner to that of the fifth respondent.

The petitioner herein calls issuance of a note to the said associate editors intimating them that such a change was neither authorized by the Board of Directors nor were they in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

However, the third respondent and its officers have found themselves bound by the declaration as authenticated by the fifth respondent.

**

A newspaper report of the said action of the respondents has been been published in Business Standard of 16 February 2007.

The other members of the Board of Directors, clearly shocked by the action of the fifth respondent, addressed letters registering their concern and called upon the fifth respondent in his position as Chairman of the Board of Directosr to convene a meeting of the Board to consider and take appropriate action in respect of the said action of the fifth respondent.

**

PRAYER

Declare this action of the fifth respondent in authenticating the declaration dating 13 February 2007 without holding an inquiry as illegal and oppose the provisions of the Act, and quash the said declaration filed before him.

INTERIM RELIEF

Pending disposal of this writ petition, the petitioner most respectfully prays that this honourable court may be pleased to stay the operation of the authentcation by the first respondent, and to prevent the respondents from taking any action thereto in the interest of equity and justice.

Also see: Inside story of Deccan Herald coup

CNBC picking up stake in Business Standard?

28 February 2007

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: The board of TV18 is to meet on March 5, with “any new business” marked on the agenda. And already rumours are abuzz in the capital that Raghav Bahl‘s ambitious company which has two business (CNBC, Awaaz) and two news (CNN-IBN, IBN7) channels plus a clutch of websites in its cachet, might be making its first moves towards a print foray.

The buzz is that TV18, a listed company, is interested in picking up a stake in Business Standard, the business newspaper which was among the first to benefit from Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) through the Financial Times of London.

BS, originally part of the Ananda Bazar Patrika stable of Calcutta, has been part-owned by Kotak Mahindra. Its editor T.N. Ninan and his wife Sevanti Ninan have a stake in the paper. Bahl, it is learnt, may be wanting to pick up some of the couple’s holdings, although Ninan (Mr not Mrs) is a regular on NDTV.

Although BS is the best-read among Indian business papers, with a riveting edit page, the publication is in need of funds as Economic Times ups the ante to take on Hindustan Times‘ new business daily, Mint. For TV18, newspaper will complete its business bouquet.

That’s today’s irresponsible rumour-mongering.

Logo courtesy: Gawker

Sudha, Mayura editorship in legal tangle

27 February 2007

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: The last word in the battle for editorial power between the “Kumars at No. 75″ has not been heard. Yet.

K.N. Shanth Kumar may have been dislodged overnight as editor of Deccan Herald, Praja Vani, Sudha and Mayura by his elder brothers K.N. Hari Kumar and K.N. Tilak Kumar through an internal circular. But the Company Law Board (CLB) is learnt to have ruled that KNS should continue as editor of the weekly and monthly magazines in The Printers (Mysore) Limited stable for the moment.

Result: next week’s issue of Sudha, which comes out in two days’ time, will—or has to—carry the name of Shanth Kumar as editor although the putsch, without the consent of the TPML board, was aimed at removing him from the helm of all four publications in the group.

The Karnataka High Court has already admitted a writ petition filed by KNS questioning the manner in which the change of guard was effected at DH-PV arrived at. The case comes up for hearing on Thursday, March 1.

But the CLB, while refusing to intervene in the case of DH-PV, since the High Court is already hearing the matter, is said to have ruled, ex-parte, that KNS shall continue to head the other two publications.

Meanwhile, journalist Kuldip Nayar, who sits on the TPML board as an independent director, has been reportedly shown the door, after he was quoted as questioning the manner in which KNS was removed in a Business Standard story.

Nayar, a long-time friend of the K.N. Netkalappa family who does a column in Deccan Herald and Prajavani, has reportedly been told by the new bosses that his journalistic output will no longer be required.

Cross-posted on churumuri

Media outsourcing is cheap. But is it good?

27 February 2007

The Press Association of Britain runs a media outsourcing outfit in collaboration with BFL-mPhasis in Mangalore, where fresh journalism graduates and designers churn out television pages and race cards, among other things, for papers back home.

Now, the San Francisco Chronicle has had an advertising supplement outsourced from New Delhi. Mindworks Global Media—MGM if you don’t get it—put the supplement together for the Chronicle. Freelancers penned the articles.

Read the full article here: I left my (New Delhi freelancer)  in San Francisco

Related link: Centralising and outsourcing are synonymous for ‘You’re fired’

‘Mother, do you think they’ll break my balls?’

27 February 2007

NISHANT RATNAKAR forwards the diary of Business Standard journalist Rajesh Kurup who is called to a cop station in Bombay to divulge his sources on a couple of queries he had raised in a story on a telecom company. Although written in half-jest, the diary shows how little things the perception of journalists has changed, despite the information explosion.

“I was given the impression I was supposed to help the Law, now I’m being given the impression I’m on the wrong side of the law. The inspector plays his trump card—I’m going to call a press conference and announce that you are one of the accused in this case� It doesn’t seem he will, but if he does”

Read the full story here: Prisoner of my conscience

MUST READ: First person is best person

26 February 2007

Writing in the first-person is frowned upon in most Indian newsrooms built on exaggerated textbook notions of objectivity. But Timothy Noah‘s piece on wikipedia on Slate shows why it is probably the most engaging way to put a point across, especially in stories which have been done to death.

“Unless I get notable in a hurry—win the Nobel Peace Prize? Prove I sired Anna Nicole Smith‘s baby daughter?—a “sysop” (volunteer techie) will wipe my Wikipedia page clean. It’s straight out of Philip K. Dick.”

Read the full article here: Evicted by Wikipedia

Whatever goes up must keep going up

26 February 2007

Net profits are up 82 per cent. Journalists are being offered mid-year hikes. Salaries are rising. New publications are opening. It’s boom time in the Indian media market.

Read the full story here: The boom times are just beginning…

Is the end nigh for black and white photography?

26 February 2007

T.S. NAGARAJAN writes: Is it twilight time for black and white photography? Yes. It appears that the days of traditional photography are numbered. Modern technology is driving this art form from flash bulbs to digital imaging, bringing in major changes in its practice and appreciation.

After all, it’s simpler to make digital photos with increasingly automated cameras coming out every day. As digital image processing and inkjet printing take hold as the preferred means of producing photographs, one would tend to ask: Does a century-old technology still have relevance in the digital age?

But there is still an ardent group of diehards, among the senior citizens of black and white photography, who would have nothing to do with digital. At the same time, they do know in a corner of their minds that they would see the demise of photography itself, as they have understood and practiced, well within their own lifetime.

Their fears are not totally misplaced. The complete domination of colour in the snapshot market, which has pushed the black and white version into an area not commercially attractive, is certain to influence the future of photographic technology to sway in favour of the colour image.

Photography is no longer the preserve of the elite. Almost everybody owns a camera. You just point and click; the camera does the rest. Almost everyone wants only colour prints. There is a mini-lab next door to do the job in a jiffy. Most professionals these days work only in colour. Black and white photography is considered by many as old fashioned and professionally not very lucrative.

So, where do the black and white specialists, who produce eye-catching pictures in varying shades of grey, print them arduously in their wet darkrooms, mount them in artistic frames and try to sell them (as painters do) at high prices in art galleries come in, when the age-old question whether a photographic print is an art object still remains undecided.

Then, is it twilight time for black and white photography?

Black and white photography has been around for years. It had its days of glory. When the colour revolution arrived, black and white remained on the back-burner. Lately, there has been a resurgence of interest in black and white photography. Museums have opened their doors to photography throughout the world. It is simply being pushed into the realm of art by critics, gallery owners, dealers and auction houses.

But this good news is only for those professionals who have made a name for themselves internationally and whose work is sought after by leading galleries. There is no doubt that the black and white image has lost its people’s mandate. Today their king is colour.

I thought my black and white days were over when colour photography arrived and mesmerized the world. But, it was not so. I took to photography in the early fifties. I shot my first roll of black and white film as long ago as 1950. I still have those negatives in good shape even though it had been processed in a wayside studio in Mysore city. I produced my wedding album of black and white pictures nearly fifty years ago. Even today the prints in the album remain bright and beautiful while the wedding albums of my daughters, produced wholly in colour, have already begun to fade away!

This is where colour photography, despite all improvements in its chemistry, lags behind its poor cousin the black and white version. The most obvious advantage of the black and white print as an art object is its longevity. The Daguerreotype was essentially a black and white image, which is still there as a vital part of the history of photography. Black and white prints properly processed to archival standards can last a few centuries. Even the badly processed prints have a long life. Though technology is still trying to give colour images some stability, most of them, irrespective of their developing process, can’t go beyond forty or fifty years. Photographic colour chemistry still has a long way to go.

I feel the supremacy of the colour image in visual communication and in advertising remains unchallenged. Black and white is preferred only when one needs to make an image conspicuous in a world full of colour. I am curious about the future of black and white in journalism too, especially because digital journalism has taken root with the help of film-less technology.

What is the future of the black and white image, digital or otherwise? Digital photographs taken today may be or may not be around for a long time. There is no guarantee that you will be able to read a CD after a few decades and print pictures from it. Yes, this may be possible if you find a computer in an antique shop! Everything digital needs constant upgrading. Wet darkrooms have dried out. The digital camera aided by versatile softwares can produce unimaginable pictures. But to me all this is nowhere near the drama and delight of seeing a picture come to life in the darkness of a good old darkroom.

Also see: The most memorable home I’ve photographed

My most memorable photograph

Related link: Are spot-news photographers and endangered species? 

The 51 best (American) magazines ever

25 February 2007

Bigshot Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter explains the magic of magazines:

“A magazine—even in this age of electronic everything everywhere, is a marvelous invention… Newspapers tell you about the world; magazines tell you about their world—and by association, your world.

“Writers, photographers, editors, and designers bundle the slice of the world they have chosen to explore and deliver it to you in a singularly affordable, transportable, lendable, replaceable, disposable, recyclable package…

“The essential strength of a magazine is its ability to amplify. An idea, or an image, or a story, set within the pages of a magazine and assembled by the right hands, can become the grist of breakfast chatter, dinner-party conversation, or elective body debate around the world.”

Read the full article here: The 51 best magazines ever

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