Archive for July 17th, 2007

Singer accuses film critic of ‘sexual assault’

17 July 2007

Is there a parallel to this incident anywhere in the whole wide world of journalism?

A singer gets a brief two-line, 22-word negative mention in a established critic’s review of a film starring another singer. And that results in the hurt singer outing the critic as a homosexual who, having been spurned by the singer, was now using his editorial space to “spank” him in print.

The hurt singer is Sonu Nigam. The critic is Subhash K. Jha. And the bone of contention is a review of Himesh Reshamiyya‘s film that appeared in Bombay Times, a supplement which comes with The Times of India in Bombay.

“It’s not a secret in the industry that he is a homosexual. God bless him for homosexuals are normal people with just different sexual preferences, just like men lusting for women is not a taboo. But a man punishing a woman for not complying with his sexual advancement is an issue, right? So, why isn’t a man imposing upon another man an issue? Isn’t this a free world?

“I want to be left alone. I don’t want to be subjected to this strange kind of sexual assault where all that I did some time back has become something so hateworthy for this sick man.”

How NDTV gives a nice little plug for Lenovo

17 July 2007

Reading news with a notebook computer in front has become a regular feature on Indian television. But look closely at this montage of images from New Delhi Television (NDTV), and you will find the logo of Lenovo, the Chinese company that bought over IBM’s laptop business, prominently showing up on screen.

The logo appears on all three channels in the NDTV stable: the English news channel ’24×7′, the business channel ‘Profit’, and the Hindi channel ‘India’. Sometimes it is on the left of the screen, sometimes on the right, sometimes bang in the middle. And it appears whether one person is reading the news or two; morning, afternoon or night.

Of course, it is possible that all the notebook computers supplied to NDTV come with these giant-sized logos, which appear to be stickers, but it is unlikely. For one thing, Lenovo laptops available in the marketplace do not have such logos. And, for another, if you peer at the images, you will also find a smaller metallic logo above the big sticker one. So, clearly, the big logo is meant to be there.

Which can mean only one of three things. Either NDTV’s producers haven’t noticed that they are giving free publicity to a corporate (unlikely). Or NDTV acquired a truckload of computers at a mammoth discount from Lenovo in exchange for on-air publicity (possible but unlikely).

Or, most likely and dangerously, this is a “product placement” for Lenovo.

In other words, editorial airtime is being used by NDTV to subconsciously push a product without the viewer knowing that this is actually an advertisment for the company making it. In a strange sort of way, “The Wall” between Church and State seems to have been breached in an organisation high on political correctness and editorial standards.

What is wrong, you might ask, NDTV is free to do whatever it wants. Answer: plenty.

For starters, this is as bad as The Times of India group selling editorial space in the news columns of its publications to advertisers. The distinction between news and advertisement collapses, and the reader/viewer has no idea what is paid for and what isn’t.

Since ToI isn’t inflight reading even in the “business” section of NDTV, surely sauce for the goose….

More importantly, in a largely illiterate nation where images play a big role in moulding minds and shaping opinion, the media have a bounden duty to ensure that what the  reader/ listener/ viewer receives comes to him unfettered, without any strings attached. Not pushed through surreptitiously in a manner which could compromise the editorial freedom and independence of the newsroom.

What, for instance, is the likelihood that labour malpractices  or disposal of e-waste by Lenovo at its Chinese factory, or under invoicing of imports, will be allowed to be probed deeply NDTV reporters or reported fairly on air if there is an advertising deal stitched in in so obvious a manner?

Thankfully, it’s only Lenovo today. But what will they sell next without the viewer knowing?

Instead of treating viewers as citizens whom it ought to inform, entertain and empower, NDTV seems to have embarked on the same sorry path of those it decries by treating viewers as consumers.

For a listed company that isn’t short of cash, that is a big price to pay for a very small saving/accrual to its bottomline. And for a brand leader, it is a sorry example to set for the rest of the crowd.

Also read: Selling editorial space: changing times

Blurring the dividing line

Newspaper empires at war

The Times of India‘s final frontier

40 tips to improve your grammar, punctuation

17 July 2007

Looking to improve the clarity of your sentences? Wondering if you should use ‘a’ or ‘an’? Don’t know how to deal with dangling modifiers? Is the Oxford comma baffling you? Trying to achieve tense consistency?

Not to worry, help is here: 40+ tips to improve your grammar and punctuation

Link via Guy Kawasaki

Is Google readying to make its first India buy?

17 July 2007

Hindustan Times is reporting that Google and Yahoo may be eyeing rediff.com, the pioneering internet portal set up by Rediffusion co-founder Ajit Balakrishnan.

The NASDAQ-listed company, which also publishes the weekly India Abroad newspaper in the United States, is valued at nearly $750 million (approximately Rs 3,000 crore), and rediff’s share price has gone up significantly in recent times.

Balakrishnan has been quoted recently that rediff was looking at an India listing.

Link via I want media

In a global village, the globalisation of news

17 July 2007

If you’ve heard of globalisation being defined using Princess Diana‘s death—Egyptian boyfriend, Indian doctor, French driver, etc—or Thomas Friedman‘s Dell notebook–processor made in Taiwan, software in India, etc—then you will latch on to this definition of the globalisation of news as explained by a BBC editor.

“An Indian man, sailing from India to China, listening on his computer, debates with a Somali taxi driver in Moscow the merits of our Gaza coverage.”

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