Archive for September, 2008

‘Ask the questions and question the answers’

29 September 2008

Peter Cole in The Guardian, London:

“Journalism is basically a simple game. It is about finding things out and telling other people about them. The finding out requires a variety of skills because those in power often prefer that we know only so much. Journalism is about holding such people to account, exposing their humbug and hypocrisy, the abuse of their power. This includes the control it gives them over the flow of information, the ability to bury the bad news, to spin and obfuscate.

“Good journalists must ask the awkward questions and question the answers, must dig to unearth and then explain, making comprehensible that which authority, by intent or verbal inadequacy, has left confused, incomplete or plain mendacious.

“Incomprehensible journalism is quite simply bad journalism, and therefore pointless.”

Link via Chinmayee Manjunath

It’s not enough if you are just what you eat

23 September 2008

On Aaj Tak, India’s leading Hindi news channel, a moment of stunning simplicity in an era of conspicuous consumption. Rahul Gandhi, the crown prince of the Congress party, has his dietary habits broken over live TV.

Link via Chetan Krishnaswamy

Also read: Cold is gold for the unwashed unmillions

After Big B’s cold, small screen catches a…

Infochange Media Fellowships for 2008

22 September 2008

PRESS RELEASE: www.infochangeindia.org (managed by the Centre for Communication and Development Studies) invites applications for its 2008 media fellowships in areas related to social justice/sustainable development in India.

Three fellowships are on offer to journalists and researchers.

Proposals that illustrate topical issues and contemporary debates in the social sector—from environment, poverty, livelihoods, public health, women and child rights, social exclusion, displacement, migration, gender and sexuality to globalisation, trade and development, intellectual property rights, social entrepreneurship and much more—are eligible for the fellowships.

The fellowship must result in: 1) a series of five or more original articles totalling 7,500 words or more, or 2) A series of three or more short audio reports – not exceeding 10 mins duration each, or 3) A documentary film (of 10-22 mins duration) or a series of shorts.

The fellowships will be announced end-October. Fellows are expected to begin work by the first week of November 2008 and complete it by the first week of January 2009. All outputs are required to reach infochangeindia by 5 January 2009.

The fellowship is open to independent journalists and researchers living in India only. Working journalists may also apply, provided their organisations endorse their application and allow them time off for this fellowship If selected. All applications must be received by 3 October 2008.

The fellowships carry a grant amount of Rs 50,000 (subject to TDS as applicable). 50% of this amount will be disbursed on selection, to fund travel and research expenses. The balance will be released on successful completion of the project, submission and acceptance of stories/films.

Applications may be addressed to:

Infochangeindia Media Fellowships
Centre for Communication and Development Studies (CCDS)
301, Kanchanjunga Building, Kanchan Gully
Off Law College Road,
Pune 411 004

Telephone: 020-26852845/30222156

Rupert Murdoch on India, China and democracy

21 September 2008

The controversial media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, on India and China, in Esquire:

“Any company that is global cannot ignore China or India. They are just enormous, emerging great powers. I enjoy China. I have a lot of friends there. But all we have there are the moment is a few very minor investments.

“India is different. India is a democracy—imperfect, but a democracy. And there is a rule of law there where you know exactly where you stand. It’s a difficlt country. There are so many languages. We’re just beginning to spread beyond Hindi into other languages so our channels will become more national.”

Read the full article: Rupert Murdoch has potential

The blood stains of a language murdered

20 September 2008

Sunanda K. Datta-Ray, the former editor of The Statesman and a wordsmith par excellence, in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“Speaking many years ago at Secunderabad’s Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages on editing an English-language newspaper in India, I recalled having to explain to young journalists that a district is a geographical term and does not always have to have a collector or magistrate.

“I also recalled trying to stress the inappropriateness of writing juggernaut in the archaic English sense of an unstoppable force that crushes all obstacles.

“‘James Cowley uses it,’ the reporter protested, referring to the paper’s elderly London correspondent. When I said that was Anglo-Indian usage, the surprised young man asked, ‘Cowley is Anglo-Indian?'”

Read the full article: For maximum gain

‘Media’s double standards to measure terrorism’

17 September 2008

The “Eye for an Eye” email sent out by the “Indian Mujahideen” before the Delhi blasts on Saturday, while using the “injustice and oppression inflicted upon Muslims all over the country” as a justification for the attack, also targets the Indian English print media in particular:

“The coverage of news by both the electronic as well as print media clearly depicts the level to which their immorality has reached while obeying their loyal masters of IB [Intelligence Burau]. But let us clarify here that you forgot your own principle: that sometimes the stories untold serve the purpose more than the stories told. Look at the way you handled the blasts in which Sangh activists have been involved.

“With the Will of Allah, the Most Sublime, both the Bajrang Dal activisits were killed and sentenced to Hell fire while they were engaged in bomb making—an art which needs extraordinary intelligence—at Kanpur, and this was rightly reported by the Indian Express mentioning that the police was astonished to see the quantity of bombs found. The ‘apes’ of Bajrang Dal were too foolish to plot a revenge blast in Kanpur on 24th Aug. 2008 against the Muslims.

“The blast which occrred on 24th August hardly found even a single column space in The Times of India the next day. Hindustan Times carried the news, but without mentioning the identity of the wretchd ones who were killed. The only information it delivered was tht the father of Piyush Mishra, one among the dead, was running a private hostel in the locality! On 26th August, the Indian Express and Mail Today mentioned the news in some detail (heading: “The Bajrang Bomb?”—Indian Express). There were hardly any follow-up stories in Times of India. Stories of Omprakash alias Bunty, a gang leader who was gunned down by the police was the topic Times of India gave to its readers the next day. Times spent more than a page for Bunty the gang leader. On the following days, there was an extensive coverage of police cracking down the Jaipur blast mystery, ‘investigative’ stories on Shahbaz Hussain, the ‘computer savy’ master mind (yet another forged lie) alleged to be behind the serial blasts. But a dreadful silence was kept about the origin of bombs dug out from the camp of Sangh Parivar all along. A great number of human rights activists and organisations demanded an immediate probe to investigate the explosive agenda hidden by Sangh Parivar. The statements issued and press conferences conducted in this regard were limited to single columns in the national newspapers….

“The coverage of the Sangh Parivar violence in Orissa, by the mainstream media reveals the bad character of the Indian press. After the very first day of violence… Times of India didn’t find it worthy enough to mention it in the front page! After 26th of August, the Times reader can hardly find news from Orissa, unless he dives into the inner pages. Times of India has written an editorial demanding to put an end to violence against Christians in Orissa. From the day enxt, the newspaper runs as if it had complete its duty and has better things to do!

“Look at the effort the Times News Network takes to endorse the VHP argument that Lakshminanda Saraswati was kileld not by the Maoists but by the Christian missionaries (heading: Maoists didn’t kill VHP leader—The Times of India, 31st August). On the other hand, the Orissa violence made a clear appearance in other newspapers like The Hindu, Indian Express, and Hindustan Times. They have given extensive coverage to the pight of hundreds of Christians, who were forced to run. Why is it that the Sangh parivar violence is never dealt with in the same intensity as ‘Islamic Terror’ is treated?

“The media always uses double standards to measure terrorism. The word ‘terrorism’ is never used when a story on Sangh violence is told, no matter how large scale the violence is. The violence unleashed by the Sangh Parivar in Gujarat was defined only as “expression of communalism” and the same is the case with what happens in Orissa at present. At this moment we ask you as to why the ‘Sangh terror’ on all the minorities including the Muslims, Dalits and Christians is a rarely noticed idea?”

Who on earth is Tony Buzzan and why is he here?

11 September 2008

India’s best known investigative journalist in the internet age throws away his camera-specs and ducks behind a pair of YSL glasses for a new Channel [V] talk show to air on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 7 pm from September 19.

Read a promo interview: The Tony B Show

‘Media shapes, sexes up, manipulates, distorts’

10 September 2008

Is the media playing with the tiger’s tail? Or is the tiger cub riding the media? In other words, just how much is the media responsible for the Raj Thackeray bogey?

Is the “demonisation” of Thackeray junior entirely the handiwork of sensation-seeking journalists trying to fill up the airwaves in the era of 24×7 news? Is the Maharashtra Navanirman Samithi (MNS) campaign against migrant workers, taxi drivers, and the Bachchan family, “a demon created by the media”?

Yes, say two people who should know.

Exhibit A: K.L. Prasad.

The joint commissioner of police (law and order), Bombay, blames the issue on profusion of reportage. In fact, he says there was “no issue at all.”

“I have a complaint against the media. You people make heroes out of zeroes. I would say, just neglect him [Raj Thackeray]. He will get asphyxia. Channels are constantly repeating the footage. One incident is shown 74 times. This is clearly [a way of] reinforcing it in the mind.”

Exhibit B: Mahesh Vijapurkar.

Longtime Bombay bureau chief of The Hindu, he writes that the media has on three separate occasions missed the woods for the trees and distorted Raj Thackeray’s statements.

Irving Wallace was bang on target in his 1982 novel The Almighty in which the power-hungry media-owner Edward Armstead‘s obsession was to shape the news and then manipulate and control it with disastrous consequences to the world.

“The Indian media’s obsession to shape—or sex up?—a story to its worst distortion has come to the fore. And without anyone even batting an eyelid in concern.

“What further mischief lies ahead? Can we trust the mass media? The reader believes the printed word and sees television, despite its limited depth—or actually, the absolute lack of it—as real because he sees live images….

“The media has lost its head and plunged the region into trouble, jeopardising lives and property by its irresponsibility.”

Cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/The Indian Express

Read the full story: How the media created the Raj Thackeray bogey

Bolo ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’. Bolo ‘It’s a work of art’

9 September 2008

Not that they are sensitive to these things, but the highest court in India has delivered a stinging slap on the menacing faces of the moral police and thought thugs; the connoisseurs who know exactly what we should see, hear, wear, watch, read, write, paint, feel and think.

Or else.

Maqbool Fida Husain‘s Bharat Mata—a 2004 oil-on-canvas painting of a nude woman whose shape mimics the contours of the map of India, with the names of Indian cities written over her body—has been decreed “a work of art” by the Supreme Court of India.

Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, while refusing to initiate criminal proceedings against Husain for allegedly “hurting public sentiments” and the “national pride of Indians”, said:

“There are so many such subjects, photographs and publications. Does the sentiment of the petitioner get scandalized by the large number of photographs of erotic sculptures which are in circulation? Will you file cases against all of them?

“What about temple structures?

“It (Husain’s work) is art. If you don’t want to see it, don’t see it. There are so many such art forms in temple structures.”

Also read: M.F. HUSAIN: Do you throw out a naughty child?

RITU MENON: In the name of Bhagwan, Allah, God…

Desh ke police kaise ho? Moral police jaise ho!

Just how is this dress an affront to Hindu culture?

The 21st century begins now… once again

8 September 2008

Esquire‘s “electronic ink” cover to mark its 75th anniversary is here.

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