Archive for March, 2009

It’s April 1, and the joke is on us (and them)

31 March 2009

On exchange4media, group editor Pradyuman Maheshwari lists the 10 April Fool’s Day headlines he wishes would turn out to be true:

#09: Newspapers up cover price. Times/HT/Hindu/DNA now priced at Rs 10; ET/BS/Mint at Rs 15: The Indian Newspaper Society steps in to convince the leading newspapers of the country—including regional biggies like The Telegraph, Deccan Herald, etc—to participate. Some low circulation newspapers may be exempted from the move. Regional papers to follow suit.

# 01: Times shuts Medianet, no editorial guarantee on Treaties: Although many people who would have otherwise not merited any coverage in Bombay Times/Delhi Times, etc., are very unhappy about it, Times has shut its Medianet division. Also, those signed on under the very successful Private Treaties programme have been told that there will be no guarantee of editorial plugs just because the Times Group has picked up stake.

Read the full article: 10 April Fool headlines

Also read: We can’t fool all the people all the time?

How a giant pig fooled the American media

The ultimate April Fool’s Day joke

In the end, all we have that is ours is memories

30 March 2009

1999-2009

sans serif mourns the sudden departure of the happiest, most peaceful, face in the family, but celebrates a life well lived—and well loved—and one that will be remembered every moment, every day.

Tony: 9 February 1999-29 March 2009

‘India’s freedoms as fragile as its neighbours”

28 March 2009

The Hindu’s Islamabad correspondent, Nirupama Subramanian (in picture), has shared the Chameli Devi Jain award for excellence in journalism with Vinita Deshmukh, the editor of The Weekly Intelligent, Poona.

In her acceptance speech, read out in her absence by her sister Vasudha Sondhi, Subramanian said:

“In Pakistan, where I am based, a number of journalists have lost their lives in recent months. For me, reading about journalists getting killed back home, three in Assam in the last four months, is a reminder that despite our democracy, our freedoms are as fragile as they are in our less stable neighbourhood.

“On the other hand, I also saw the power and influence of the media in a frightening close-up a few months ago, when tensions between India and Pakistan climbed a peak after the attacks in Mumbai…I believe there is only one way for journalists to look at India-Pakistan relations, and that is through the prism of peace…”

Colombo correspondent of The Hindu before her Islamabad posting, Nirupama Subramanian is the author of the critically acclaimed Sri Lanka Voice from a War Zone, and is a winner of the Prem Bhatia award for best political reporting.

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

Read the full article: ‘Fashionable to say TV channels work for TRPs, money’

Also read: ‘Journalism is mankind’s greatest achievement’

‘Indian media is large and vibrant, but how free is it?’

How a pioneering journalist became a horologist

27 March 2009

dsc03738

Today is Ugadi, the dawn of the new year for people in the South Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

While eating a pinch of bevu-bella (neem and jaggery) is a symbolic way of kicking off the new year, to signify that bitterness and sweetness should be accepted with equanimity, an equally important tradition on Ugadi day is the reading of the Panchang, the Hindu almanac (in picture,above).

Step forward, Chitra Subramaniam.

As India’s best-known investigative journalist, Chitra Subramaniam (in picture, left) was the one-woman army behind the unravelling of the Bofors scandal for both The Indian Express and The Hindu.

As Chitra Subramaniam-Duella, she has morphed into a horologist who makes watches in the land of watches, Switzerland, in the cradle of watches, Neuchâtel.

With her partner Marc Aeschbacher, a former investment banker, Chitra has bought over a 170-year-old defunct Swiss watch brand and set up BorgeauD SA. Their signature product is the Panchang line, bringing “the best of Swiss watch-making to the service of one of the world’s oldest calendars”.

Id est, the panchang watches marry the modern western concept of time with its traditional eastern calculations based on the sun, moon and the various planets, thus giving time a new dimension. So, apart from telling the normal time, the Panchang watches also display the rahu kala, the 90-minute sequence which occurs at different times on different days of the week, and during which nothing happens except “reflection”.

Developed in consultation with S. Ramadorai, the chief of India’s largest software company, Tata Consultancy Services, Chitra is quoted as saying that she sees a market in Europe for the Panchang line:

“I think people like it because this is a completely new idea and we tell people that they can have an appointment with themselves every day for 90 minutes. They love that. This is the only watch that tells you ‘just wait’.”

Photographs: courtesy Vontikoppal Panchanga Mandira, Land of Lime, Outlook

Hopefully, there was an announcement on AIR

24 March 2009

sans serif records the demise of P. Mahadevaiah, a former news reader for All India Radio and Radio Moscow, in Mysore on 12 March 2009.

A long-time resident of Gokulam, “Moscow Mahadevaiah”, as he was fondly known, was a figure of awe for young boys playing cricket in the triangular park opposite his home in the pre-liberalisation India of the 1980s.

Also read: India’s first television newsreader passes away

A baritone falls silent watching the cacophony

Which paper or TV station will do this story first?

24 March 2009

After the hype of the launch of the Tata Nano yesterday, the reality check today.

***

SHOBHA SARADA VISWANATHAN, in New Delhi, forwards a copy of an advertisement (above) taken out by Greenpeace in the Financial Times, London, and the International Herald Tribune, Paris, to draw the attention of the chairman of Ratan Tata, to the damage being caused to endangered Olive Ridley turtles by the Tatas’ construction of a port in Dhamra in Orissa’s Bhadrak district, in a joint venture with Larsen & Toubro.

Do Indian newspapers, which have all run full-page ads of the launch of the Nano today, have it in them to carry the Greenpeace advertisement? Will Indian TV channels run the YouTube film (below) that Greenpeace has put out? Will there be followups in newspapers, magazines and TV stations?

Or, in the wake of the Nano, is it a no-no because, well, the Tatas might sue or pull out the ads?

***

Below is the full text of the FT-IHT advertisement:

Dear Mr Ratan Tata

The Nano is the realisation of a dream you have dreamed along with millions of other Indians. While the Nano is certainly something you’d like to be remembered for, your port in Dhamra could undo all that the Tatas have stood for and built their reputation on.

For two years in a row, ever since dredging began in Dhamra, there has been no mass-nesting of endangered Olive Ridley turtles in the area. If they disappear, it will be forever. And that’s why Greenpeace believes that the port must stop now.

98% of your own customers polled recently also think the port should stop now. Over 100,000 customers have already emailed, called and faxed you, asking that the port should stop now. And over 200 respected scientists—25 of them from IUCN’s Marine Turtle Specialist Group—say the port must stop now. But construction continues day and night, threatening to bring an already endangered species closer to extinction.

Mr Tata, we call upon you to uphold the legacy that your company has built painstakingly over 100 years. Place the planet at par with profits, because there are some things that money just can’t buy back.

Greenpeace

www.greenpeace.org/turtles

***

Also read: Tatas refuse to stop dredging

Join the Facebook group: Greenpeace India

Just a couple of things you might like to know

21 March 2009

“Full Disclosure” is an alien concept in Indian media where edit masquerading as ads, ads masquerading as edit, editors masquerading as party spokesmen, conflict of interest, etc, all cohabit in a blissful orgy. Rarely is the reader or viewer told if there is a slippery wheel within a wheel, as if news consumers have an allergy to it.

Former Business India editor Omkar Goswami now has a show titled Question Time on NDTV’s business channel, Profit. Last week, he interviewed “one of the cleverest persons I’ve had the pleasure to know”, Nandan Nilekani, one of the founders of the Information Technology giant, Infosys.

Full disclosure No. 1: Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy is an independent director on NDTV’s board.

Full disclosure No. 2: Omkar Goswami is an independent director on the board of Infosys.

Maybe, neither disclosure is required because both interviewer and interviewee are stellar professionals in their own right. Maybe, neither disclosure would have added to the body of knowledge at the viewers disposal. Maybe, the viewer is just not interested in these details.

But….

Funny joke from a balding journo-blogger*

20 March 2009

David Finkelstein in The Times, London:

An economist-friend has just told me a wonderful story about a professional colleague of his.

The colleague was waiting at the airport for his flight to be called when a man ran into his section of the lounge, slightly out of breath.

“Is there an economist in here?” he called out.

My friend’s friend was delighted. He has always wanted to help out in an emergency. He puffed out his chest, stood up and in a clear voice called out, “Yes. I am an economist.”

The man looked back at him with a mixture of contempt and bewildered surprise.

“The magazine,” he said slowly.

*sans serif cannot guarantee that this joke will be funny for all journalists

Also read: How to get from point B to point A

Esquire as a feminist text

Ditto and likewise in India and elsewhere

17 March 2009

Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post:

“The biggest challenge facing America’s struggling newspaper industry may not be the high cost of newsprint or lost ad revenue, but ignorance stoked by drive-by punditry.

“Drive-by pundits are non-journalists who have been demonizing the media for the past 20 years or so and who blame the current news crisis on bias.

“There is surely room for media criticism, and a few bad actors in recent years have badly frayed public trust. And, yes, some newspapers are more liberal than their readership and do a lousy job of concealing it.

“But the greater truth is that newspaper reporters, editors and institutions are responsible for the boots-on-the-ground grub work that produces the news stories and performs the government watchdog role so crucial to a democratic republic. Unfortunately, the chorus of media bashing from certain quarters has succeeded in convincing many Americans that they don’t need newspapers.”

Read the full article: Frayed thread in a free society

An Indian address for ‘The Capitalist Tool’

17 March 2009

forbes-cover

After more than a few start-up hiccups, the Indian edition for Forbes finally seems poised to roll off from Raghav Bahl‘s Network 18 stable. A dummy edition with a February 14 dateline is doing the rounds with this cover.

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