Archive for April, 2009

Is Indian media in denial on Indian recession?

20 April 2009

P. Sainath, the Magsaysay Award-winning rural affairs editor of The Hindu, writes in today’s paper:

“At least two major newspapers have informed their desks that the word “recession” is not to be used in connection with India. Recession is something that happens in the United States, not here. The word stands exiled from the editorial lexicon. If a rather disastrous situation has somehow to be indicated, the term “downturn” or “slowdown” will suffice — and it is to be used with some discretion. But not recession….

“Now many of the publications and channels into this kind of evasion have also been laying off employees in droves, including several journalists. Those poor souls (many with large home loan EMIs contracted when the economy was in even less of a “downturn” than it is now) are losing their jobs because of — well, whatever.

“Imagine you were one of them, working at the desk, filtering copy for your readers to reassure them that all is well. In the evening, you’re exorcising the columns of the ghosts of recession. Next afternoon, you find you are a victim of what you’ve purged. The hypocrisy of the media in acting the opposite of what they tell their audiences is the reality — gee, that’s part of business strategy. Scare the public and there will be less spending. Which means less advertising, less revenue, less etc.”

Read the full article: No issues: a recession of the intellect

‘FIR is not a license to titillate or sensationalise’

19 April 2009

Eight women’s groups protested before the headquarters of The Times of India group in Bombay on Saturday, accusing the tabloid Mumbai Mirror of sensationalising the story of a rape victim and violating her right to privacy.

The tabloid, ironically edited by a woman (Meenal Baghel), had published in entirety the statement made by the victim to the local police, detailing her age, her country of origin, her home-state, the course she was enrolled in at the Tata Institute of Social Sciencies (TISS), the name of her course coordinator, etc.

The cover story, under the joint byline Deeptiman Tiwary and Dipti Sonawala, did not reveal the victim’s name but by revealing the other details in an inside story by Tiwary, left no scope for her identity to remain confidential, say the groups.

Mirror carried an apology on Saturday after many readers wrote in to complain about the graphic descriptions of the rape but the groups want the paper to apologise to the 23-year-old victim.

“An FIR may be a public document, but it’s not a document that is meant to titillate or sensationalise,” Nandita Gandhi of the group Akshara was quoted by The Hindu as saying.

Read the full article: Women’s groups protest newspaper report

Photograph: courtesy Vivek Bendre/ The Hindu

Link courtesy V. Anand

‘The media is as guilty of neglect as politicians’

19 April 2009

Is the Indian media as guilty as those in the Indian polity in the “neglect” of the country it covers (and uncovers)? At least two well-known journalists, from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum,  seem to think so.

Kalpana Sharma, formerly of The Hindu, writes on the media website, The Hoot:

“Elections are a time when the media discovers India, the real India.  If people complain that their Members of Parliament only visit their constituencies once in five years, the same can be said about the media.  In the run up to any election, municipal, assembly or parliament, you find newspapers full of stories about the “real” conditions in which people live, stories that could have been written at any point in the previous five years.”

Tavleen Singh writes in The Indian Express:

“We in the media are almost as much to blame as the political class because we spend far too much time talking about stupid things and ignoring what is crucial. Throughout the election campaign we have spent so much time discussing the foibles and failings of the Gandhi progeny that we have found little time to talk of real issues. I got so tired of hearing important journalists discuss the badness of Varun Gandhi and the goodness of Rahul and Priyanka that I stopped watching the news channels. How many times did we hear serious discussion of why our public services are such a mess or why after 60 years of Independence our political leaders are unable to provide clean drinking water? Or why unplanned urbanisation has put Bharat Mata well on the road to becoming a continent of slums by 2050.”

Is this just heroic self-flagellation?

After all, aren’t there islands of sanity in the media, print and electronic, which cover the bijli-sadak-pani issues on a realtime basis day after day, month after month, year after year?

If frivolous media “brands” erected on the 4Fs—food, fun, fashion and fornication—thrive to the point of wiping out the serious media, what does it say about the concerns of the lay reader, viewer, listener, surfer?

Is the news consumer too guilty of neglect?

Read the full articles: Poll time reality check

Vote for governance

Also read: How the media misses the woods for the trees

Blogger breaks into India’s most powerful list

18 April 2009

Businessweek magazine has compiled its latest list of the “50 Most Powerful People in India”. There are four media people on it—a pioneer-entrepreneur who founded an advertising agency, a software company and an internet portal; a publisher who inherited the world’s biggest selling English language newspaper; a writer who founded a pathbreaking webzine turned magazine—and a blogger.

“Blogger Amit Varma brings a particular libertarian point of view to his columns and blog items, but also a risqué sense of humor that keeps readers hooked. He won the 2007 Bastiat Prize for his columns in Indian business paper Mint, and for a select group of Indians, he represents a libertarian, anti-tax and anti-government sensibility that is still quite rare in the country.”

The other three media mavens are: Ajit Balakrishnan, 61, founder of rediff.com; Vineet Jain, managing director, Times Group; and Tarun J. Tejpal, editor of Tehelka.

Photograph: courtesy The Mad Man/ Flickr

Also read: 26% of most powerful are media barons

The 11 habits of India’s most successful media pros

‘Good reporters don’t have friends, only sources’

17 April 2009

From The Atlantic magazine’s review of the Russell Crowe-Ben Affleck-Helen Mirren starrer State of Play, releasing today, April 17:

“The problem with journalism—and with journalism movies—is that getting the story isn’t the same thing as getting the girl, or getting the bad guy.  You file a story, and if you’re very, very lucky, and have done a very, very good job with your reporting, the cavalry follows your pointed finger into town.  Someone better-looking than you unties the pretty girl from the train tracks, and a prosecutor in a better suit than you can afford puts the criminal away.”

Read the full review: A portrait of the journalist as a fallible man

Also read: Bogart on the wall, Hunter in the hip pocket

‘I don’t think this is the business of journalism

Is Barack Obama an Indian politician in drag?

16 April 2009

Not AIDS, not DRTB, not even XDRTB.

Blaming the messenger/ blaming the media is the fastest growing pandemic, and US president Barack Obama too seems to have succumbed to it.

Well, at least that’s what The Economic Times suggests in its headline “Obama blames 24-hour news cycle for US woes“.

“For too long, too many in Washington put off hard decisions for some other time on some other day. There’s been a tendency to score political points instead of rolling up sleeves to solve real problems.

“There is also an impatience that characterises this town—an attention span that has only grown shorter with the 24-hour news cycle, and insists on instant gratification in the form of immediate results or higher poll numbers.”

So, would the economic crisis have not occurred if there were no 24-hour news monsters to feed? Does a falling tree make a sound if nobody is around? Is the Pope Catholic?

Outlook cartoonist bags Maya Kamath award

15 April 2009

KPN photo

Sandeep Adhwaryu, the chief illustrator of Outlook magazine, has bagged the first prize in the first “Maya Kamath Memorial Award for excellence in cartooning-2008”, organized by the Indian Institute of Cartoonists, Bangalore.

This was the winning entry:

maya1st

The award carries a cash prize of Rs 25,000.

The award is in memory of Maya Kamath, India’s only woman political cartoonist who did work for The Times of India and The Asian Age, before her untimely demise in 2001at the age of 50.

The second prize has gone to Ramadhyani of Naavika, a Kannada daily, and the third prize to Shankar of the multi-edition Telugu daily, Saakshi.

Muhammad Zahoor of The Daily, Peshwar, won a special jury award.

The entries for the awards were judged by the playwright Girish Karnad; the resident editor of The Times of India in Bangalore, H.S. Balram; the artist S.G. Vasudev; and the chief political cartoonist of The Hindu, Keshav.

Visit the IIC website: http://www.cartoonistsindia.com/htm/home.htm

Photograph: Cartoonist V.G. Narendra (left) and Amarnath Kamath of Maya Kamath Memorial Trust announcing the prizes at a media conference in Bangalore on Wednesday (Karnataka Photo News)

Cartoon: courtesy Sandeep Adhwaryu/ Outlook

‘A grammar book by grammatical incompetents’

15 April 2009

April 16, 2009, marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Elements of Style, the landmark book by William Strunk and E.B. White.

In The Chronicle Review, Geoffrey K. Pullum, a professor of linguistics and English language at the University of Edinburgh, uses the occasion to stick a long, deep, and well honed knife into the “little book” that is loved and admired by anally-retentive, grammar conscious journalists.

The Elements of Style does not deserve the enormous esteem in which it is held by American college graduates. Its advice ranges from limp platitudes to inconsistent nonsense…. both authors were grammatical incompetents…

“Some of the recommendations are vapid, like “Be clear” (how could one disagree?). Some are tautologous, like “Do not explain too much.” (Explaining too much means explaining more than you should, so of course you shouldn’t.) Many are useless, like “Omit needless words.” (The students who know which words are needless don’t need the instruction.)”

Read the full article: 50 years of stupid grammar advice

Also read: The Elements of Style

Link via Nikhil Moro

New magazine looking for education reporters

13 April 2009

c360cover1Careers360, the newly launched career monthly, is looking for reporters in Bombay and Delhi, with a flair for writing, a nose for data and numbers, a panache for accuracy, and an unwavering commitment to education.

If you think you fit the bill, send a resume with samples of writing, if any, to publisher Mahesh Peri.

Email: mahesh@outlookindia.com

A small warning to the photo thieves of the world

12 April 2009

467043899_c6450c90fe

Sourcing photographs was a donkey’s job in the “good old days”. The digital era has made it infinitely easier, of course, but it has made it even more easy for news organisations—newspapers, magazines, websites, TV stations—violating copyright laws to be caught and shamed.

NISHANT RATNAKAR alerts us to a Flickr group called Indian Copyright Laws that has sprung up. Its express intent is to showcase the work of individuals whose work has been happilly filched by cheapskate companies which should know better, without crediting the original photographer or paying her.

Photograph: courtesy Seema KK, images used by The Times of India on its editorial page

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