Archive for October, 2009

Anybody here who’s Hindu and wants to convert?

22 October 2009

indianexpress

In the 1980s and ’90s, the undivided Indian Express, it was rumoured, was loathe to hiring Muslim journalists because of the pronounced pro-Hindu sentiment of its proprietor Ramnath Goenka, although there were exceptions to the rule like Saeed Naqvi and Rasheeda Bhagat.

Thankfully, that trend changed with the death of the old man and the division in the family. Now, it is the turn of the paper to point fingers at others still indulging in religion-based segregation.

Facsimile: courtesy The Indian Express

Iran to China, Newsweek has the story covered

20 October 2009

NEWSWEEK FAREED ZAKARIA Newsweek magazine cover

More wisdom from the all-seeing, all-knowing editors of Newsweek*.

On the left, the cover of the June 1, 2009 issue. Coverline: “Everything you think you know about Iran is wrong“.

On the right, the cover of the October 26, 2009 issue. Coverline: “Everything you know about China is wrong“.

Also read: Who, why, when, how, where, what, what the…

How a slumdweller became a Newsweek reporter

*Disclosures apply

Sting camera that Amitabh Bachchan didn’t see

17 October 2009

bachhancamera

The BBC’s “star of the millennium”, Amitabh Bachchan, has always had a hate-hate relationship with the media, except when he has had to love it to push a product or push himself, which is usually the same thing.

In the first week of his 67th year in the solar system (birthday: October 11),  Mr Bachchan has got his long legs entangled in a classic multimedia landmine.

This time with the Bombay tabloid MiD-DaY.

The paper’s executive editor Abhijit Majumder had sought an interview with the actor to mark his birthday, his 40 years in Bollywood, and the launch of BiggBoss 3. Bachchan, says he was initially willing to do an interview only by email, but relented to give a face-to-face interview.

The interview was published and, not surprisingly, as is usual with celebrities who think an interview is an advertisement, Bachchan complains on his blog that “it did not do justice to the responses I had given”.

What was surprising, says Bachchan, is that a video clip of the interview appeared on MiD-DaY’s website.

Writes he:

“I had never expected either the paper or any one else to have posted something which I would be unaware of. [And] now realize why Mr Majumdar wanted a personal meeting. He had placed a small “sting” camera on the table in front of me, without informing me that the interview was being video taped as well. He never told me that they had a video net facility in operation and that the recorded interview would find a place there.”

Bachchan accuses the editor of dishonesty and says the reason he had sought a one-on-one interview was with the “mala fide intent of recording the interview to be used as a live input on a video electronic facility medium that your paper runs.”

Video electronic facility medium, indeed.

But Majumder has hit back in the paper, printing a photograph of the actor sitting comfortably in front of the “sting” camera, and charging the actor of introducing a new word into journalism: a “sting of one’s own legitimate interview“.

Majumder says he had mentioned to Bachchan in the presence of the paper’s photographer and two unknown gentlemen who also seemed to be videotaping it, that the interview would be recorded on audio and video; that he had asked the actor’s secretary if he could bring along a photographer and somebody to video-record the interview.

“Either you are lying or I am. I would like to believe it is neither; it’s just your memory playing tricks at twilight.”

Of course, it is possible for a 67-year-old to have not spotted the device in front of him. Maybe he thought it was a simple tape-recorder like in the good ol’ days.

But an actor who fails to see a camera lens?

Photograph: courtesy Pradeep Dhivar/ MiD-Day

Link via Anamika Sengupta

Knight News Challenge: Win upto Rs 25 crore

13 October 2009

NEWS RELEASE: The John F. and James L. Knight Foundation has extended upto 15 December 2009, the deadline for the the global Knight News Challenge that awards up to $5 million (approximately Rs 25 crore) for ideas that use digital experiments to transform community news.

The Knight News Challenge is open to innovators worldwide and has three rules: “Projects must use digital, open-source technology, distribute news in the public interest and be tested in a local community.”

The contest, now its fourth year, has chosen 35 winners from 7,000 entries.

Applicants can enter under the “open category, which allows the public to view and comment on their submissions, or the “closed” category, for those who are not ready to make their ideas public.

For more information: see the video, read the FAQ

For applications: click here

Link via Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas

US scribe discovers India’s Abu Ghraib at Bhogal

10 October 2009

joel statement and t#1D0E8AJOEL ELLIOTT, an American freelance journalist working as a “staff writer” at Caravan magazine in Delhi since May this year, has been the subject of a bizarre torture incident.

According to a signed statement issued by Elliott, a recipient of the Payne Award for courage, he was assaulted by Delhi police personnel on the morning of October 6, allegedly for “trying to steal a taxi”, while in fact he was only seeking cover from the rampaging cops who were pounding some other person.

Elliot, who claims he was “tortured” by the police and “inhumanly treated”, has now left for the US.

Below is the full text of Eliott’s signed statement, released by Caravan, in which he demands a compensation of half of million dollars for “the pain and suffering and mental anguish” inflicted upon him.

***

joel statement

RAJAN BALA: Cricketers, write your own columns

10 October 2009

KPN photo

The death of the veteran cricket writer Rajan Bala has thankfully not gone unnoticed.

ANI reveals that his real name was Natarajan Balasubramaniam. Cricinfo, the Bhagwad Gita of the Beautiful Game, has a short obituary. The Times of India‘s Satish Vishwanathan uses a Sachin Tendulkar anecdote to demonstrate Bala’s hold.

His protege, Suresh Menon, writes of walking into the offices of Deccan Herald in Bangalore over a quarter of a century ago:

“On my first day at work, fresh out of university, I asked hesitantly, “Is it all right to smoke in here?” and was welcomed with the memorable words: “So long as you don’t f**k on my table, you can do what you want.”

Here, Hemant Kenkre, the former Cricket Club of India captain, a first cousin of the legendary Indian opening batsman, Sunil Gavaskar, pays tribute.

***

hemant kenkre

By HEMANT KENKRE in Singapore

I first met Rajan Bala when he came with Sunil Gavaskar to our family house at Forjett Hill in 1971.

The 21-year old maestro had just come back after his epic debut in the Caribbean islands and had brought along Rajan when he came to meet his uncle, Shashikant Gavaskar. As a 13-year old, I listened, with rapt attention, the discussion (on cricket) they had which went on till the wee hours.

Over the years, I kept reading Rajan’s columns in newspapers where he held forth as the sports editor—from Calcutta, Chennai to Mumbai. His views were always forthright and came straight from his heart.

Whether one agreed with them or not, one always admired the way he put things/issues in perspective. Whatever the topic, Rajan had a distinct and a unique point of view.

Once Rajan was convinced that a person had talent, he would back him to the hilt, irrespective of the player’s performance!

A cricket romantic to the core, Rajan essentially belonged to the era of the ’70s, the days when international cricketers carried small kit-bags containing sparse equipment; a bat, few clothes and necessary guards.

The days when Walkmans and iPods did not keep cricketers from discussing the game and the times when cricketers (most of them)—after a game—went straight to the bar before they went into their rooms.

M.A.K. (Tiger) Pataudi, M.L. Jaisimha, Bishen Bedi, Ajit Wadekar, Erapalli Prasanna, Bhagwat Chandrasekar, Gundappa Viswanath, Dilip Sardesai, Salim Durrani, Eknath Solkar and Gavaskar were some of the super humans whom Rajan made superheroes with this dispatches and columns.

Jaisimha, in particular was one of Rajan’s favourite cricketers.

I distinctly remember meeting and travelling with Jaisimha during the India-England series (1992) and the many post-match drinks (not cocktails, mind you) that the debonair Hyderabadi shared with Rajan.

From Chennai to Jamshedpur, most of my evenings were spent in the company of these two titans, soaking in stories about Sir Garfield Sobers and Rohan Kanhai, Pataudi, Wadekar and Gavaskar, and about the trials and tribulations that Indian cricket went through during the ’60s and ’70s.

Rajan was also a keen music buff. Knowing my how obsessed I was with Rahul Dev (Pancham) Burman, it was Rajan who told me stories about Dilip Naik, the guitarist who played most of his opening riffs from Teesri Manzil onwards.

He used to narrate graphic stories about Sachin Dev Burman’s exploits with the tennis racket while he sipped his drink in the company of his senior K.N. (Niran) Prabhu, (Matunga Gym friend) K. Satyamurthy and Priya (Rajan’s lovely wife) after a hard day at work.

It was his encouragement—having given me a weekly column in the Bombay tabloid Afternoon Despatch & Courier (ADC)—that made me write on the game. His (tongue in cheek) quip then still rings in my ear: “You know son, cricketers should write their own columns.”

Whatever the opinions that people may have about Rajan, I will always remember him as not just one who loved the game as a passionate romantic but someone that understood Indian cricket.

Wherever he is, I know, for sure, he is in the company of his mates including Jaisimha sipping a drink and discussing whether two-sided bats, power-plays and the reverse sweep are good for cricket.

RIP Rajan: I will always miss you, and thanks for everything!

Also read: Rajan Bala, a stellar cricket writer, is no more

For our own cricket correspondent, Rajan Bala

Rajan Bala, a stellar cricket writer, is no more

9 October 2009

KPN photo

sans serif records with deep regret the passing away of the veteran cricket writer Rajan Bala in Bangalore this morning. He was 63 years old, and is survived by his wife and two sons.

Mr Bala, a former cricket correspondent of Deccan Herald, The Hindu, Indian Express and The Asian Age, had suffered a cardiac arrest two weeks ago while doing a television show for News9 in Bangalore and slipped into a coma.

Rest in peace.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: For Rajan Bala as he awaits The Great Umpire

Selling the soul? Or sustaining the business?

9 October 2009

masthead

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: Let it be said upfront: Indian newspapers have sold their front pages to advertisers before, and The Times of India is not the first.

In 1948, India’s self-proclaimed “national newspaper”, The Hindu, reported the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on its back page, because, back then, the “Mount Road Mahavishnu” used to run ads on the front page.

In the mid-1990s, when the “Old Lady of Boribunder” ran ear panel advertisements on either side of its title, it sold both slots to a (chocolate?) advertiser who created the words “LET” and “WAIT” in the same font as the paper’s mashtead.

Result, when readers received the paper, the masthead that greeted them was “LET THE TIMES OF INDIA WAIT”.

More recently, using the front page for advertising, often by flanking the actual front page with a wraparound, has gained currency among a variety of advertisers and newspapers, including The Hindu.

And there are those who believe this is a good thing because the most important piece of real estate in a paper can draw top dollar, which can sustain newsrooms in a tight advertising market. After all, the New York Times has just started taking front page ads.

Selling the front page for advertising is one thing, but selling a newspaper’s masthead?

That’s precisely what the Delhi edition of The Times of India has done today (see image, above).

The Times often uses the masthead to create Google-style doodles, to wish readers on festivals and to create a splash  on important news days. For journalists and readers of the old school, even that may not be OK, but at least that doesn’t amount to signalling to the world that the soul of the paper is safe.

But in a step that suggests that there is nothing in the paper that cannot be bought for a price, The Times today sells its masthead to a mobile phone company, whose ad, with various arms of it creeping all over the news space, appears below on the bottom-half of the front page.

It can be argued that there is nothing wrong with monetising the masthead. Regular readers rarely look at it with a close eye and in the case of the The Times of India, readers who are used to their paper’s masthead being played around with, may not even notice.

On the other hand, sure, business is bad, but this bad?

toifront

Also read: Pyramid Saimira, Tatva & Times Private Treaties

Times Private Treaties gets a very public airing

SUCHETA DALAL: Forget the news, you can’t believe the ads either

SALIL TRIPATHI: The first casualty of a cosy deal is credibility

PAUL BECKETT: Indian media holding Indian democracy ransom

PRATAP BHANU MEHTA: ‘Indian media in deeply murky ethical territory’

The scoreline: Different strokes for different folks

Does he who pays the piper call the tune?

Everybody is naked in the newspaper hamaam?

8 October 2009

Dinamalar-Bhuvaneswari-Names-Actress-Tamil-Scandal

If you don’t like the message, shut out the messenger?

Two weeks ago, the Indian government threatened to file a First Information Report against two reporters of The Times of India, Nirmalya Banerjee and Prabin Kalita, for authoring “wrong” reports of a conflagration between Indian and Chinese troops in Northeast India. The move was thankfully shelved.

Now, the Tamil Nadu police have arrested B. Lenin, a news editor of the southern newspaper Dina Malar.

Reason: the large-circulation Tamil daily had published the reported confessions in custody of Bhuvaneshwari, the actress who played the role of a call girl in Boys, who was arrested recently for running a high-profile prostitution racket.

Apparently, the actress who was picked up in a police sting, had named several other female stars from tinseltown who also indulged in flesh trade or ran brothels.

The newspaper printed the story with the pictures of the other actresses allegedly named by Bhuvaneshwari.

Bhuvaneshwari reportedly claimed that these top heroines charge as much as Rs 1 lakh for an hour’s service.

Tamil movie artistes took out a protest at the slander and then, acting on a complaint a complaint filed by Radha Ravi, general secretary of the South Indian Film Artistes Association, the police came knocking and charged Lenin under section 4 of the Tamil Nadu women harassment (prevention) Act for “indecent representation of women“.

The Chennai Press Club and the Madras union of journalists have slammed the news editor’s arrest, and urged for his release. Union general secretary D. Suresh Kumar wondered how the police arrived at the conclusion that Lenin was responsible for the offending news report.

Newspaper facsimile: courtesy Sriviews

Also read: Censorship in the name of national interest?

Shashi Tharoor ain’t the only Tweetiya in town

7 October 2009

Indian minister Shashi Tharoor isn’t the only one getting into trouble with his Twitter updates.

Indian-born journalist Raju Narisetti too is.

The former editor of the business daily Mint, now a managing editor at The Washington Post looking after features and its website, has fallen foul of the paper’s ombudsman Andrew Alexander for his tweets about the US health care debate and an age limit on politicians (he is in favour of both).

Result: Narisetti made a decision to stop tweeting and shut down his Twitter account.

“He now realises that his tweets, although intended for a private audience of about 90 friends and associates, were unwise.”

One more result: The Post issued new guidelines for its employees on social media which, net-net, said it was problematic for an editor to be seen to have an opinion, in case it gave “ammunition” to those who believe the Post to be biased.

Read the full story: Clipping the wings of journo tweeters

Watch your mouth

Also read: ‘Good journalists, poor journalism, zero standards’

Pseudonymous author spells finis to Mint editor?

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