Archive for August, 2010

Thousands of words & pixels at The Big Picture

11 August 2010

“The Big Picture”, a collection of photographic and video work by members of the working news cameramen’s association, on display at the Lalit Kala Academy gallery on Copernicus Marg in New Delhi.

From 12 August to 19 August 2010.

Why the internet won’t replace newspapers—III

9 August 2010

At a rally organised by the Congress party in Bellary on Monday, upon the culmination of a fortnight-long pada yatra (foot march) from Bangalore, 320 km away, members of the audience use newspapers to protect themselves from the searing sun in Sonia Gandhi‘s former constituency.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Newspapers as wall paper

Newspapers as a weapon

What K.M. Mathew could teach today’s tykes

9 August 2010

By T.J.S. GEORGE

Being famous is different from being important.

The trimurtis of English journalism in India–Pothan Joseph, Frank Moraes, M. Chalapathi Rao–are still unequalled in their star value and brilliance of writing. But historically they mattered little because they introduced no movement that transformed their profession.

Devdas Gandhi of Hindustan Times and Kasturi Srinivasan of The Hindu were not celebrities, but they were historically important personages because they helped convert pre-1947 missionary journalism into an organised industry, lending it strength and direction.

Ramnath Goenka was both celebrated (for his king-maker role in politics and his daring in opposing the Emergency) and important (for launching the then-original concept of a newspaper chain covering the vastness of India).

C.P Adityanar of the Dina Thanthi and Ashok Sircar of Ananda Bazar Patrika are other print media leaders who carved a niche for themselves in the history books. Both encouraged innovations to turn newspaper language from scholarly “written” style to accessible “popular” style. This was a major step towards the era of mass readership in India.

When we look at the media scene in this wide perspective, we see one man standing out as historically more significant than most others. The importance of K.M.Mathew, who passed away last week, rests not so much on the growth rate and acceptance level he achieved for Malayala Manorama as on how he achieved them.

First, he had a visionary outlook.

Secondly, he had that rare ability to change with the times.

When he became chief of the family-owned newspaper in 1973, it was selling 30,000 copies. He told a circulation department functionary: “If we can somehow reach 50,000, we can have an all-India presence, right?”

What was noteworthy was not the figure mentioned, but the vision of an all-India presence for a language paper from a small town in Kerala. A few days before Mathew’s death last week at age 93, his paper crossed a record print order of 18 lakhs.

He worked the magic by becoming an innovator. Eager to learn from others, he was instrumental in bringing the International Press Institute’s Tarzie Vittachi to India. Mathew helped Vittachi visit other newspaper establishments as well, often making the arrangements himself.

Seminars and workshops followed. Several newspapers benefited, but none more than Mathew who built a team of young journalists and managers, giving them training in India and abroad and professionalising management practices as well as journalism.

Mathew’s innovations were effective because he was a modernist who changed as ideas around him changed. Especially in the 1980s and 1990s, the world changed in revolutionary ways, IT and mobile phone leading the way. Mathew was ready with new inroads into television, FM radio, on-line editions. He even devised ways to reorient print journalism so that it could rise above television’s 24-hour breaking-news advantage.

Only in political orientation, he remained old-fashioned. Anti-communism sat as heavily on his paper as the position that the Congress could do no wrong. But Mathew’s personal warmth towards ranking communist leaders helped keep bitterness away.

Besides, his paper’s social involvement was too deep for anyone, including political critics, in ignore.

Special teams were commissioned to propagate one movement after another–water conservation, environment protection, garbage disposal. Large funds were spent to provide free heart surgery for children and housing for victims of earthquakes and tsunami.

On development issues he spent company money to convene meetings of experts so that constructive ideas would emerge for the authorities to act upon. He never cheapened these projects by using them as publicity gimmicks. He was a corporate citizen in the truest sense.

The greatest lesson Mathew left behind was that a newspaper could achieve commercial success and simultaneously fulfil its social responsibilities in a big way. This is a timely lesson because some very successful papers today have adopted the philosophy that they have no social responsibility whatever.

That is selfish, ignorant bunkum, and the proof is K. M. Mathew.

(Author, columnist and editor, T.J.S. George is founder editor of Asiaweek and editorial advisor to the New Indian Express)

Also read: K.M. Mathew, chief editor, Malayala Manorama, is dead

15 things you didn’t know about K.M. Mathew

Media Bill: Regulation through the back door

8 August 2010

Why ToI was right to use The Last Supper motif

6 August 2010

The Times of India printed this 8-column illustration by Neelabh in late July, to accompany a story on galloping food prices in India, and, following complaints from Christians, published an apology three days later.

Allwyn Fernandes, the Times of India‘s former chief reporter in Bombay and now director of media practice and social engagement practice at R&PM: Edelman, joins issue with the protestors.

***

By ALLWYN FERNANDES

I know this is going to upset many, but I must raise it.

Ancy D’Souza has written a letter to Jaideep Bose, editor of The Sunday Times of India, protesting against the cartoon titled “The Lost Supper” in the issue dated July 25, 2010.

You can see the cartoon here.

Ancy (and many others who share his sentiments on Facebook) says that the cartoon has hurt the religious sentiments of Christians deeply by projecting R.K. Laxman’s Common Man as the centre of The Lost Supper, with politicians of all hues sitting around him.

The cartoon symbolises the situation in India today, especially over the past year, as food prices spiral upwards and politicians serve up empty promises, the common man is left empty-handed and with an empty stomach.

But Ancy sees it differently: “You have made mockery of our religious beliefs. Kindly apologize for the blunder you have created or else we may have to plan a very stringent course of action,” says his letter to Jaideep Bose.

But is the cartoon really offensive and has it made a mockery of our religious beliefs?

If Ancy visits my home, above my dining table is a painting from the Philippines titled “Table of Hope.” It depicts Jesus at the table, with a lot of ragged and dirty street urchins around him instead of the apostles. There is also a cute little urchin hiding under the table!

Everyone who has dined at my table has marveled at the artist’s depiction of what Jesus would do today—round up and invite us to his table not priests, bishops and cardinals in pink fancy wear, not even us Catholics praying in churches.

No, he would round up the urchins, the poor and the hungry at our railway stations and bus stands and in our schools and break bread with them. Yes, there is deep hunger even in Mumbai — thousands come to school hungry even in our Catholic schools because their parents have no jobs or the money to give them a proper meal.

That picture was not given to me by an atheist or agnostic, but by a solid SVD priest, Fr Franz-Josef Eilers, secretary of the office of social communications of the federation of Asian bishops’ conferences.

I believe that the Sunday Times of India cartoon, by using a scene that symbolizes Christianity’s most solemn moment, depicts the picture in India today very powerfully.

What are we protesting against?

Did not Jesus say “whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me”? Did He not say, and have countless artists down the centuries not portrayed good being done to the poor, the hungry, the sick, the tired and the dispossessed as being done to Jesus himself? Then how are our sentiments hurt?

That Common Man in the cartoon, dispossessed of his meal, represents Jesus himself. And around him in the cartoon you see politicians of all hues, fussing around him.

Was everyone around the last Supper pure of heart? Did you not have a Judas whom countless artists have painted with his thirty pieces of silver? And did not Peter refuse to let Jesus wash his feet? And then deny he knew Jesus at all thrice before the sun rose, this same Peter on whose rock He would build His Church?

Didn’t those 12 men that we believe were round the table with Jesus at his last meal not human beings, with all their human failings – just like those depicted in the cartoon?

It is time to take a broader view.

That cartoon is something I would enlarge and put up in every church and use for reflection of the hunger that exists in our country today – hunger of every kind, while the politicians huff and puff without purpose around the hungry Common Man at the centre of it all.

Also read: The newspaper cartoon that offended Christians

Newspaper cartoon that’s offending Israelis

Newspaper cartoon that’s offending Aussies

External reading: A day in the life of The Times of India

Look, who’s now a war comic-book character!

6 August 2010

NDTV editor and star-anchor Barkha Dutt in a 2008 war comic on the saga of Captain Vikram Batra, a young officer of the 13th battalion of the J&K rifles regiment of the Indian army, who was martyred during the Kargil war. The artist is Pradeep Yadav.

The Daily Beast prize for South Asian journos

3 August 2010

PRESS RELEASE: Tina Brown‘s portal, The Daily Beast, and the US-based non-profit organisation Open Hands Initiative have announced a new prize for South Asian journalists and writers covering the region. The aim of this prize is to promote and support the work of an individual who has contributed thoughtful, important, and engaging commentary on the great social, political, and cultural issues of their region.

Prize: The winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize, a one-month residency at the Norman Mailer center and writers colony in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and a biweekly column for a year on The Daily Beast. The two finalists will also be invited to contribute commentary to The Daily Beast.

Structure: Editors and publishers across South Asia will be asked to nominate their best English-language columnists and writers by sending us three to five examples of their work and writing a brief letter explaining why that particular individual deserves this recognition. To submit a nomination, email commentaryprize@thedailybeast.com

Eligibility: Any nominated columnist, journalist, or writer based in and writing about South Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh) is eligible to participate. Only commentary written between October 1, 2009, and October 1, 2010, will be considered for the prize.

Deadline: The prize will be awarded at the Jaipur Literature Festival in January 2011. Finalists will be announced in December. All nominations must be submitted by October 1, 2010.

Also read: ‘Magazines, like mushrooms, must grow in the dark

Sir Harold Evans: Families are the best custodians of newspapers

15 things you didn’t know about K.M. Mathew

2 August 2010

The passing away of the doyen of Malayalam journalism, Kandathil Mammen Mathew, better known as K.M. Mathew, on Sunday has resulted in a rare outpouring of coverage, with Indian media proprietors burying their usual pettiness about competitors to salute one of their own.

So much so that the news of the death of the chief editor of Malayala Manorama is the front-page lead in its closest competitor, Mathrubhumi, accompanied by a front-page editorial. But the English language papers have a wealth of detail on the deceased doyen, too.

# That he was the eight child of his parents, which is why he titled his memoirs Ettamathe Mothiram (eighth ring).

# That his nickname was Mathukuttichayan ; that he was a hands-on editor; that he attended office till almost the last day.

# That he had short stint in the family’s balloon business in Bombay and as a planter in Chikamagalur before taking over the reins of the paper following his brother’s death.

# That he took the circulation of Manorama from 30,000 copies in 1973 to 18 lakhs in 2010; from one printing centre to 18.

# That the Manorama group now publishes 46 publications, and has presence in radio and television.

# That he maintained a low profile despite the soaring circulation of his paper. That, “KM never shouted; he smiled. He wouldn’t say, ‘ You’re wrong, that’s a crazy idea’.  He’d say and it was sincere, ‘Very interesting, would you help me understand your thinking?'”

# That he said: “Mistakes might appear on a newspaper. I too have made mistakes. The solution is not to write a resignation letter but to ensure that such a thing does not happen in future”.

# That he kept himself abreast of even the most minute developments in the media world.

# That he introduced reader-friendly editorial packaging techniques and professional page designing, and that he got a bunch of foreigners to work on the Manorama‘s design at various stages like Edwin Taylor (The Times, London); Peter Lim, (Strait Times, Singapore);  Peter Ong (American society of newspaper design) and Mario Garcia

# That he pioneered the hyper-localisation of news before “zoning” became a trend; that he thought a newspaper should reflect even the subtle issues of a region; that he brought out local editions for two or three panchayats, with less than 50,000 population.

# That he was so close to India’s ruling Nehru-Gandhi family that one of the first condolences upon news of his death came from UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi.

Illustration: courtesy Sudipto Sharma/ The Indian Express

K.M. Mathew, chief editor, Manorama, no more

1 August 2010

sans serif records with regret the passing away of K.M. Mathew, the rubber planter who became chief editor of Malayala Manorama and founding editor of the newsweekly magazine, The Week.

The end came in his residence in Kottayam this morning. Mr Mathew was 93 years old, and is survived by three sons—Mammen Mathew, Philip Mathew, Jacob Mathew, respectively editor, managing editor and executive editor of the family-owned Manorama.

Mr Mathew had been a member of the Press Council of India, president of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), and chairman of the Press Trust of India (PTI). A Padmabhushan awardee, he played a pivotal role in making a regional Malayalam newspaper India’s biggest.

Mr Mathew had been predeceased by his wife Annamma Mathew, the chief editor of India’s largest selling women’s magazine Vanitha, and author of an acclaimed food column Pachaka Vidhi, which later became a best selling cook book.

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,696 other followers

%d bloggers like this: