Archive for January, 2011

Tips for reporters from a Nobel Prize winner

31 January 2011

The well-known poet and journalist Rudyard Kipling, who travelled extensively and worked for many years as a correspondent for The Pioneer in Allahabad, quoted in today’s paper:

“Take well-ground Indian ink as much as suffices and a camel hairbrush proportionate to the intersperse of your lines. In an auspicious hour, read your final draft and consider faithfully every paragraph, sentence and word, blacking out where requisite. Let it lie by to drain as long as possible. At the end of that time, re-read and you should find that it will bear a second shortening. Finally, read it aloud alone and at leisure. May be a shade more brushwork will then indicate or impose itself. If not, praise Allah, and let it go and when thou hast done, repent not.”

2011 marks the 75th anniversary of Kipling’s passing.

Read the full article: Kipling’s experiments with perfumes of words

Also read: The best editor The Pioneer never had

Arnab Goswami edges out Barkha on power list

30 January 2011

NDTV group editor Barkha Dutt is the big media dropout from Indian Express‘s 2011 list of the 100 most powerful Indians. Dutt, who entered the ranking at No. 82 last year, has made way for her former colleague, Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, who enters at No. 90.

Barring Arnab and Star India CEO Uday Shankar, who is ranked No. 85, there are no new media names in the Express list. But there are two sub-surprises.

The Hindu‘s editor-in-chief N. Ram who threatened “criminal and civil defamation proceedings” against the Indian Express last year, remains on the list at No. 73. But the Islamic tele-evangelist Zakir Naik, whose inclusion last year and whose Walk the Talk interview with Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta, attracted plenty of criticism after he was barred entry into Britain, is out.

As in previous years, Indian Express does not reveal how the list was arrived at or who the jury members were, although it proclaims that the jury was excluded from the list. The tabloid supplement carrying the power list—heavily advertised on NDTV—is sponsored by Earth infrastructure company, and all the boxes containing subsidiary lists are powered by IRB infastructure developers.

The list contains a one-line kink/fetish of the powerful.

# No. 38, Kalanidhi Maran, chairman and managing director, Sun group: “While in Chennai, he travels in his fleet of super luxury cars. For longer journeys, he has a private jet.”

# No. 56, Samir and Vineet Jain, VC and MD, Times of India group: “The older brother is highly spiritual and his executives often have to make a trip to Haridwar to discuss important issues with him. The younger one’s Holi bashes are considered the best in town.”

# No. 73, N. Ram, editor-in-chief, The Hindu: “He is quite active on Twitter and is prompt with his replies to questions and comments.”

# No. 77: Shobhana Bhartia, editorial director, HT Media: “She is a fitness freak, works out every day.”

# No. 79, Aveek Sarkar, chief editor, Anand Bazaar Patrika: “He is a good golfer and is captain and convenor of the Royal Calcutta Golf Club.”

# No. 82, Sanjay Gupta and M.M. Gupta, CEO and CMD, Dainik Jagran: “Sanjay loves to dance, and MM loves playing cards.”

# No. 85, Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India: “He can’t be in a room which has no TV. He watches almost all the time.”

# No. 86, Arun Shourie, columnist and author: “Shourie’s most prized possessions are his vast collection of books. He is extremely possessive about his library.”

# No. 90, Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief, Times Now: “He hates socialising and is rarely spotted at a social event.”

# No. 92, Raghav Bahl, editor, Network 18: “He is not too fond of socialising. Consequently, he ends up watching a lot of TV. At times, he watches about five or six channels simultaneously.”

There were 11 mediapersons in the 2009 list: eight of them had a presence in newspapers, three in television and only one was from the magazine sphere. Four of the 11 were from the language press. There were 12 mediapersons in the 2010 list.

Photograph: courtesy Outlook

Also read: The 11 habits of India’s most powerful media pros

A columnist more ‘powerful’ than all media pros

The curious case of Zakir Naik and Shekhar Gupta

Who was the newsmagazine editor who…?

29 January 2011

An item appearing in “Glass House”, the gossip column compiled by Shantanu Guha Ray in the latest issue of India Today:

PSSSST…:

“Did an editor of a newsmagazine recently visit the intelligence bureau to brief its chief over Hindutva terror?”

Khalid Mohamed on ToI, DNA, HT and the stars

28 January 2011

Khalid Mohamed, longtime film critic of The Times of India and sometime editor of Filmfare—who hopped over to DNA and then to Hindustan Times in Bombay after making four films in the interim—talks about his 32 years in journalism and the stars he met along the way, in the January issue of Society magazine.

# “Of course, I had to do all escort service. If Shah Rukh Khan had to address a meeting, I would be an escort. ToI were always demanding. Bring this one and that one. DNA was releasing a supplement and I was asked to get Urmila Matondkar. That’s not the job of a journalist. I found the whole thing demeaning. I gave up for that reason.”

# “This era is all about marketing. Suppose I was reviewing a film and the evening before I was asked, ‘How many stars are you giving it? If you are giving it three or four stars, we can get ads.’ I said: ‘I am not interested.” It is peculiar and happens everywhere. ToI does in the form of Medianet, but other papers do it in other forms. In fact, journalists don’t know that stars say things like ‘Usko teen lakh mein kharid liya‘ (that journalist was bought for three lakh rupees).”

#”Pradeep Guha was the only guy who I like to call boss. I really looked up to him and he is a marketing genius. Even at the Filmfare awards, I was a bystander while he was the showman. Having said that, I haven’t been much in touch.”

# “I always saw myself as a ToI person and not a Filmfare person. I don’t think there has been an editor like Sham Lal. Today, do you know who the editor of The Times of India is?

# “At DNA, I was asked to take Isha Koppikar out to lunch. Later I asked marketing guys, ‘Did you get the ad?’ They said no. They had got dinner coupons on which they will take their clients out. I said, ‘Not happening’.”

# “Everyone wants to be ToI. They all end up going that way. If ToI did a story which DNA didn’t do, there would be a lot of hulchul. I never understood that. No one had a distinct vision though DNA was supposed to have one. I felt downsized. Maybe the editor didn’t like me. Even if I did a hard hitting story, it would land up on the 14th page instead of the first. However, I got the highest money.”

# “I like being in a startup operation. Pradeep Guha and I had reformulated Filmfare. Dina Vakil and I had started the Sunday Review. [At Hindustan Times] We needed a competitor to Bombay Times so we thought of starting the HT Cafe. The resident editor Samar Halarnkar didn’t like my face from the very beginning. We had verbal slanging matches.”

# People I really looked up to were Behram Contractor, Sham Lal, Bikram Singh and Khushwant Singh. I liked what Shobhaa De wrote in Stardust and Society. Where are the journalists of that time? It may sound a bit academic. I am not a perfectionist but I’ll see every comma, every heading and caption in place. If I have become outdated because of that, too bad for me.”

Also read: Khalid Mohamed‘s blog

Anish Trivedi sentenced to six months in prison

28 January 2011

Anish Trivedi—a former investment banker who gave up Wall Street to host radio, anchor television and run a media company; writer of two plays (Still Single and One Small Day), and a regular contributor to magazines like GQ and Elle—gets his 15 minutes of infamy for a 2006 column in the Bombay tabloid, Mid-Day.

Facsimile: courtesy The Indian Express

Photograph via Facebook

Vir Sanghvi & Barkha Dutt: “We were targeted”

27 January 2011

Society, the monthly lifestyle magazine of the Magna group owned by Nari Hira, has a cover story on Vir Sanghvi and Barkha Dutt in its January 2011 issue.

For the first time, the two journalists most affected by the Niira Radia tapes, appear on the same platform.

In his 3-page interview, Sanghvi states:

“I am told by one of the publications that received the tapes that they came neatly marked and sub-divided. Barkha Dutt’s conversations were first and mine were second. So, we were not collateral damage. The intention of the leaker was to target us.”

In her one-page interview, Dutt states:

“I can’t comment on why the leakage has been so selective. But clearly, the conversations have been cherry picked and, in the interests of transparency, I think all 5,000-plus conversations should now be made public.”

Both journalists speak on the life-lessons from Radiagate. And, like in their TV appearances following the controversy, Sanghvi appears the more remorseful of the two.

Sanghvi says:

“I think the important thing for all of us to realise is that no matter whether we are well-known or successful, the truth is that we are nothing without the faith of our readers and our viewers. At the end of the day, if we cannot explain our own actions, then we cannot expect them to take us seriously when we comment on the actions of others…. All of us in the media are what our readers and viewers have made us. Without them, we are nothing.”

Dutt says:

“My viewers don’t need to be disheartened. The way the story has been presented is so caricatured and distorted that it is made to look in a certain way. I am still the same journalist that I always was. I strongly object to the way these stories have been written.”

Also read: Barkha Dutt tarred by pure malice: Khushwant Singh

When Rajdeep Sardesai got it left, right and centre

Is it really so difficult to say, sorry, maaf karo?

Did Radia tapes impact journos’ Padma awards?

26 January 2011

There is a palpable sense of shock among media folk that the 2011 Republic Day honours’ list contains no “working journalists” i.e. those still burning the phone lines and greasing the totempole in anticipation of the big day.

There are no awardees from the exalted world of television, with the honours going to old-world print veterans: the country’s first woman news photographer Homai Vyarawala and the editor-author-columnist T.J.S. George.

Worse, neither of the two awardees are residents of Lutyen’s Delhi or, horror, of  the national capital region (NCR): Vyarawala is based in Baroda and George is in Bangalore.

***

From The Telegraph:

“Only one mediaperson, veteran T.J.S. George, made the cut to a Padma Bhushan despite the buzz that nearly a dozen were long-listed. Sources said the government was cautious about this category because at least a couple of former awardees figured in the Niira Radia tapes.”

From The Indian Express:

“The most conspicuous omission from the list are mediapersons. For the first time in several years, not a single journalist has been picked for any of the Padma Awards. It is not clear whether the decision was influenced by the controversy surrounding the Niira Radia tapes in which some prominent mediapersons have been revealed in bad light.”

Also read: Aditya Sinha on the “worldview” of Delhi journalists

Padma awards: Homai Vyarawala, T.J.S. George

25 January 2011

Last Friday, many journalists received an SMS that contained the list of names that had apparently been forwarded to the Union home ministry for consideration for the Padma awards this year.

The names: Manini Chatterjee (The Telegraph), Raj Chengappa (The Tribune), Vijay Darda (Lokmat), Arnab Goswami (Times Now), Aarti Jerath (The Times of India), Alok Mehta (Nai Dunia), Vinod Mehta (Outlook), K.S. Sachidananda Murthy (The Week), Dileep Padgaonkar (ex-Times of India), Sanjay Pugaliya (CNBC-Awaaz) and M.K. Razdan (PTI).

M.J. Akbar‘s Sunday Guardian even gave the SMS some oxygen by putting it out and a few more of its own: Barun Ganguli, Pandit Dinesh Kumar Dube and Dr Chandra Dev Pandey.

But when the Padma list came out this evening, on the eve of the 61st Republic Day, it contained none of the names that was allegedly being scrutinised by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Instead, there was India’s first woman news photographer, Homai Vyarawala, with the nation’s second highest honour, decorated with the Padma Vibhushan.

There was T.J. S. George, founder-editor of Asiaweek magazine and editorial advisor of The New Indian Express, and a best-selling author, with the Padma Bhushan.

***

Homai Vyarawala: Lucky with 13, will ‘Dalda’ get lucky at 96?

T.J.S. George: Lessons for Vir and Barkha from Nikhilda

A deep mind with a straight spine who stands tall

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

When an editor makes way for editor gracefully

***

Also read: Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria gets Padma Bhushan

Third highest civilian honour for Shekhar Gupta

Padma Shri VD, Padma Shri RDS and Padma Shri BD

Why Rajdeep and Barkha must decline the Padma Sri

To err is human, to cc and bcc is divine

24 January 2011

A correction and retraction appearing in The Hindu, issued by the editor-in-chief, N.Ram, appearing in today’s paper:

“It was wrongly stated in the report by our Special Correspondent published in The Hindu of January 23, 2011 titled “Expunge remarks against Graham Staines: Supreme Court’s remarks ‘gratuitous,’ say editors, civil society members” that the statement was signed by N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, Chandan Mitra, Editor-in-Chief of The Pioneer, and editorial representatives from The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, The Hindu, The Pioneer, and The Telegraph. It was not signed by any of them.

“The statement reported in the news item (published on the back page) was actually signed by Anand Patwardhan, Fr. Dominic Emanuel, Harsh Mander, John Dayal, Navaid Hamid, H.L. Hardenia, Praful Bidwai, Ram Puniyani, Shabnam Hashmi, Shahid Siddiqui, and Seema Mustafa.

“We apologise for the serious blunder by our Special Correspondent, who inexplicably mistook the persons to whom the statement was emailed for publication for the list of signatories.”

Note to directors: It was Shammy not Barkha

24 January 2011

No One Killed Jessica?

Well, someone ‘killed’ Harinder Baweja.

Raj Kumar Gupta, the director of last weekend’s multiplex marvel—in which Rani Mukherji essays the role of a single, bitchy, aggressive, passionate, foul-mouthed, investigative journalist probing the murder of the model Jessica Lal at a Delhi bar—may have made the world believe that his ‘wet dream’ was NDTV’s Barkha Dutt.

But, writes Priya Ramani, the editor of Lounge, the Saturday section of Mint, the sting operation that was key to the reopening of the Jessica Lal murder case was not Dutt’s (or NDTV’s) handiwork, but of Harinder Baweja’s (and Tehelka‘s). And, Baweja gets no credit in the movie whatsoever.

Writes Ramani:

“What a guy, I thought when I read Harinder Baweja’s riveting post-Babri Masjid expose in India Today magazine in 1993.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party was then claiming the demolition of the mosque was nothing compared to the 40 temples that had been razed in Kashmir. Ask them for a list, editor Aroon Purie told Baweja, and go see if the temples have actually been destroyed.

“It was January and snowing in a turbulent Kashmir as Baweja and a photographer trudged from one temple to another—and found all of them intact. They were nearly kidnapped by AK-47 wielding men; at another temple they had to face a mob and firing.

“When I met Baweja a few years later, he turned out to be a she. A 5ft, 1-inch she who prefers to be called Shammy and always wears saris with sexy, sleeveless blouses in summer and winter. When the Taliban captured Kabul, Shammy almost travelled there with her sleeveless blouses.

“Shammy is also the perfect host and believes her parties are a hit only if dinner is served after midnight.”

Read the full article: Journalism’s real wet dream

Also read: Is abusing politicians the nation’s agenda?

The face behind a famous byline behind an award

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