Archive for January, 2011

Prabhu Chawla: A post-dated announcement

23 January 2011

A front-page notice appearing in The New Sunday Express, the Sunday edition of the Madras-based The New Indian Express, on 23 January 2011, announcing the arrival of former India Today editor Prabhu Chawla as the editorial director of the paper.

Chawla, who also hosted the Seedhi Baat show on the Aaj Tak channel, has launched a new show titled Sachchi Baat on the Hyderabad-based ETV owned by Ramoji Rao.

Also read: It’s official: Prabhu Chawla is out of India Today

Should Prabhu Chawla edit The New Indian Express?

Why Aroon Purie ‘elevated’ Prabhu Chawla

Hu, Wen and why China scorns Indian media

22 January 2011

When the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao visited India in December 2010, he was critical of the Indian media, saying it repeatedly sensationalised the border situation, causing damage to bilateral ties. He even lectured a group of editors to play a more active role in enhancing friendship between the two countries.

However, when the Chinese president Hu Jintao faced aggressive questioning at a joint press conference with his US counterpart Barack Obama in Washington D.C. last week, he couldn’t muster the courage to castigate the American media. He was defensive, evasive , even conciliatory.

Why did Wen not bother with the diplomatic niceties that his president employed?

The veteran columnist Sunanda K. Datta-Ray in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“One reason is that no Indian publication is any longer taken seriously as an interlocutor like the Post and Journal in the US…..

“National papers of record have become vehicles of private interest. Some are trivial, some project a borrowed ideology, others are obsessed with what are called ‘Page Three people’….

“Wen is dismissive about media freedom and contemptuous about its “sensationalizing” because he knows his diplomats can buy favourable coverage by extending hospitality to leading commentators and doling out what passes for exclusive titbits of information.”

Read the full article: A study in contrasts

Also read: Censorship in the name of ‘national interest’

If a report isn’t ‘wrong’, surely it must be ‘right’?

Chinese hackers break into The Times of India

Never believe anything until it’s officially denied

One paper’s 40% threat is another’s 60% dud

INS: “We reject wage board recommendations”

21 January 2011

Justice G.R. Majithia (left), chairman of the wage boards for working journalists and non-journalists and other newspaper employees, submitting the recommendations to labour secretary P.K. Chaturvedi in New Delhi, on January 1, 2011

The following is the full text of the media release issued by the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) in response to the report submitted by the wage board led by former Supreme Court judge, G.R. Majithia, which recommended a 35 per cent hike in salaries for working journalists, and increased the retirement age to 65 years.

***

“Members of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) have at an emergency meeting held in Mumbai on 20 January 2011 expressed shock and dismay at the report submitted by the chairman of the wage boards for working journalists and other newspaper employees, and said that this, if accepted by the government, would drive several newspaper establishments out of business. They urged the government to reject the report.

“The president of the INS, Kundan R. Vyas, said that the report was severely flawed and utterly one-sided. The wage boards had been improperly constituted, and the report had been prepared in breach of several rules and time-tested procedures. Further, the wage boards had exceeded their remit under the statute by suggesting measures that were manifestly beyond their scope and terms of reference.

“Echoing the sentiments of the large body of newspapers represented at the emergency meeting, Vyas said that the existence of these wage boards was itself out of tune with the times as even the national commission on labour had in 2002 recommended that there was no need for any wage board, statutory or otherwise, for fixing the wages for workers in any industry. The newspaper industry is the only one which has statutory wage boards, and their presence is aimed at financially compromising the ability of establishments to function in a free and fearless manner, Vyas said.

“The present wage boards had submitted their report without prior consultations among members. The boards had ignored settled principles to assess the capacity to pay, and had made no effort to assess the burden on the newspaper industry, Vyas said. Not just this, the wage boards had not even bothered to publish tentative proposals as was done by earlier wage determining authorities, to respect the principles of fair play and natural justice.”

Cash transfer scheme is already here for journos

21 January 2011

A preferential allotment of a house or a house site to a journalist (or media house) can now be ferreted out by an RTI application. A car or a SUV is a moving advertisement. A harmless retainership for the lawyer-son can be cruelly outed by the Niira Radia tapes. A free ride in a Reliance plane can soon be the talk of the town (wink, wink). And you can’t even pick up a stake in an IPL team without somebody noticing.

So, how do you bribe an honest, hardworking Indian journalist in the year of the lord 2011 without being seen to be bribing him/her? Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) shows the way.

Facsimile: courtesy Mail Today

Scholarships for conference of science journalists

20 January 2011

MEDIA RELEASE: The world conference of science journalists (WCSJ) is offering a limited number of scholarships to science journalists from developing countries to attend the 7th world conference of science journalists to be held at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Cairo, Egypt, from 27 to 29 June, 2011.

Aspirants will be required to explain their journalism training, explain why they want to attend the WCSJ 2011, provide the contact information of two referees, provide three work samples, and a copy of their curriculum vitae CV.

Visit http://www.wcsj2011.org/scholarships to apply and send all the required documents. The deadline for receiving applications is 20 February 2011.

For enquiries, contact conference co-director, Dalia Abdel-Salam: dalia.sallam@wcsj2011.org

Link via Shobha S.V.

Four lessons in journalism from Tata’s chief PRO

19 January 2011

Christabelle Noronha, corporate affairs chief of the Tata group, in a letter to the editor of the business daily, Mint, which had carried a story on the Tatas blacklisting The Pioneer, Outlook*, Open, India Today group and The Times of India group for their “biased reporting” of the 2G spectrum allocation scam:

“Is it not substandard, even mischievous, journalism when tapped conversations, whose authenticity has not been established, are reproduced without any attempt to follow the standard journalistic norm of getting the other person’s point of view?

“Is it not substandard, even mischievous, journalism when large dollops of juicy conversations unconnected with telecom are touted as being akin to proof of involvement with the “2G scam”, and Ratan Tata’s picture, as also of others similarly unconnected, is put on a magazine cover?

“Is it not biased journalism when patently incorrect and damningly one-sided reports are carried on a television channel and a magazine belonging to one media entity, not once but repeatedly, without any attempt to seek our point of view?

“Is it not biased journalism when the detailed rebuttals sent by us are not even acknowledged, let alone printed, by the same media entity? In all of this, it is intriguing that your editorial does not mention that one media house which has been the most biased of all.

“The Indian media is, fortunately, much larger than the handful of its members who have been prejudiced and unprofessional with their recent coverage of the Tata group.”

* Disclosures apply

Photograph: courtesy HyBiz

Read the full letter: Christabelle Noronha

Also read: Have the Tatas blacklisted The Times of India again?

External reading: Ratan Tata interviewed by Christabelle Noronha

Christabelle Noronha in The Hindu on the making of Tata Nano

Correction: Indian Army didn’t rape 200,000

18 January 2011

An item appearing in the gossip columns of Mail Today:

Edward Behr: Anybody here raped and who speaks English?

Have Tatas blacklisted The Times of India again?

16 January 2011

Tata Steel, the flagship company of corporate behemoth Tata Sons, is going in for a follow-on public offer (FPO).

This display advertisement appeared in the Delhi editions of the Hindustan Times and Mint, Indian Express and Financial Express, The Hindu and Business Standard, on Friday, 14 January 2011, but not in the Delhi editions of India’s largest English newspaper The Times of India, or India’s largest business newspaper, The Economic Times.

The Friday ad was also published by the Hyderabad-based Deccan Chronicle, the Calcutta-based The Telegraph and the Bombay-based Mid-Day but Times group publications in those cities were conspicuous by their absence.

ToI and ET also didn’t get the issue ads that are rquired to be mandatorily published ahead of an IPO or FPO.

The Delhi-based Pioneer and the Mail Today newspaper of the India Today group too didn’t figure in Tata Steel’s FPO media plans. The Pioneer led the field in the exposure of the 2G spectrum allocation scam and Mail Today was alone among the newspapers in covering the Niira Radia tapes which showed the Tata group in poor light.

The tapes also showed that Radia was in conversation with almost everybody in the ET hierarchy.

Last week, Mint, the business paper owned by the Hindustan Times group, had outed an internal Tata Group communique, dated December 24, that had specifically instructed Tata group companies to “avoid participating” in news stories in Pioneer, ToI, India Today, Outlook* and Open magazines, which exposed the tapes.

The Mint story quoted Christabelle Noronha, chief (group corporate affairs) at Tata Sons, that there had been an instruction to group companies to not participate in news stories being done by the “offending publications and channels”.

It also quoted BCCL (Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd) chief marketing officer Rahul Kansal, who said: “In our (company’s) context, internally there have been rumours about the Tata group banning us. But it would be unfair to say I know for sure.”

But it appears the Tata blacklist goes beyond news stories and well into advertising.

Or does it?

The Tatas had blacklisted the “response-driven” Times group from advertising in the early 2000s, offended by its coverage of the Tata Finance controversy. The Tatas returned to India’s largest newspaper group at the time of the Tata Communciation Consultancy Services (TCS) initial public offering (IPO).

In the wake of the Niira Radia controversy, Tatasons chairman Ratan Tata had voiced fears of India becoming a “banana republic” in an interview with Shekhar Gupta, the editor-in-chief of The Indian Express and The Financial Express for his NDTV program, Walk the Talk.

* Disclosures apply

Aditya Sinha on the “worldview” of Delhi journos

16 January 2011

Aditya Sinha, departing editor-in-chief of the Madras-based The New Indian Express and editor-designate of the Bombay-based DNA, in his farewell column in TNIE:

“A friend asked if I would miss Chennai and I thought, what an absurd question. Over the last four years, Chennai has become a part of me. My three teenagers have become better persons here; my life took a spiritual turn; and each and every day at the Express was a learning experience.

“Indeed, I now get irritated with Delhi journalists, for I get the feeling that for them the country ends at Gurgaon, Delhi’s southern suburb. The fact is that the four southern states are more dissimilar than any four randomly selected northern states. The distances within each state are vast. Delhi journalists cannot know India unless they spend time in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad or Kochi; and this is one of the reasons that Indian journalism has taken a few knocks of late.”

Read the full column: Mr Kalaignar, I will miss you

Photograph via Twitter

A ‘wrong’ map lands Mint in a bit of a bother

16 January 2011

A screenshot of the business paper Mint‘s web homepage on Sunday, 16 January 2011, after a graphic accompanying an Aakar Patel column on corruption showed Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as a part of Pakistan. Result: pages 10 and 11 are now missing from the epaper site of the newspaper.

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