Archive for February, 2011

‘Bollywood journalism is about PR & pimping’

19 February 2011

Nandita Puri, journalist and wife of actor Om Puri, in an interview in Tehelka magazine:

Q: What are the biggest problems in Bollywood journalism today?

A: Bollywood journalism is about PR and pimping. Of course, stars have glamours personal lives everyone wants to know about, but now that has become the core of film reportage. Occasionally, you hear about an actor doing a good job. There is a very sleazy side to it. They raise a person to the sky and when the PR companies are off the payroll, they hit back. The media is on a high now but eventually it will get exhausted.

Also read: Khalid Mohamed on ToI, DNA, HT and the stars

It takes 3 Idiots to call the bluff of pauper tigers

Jug Suraiya takes on Amitabh Bachchan

Singer accuses reviewer of sexual assault

In its golden jubilee year, ET gets a new design

18 February 2011

Quietly, almost as if it doesn’t want anybody to notice, India’s oldest and largest business paper,The Economic Times, has undergone a redesign. On top is the front page of the launch issue of the paper in its new avatar (Monday, 14 February 2011) and below is the paper from exactly a week before.

The pagination of the paper from The Times of India stable, which turns 50 this year, remains more or less the same. There are no new pages or sections. In other words, old wine in slick new bottle is enough to ward off the design challenge posed by the Hindustan Times‘ business paper, Mint.

The key changes are in the colour of the masthead from blue to black; new headline fonts; a tighter body font taking it closer towards the body font of ToI; and plenty of icons and logos, even in headlines. Keen observers of design will notice subtle shades of inspiration from designs of The Guardian, The Observer and International Herald Tribune.

The top-secret redesign, which has been subtly introduced sans announcement, has reportedly been executed by Itu Chaudhuri Associates, which designed the original template for Open magazine and was behind some of India’s best book covers in the late 1990s, including Arundhati Roy‘s Booker Prize winning God of Small of Things.

Images: courtesy The Economic Times

Also read: Good heavens, another Mario Garcia redesign

Yet another paper redesigned by Mario Garcia

How come Mario Garcia didn’t redesign this one?

Finally, a redesign not done by Mario Garcia

Less is better for the new, redesigned rediff.com

A new editor for Udayavani. New editions next?

17 February 2011

Udayavani, the Kannada daily published by the Pais of Manipal, has a new editor from today: Ravi Hegde.

Hegde, former editor of the Rajeev Chandrasekhar-owned 24×7 Kannada news channel Suvarna News, joins the paper published from Bangalore, Mangalore and Bombay at a time of great churning in the Kannada media. He has been designed group editor, and there is a front-page, column one announcement in today’s edition.

The former Vijaya Karnataka editor Vishweshwar Bhat joined Kannada Prabha as editor-in-chief ten days ago. Ravi Hegde was executive editor of Kannada Prabha, before leaving to join the Suvarna stable.

The Kannada daily market is dominated by Vijaya Karnataka, owned by The Times of India group, and Praja Vani, belonging to the Deccan Herald group. The two are followed by Samyukta Karnataka and Kannada Prabha.

The Pais of Manipal—pioneers in banking and education—intend giving the 5th placed, 42-year-old Udayavani (average issue readership 8.9 lakh, IRS Q3, 2010) a push with the new editor and new editions.

Sudhakar Babu, till recently marketing head of Vijaya Karnataka, has joined the Manipal Group as director marketing in a move replete with possibilities.

Image: courtesy Udayavani, photograph via Facebook

How well is the PM’s media advisor advising him?

17 February 2011

Of all the reasons being trotted out for prime minister Manmohan Singh‘s declining equity, his media management skills rank somewhere near the very top. Despite a full-fledged media advisor in his entourage, the bush telegraph is that Manmohan has been poorly served by Harish Khare, the former deputy editor of The Hindu.

Although Manmohan Singh has addressed the Indian media more often in the last nine months than he ever did under four years of his previous advisor Sanjaya Baru (currently editor of Business Standard), Khare is variously seen to be stern, selective, stentorian, staccato.

In other words, just too straight-forward when the job profile demands greater “adjustment” and malleability.

A one-on-one interview with the resident of 7, Race Course Road, is out of the pale of probability, of course. But even background briefings offering an inside view of what’s happening are rare and spinning a story to show the administration in good light is almost non-existent in the former opinion writer’s thesaurus.

In fact, the one story that probably prompted the scam-tarred PM to call the TV “editors” and anchors to come to his residence—the S-band scam which puts the prime minister’s office in the spotlight—was published in Khare’s previous place of work: The Hindu.

At yesterday’s pow-wow, when Arnab Goswami cleared his throat to ask a supplementary question, Khare admonished him on live TV. “Mr Goswami, this is not an interrogation of the prime minister,” Khare reminded the Times Now editor-in-chief.

Result: easy meat. First for reporters and then for cartoonists.

Cartoon: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today

Also read: Because when dog bites dog, it’s news—I

Because when dog bites dog, it’s news—II

Never believe anything until it’s officially denied

‘Good morning! Your paper is free of paid news!’

16 February 2011

In this era of mercenary managers and predatory proprietors, brave is the editor who can actually stick his neck out—at least in public—and vouch for the virginity of his product. But Aditya Sinha, the new editor-in-chief of the Bombay daily Daily News & Analysis (DNA), clearly doesn’t mind taking the risk.

At least, if nothing else, to send a signal to managers and proprietors who have hired him.

The masthead of the paper now sports a seal affirming that the paper is free of the latest scourge of Indian journalism—paid news. And this, in the cradle of the newspaper group that is seen to be the motherlode of all things negative about the profession: medianet, paid news, private treaties and what have you.

For the record, DNA, under its previous editor R. Jagannathan, had kicked off a front-page campaign in 2009 against paid news with a set of advertisements.

Also read: Time to drop the “A” from DNA?

Aditya Sinha on the world view of Delhi journalists

Radia effect on PM’s invitees for TV pow-wow?

16 February 2011

Prime minister Manmohan Singh‘s much ballyhooed pow-wow with “editors” of television channels to clear the air over the scams dogging his government, was, as was to be expected, a typically tepid, bureaucratic affair.

Only the national English TV channels—Headlines Today (represented by Aroon Purie), CNN-IBN (Rajdeep Sardesai), NDTV 24×7 (Prannoy Roy), Times Now (Arnab Goswami)—were interested in asking questions (and suplementaries, much to media advisor Harish Khare‘s discomfiture) about corruption.

Most of the rest, be they from regional channels like Sun TV, Calcutta TV or Asianet, or “international channels” like BBC and Al-Jazeera, were content with asking questions relevant to their audiences and markets (Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Europe, Middle East).

Questions are already doing the rounds on why some sizeable channels like Star News, TV9, etc, went unrepresented. And rumours are already doing the rounds on why at least one sizeable editor was absent.

Radhika Ramaseshan reports in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“The owner of an English channel had been requested to be present instead of deputing a colleague.

“The owner-editor of another Delhi-based channel was also told he would be welcome. Other channels were sent a general invite.

“The caution came against the backdrop of the Niira Radia tapes featuring conversations of some journalists.”

Also read: Did Niira Radia tapes have impact on Padma awards?

World Cup: From our very special correspondent

15 February 2011

A news snippet on the nation page of the Hindustan Times reveals Pakistan’s secret weapon for the press box in the upcoming cricket World Cup: Bigg Boss finalist Veena Malik. Her cricket expertise? She was hitched to former Pakistani cricketer Mohammad Asif, since banned for spot match-fixing.

26/11, the RSS, the Editor & the Rajya Sabha seat

14 February 2011

Last month, Aziz Burney, the influential editor of the Urdu daily Roznama Rashitriya Sahara, owned by Subroto Roy of the Sahara group, published a grovelling front-page apology for linking the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) with the 26 November 2008 siege of Bombay.

In a box titled “Aziz Burney ki taraf se safaai aur maafi)” (A clarification and apology from Burney), Burney wrote that he apologised if he had hurt anyone or any group while discussing events around 26/11. “I am an Indian and stand by my government on all international matters. I will never do anything to compromise its position in the rest of the world.”

In the preceding 27 months, in a series titled “26/11: Biggest attack in India’s history”, Burney had written over 100 editorials and articles in the Urdu paper and its Hindi counterpart, Rashtriya Sahara, offering an “alternative” view of the siege. That it was not the ISI or LeT that was behind the attack, but the RSS with covert support from Mossad and the CIA.

A compilation of the conspiracy theories was also packaged into a book titlted ’26/11: RSS ka shadyantra‘ (26/11: Cosnpiracy of the RSS), which was released by the Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, who is widely suspected to have the ear of Rahul Gandhi, in December 2010.

When asked by Seema Chisti of The Indian Express to explain his turnaround, Burney said last month:

“There is no turnaround, I have just been misinterpreted. I was only pointing to certain circumstantial evidence in the matter, which I would want investigating agencies to look at. I am a journalist, not an investigating agency. I agree with the Indian government’s view on this. All I am saying is consider the circumstantial evidence. It is as a true Muslim that I am happy to apologise if someone is hurt by the allegations.”

Now, the website New Age Islam reports that the there was more to the apology than just that.

Apparently, the RSS first took the editor to court for the defamatory allegations under articles 121, 108, 107, 117, 124 (A), 153 (A), 153 (B), 505 (2) and 506 of the Constittuion and the Maharashtra organised crime control act (MOCCA).

It also filed a complaint before the Press Council of India seeking the cancellation of the registration of Roznama Rashtriya Sahara.

Result: Burney’s attempt to gain entry into the upper house of Parliament got stuck.

“When this case was filed, Burney was trying an entry in Rajya Sabha through the President’s reserved quota. But there was a stay on his entry to Rajya Sabha because of this legal suit. Engrossed with problems all around Burney apologised on the front page of his paper…. Though Burney has apologized to the country and the RSS , the legal battle against him will continue as indicated by the RSS which has said that it has not accepted Burney’s apologies.”

New Age Islam writes further:

“Aziz Burney’s ‘defeat’ does not augur well for the Urdu media. It has vindicated the charge that Urdu media has a paranoid psyche and hallucinates the ghost of conspiracy in every affair and does not have faith in the government, the security agencies and the army. Indeed, even a casual reading of practically any Urdu newspaper creates the impression that Indian Muslims are in a state of jihad against their own country.

Rashtriya Sahara had ostensibly emerged as a strong voice of the minorities as it had seemingly carried extensive research and investigations into stories of the victims of terrorism, riots and social oppression of every kind. However, in its defence and praise of Hemant Karkare and his two colleagues who were killed during the Bombay attack, the daily went much beyond journalistic boundaries and, in the usual way the Urdu press functions, wrote something it could not back with solid evidence and proof, also without bothering if it was damaging national interest.”

Links via D.D. Gupta

Also read: India’s most important businessman meets Obama

Why (perhaps) BJP sent Chandan Mitra to the RS

‘Indians trust magazines* more than newspapers’

11 February 2011

Trust in the Indian media is down sharply by 15 percentage points over the last two years. One out of every two Indians distrusts what they read, see, and listen but—surprise, surprise, OK, no surprise, no surprise!—trust in magazines* is higher than for newspapers, TV news or radio.

These, in short, are the major highlights of the 2011 survey by Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm. The 11th such survey conducted, the media is the biggest loser in India among the four sectors surveyed, other three sectors being business, government and NGOs.

There were 5,075 respondents in 23 countries for the annual Edelman Trust Barometer. The India section of the survey was conducted between October 11 and November 24, 2010 before the Niira Radia tapes altered the perception of media personnel even more in the eyes of news consumers.

Trust in Indian magazines is at 95% against 93% for newspapers, 90% for TV news, and 81% for radio. The barometer reported a 25% dip in trust in business magazines and TV news, and a 21% dip in trust in newspapers, in 2009, in the wake of paid news, private treaties, medianet and other infirmities.

Online search engines like Google command 93% trust, indicating that most people prefer to search for the facts themselves and trust search engines to help them. Corporate communications such as press releases, reports, and emails show trust levels of 86%.

Interesting if true.

Two years ago, the national election survey 2009 by the Lokniti team of the centre for study of developing societies (CSDS) found that 45% Indians greatly trusted what they read in newspapers, and a similar number somewhat trusted newspaper reports.

* Disclosures apply

Also read: If you trust polls, trust in India dips

One more claimant for the 2G spectrum scam

8 February 2011

It is the year of the lord, 2011, but it is still not too late to claim credit for the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

Nearly a week after the disgraced telecom minister A. Raja was arrested, marking the end of the beginning of the scam, today’s Indian Express carries a five-ad campaign saluting its sister business daily, The Financial Express, for its role in busting the scandal that takes a new dimension every single day.

Using headlines from pieces carried by it in the October 2009 to November 2010 period, the low-circulation FE proclaims its punchline: “It pays to know before those in the know”.

Two FE reporters— associate editor Rishi Raj and senior special correspondent Anandita Sigh Manhotia—get their spot under the sun for the stories, as indeed does FE managing editor M.K. Venu for an opinion piece.

# 2009: The Financial Express exposes the 2G scam

# October 24, 2009: “DoT deviated from TRAI’s notes and cherry-picked its counsel”

# October 26, 2009: “Raja faced objections from then DoT secy Mathur

# November 6, 2009: “CBI now exposes procedural lapse by telecom dept”

# November 9 and 12, 2009: “Raja tweaked norms to help Swan, Unitech”; “Spectrum of Raja’s innocence”

# November 16, 2010: CAG indictment nails Raja’s lies

Those who came in late will be pleased to know that (so far), The Pioneer, The Times of India, CNN-IBN and Times Now have put their hands up.

Mail Today had crowned Janata Party president Subramaniam Swamy and rediff.com chose the (BJP-aligned) member of Parliament, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, for exposing the scam that now seems to have reached outer space with the S-band scam reported by The Hindu and its business daily, Business Line.

Image: courtesy The Indian Express

Also read: Everybody loves (to claim credit for) an expose

Times Now. Times Now. Times Now. Times Now.

Journalist’s house raided in 2G scam

Nakkheeran journo denies wife worked for Radia

Have Tatas blacklisted The Times of India again?

The Pioneer journalist who brought A. Raja to book

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,696 other followers

%d bloggers like this: