Archive for March 2nd, 2011

Power plans of DB Corp, Daink Bhaskar & DNA

2 March 2011

Conflict of interest is a barely discussed topic in the Indian media, more so in the languages, where media houses operate on the unwritten agreement that if you don’t touch me, I won’t touch you.

Here, in this la-la land, owners, editors, reporters, photographers et al inhabit a strange world where politics, journalism and business intersect and overlap, no questions asked.

Take a bow, The Hindu.

Aman Sethi in today’s paper reports on the stiff resistance building up in Chattisgarh’s Raigarh district, where 693 hectares of land is being sought to be acquired for a thermal power plant.

The company behind the plant?

DB Power, a subsidiary of DB Corp, the stock-market listed entity that owns the Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar, the English newspaper, DNA, the Gujarati daily Divya Bhaskar, and the business daily Business Bhaskar, and has just announced plans to enter the Marathi market.

The project to extract two million tonnes of coal to fuel a 1,320 MW power plant will displace 524 families from six settlements, but Sethi reports that the Raigarh edition of Dainik Bhaskar has been carrying full-page stories in favour of the project.

Although villagers are united in their opposition to the plant, readers are served up feel-good headlines like, “Black diamond to give sparkle to Dharamjaigarh’s destiny”, “Villagers take steps to support DB Power”, without once revealing the paper’s interest in the power plant.

“Company officials have been intimidating the villagers and are pressuring us to give our land, and the police are refusing to register cases against the company,” said Adhir Majhi, a resident of Baisiya Colony who shall lose his land if the power is cleared.

Image: courtesy Kafila

Also read:

Kannada Prabha uses reader-generated headlines

2 March 2011

“Interactivity” has been the buzzword in the English media for over a decade now.

Readers have always written letters to the editor in the past, but now they also do film reviews, shoot and caption pictures, draw cartoons, ask and answer questions from other readers, take part in citizen journalist shows, post realtime comments by SMS and Twitter, and so on and so forth.

Much of this interactivity—intended at giving the news consumer a sense of participation in the news production process—is at the front-end.

How about some interactivity in the rear of the shop?

In an era when television, the internet and the mobile phone deliver news realtime, Vishweshwar Bhat, the new editor of Kannada Prabha, the Kannada daily belonging to the New Indian Express group, pulled out a new trick out of his hat in the past week.

Using his blog, Facebook account and Twitter feed, Bhat invited readers of Kannada Prabha to suggest “fresh, crisp, bright, punchy” headlines for the Union budget, railway budget and the State budget for the following day’s paper—and printed them in the paper with due credit.

At 6.30 pm on February 24, Bhat invited suggestions for an 8-column banner headline for the State budget. He received 126 comments by the 9.30 pm deadline he had set.

For the railway budget the following day, there were 96 comments, and for the Union budget on February 28, there were 60 comments by 10 pm.

“I hadn’t expected such a response. None of the contributors were fulltime journalists but their headline writing skills were on a par with that of professional sub-editors,” wrote Bhat.

While the winning headline made it to the front page of Kannada Prabha, tens of other entries with the names of contributors found mention in the sidebars on the inside pages.

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Photograph: The March 1 front page of Kannada Prabha, carrying an eight-column banner headline suggested by reader Ravi Sajangadde for the Union budget. The editor’s note at the bottom-right of the page explains the headline and acknowledges the reader’s contribution.

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Also read: A blank editorial, a black editorial & a footnote

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