Archive for March, 2011

Chameli Devi Award for hounded Tehelka journo

11 March 2011

Shahina K.K., a former reporter for Tehelka magazine, has bagged the 2010 Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding woman mediaperson.

Shahina was in the news late last year after Karnataka police charged her with intimidating witnesses in the Bangalore blasts case. This followed her report in Tehelka questioning the incarceration of Abdul Nasar Madani in the case.

The charges led to a petition:

“We are gravely concerned about the charges framed by Karnataka police against Shahina K.K., a journalist working for the Tehelka magazine, for interviewing witnesses and publishing a report on the case relating to Abdul Nasar Madani, the chairman of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who is one of the accused in the Bangalore bomb blasts.

“After the publication of her report, ‘Why is this man still in jail?’ (Dec 4, 2010) Shahina has been facing harassment and intimidation from the Karnataka Police. A case has been registered against her at the Somawarpet Police Station (No. 199/10) and Siddhapura Police Station (No. 241/10) under Section 506 for allegedly intimidating the witnesses.

“We strongly condemn this attitude of the police in framing false charges on this reputed journalist with such high credentials in a nationally reputed magazine. We also feel that Shahina’s case is yet another example of how the State apparatus acts against its marginalized and minority communities and pushes them outside the orbit of legal justice and human rights. Madani’s acquittal without any charges/strictures after 10 long years of incarceration without bail in an earlier case proves that there has been victims of such an ideological bias.

“We also know that by registering a case for criminal intimidation against a journalist, the Karnataka Police has cut at the very root of democratic and media freedoms in our country. We strongly feel that this is not a case against her as an individual but a warning to the entire press community, women and minorities and anyone who questions the logic of a repressive State. Moreover, we are aware that if the police can go to this extent in the case of a reputed journalist, the status of ordinary members of the marginalized and minority communities remains highly threatened.”

18 top Kerala journalists also petitioned the Kerala chief minister against the charges slapped on Shahina. She has since hopped across to Open magazine as its Trivandrum correspondent.

Link via Shobha S.V.

Photograph: courtesy Counter Media

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Previous Chameli Devi award winners

Rupashree Nanda: ‘Journalism: mankind’s greatest achievement’

Nirupama Subramanian: ‘India’s freedom as fragile as its neighbours”

Asian College of Journalism PG diploma course

10 March 2011

The Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) in Madras is inviting applications for its post-graduate diploma course for the 2011-2012.

Chaos, golmaal, jugaad… all in a day’s work

10 March 2011

The television commercial for The Times of India‘s 2011 campaign theme, “A day in the life of India“.

The contest, inviting readers to send in photos, videos, cartoons, and jokes and anecdotes, also saw ToI advertise on the pages of rival Hindustan Times. . The last date for entries is March 15.

2010: ToI, Jang, Geo unite to give peace a chance

2009: The finest example of campaign journalism?

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Also read: Any number will do when the game is of numbers

Shoma Chaudhury in ‘150 most powerful’ list

9 March 2011

Shoma Chaudhury, managing editor and one of the promoters of the weekly magazine Tehelka, has been named among the “150 Women Who Shake the World” in the re-launch issue of the American newsweekly, Newsweek.

“Champions women in India’s celebrated newsmagazine Tehelka,” is the seven-word caption for Chaudhury.

Newsweek has been relaunched this week under Tina Brown, former editor of Tatler,  Vanity Fair, New Yorker and Talk, who currently runs the webzine The Daily Beast.

Chaudhury had interviewed Brown during her 2007 India visit and written for The Daily Beast founded by her in 2009. Tehelka editor Tarun J. Tejpal interviewed Tina Brown during the Jaipur literature festival in 2009, was crowned muckraker-in-chief by the webzine earlier this year.

Tina Brown has been quoted as saying that “Tehelka is one of the most exciting news magazines in the world. Its probing in public interest, its vitality, enterprise and tenacity give it influence beyond the subcontinent.”

Also read: Arun Shourie: ‘Intolerant, abusive, dictatorial’

Newsweek: Who, why, when, how, where, what, what the…

Sudip Mazumdar: How a slumdweller became a Newsweek reporter

The Times, they are a-slowly changing in Bombay

8 March 2011

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After allowing itself to become the favourite whipping “old lady” of all and sundry, The Times of India group seems to have embarked on a drive to get honest.

First, a code of ethics for The Economic Times and ET Now.

Now, an upfront disclosure on the pages of its City supplements—Bombay Times, Delhi Times, Bangalore Times, etc—that they are what its critics have always accused it to be: a bunch of paid-for, deals-within-deals pages.

On January 1, the strapline below the masthead of the Bombay Times supplement read, “Entertainment and Advertising Feature”. On March 1, after the Sunday Times sting, it reads: “Advertorial, Entertainment Promotional Feature”. Go, figure.

Images: courtesy The Times of India

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Also read: Why a ‘serious’ Reuters journo reads a tabloid

Why is Rupert Murdoch taking on Samir Jain?

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Full coverage: Pyramid Saimira, Tatva & Times Private Treaties

Times Private Treaties gets a very public airing

SUCHETA DALAL: Forget the news, you can’t believe the ads either

SALIL TRIPATHI: The first casualty of a cosy deal is credibility

PAUL BECKETT: Indian media holding Indian democracy ransom

PRATAP BHANU MEHTA: ‘Indian media in deeply murky ethical territory’

The scoreline: Different strokes for different folks

Selling the soul or sustaining the business?

It takes 3 Idiots to call the bluff of pauper tigers

‘Only the weather section isn’t sold these days’

It’s never too late to get yourself a code of ethics

7 March 2011

India’s biggest business paper, The Economic Times, has gifted its print and television staffers a golden jubilee gift: a short and succinct 447-word code of ethics.

It clearly defines, among other things, the “Chinese Wall” between “church and state”:

“Our reporting and analysis is entirely independent of our advertising and investment departments (Response / Sales and Private Treaties). We do not give preferential treatment to advertisers / treaty partners nor do we entertain requests from the business departments of BCCL to do so.”

The full text of the ET code of ethics has been made available online and today’s front-page carries “The Golden Pledge” as a graphic element.

The ET and ET Now code reminds its journalists that to provide the best reportage and analysis to its readers and viewers, they must strive to be “accurate and unbiased” and their stories must be “attributed, verified and honest.”

One of ET‘s main competitors, Mint from the Hindustan Times stable, has occupied the high moral ground in the absence of an ET code, with an 8,676-word Lakshman rekha.

Image: courtesy The Economic Times

Also read: In its golden jubilee year, ET gets a redesign

LGBTs want a public apology from TV9 chief

4 March 2011

TV9, one of India’s most watched news networks—miles ahead of all its English majors—with a presence in Telugu, Kannada, Marthi, Gujarati and Malayalam, is in trouble once again.

The channel’s racy, often breathless, coverage of news often borders on the scurrilous. Now LGBTs—lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transexuals—have hit back on a recent TV9 “sting” operation in Hyderabad, and demanded an apology from the network head, Ravi Prakash.

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Dear Mr Prakash

Last week your station, TV9, aired an inflammatory program that has had a life-shattering impact on many of the people whose voices and faces were filmed, without their consent, in the report titled “Gay Culture Rampant in Hyderabad”.

Please submit a public apology for the damage caused by this broadcast, and publicly commit to never re-airing this program, or any similarly derogatory and anti-gay or anti-trans programming on TV9.

In your own words, you have said that TV9 should be, “a news channel that would be fiercely independent and bring the best professional practices to Telugu journalism.”

The recently aired program falls far short of those standards, and TV9’s reputation as a fair and balanced news source is at risk as a result of the fall out from this offensive, and deeply unprofessional program.

Please use your role as CEO of the network to ensure that the network regains its footing as a respectable news source, and regains the respect and trust of its viewers.

Link via Shobha S.V.

External reading: TV9: enough is enough

Also read: Will even 90 cases bring some sense into TV9?

Why a ‘serious’ Reuters journo reads a tabloid

3 March 2011

Although India’s print media market is booming, be it in English or the languages, the truth is that it is still the broadsheets that get bowels moving in the morning.

Despite the best efforts of managers, there is a palpable resistance to smaller sized newspapers, regardless of whether they want to call it a tabloid, Berliner or a compact.

The Daily is dead, Mid-Day is struggling, and Mumbai Mirror still rides piggyback on The Times of India in Bombay while Bangalore Mirror comes free with ToI in Bangalore.

Although the brand-wallahs are in thrall of the 5F formula (food, fun, film, fashion, forecast, fornication), most discerning readers, especially journalists, turn their noses at them.

Only Mail Today and Mint seem to have gained some editorial acceptance but at huge cost.

Robert MacMillan, a journalist who works for Reuters in Bangalore, says most people, who hear that he reads the Bangalore Mirror that comes free with The Times of India in that City, exclaim: “But it’s a tabloid!”

In other words, size instinctively colours perception of news sense, although the broadsheets may be guilty of the same crime as “redtops”, which is to dumb down to the lowest common denominator.

It need not necessarily be the case, writes MacMillan, who hails from Jersey City:

“In the case of the Bangalore Mirror, I find plenty to chew over in the morning. The headlines are a little New York Post/ New York Daily News, but there’s a reason people read those papers. More importantly, they’re jumpy and flashy because they often herald good journalism — the kind of stuff that people want to read. No doubt, they likely contribute to the tired “India! Ancient yet vibrant and modern!” PR campaign that has entranced my U.S. media colleagues.”

Link via K.K.

Read the full blog: Don’t hate mate because I read Bangalore Mirror

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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