Archive for June, 2011

Roasted almonds, biscuits & tea for gang of five

30 June 2011

The prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, with the five newspaper editors he met for an interaction in New Delhi yesterday. Seated from left, clockwise, are the national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, Divya Marathi editor Kumar Ketkar, Nayi Duniya editor Alok Mehta, the PM’s media advisor Harish Khare, The Tribune editor Raj Chengappa, PTI editor M.K. Razdan, Business Standard director and the president of the editors guild of India, T.N. Ninan, and PM’s secretary T.K.A. Nair.

Photographs: courtesy Press Trust of India

Also read: The preliminary transcript; The PM’s opening remarks

POLL: Is the PM right about the Indian media?

Is the prime minister right about Indian media?

29 June 2011

Like a bad host, who abuses his guests after calling them home, the prime minister of India launched into the media today after calling a bunch of five editors for a much-delayed interaction. It took Manmohan Singh just 25 words in his 1,884-word opening remarks to stick it into the editors.

“An atmosphere has been created in the country—and I say this with all humility—the role of the media in many cases has become that of the accuser, the prosecutor and the judge… . We take decisions in a world of uncertainty and that’s the perspective I think Parliament, our CAG and our media must adopt if this nation is to move forward,” Singh said.

As if the media was responsible for the 2G, CWG or KG basin scams that has seen his ministers resign or prepare to. As if the media was responsible for the thuggish behaviour of his ministers (like Kapil Sibal) in undermining “civil society”, in other words the people of India. As if the media was responsible for runaway prices or inflation.

Or, as if the media was responsible for hurling a question mark over his tenure. Etcetera.

So, what do you think? Has the media overstepped its brief? Has it become accuser, prosecutor and judge? Has the media done its job in unravelling scams and keeping the pressuer on the government? Is the media wrong in clamouring for a cleaner, less corrupt system?

Or is Manmohan Singh barking up the wrong tree by shooting the messenger?

The five editors with prime minister Manmohan Singh: from left, T.N. Ninan of Business Standard, Raj Chengappa of The Tribune, M.K. Razdan of Press Trust of India, Alok Mehta of Nayi Duniya, and Kumar Ketkar of Divya Marathi

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Also read: Why the PM is hopelessly wrong about the media

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

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

‘Allow me to point out, Mr Goswami…’

29 June 2011

In the season of the Majithia wage board for newspaper employees, the Congress’ garrulous spokesman bats for television employees by sticking it into their proprietors.

Image: courtesy Indian Express

Also read: Why doesn’t INS oppose ‘no-poaching’ pacts?

Should papers implement Majithia wage board?

Why Majithia wage board is good for journalists

9 reasons why wage board is bad for journalism

Media barons wake up together, sing same song

INS: “We reject wage board recommendations”

Barkha Dutt gets a letter from her sister Bahar

28 June 2011

In August 2010, Femina featured  NDTV‘s star-presenter and group editor Barkha Dutt on its cover in a smashing new avatar. That profile has made it to a bumper special issue featuring the 50 best faces that the women’s magazine has showcased over the past four decades.

In a piece accompanying Barkha’s story in the June 2011 issue, Dutt’s sister Bahar Dutt, a trained wildlife conservationist who works at CNN-IBN, pens a note from the heart to her more famous, more visible sibling.

‘Yeh thi khabrein Aaj Tak. Intzaar kijiye kal tak’

27 June 2011

Fourteen years ago today, Surendra Pratap Singh aka S.P. Singh, the founder-anchor of Aaj Tak, the 30-minute Hindi news bulletin that became a 24×7 news channel, breathed his last after a fortnight-long battle for life.

“SP” was one of the first print journalists to successfully graduate to television—he had edited the Hindi  daily Navbharat Times and the weekly Ravivar—and his daily bulletin “expanded the limits of television journalism in a never-before fashion with its common man’s eye view style“.

Singh passed away at age 49 just before Aaj Tak could turn into a full-fledged news channel after the government decided not to renew its contract with Doordarshan. But by then he had inspired a whole new crop of television stars: Dibang, Sanjay Pugalia and Ashutosh to give just three examples.

Today, on Twitter, a few of his friends and colleagues have been remembering a mentor and a pioneer:

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DIBANG: June 27, 1997: We lost the most credible face of Indian TV news, founder of Aaj Tak, Surendra Pratap Singh! These days, I deeply miss SP!

NARAYANAN MADHAVAN: S.P. Singh. Father of credible Hindi news journalism, founder of Brand Aaj Tak (not the one you see today)

MILIND KHANDEKAR: No words can explain the loss…

DIBANG: With all that’s happening to media and in media, SP would have been the best guide/mentor! Media would have been different.

PRAGYA MOHANTY: He was the first person reading news who smiled. Like really.:)

DIBANG: Agree with you and what an assuring smile. Was great education just hanging around him. Miss him deeply.

PRAGYA MOHANTY: The way SP began treating news, even viewers learnt to discern. He made news watching engaging. Gosh! Such nostalgia.

DIBANG: So true! He had a great ability to discern what is news. He never touched what’s past and what’s yet to be!

DIBANG: He knew what is news, he had that ‘pakad‘, and when he read news it was reflected in his expressions, his voice, his body language.

PRAGYA MOHANTY: Pakad is the word. (Prannoy Roy‘s) The World This Week was more like a theory class and watching SP was like attending the practicals.

DIBANG: Yeh thi khabrein aaj tak, Intzaar kijiye kal tak. Was always in studio with him when he read the news.

DIBANG: When he fell in the bathroom. He called out his wife Shikha (Trivedy) and told her: Dibang ko jaldi bulao. Those are his last words.

DIBANG: It was a Monday when we took SP to hospital. He wasn’t conscious, never returned. Was with him whole of that sunday. I remember all the conversation i had with him that Sunday. For us its like he is still there with us.

Gopinath Muthukad didn’t predict this headline

27 June 2011

Kerala magician Gopinath Muthukad—who has become only the second Indian after P.C. Sorcar Jr to bag the Merlin award handed out by the international magicians society—can emerge unscathed from fires with his hands cuffed, withstand electricity passed through water, make watches rematerialise.

He can also, it seems, make editors and sub-editors obsolete.

The Chetan Bhagat-ification of Indian newspapers

26 June 2011

Business Standard books’ reviewer Nilanjana S. Roy—and CNN-IBN anchor Sagarika Ghose (who has a column in Hindustan Times)—provide the latest update on the state of Indian newspapers.

How Coke and Colgate denied this man his due?

24 June 2011

The more things change, the more they remain the same—and nostalgia is no longer what it used to be.

Two-time, stop-gap prime minister Gulzari Lal Nanda‘s death in January 1998 didn’t get its due on the front pages of newspapers because, well, market forces had taken hold of the media in post-reforms India.

In a column in the Delhi tabloid Mail Today, the architect Gautam Bhatia writes:

“Some readers may have noticed that former prime minister Gulzari Lal Nanda’s death could not be covered because Colgate and Coke had both given full page ads that day.

“Editors went so far to request the Nanda family to postpone the death by a day, but Nanda, being an obstinate politician, carried on with his original plan; his death was a two-line obituary below an oversize Coke bottle.”

Nice story.

The bad news is Mahatma Gandhi‘s assassination in 1948 didn’t make it to the front pages of The Hindu either because “India’s national newspaper” only carried ads on page one in the heady days of pre-liberalisation India.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même Coke?

Also read: What a newspaper editor told Mahatma Gandhi

Thus spake the editor-in-chief of the Harijan

When a tennis reporter bumps into a tennis icon

23 June 2011

Nirmal Shekar in The Hindu:

“Twenty-five summers ago, on a glorious sunny morning, an egregiously overdressed sports reporter from India walked in circles for almost an hour around Wimbledon Park in south west London before locating the correct point of entry for mediapersons—Gate No. 5—at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

“After security clearance and a good two minutes spent staring at the statue of the last Englishman to have won the men’s title 50 years earlier—Fred Perry—the reporter, heart pounding, feeling a sense of reverence and awe he’d never before experienced in his short career up until then, walked up the steps leading to the Centre Court like an ardent pilgrim on the verge of realising a cherished dream.

“Slowly making his way down those same steps was, to the reporter’s utter disbelief, the great Perry himself, with a broad smile on his handsome, if creased, face.

“As the reporter introduced himself with uncharacteristic shyness, Perry, after patiently answering a few questions, resumed his journey down the steps. Then, quickly turning around, he asked: “Is it your first Wimbledon visit?”

“‘Yes,’ muttered The Hindu’s newly-designated Tennis Correspondent, fidgeting with the notepad on which he had just scribbled down Perry’s comments.

“‘Enjoy yourself. You will never forget the experience,’ said Perry.”

Read the full article: Why Wimbledon stands alone

Photograph: courtesy M. Hangst/All England law tennis and croquet club

Also read: What’s in a name when it’s all about a soundbyte

Mixed metaphor bhath

External reading: What’s it like for a reporter covering Wimbledon?

BBC Hindi Service gets a fresh lease of life

22 June 2011

The protests and signature campaigns have borne fruit: BBC’s Hindi Service has been saved from closure.

British foreign secretary William Hague has announced an additional 2.2 million pounds for the BBC World Service over the next three years, which will enable continuation of the Hindi and Arabic services.

Hague’s statement confirms chairman of BBC Trust Lord Chris Patten‘s efforts to ensure the continuation of the Hindi Service, which, he told PTI last week, was a “very important service”, reports Prasun Sonwalkar.

In January this year, BBC had announced the closure of the Hindi service by March, but after much criticism it was given a year’s reprieve to explore an alternate model of funding to ensure its continued functioning.

Also read: ‘The poor in rural India need BBC Hindi service’

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