Archive for August, 2011

Santosh Desai: Letting readers decide is a cop-out

9 August 2011

Notwithstanding all the kvetching among journalists about managerial interference, there can be little doubt that B-school types are doing a lot more thinking of what is happening to the profession—and the way forward.

Santosh Desai, the managing director and CEO of Future brands—and a compelling Times of India columnist—showed just why in his presentation “The Need for News”, in New Delhi last week.

Desai’s key point: despite all the segmentation, fragmentation and decentralisation of news—which has seen dependence on traditional news outlets go down and the collapse of the idea of the “single truth”—humankind would still want news to be served up by professionals.

In other words, news consumers like a bit of hand-holding to make sense of the world. Giving them “what they want” and letting them decide, is not quite the magical mantra it is made out to be but a cop-out.

“Newsmaking and newspapers are an order-making device. When we hold a newspaper, it gives the feeling that the world is a knowable place. It allows for an orderly movement of time.”

Therefore, news, he avers, cannot be moulded by consumers or crowdpsourced or user-generated all the time; credibility becomes even more critical when news gathering gets atomised.

The role of media titles in such an atmosphere, he says, is threefold: the curation of opinion, the certification of authenticity, and the ability to stand outside the market system while participating in it.

View the full powerpoint presentation: The_Future_of_News

Read the Agency FAQs report: The changing face of news

Also read: Of headlines and buylines

When cricket journos call Graeme Swann’s home

8 August 2011

In June, we saw what happens when itinerant Indian cricket correspondents following Team India on the West Indies tour landed up at batting legend Brian Lara‘s house.

On the current tour of England, two of them landed up at the offspinner Graeme Swann‘s.

On top is the first paragraph of Sandeep Dwivedi‘s despatch, published in the Indian Express on Sunday, August 7; below is the first paragraph of Sanjjeev Karan Samyal‘s in the Hindustan Times of the following day.

Also read: When cricket journalists go to Brian Lara‘s house

The saplings Usha Rai planted on our Fleet Street

8 August 2011

Delhi is celebrating its centenary as the capital of India, and a number of newspapers led by the Hindustan Times have been using the opportunity to take a stroll down memory lane.

 The Hindu Business Line too is running a series, and the sports journalist Norris Pritam (left) turned his eyes on the Fleet Street of India—Bahadurshah Zafar Marg—where a number of newspapers (The Times of India, The Indian Express, The Pioneer, et al) and their allied publications are headquartered.

Pritam’s reminiscence contains a number of anecdotes from some of the more permanent residents of the lane, who have watched the B.Z. Marg scenery change in more ways than one.

# “In the good old days, just three cars were parked in front of Indian Express,” recalls R. Ramachandran, who worked as editorial assistant with seven editors. “It was an Italian Fiat of S. Mulgaonkar, a Premier Padmini of Ramnath Goenka and a Dodge of Saroj Goenka.”

# Satya Dev Prasad, popularly known as Panditji, has been running a paan shop outside Express since 1977. “Why just the traffic, even journalists have changed. “Now you don’t have people like Verghese saheb (B.G. Verghese). When his son was getting married he (Verghese) asked me to photocopy some wedding ceremony papers on office machine, but paid for it.”

# For some of the young and more enterprising, the walks also afforded a brief ogling session. I won’t reveal more, but let me confess we were quite intrigued by a young girl in black tights who used to come out of the Times Building. Very quiet and serious looking, she always carried some fancy files and books. I never got a chance to ask her about those files. Now I find her anchoring CNN-IBN talk shows with aplomb! Yes, Sagarika Ghose it was.

# Fleet Street has an even stronger connection with NDTV. In the 1980s, Radhika Roy was chief sub-editor at the Express and Prannoy Roy, now founder and chairman NDTV, used to pick her up after work. In white shorts and T-shirt, after a session of squash I guess, he would often come to me at the sports desk to check county cricket results. It was still the days of old-fashioned PTI ticker and I gave him the teleprinter copies.

# Amidst all the drastic changes, perhaps the only thing that remains unchanged, apart from the buildings, are the few trees that Usha Rai (left) had planted in front of TOI and Express building. The saplings have turned into mature trees and provide much-wanted shade to the paan shops run by Panditji and his colleague Birbal. “I wish there were more Usha Rais in the profession,” sighs Panditji.

Map: courtesy Maps of India

Read the full article: Delhi’s Akhbaar road

Why Khushwant Singh fell out with Arun Shourie

7 August 2011

Khushwant Singh, former editor of Hindustan Times and the now-defunct Illustrated Weekly of India, on why he is no longer friends with Arun Shourie, the Magsaysay Award-winning former editor of Indian Express, in the Hindustan Times:

“There was a time when I was a frequent diner in the Shouries’ household in Delhi…. At one of the Shouries’ dinner parties, among other guests was [editor, columnist, activist] Kuldip Nayar. The conversation was largely about L.K. Advani‘s Rath Yatra in 1990 from the temple of Somnath to Ayodhya.

“I had no doubt that the exercise was undertaken with evil intent to destroy Babri Masjid.

“Passing by, Arun remarked: “Who says it is a mosque?”

“I was taken aback.

“Kuldip Nayar said, ‘Professor Sahib, did you hear what he [Arun] said?’ (Both he and [former Delhi high court judge] Rajinder Sachar call me professor sahib since they were students of the law College, Lahore and I was a lecturer.)

“I could not hold back and said to Shourie, ‘Arun, have you ever seen any building with three domes and a wall facing Makka which is not a mosque?’ He did not reply. Since then we have been on opposite sides; he on the mosque breakers’. I wanted them to be arrested and punished for the criminal act of vandalism.

“I stopped associating with Arun Shourie. I read of his rise to eminence as a cabinet minister and a member of the BJP’s think-tank. His book on Dr B.R. Ambedkar offended Dalits. He was roughed up by them while presiding over a meeting in Mumbai. Being hurt himself he wanted to hurt other people.

“He has taken every opportunity to display his disadvantaged son in his wheel chair. I feel very sorry for him but no longer admire him.”

Read the full article: When telling the truth becomes a crime

Illustration: courtesy Rajneesh K. Singh

Also read: The sad and pathetic decline of Arun Shourie

Arun Shourie: ‘Intolerant, abusive, dictatorial’

How Arun Shourie became Express editor

Arun Shourie: The three lessons of failure

Why foreign media broke news of Sonia illness

6 August 2011

Few things have exposed the state of political reporting in India than the news that Sonia Gandhi is unwell.

Dozens of reporters, most of whom claim more “access” to 10, Janpath than all the rest, cover the Congress party.

Yet, in a throwback to the Cold War days, none knew or none told the world what was wrong, although there had been strong whispers for nearly a year.

****

Neelam Deo and Manjeet Kripalani of the Bombay-based Indian council of global relations, Gateway House:

As TV channels fell over each other [on August 4] to cover in minute detail, the unseemly succession drama of the chief minister of Karnataka, and the CAG’s naming of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit in the graft and corruption surrounding CWG, by 2.30 pm foreign TV agencies, the BBC and Agence France-Presse reported that Sonia Gandhi, had undergone surgery in the United States.

The foreign news reports named Gandhi’s spokesperson, Janardhan Dwivedi, as the source of the information….

The news of Sonia Gandhi’s undisclosed illness and secret departure came as a shock to Indians… Democratic institutions like the media and the Parliament, which should have disclosed Gandhi’s condition as a matter of public knowledge, had kept silent.

The Congress Party carried no notice of its leader’s illness on its website, and it is significant that its spokesperson confirmed the news first to the foreign press.

If it felt it could not trust the Indian media with responsible reportage, the Indian media as a collective, has given it good reason. It is, increasingly part of the cozy nexus of politicians and bureaucrats in Delhi, and is often partisan in its coverage, scoffing at the public’s right to know important events.

For the record, Manjeet Kripalani is former India bureau chief of BusinessWeek magazine.

Illustration: courtesy Thomas Antony

Read the full articleGandhi dynasty, politics as usual

Also readHow come no one spotted Satyam fraud?

How come no one saw the IPL cookie crumbling?

How come no one in the media saw the worm turn?

Aakar PatelIndian journalism is regularly second-rate

A photographer’s delight strikes again (and again)

5 August 2011

There is no other way to say this: the media will miss B.S. Yediyurappa. For three years and two months, the Karnataka chief minister was a photographer’s (and front page editor’s) dream come true, striking poses with his hands, legs, eyes, clothes and general demeanour.

(Thankfully, he has reassured us that he will be back in six months.)

There is also no other way to say this: still photography, especially news photography, is an absolute nightmare these days with television (and outsized advertisements) wrecking the scene. Rare is the photographer who manages to capture the present in a manner that might surprise posterity.

This superb frame, published by Kannada Prabha, in which Yediyurappa is adroitly pushing a laddoo into his successor D.V. Sadananda Gowda‘s mouth while simultaneously reining in his left hand and glowering at his arch-rival H.N. Ananth Kumar, is an exception.

It captures almost everything that has happened in the Karnataka BJP over the past week (and indeed in the past three years and two months, if not more), and it shows the tenuous relationships within the BJP, like perhaps no TV camera can. Or will.

Photograph: K.Ravi, courtesy Kannada Prabha

Also read: The best photos of Yediyurappa on planet earth

12 Indians in Columbia J-school’s Class of 2012

4 August 2011

There are 96 students from 39 countries for Columbia University’s MA program in specialised journalism this year, and not surprisingly, the second most number of students come from India.

Link via Sreenath Sreenivasan

How The Times of India entered Madurai

3 August 2011

When it launched its Madras edition three years ago, the 173-year-old Times of India did what its chief competitor, the 132-year-old Hindu wouldn’t be caught dead doing.

Which is, associate its masthead with a “mass” gaana songNaaka mukka—from a Tamil movie.

Now, to launch its Madurai edition, ToI goes one step (and several dappan kootu beats) further, even as its chief competitor hurtles from court to high court to supreme court, seeking answers for such a fundamental question as, who should run the newspaper: owner or outsider?

(For the musically inclined, the singer in the ToI video is Chinna Ponnu, who recently starred with Kailash Kher in the Indian version of Coke Studio)

Link via Shobha Sarada Viswanathan

Also read: Any number will do in game of numbers

Now, you can lick an “Indian Legend” for Rs 5

3 August 2011

From left, K.S. Sachidananda Murthy, Delhi resident editor, Malayala Manorama; P.J. Kurien, MP; Kapil Sibal, Union communications minister; Mammen Mathew, chief editor, Malayala Manorama; Manmohan Singh, prime minister; and Thangam Mammen at the release of the stamp in memory of the late Malayala Manorama chief editor, K.M. Mathew

No statue may be erected in memory of a critic, but a stamp can certainly be issued in memory of an editor.

K.M. Mathew, the chief editor of what was once India’s largest selling newspaper, Malayala Manorama, who passed away a year ago, has been described by the prime minister as an “Indian legend“.

And a five-rupee stamp and first-day cover have been released in his memory.

Also read: K.M. Mathew, chief editor, Malayala Manorama, no more

15 things you didn’t know about K.M. Mathew

What K.M. Mathew could teach today’s young tykes

‘Sans Serif’ joins TOI in this sincere apology

1 August 2011

The Times of India has this “clarification” on the sports pages today, on a football official who allegedly abused a referee.

Sans Serif clarifies that any resemblance between the hit song and the clarification are accidental and entirely unintentional.

Image: courtesy The Times of India

Also read: The Times of India ‘apology’ on fixing report

Discreet inquiries by ToI after publication showed…

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