Archive for September, 2011

The TV anchor who’s caught Omar Abdullah’s eye

12 September 2011

Nora Chopra, the diarist/ gossip columnist of M.J. Akbar‘s weekly newspaper, The Sunday Guardian, gives a delicious little rumour floating around in Delhi some more oxygen.

“If the Delhi grapevine is to be believed, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah and his wife Payal are getting divorced by mutual consent.

“The reason behind the break-up is apparently a TV anchor from the State, who the 41-year-old CM wants to marry. The anchor is a divorcee and has been in two live-in relationships since her divorce. But the marriage is being opposed by his father Dr Farooq Abdullah and his party, the National Conference, as the lady is not a Muslim. The NC wants Abdullah to marry a Kashmiri Muslim girl….

“Omar had married Payal, the daughter of Major General Ram Nath (retired), a Sikh, in 1994, four years before he entered politics. He has not visited his Akbar road residence in New Delhi, where Payal lives with their two sons, for the last six months. When asked by this columnist, a close Omar Abdullah aide said on the condition of anonymity, ‘All I can say is that they are separated.’

“Mixed marriages are common in the Abdullah family. Farooq Abdullah had married a British lady, Omar Abdullah’s sister Sarah is married to Sachin Pilot. But conservative Kashmiri politics has not allowe these women to make Srinagar their home.”

Update 1 (15 September): The Delhi Times supplement of The Times of India too has jumped into the picture, with a story that claims that the separation of Abdullah and his wife of 17 years, Payal, “can now be safely assumed to be official status”.

“…people Delhi Times spoke to confirmed the fact that the split had been coming for a while, most of them declined to comment on the speculation over the reason behind the split. They did, however, affirm that talk of Omar’s remarriage is on.

“In that context, there are two names doing the rounds – one, a friend of Omar, supposedly his choice (a highprofile mediaperson), and two, a choice preferred by his dad and his party, the sister of politician Nasir Aslam Wani. Wani, believed to be a confidante of the CM, is currently J&K’s minister of state for Home.”

Update 2 (15 September): Meanwhile, Omar Abdullah has responded to the speculation on his Twitter account, posting four messages within minutes of each other, and promising a “separate statement” shortly:

# “Have seen with dismay and anguish the growing tide of speculation in the media about my private life and the status of my marriage

#”While it’s true my wife and i have separated, speculation about the motives and my future actions are unfounded, untrue.

# “stories abt my remarriage are completely false, concocted. It’s a pity, while repeating these lies, no effort was made to ask me the truth

# “I appeal to the media to please allow me and my family privacy. Am sure you will appreciate that i have not let this affect my work

Photograph: Omar Abdullah with wife Payal and their children in happier times (courtesy The Telegraph)

Also read: NDTV reporter puts an ‘indecent proposal’ in print

Wall Street Journal denies minister sent reporter SMS

Everybody loves a good affair between celebrities

In love? Married? A threat to national security?

‘Don’t you have anything more serious to write about?

Sanjaya Baru quits BS to join strategic thinktank

10 September 2011

Sanjaya Baru is stepping down as editor of Busines Standard less than two years after he took over from T.N. Ninan.

On his Facebook page, Baru, former media advisor to prime minister Manmohan Singh, posted this status update:

“OK, now it is final! From 1st November I step down as Editor, BS and take over as Director, Geo-economics and Strategy at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, London. But, based in Delhi.”

Newspaper image: courtesy Mint

Also read: It’s official, about the return of Sanjaya Baru

When editor makes way for editor, gracefully

‘Go to bed knowing you haven’t succumbed’

‘Media standards haven’t kept pace with growth’

Times Now looking for journos in five cities

10 September 2011

Inclusive media fellowships for journalists 2011

9 September 2011

PRESS RELEASE: Inclusive Media for Change, an initiative of the Delhi-based centre for study of developing societies (CSDS), is inviting applications from print and electronic journalists for media fellowships to explore grassroots issues in rural communities.

The fellowships are open to fulltime and freelance English and Hindi journalists. The fellowship duration is 3-6 weeks, and the amount on offer is Rs 150,000.

The topics and projects chosen must be about rural livelihoods, agrarian crises, rural environment, distress migration, hunger, malnutrition, public health and primary education.

Applications must be accompanied by a 500-word synopsis of the project proposal, a break-up of five story ideas, two samples of published work, a rough break-up of travel/boarding requirements, and a supporting letter from the editor assuring leave for four weeks and publication of the fellowship output.

Completed applications can be mailed to im4change.csds@gmail.com

The last date for submission of applications is 30 September 2011.

Also read: Top-6 dailies devote 2% coverage on rural issues

PTI reporter has a kiss with death at Delhi HC

7 September 2011

A Press Trust of India (PTI) reporter had a narrow escape when the deadly bomb went off outside gate number 5 of Delhi high court today, shortly after he had picked up his entry pass.

The news agency’s legal reporter Upmanyu Trivedi had collected his pass from the reception counter and was moving towards the court building when he heard a deafening sound at 10.14 am.

He looked back and was shocked to find death and devastation on the steps he had just crossed. A PTI story says Trivedi quickly recovered his wits to call the office and break the news of the blast.

“It was a strange kind of emotions. Happy to have survived and broken the news but deeply disturbed to see the gory blast site with scores of people lying in a pool of blood, right in front of the reception counter from where I had got my entry pass seconds ago,” Trivedi said later.

Reporters have on the Supreme Court beat have recently had a run-in with authorities over accreditation following the notification of new rules.

Read the PTI screed: PTI scribe escapes blast by a whisker

Also read: ToI food writer Sabina Sehgal Saikia dies in 26/11 attack

Reports of scribe’s death are grossly exaggerated

Three words that cheered up Reuters journo, Sourav Mishra

Top-6 dailies devote 2% coverage on rural issues

6 September 2011

“India lives in its villages.” “Agriculture accounts for 60% of the Indian economy.” “Two out of every three Indians live in the rural areas.” The cliches abound about Bharat id est India.

Yet, a study of India’s top-three English and Hindi newspapers shows that they devote only a minuscule porportion of their total coverage to rural India’s issues, crises and anxieties.

The journalist Vipul Mudgal, who is currently with the Delhi-based centre for study of developing socieites (CSDS), selected 48 issues of The Times of India, Hindustan Times and The Hindu, and Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar and Amar Ujala from 2009, for the study.

An analysis of the news items in the six top-circulation dailies found that, on average, the papers devoted 2% editorial space for their flagship editions to the issues and concerns of two-thirds of India.

Out of between 100 and 200 items a day, just over three items had a rural theme.

The biggest portion (36%) of even this meagre news coverage was to non-agrarian issues such as crime, general or political (Naxalite-related) violence, accidents and disasters.

There is also little difference in the coverage of rural issues between the English and Hindi dailies, despite the latter being presumed to have their nose to the ground.

“One reason for their lack of interest could be explained by the fact that their readers, advertisers and journalists, particularly in the metropolitan editions, come from urban backgrounds.

“The dailies tend to be more consumer-focused and try to fulfil the needs and aspirations of educated and upwardly mobile urban consumers whose universe often has limited space for issues of poverty and underdevelopment,” writes Mudgal.

Read the fulll article: Rural coverage in Hindi and English dailies

Infographic: courtesy Economic & Political Weekly

Also read: ‘Middle-class media doesn’t speak for the poor’

‘Indian media doesn’t cover 70% of India’s population’

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