Archive for October, 2011

‘I have a poor opinion of most media people’

31 October 2011

The Press Council of India (PCI), a statutory body for “preserving the freedom of the press and maintaining and improving the standards of newspapers and news agencies”, has a new chairman: Justice Markandey Katju, a former judge of the Supreme Court of India.

In an interview with Karan Thapar for CNN-IBN’s weekly programme Devil’s Advocate, Justice Katju, known for his “mayhem, humour and quotability” in the courtroom and his long, ponderous newspaper articles, lets loose:

Karan Thapar: In a recent interaction with newspaper and TV editors, you said the media have become irresponsible and wayward, and that the time has come when some introspection is required. Are you disappointed with the media?

Justice Katju: Very disappointed with the media. I have a poor opinion about the media. I mean this. They should be working for the interests of the people. But they are not working for the interests of the people and sometimes, politically, they are working in an anti-people manner.

You have said one of the basic tasks of the media is to provide truthful and objective information to form rational opinions. Is that not happening altogether or is it not happening sufficiently?

You must first understand the historical context. India is passing through a transitional period in our history. Transition from a feudal-agricultural to a modern-industrial society. This is a painful and agonising period. When Europe was passing through this period, media played a great role. It was a great help in transforming European society.

Is that not happening in India?

No. Just the reverse….

Indian media is very often playing an anti-people role. One, it diverts the attention of the people from the real problems, which are basically economic. 80% people are living in horrible poverty, unemployment, facing price rise, healthcare. You divert attention from those problems and instead you parade parade film stars, fashion parades, cricketers, as if they are the problems.

Two, very often the media (deliberately) divides the people (on religious lines). This is a country of great diversity because it is a country broadly of immigrants. We must respect each other and remain united. After every bomb blast, almost every channel report that Indian Mujahidin or Jaish-e-Mohammed or Harkatul-jihad-e-islam have sent e-mails or SMS claiming responsibility. Now an e-mail can be sent by any mischievous person, but by showing this on TV channels and next day in the newspapers the tendency is to demonise all Muslims in the country as terrorists and bomb throwers.

Third, the media must promote scientific ideas to help the country move forward, like the European media did. Here the media promotes superstition, astrology. You know, 90% of the people in the country are mentally very backward, steeped in casteism, communalism, superstition and so on. Should the media help uplift them and bring them up to a higher mental level and make them part of enlightened India, or should it go down to their level and perpetuate their backwardness? Many channels show astrology, which is pure humbug, total superstition.

You began by saying that you had a very low opinion of the media, that you were deeply dispapointed. I get the impression you don’t think very much of the media at all?

There are some very respected journalists…. General rut is very, very low and I have a poor opinion of most media people. Frankly, I don’t think they have any knowledge of economic theory or political science or literature or philosophy. I don’t think they have studied all this.

So the media is in effect is letting down India.

Yes, absolutely. Because media is very important in this transitional period. The media deals with ideas, it is not an ordinary business, dealing in commodities. Therefore, people need modern scientific ideas. And that’s not happening.

View the full video: ‘Media deliberately dividing people’

Also read: What the stars foretell for our avivekanandas

H.D. Kumaraswamy will become PM one day: astrologer

How the BJP raised witchcraft to statecraft

The only place black magic works is in your mind

How Big B has pushed India to regressive, new low

Can the Sai Baba make Shashi Tharoor win?

Tarun Tejpal: Haven’t violated or bent any rules

31 October 2011

Although he wasn’t named in the original piece by Hartman de Souza in the Hindustan Times, Tarun J. Tejpal, the editor of Tehelka, offers a spirited defence in today’s paper on the alleged irregularities in his under-construction house in Goa:

“When I tell him [Hartman de Souza] the reporter he has cited was asked to leave the magazine on account of poor performance, he rages that the world will soon run out of water and power and food (and love).

“When I tell him we don’t do mining, our investors don’t do mining, I have no friends who are mining barons, and that we actively refused sponsorship from all the Goan mining companies for our Think conclave, he rages that all mining is bad, everywhere….

“I don’t tell him that our journalists have in the last few years done more work than anyone else against land and mining violations in Orissa, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Haryana and other states. I suspect for him if it isn’t in Goa it doesn’t count.

“I don’t tell him that Tehelka’s public interest journalism ends up in crucial PILs, Supreme Court mandated special institutional tribunals (SITs), and impacts policy on a myriad human rights issues on a regular basis. I suspect, for him if it isn’t in Goa it doesn’t count.

“I don’t tell him I go to the courts several times every month to defend ourselves against those whose wrongdoings we’ve exposed. I suspect, for him if it isn’t Goa it doesn’t count.

“I don’t tell him that if the top 100 media editors and owners declare their assets I would be delighted, if included, to declare mine. Such revelations might explode his rage to potentially fatal levels.”

Read the full article: Albert Pinto ko gussa kyon aata hai?

Also read: A magazine, a scam, an owner and his Goan house

Tehelka promoter’s woes just don’t seem to end

Moneybag MP says he didn’t turn off FW tap

Indira: 64 ads, 32 pages vs Patel: 9 ads, 3 pages

31 October 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: After the advertising blitzkrieg to mark Rajiv Gandhi‘s birth and death anniversaries, and the death anniversary of his grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru earlier this year, Union ministries and Congress-led State governments and departments have once again splurged heavily to mark Indira Gandhi‘s death anniversary today.

In the 12 newspapers surveyed, there are 64 advertisements of various sizes, amounting to approximately 31½ published pages to mark the assassination of the former prime minister on this day, 27 years ago.

In contrast, Vallabhbhai Patel, the late Union home minister, whose birth anniverary too falls on October 31, gets 9 advertisements in the same 12 newspapers, amounting to 3 published pages. While there are multiple advertisements for Indira Gandhi, no paper has more than one ad for Patel.

The breakup of the Indira Gandhi ads are as under:

Hindustan Times: 22-page main issue; 9 Indira Gandhi ads amounting to 4¼ broadsheet pages

The Times of India: 30-page issue; 13 ads amounting to 6¼ broadsheet pages

Indian Express: 22-page issue; 9 ads amounting to 4 broadsheet pages

Mail Today (compact): 36-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 2¾ compact pages

The Hindu: 24-page issue; 8 ads amounting to 4 broadsheet pages

The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 7 ads amounting to 3¼ broadsheet pages

The Statesman: 16-page issue; 4 ads amounting to 2 broadsheet pages

The Telegraph: 22-page issue; 5 ads amounting to 2½ broadsheet pages

***

The Economic Times: 26-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ pages

Business Standard: 14-page issue; 2 ads amouning to 1 page

Financial Express: 20-page issue; 1 ad amounting to half a page

Mint (Berliner): 24-page issue; 0 ads

This computation is only for 12 English newspapers; many other English papers have been left, as indeed has the entire language media which are more numerous than the English ones, several times over.

Among the 13 advertisers wishing the dear departed leader happy birthday this year are the ministries of information and broadcasting, commer and industry, steel, women and child development, health and family welfare, human resources development, development of north east region, and social justice and empowerment.

The state governments advertising their love are those of Rajasthan, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh. Besides, most newspapers carry an advertisement inserted by the Congress party.

All told, so far, this year, tax payers money have been spent in buying 265 advertisements amounting to 132 published pages in the 12 newspapers.

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

Also read: Rajiv Gandhi death anniversary: 69 ads over 41 pages in 12 newspapers

Jawaharlal Nehru death anniversary: 24 ads over 11 pages

Rajiv Gandhi birthday: 108 ads across 48 pages

A magazine, a scam, an owner & his Goan house

28 October 2011

Be it the Commonwealth Games scam, the 2G spectrum allocation scam, or the demolition of Team Anna, it is increasingly clear that sections of the media are eagerly running with the wolves and hunting with the hounds.

In State after State, in story after story, media houses, owners and professionals are turning out to be players in the very stories they are supposed to be purveying, making nonsense of issues such as integrity, conflict of interest, and crossmedia ownership.

The unravelling mining scams in Karnataka and Goa are no exceptions.

In today’s Hindustan Times, the veteran theatreperson Hartman de Souza writes these telling paragraphs why it took so long for the Goan mining scam to see the light of day:

“The story that broke the skullduggery in Goa first appeared on Firstpost. Later, it was methodically pursued by reporters from Hindustan Times’ Mumbai bureau.

“But what many people don’t know is that the Firstpost story was first commissioned when the reporter concerned was working for another magazine*, which takes pride in being politically neutral.

“The story remained in limbo for two weeks. It saw the light of day only when the reporter left the organisation, took the story with him, made one more trip to Goa and uncovered some more irregularities.

“Environmentalists in Goa were, however, not puzzled by the said magazine’s reluctance to go after the Goa government and its home-grown mining barons, given that it had sent a reporter earlier and had blocked that story then too.

“The magazine’s proprietor had bought an old house in a Goan village. Even as I write this, he is bending rules to get the house refurbished into a new age spa. Just across the house was an old jackfruit tree, which was cut even when the inside of its thick turmeric-coloured centre was still gleaming with moisture.

“It’s anybody’s guess how many more old trees would have been cut inside the vast perimeter of the property to make way for lawns, garden and ponds. It doesn’t end there. The said magazine* will soon hold an ‘ideas’ jamboree in Panjim at a hotel which is owned by a mining company.”

Photograph: courtesy Hindustan Times

Read the full article: You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours

External reading: Everybody loves a good war

***

* Disclosures apply

***

Also read: Tehelka promoter’s woes just don’t seem to end

Moneybag MP says he didn’t turn off FW tap

Should media corruption come under Lokpal?

‘Editors are lobbying on behalf of corporations’

Media houses are sitting on plots leased at one rupee!

‘Editors, senior journalists must declare assets’

INS: ‘Wage board move will kill most newspapers’

27 October 2011

After dithering for months, the Union cabinet has approved the recommendations of the G.R. Majithia wage board for journalists and other employees of newspapers and news agencies, subject to the final order of the Supreme Court which is hearing petitions from at least three media houses.

The Indian Newspaper Society (INS), which had steadfastly opposed the recommendations, has slammed the government’s move.

Below is the full text of the INS press release.

NEW DELHI: Ashish Bagga, president, the Indian Newspaper Society, has expressed grave apprehension that the decision of the Union Cabinet on the eve of Diwali to accept the recommendations of the Majithia wage boards may lead to the closure of a majority of small and medium newspaper publications across the country as the proposed wage hikes are very high and beyond the capacity of the industry.

He cautioned that even large publications would find it difficult to implement these steep wage hikes.

It is indeed unfortunate that the INS’ request for re-examination of the flawed and one- sided report has not been considered by the Government. A number of petitions challenging the Working Journalist and other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1955 and the Majithia Wage Boards recommendations are before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and the decision of the Government would be subject to the final order of the Supreme Court. After the recommendations are published, these petitions may be amended if required, he added.

Bagga said that the Fourth Estate of our vibrant democracy is under threat of losing its well-nurtured fabric of plurality of ownership and the situation created by the Government’s decision will throw up a clear and imminent possibility of consolidating media power in the hands of a few. This coupled with the danger of large scale retrenchments as a consequence of possible closure of a large number of newspaper establishments throughout the country not only pose a great threat to the Fourth Estate but could also lead to colossal job losses in a job-scarce country such as ours.

Also read: INS: “We reject wage board recommendations”

Media barons wake up together, sing same song

Why Majithia wage board is good for journalists

9 reasons why wage board is bad for journalism

POLL: Should newspapers implement wage board?

A good cartoon is like a raga. The trick is ‘riyaz’

24 October 2011

Puthukodi Kottuthody Shankaran Kutty, known simply to the newspaper reading world as Kutty, one of India’s leading political cartoonists, has passed away in the United States at the age of 90.

Part of the legendary troika of cartoonists that comprised Shankar and Abu Abraham, Kutty’s work appeared first in the now-defunct National Herald and later in the Bengali daily Ananda Bazaar Patrika.

E.P. Unny, the chief political cartoonist of The Indian Express, pays tribute in today’s paper.

***

By E.P. UNNY

When two practitioners, generations apart, sit down to chat, a one-way flow of wisdom should naturally ensue. Among other things, this cartoonist defied this one too.

On that August morning in 1985 when I met him first, Kutty was at the INS building earlier than the place had woken up. “I come in by nine to drop my cartoon at the Ananda Bazar office and leave before the wise guys turn up,” were his opening remarks.

He had little use for peer inputs, “however wise or otherwise”. Before anyone else in the Capital, he had made up his mind on the day’s newsmakers and the verdict signed and sealed was ready for dispatch.

Quite apart from Abu, O.V.Vijayan and Rajinder Puri, the editorial cartoonists I grew up on, Kutty came with no thought balloon. This compact cartoonist just sat there freely chatting, waving his hands about and the cartoon seemed to emerge like a gestural extension.

Pen and paper were incidental to his art.

He would grab the most non-descript of writing instruments and sketch on anything short of the blotting sheet, waste newsprint to butter paper. The drawing looked amazingly finished, with all things cartoonish in place, including that inimitable impishness which marked his work.

Surely he couldn’t have so effortlessly done this 100-metre dash day after day for as long as M.F. Husain painted. In the many meetings that followed our first, Kutty did casually allude to his craft, in terms that hardly matched the everyday business of news cartooning.

“Things are easy once you master the face like a raga. Do riyaz.”

These venerable musical metaphors were however, in keeping with Kutty’s breeding. He was trained by Shankar in the only gurukul cartooning has seen — the Shankar’s Weekly.

Shankar ran a two-room office in Odeon Building in Connaught Place in Delhi like a true ustad. Far from mild-mannered, the master with his classical notions on pen and brush to perspective could have traumatised a lesser disciple.

Kutty played along as best as he could only to ever so furtively depart from the guru’s elaborate choreographed frames to a more functional mode.

Once India’s honeymoon with Swaraj was over, the emerging politics was being held together by satraps across the country and not always in consonance with Nehruvian norms. This called for more immediate random responses and true to his calling, Kutty was ready with a style that caught the political drift away from Delhi and across the regions. This stood him well when he eventually left English newspapers to embark on an incredible leap into the unknown.

In Ananda Bazar Patrika he went on to become the best known Bengali cartoonist. He had already done his riyaz on B.C. Sen, Atulya Ghosh and the two barristers who ran Bengal — Siddharth Shankar Ray and Jyoti Basu. Kutty knew his turf but the unknown part is awesome.

This Malayali, who knew no Bangla, wrote his terse captions in English for the news desk to translate into Bangla. From Bengal’s Bihari, Oriya immigrants to the rooted bhadralok, none noticed this historic sweep of the fragile news cartoon across three languages.

In an earlier stint with this paper from 1962 to 1969, Kutty did what all the greats in this profession do — anticipate a worthy successor. He prepared the Express reader for Abu Abraham’s elegant minimalism.

Text and cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

It’s never too late to professionalise AIR, DD

21 October 2011

Image: courtesy Hindustan Times

Also read: Who really named All India Radio as Akashvani?

How Doordarshan was launched for all of Rs 4 lakh

Pratima Puri, India’s first TV news reader passes away

Amita Malik, the first lady of Indian media, passes away

Salman Sultan: on TV anniversary, no monkeying around

Tejeshwar Singh: A baritone falls silent watching the cacophony

Aman Sethi bags Red Cross journalism prize

20 October 2011

Aman Sethi, The Hindu‘s correspondent in Chhattisgarh, has bagged the international red cross committee’s award for best print media article on humanitarian issues, for his March 2011 piece on homes and granaries that were torched by police commandos in three villages in the Naxal heartland.

Tehelka ‘s Umar Baba took the second place, while the third prize went to Reji Joseph of Rashtra Deepika. The consolation prize went to Anup Sharma of The Times of India .

Bombay-born Sethi, who studied business journalism at Columbia University’s graduate school of journalism, worked for the Hindu‘s sister publication, Frontline, before being posted to Chhattisgarh. His debut book “A Free Man“, an account of the life of a homeless, migrant labourer was published recently.

Read the award-winning piece: The Hindu

Read an excerpt from his book: Caravan

Read Aman Sethi’s articles: Kafila

***

Also read: EPW journalist bags Appan Menon award

Rema Nagarajan of ToI bags Nieman fellowship

Mint‘s Monika Halan among Yale fellows

Chameli Devi prize for Tehelka scribe, K.K. Shahina

Pallava Bagla bags ‘Oscar’ of science journalism

Saikat Datta bags prize for using RTI for story

India-China friendship award for Pallavi Aiyar

Knight fellowship for Frontline’s Dionne Bunsha

Fareed Zakaria: ‘a barometer in a good suit’

20 October 2011

The liberal American magazine The New Republic has compiled a list of “the most over-rated thinkers in Washington D.C.“, and Padma Bhushan Fareed Zakaria, the Bombay-born former editor of Newsweek International and an editor-at-large at Time magazine, makes it with ease:

“Fareed Zakaria is enormously important to an understanding of many things, because he provides a one-stop example of conventional thinking about them all. He is a barometer in a good suit, a creature of establishment consensus, an exemplary spokesman for the always-evolving middle.

“He was for the Iraq war when almost everybody was for it, criticized it when almost everybody criticized it, and now is an active member of the ubiquitous “declining American power” chorus.

“When Barack Obama wanted to trust the Iranians, Zakaria agreed (“They May Not Want the Bomb,” was a story he did for Newsweek); and, when Obama learned different, Zakaria thought differently. There’s something suspicious about a thinker always so perfectly in tune with the moment.

“Most of Zakaria’s appeal is owed to the A-list aura that he likes to give off—“At the influential TED conference …” began a recent piece in The New York Times. On his CNN show, he ingratiates himself to his high-powered guests. This mix of elitism and banality is unattractive.

“And so is this: “My friends all say I’m going to be Secretary of State,” Zakaria told New York magazine in 2003. “But I don’t see how that would be much different from the job I have now.” Zakaria later denied making those remarks.”

Also read: Fareed Zakaria gets the Padma Bhushan

Will this man be the next US secretary of state?

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

Iran to China, Newsweek has the story covered

The Hindu: the most readable daily in the world?

19 October 2011

Khushwant Singh may have decided to no longer write his weekly columns, but the “dirty old man of Indian journalism” has not said he will stop writing for good.

He has shot off a letter to the editor of The Hindu, which the family-owned paper, given its recent and continuing turmoil, has gladly boxed on the editorial page today:

“I go over a dozen morning papers every day.

“The only one I read from cover to cover including readers’ letters is The Hindu. I find its news coverage reliable, authentic and comprehensive.

“I cannot say that about any other daily, Indian or foreign.

“It is a pleasure going through its columns: they inform, teach and amuse. I even wrestle with its crossword puzzle every day. You, Mr. Editor, and your staff deserve praise for giving India the most readable daily in the world. Congratulations.”

Khushwant Singh, New Delhi

Also read: Top six dailies devote only 2% to rural issues

Shekhar Gupta: ‘Stimulating, intelligent, empowering’

The four great wars of N. Ram on Hindu soil

N. Murali: The Hindu is run like a banana republic

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,439 other followers

%d bloggers like this: