Archive for the 'Advice and Guidance' Category

What to do when a rival hijacks your story

18 January 2013

oprah winfrey scan

How should a newspaper which has been pursuing a scandal for over a decade react when a rival journalist scoops a confessional interview with the personality at the centre of the story? Or looks likely to lob softball questions?

If you are Rupert Murdoch, you advice the interloper.

Oprah Winfrey‘s interview with cycling champ turned cheat Lance Armstrong, recorded on Monday, will air tonight on Discovery, and the channel has advertisements in Indian newspapers today announcing the show timings.

But in the run-up to the recording, the Chicago Tribune, the home-paper of the City where Oprah’s channel OWN is headquartered, The Sunday Times of London took out an advertisement, with 10 questions Oprah should ask.

The questions come from chief sports writer David Walsh who spent 13 years investigating allegations that Armstrong had taken performance enhancing drugs.

What Uday Shankar learnt from a Delhi widow

29 November 2012

Star India CEO Uday Shankar, a former editor at Aaj Tak, on the defining moment of his journalistic career, from the 8th anniversary special issue of Impact.

By UDAY SHANKAR

I remember an incident almost 10 years ago, that brought home to me the power of the media and its ability to impact people’s lives.

It happened when I was the editor of Aaj Tak in 2001-2002.

India hadn’t seen live or ‘breaking news’ in its true sense until then. The channel had redefined news and TV journalism by taking the viewer to the location. We had introduced a hardcore news bulletin in the morning called ‘Subah Aaj Tak’, and I used to go office very early, at about 3.30am, for an edit meeting for that show.

One day, after I was done with my newsroom work, my secretary Shashi told me that some woman had called me. She was in the ministry of defence, she claimed.

I didn’t pay much attention in the day. Then I got busy and Shashi kept telling me the whole day that the woman had called again and again.

I got annoyed.

Shashi told me that the caller insisted on speaking to the editor of Aaj Tak. Finally, I spoke to her and what she told me that day changed my life forever.

She said, “Mr Uday Shankar, I was a very passionate viewer of Aaj Tak. Until today, it was a part of my life. But today, I want to stop watching the channel”.

It transpired that she that she was a widow and lived in Noida with two young kids. She said she watched Aaj Tak the whole day because it was her source of comfort. As long as Aaj Tak kept reporting that the world was OK, for her the world was OK.

But she was shocked that we had wrongly reported that a Delhi Public School, Noida bus had met with an accident. It was her kids’ school, and she had just put them on the bus. Back home, she had been taking shower when she heard the voice of the reporter announcing the accident.

Utter panic had made her rush out of the house in inappropriate clothing, with water streaming all over her body. She was sure that whatever happiness remained in her life too was in jeopardy. Not for a moment did she doubt that Aaj Tak’s story could be wrong.

It was actually a DPS bus from another part of the city, not Noida, and we immediately apologized for our mistake. But for the five minutes that we ran the story, we never imagined the kind of trauma we had caused. This woman had called to tell me that we had let her down. I apologized that day. She wasn’t angry at all.

All she said was, “From today, your channel is like any other channel.”

I still get goosebumps whenever I recall my conversation with her. It made me realize the intensity of the relationship between media and its consumers/viewers. Since then, whenever I am in doubt, I imagine what this woman would think in the situation – would she be disappointed?

I am grateful to her for giving me such a moral lesson in media, and at every channel that I have worked, I make sure that I never disappoint my viewer.

Photograph: courtesy Indian Television

Also read: How a martyr’s wife changed Arnab‘s outlook

Mamata Banerjee’s 9 commandments for journos

16 October 2012

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, that great upholder of freedom of expression—think of cartoonists, college students, farmers and others who have been called “Maoists”—has some words of advice for journalists.

Media creates “news pollution“, according to her; media spreads “canards and exaggerates negative news“; media “glorifies rape“. Therefore it should do the nine things that Mail Today lists.

Image: courtesy Mail Today

Ramachandra Guha: 12 and a half rules to be a good journalist

Journalism lesson #1: No one’s indispensable

13 April 2012

Tabish Khair, journalist turned poet, in Open magazine:

You were with The Times of India in Delhi for a little les than five years. How has your life as a journalist shaped your writing?

You lose your fear of deadlines, and learn to keep them. You realise that the world is far wider and weirder than you had imagined. And you discover that you are necessary but not indispensable.

 

Congratulations, all of you, for a great job…

13 April 2012

Infographic: courtesy Hindustan Times

***

Also read: If you’ve been feeling nice about yourself…

This magazine’s newsroom is a real brothel

The Indian Express programme in journalism

27 March 2012

There’s IIT, there’s IIM, there’s IISc and there is…

22 March 2012

Just so that the torch-bearer is not forgotten in all the buzz about and clamour for private journalism schools during admission season.

Umberto Eco has a piece of advice for journalists

2 December 2011

How long should news stories and features be in an era of short attention spans? Does serious stuff have an audience when there are a million diversions? Should we only give what readers and viewers want? Is it all about boiling it down for the lowest common denominator?

The questions facing journalism are eternal.

The Italian writer Umberto Eco, 80, provides a simple answer in The Guardian, London:

“It’s only publishers and some journalists who believe that people want simple things. People are tired of simple things. They want to be challenged.”

Europe, maybe. In India too?

Read the full article: People are tired of simple things

Also read: ‘Reader is king, reader is CEO’

What they don’t teach you in journalism schools

5 November 2011

To the long list of infirmities journalists are justly notorious for—roving eyes, loose tongues, failing lungs, pot bellies, bad livers, body odour, etc—it is time to add another, uncouth behaviour.

Young or old, male or female, upmarket or downmarket, journalists now chew gum, jarda, etc as if they are all trying to disprove the 36th US president Lyndon B. Johnson who said of the 38th:

Jerry Ford is so dumb he can’t fart and can’t chew gum at the same time.”

Let the record state that the offending journalist in question in the news reports above belongs to Press Trust of India. Let the record also state that it is not judges who get maha-pissed off at the sight of constantly moving jaws: editors, too.

Images: courtesy Mail Today, The Times of India

Right or left, some hometruths from the old pros

31 May 2011

Chandan Mitra, editor-in-chief of The Pioneer, speaking at the annual convocation of the Pioneer media school, in New Delhi on Monday:

“Despite the advent of new mediums of mass communication or news dissemination over the years, print journalism is still a vital force and journalism is defined by the print media…

“Students are free to opt for any form of journalism—television, Internet or radio—but to attain in-depth knowledge of the profession, newcomers should join newspapers or magazines at initial stages of their career.

“Internet has brought a big change in media and has made the job of a journalist easier, but it makes you laid back. Every time, one cannot rely on the Internet because it is not credible. It also overloads you with information. Therefore one should stick to a newspaper and TV news channels and read it thoroughly.”

N. Ram, editor-in-chief of The Hindu, while receiving the honorary degree of doctor of social sciences from the University of Wolverhampton, in Madras on Monday:

“In India, the long-term competition between the self-serving and the public service visions of journalism is on and it breeds tension, confusion and, at times, conflict….

“Ensuring commercial viability and addressing the vital need of being accurate, informative, insightful, educative and relevant is an extraordinarily difficult balance to strike. Many of us believe there is a middle path, a golden mean that can deliver good results.

“News media needs to work out a template of editorial values and principles and a concept of social responsibility they can live up to and also live with.”

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