Archive for the 'Advice and Guidance' Category

ARUN SHOURIE: The three lessons of failure

11 April 2011

Bouncing back from failure isn’t easy, but some people do, as an Economic Times on Sunday cover story shows this week.

The former journalist and Union minister, Arun Shourie:

WHEN I FAILED: “I am the only editor to be dismissed not once but twice from The Indian Express.  The first time, Indira Gandhi, put such pressure on [Indian Express owner] Ramnath Goenka that even a tiger like him made a goodwill gesture out of me. But he did call me back and I was delighted to go back. But then he had a series of strokes. Those who were trying to swallow the company thought that S. Gurumurthy and I would be the obstacles. And therefore, they first removed me, and then Gurumurthy.”

WHAT I LEARNT: “My first learning is never look back. Or else you will suffer the fate of Lot‘s wife [in the Book of Genesis, Lot's wife ignores the advice of the angles not to turn back when fleeing the city of Sodom, and turns into a pillar of salt]. My second learning: put your difficulties to work. There are very few difficulties that cannot be put to work. This is easier if our goal is inner growth. Third: always have three careers going at the same time. And carry each one lightly.”

Also read: The sad and pathetic decline of Arun Shourie

Arun Shourie: ‘Intolerant. Abusive. Dictatorial’

A columnist more powerful than all media pros

How Arun Shourie became the Express editor

Ramnath Goenka: Courage of the 2 o’clock kind

How Dayanita Singh became a photographer

6 December 2010

The renowned photographer Dayanita Singh in an interview with Nadine Kreisberger, in the Indian Express‘ Sunday magazine, Eye:

“I was 18 and had gone to a Zakir Hussain concert. I was prevented from taking photographs by the organiser. I was angry and let Zakir know about it. He suggested I photograph him while he rehearsed the next morning. He then invited me to join him and his musicians while they travelled for a few days.

“That was it.

“I realised then that no other profession could give me freedom from social norms. But photography is just a tool. My references and inspirations come from literature, cinema and music. Photography is simply the vocabulary or medium I use to explore the world I find myself engaging with.”

Self-portrait: courtesy Peabody Museum

Also read: Pablo Bartholomew: cynical and proud of it

‘Credibility is like virginity and it has been lost’

29 November 2010

The veteran journalist, columnist and author Kuldip Nayar in The Sunday Guardian:

“Credibility is like virginity. It exists or it does not. Unfortunately, some top names in Indian journalism have lost their credibility…. They behaved like power brokers and crossed the Lakshman rekha between legitimate news gathering and lobbying. It is like the fence eating the crop.

“How they will extricate themselves from the mire is difficult to say. The sad part is that they have brought a bad name to the profession. Politicians are jubilant because they can now say, ‘Physician, heal thyself’…. With what face can the profession point a finger at those who are found wanting in integrity?”

Read the full column: When journalists turn brokers

Also read: Hindu and HT were the worst offenders in 1975

External reading: The Niira Radia tapes and transcripts

Pablo Bartholomew: Cynical and proud of it!

14 September 2010

Long years in the profession—watching vicious vipers making merry—should leave most professional Indian journalists deeply suspicious of the human species.

Yet, rare is the journo honest enough to admit he has become a cynic in the process.

“Sceptic yes, cynic no,” is the cop-out answer.

Not so Pablo Bartholomew.

The renowned photographer uses the C-word with admirable candour in a Proust questionnaire with Nadine Kreisberger in the Sunday Express:

Q: Through your photography, you can sensitize people to all sorts of realities – do you see it as part of your life purpose? Do we all have a life purpose?

A: I don’t think so. I went into reportage as a need to find work and recognition. But at no point did I feel that I was there to be a “crusader of truth”. There are many truths and media plays many kinds of role in it.

And I am so frustrated with the media. Because I am not sure it is a vehicle of change it could be.

For instance, I am known for this one image from Bhopal. And in a way it is a responsibility I don’t want to have. Because the gap between what that image represents and what actually happened to the people makes me feel very sad. If I could have really been a conduit, then things would have changed. So somewhere there is a heaviness I carry.

Especially recently when the story all reemerged. There is so much talk. But I don’t think anything will really happen. More money may be spent but how much will really benefit the people? I tend to be very cynical.

My cynicism right from my teenage time has actually been my savior. In a way, it has been my spiritual path!

Photograph: courtesy Photographers in Conflict

Read the full interview here: Pablo Bartholomew

Also read: Bhopal, Raajkumar Keswani and Pablo

The grass is always greener on the other side

10 September 2010

Former New Yorker and Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown:

“Young journalists [should] go work in India. There are so many great newspapers in India. I go quite a lot, actually. It has a very vibrant newspaper and magazine culture. There’s a lot of energy in Delhi, a lot of newsmagazines. It’s a very literary culture, it’s great.”

Illustration: courtesy E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

Read the full article: Young journalists should go work in India

Also read: ‘Magazines, like mushrooms, should grow in the dark

‘I would redesign the New Yorker

‘Better to be over-fair than not give full picture’

31 August 2010

Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal reporter and author of The Cure, Geeta Anand, in an interview with Meher Marfatia in Housecalls magazine:

Q: Are there are any rules for rookie reporters coming wide-eyed into the field?

A: I’d dvise young journalists to write the truth as it is, not like a movie screenplay. Never lie about your article’s intention… or be tempted by the slightest embellishments to it. There’s no shying away from saying what you have to, but not before loads of research. Go first to the ‘other’ side while starting a story. Better to be over-fair than not give the full picture. Stick with balance, nothing in life is black or white anyway.

Photograph: courtesy gogomag.com

Media fellowships for tuberculosis research

7 May 2010

PRESS RELEASE: A Madras-based non-profit organisation has announced fellowships for journalists to undertake an indepth study of tuberculosis.

The organisation, REACH, working in tuberculosis prevention, awareness and care, has announced the REACH-Lilly MDR-TB Partnership Media Fellowships.

The fellowship programme will provide journalists from local language newspapers across India with support to undertake in-depth analysis of various aspects of the disease.

Those interested can contact REACH at +91-9791017202 or email reach4tb@gmail.com.

Completed applications must be submitted by May 31.

‘Dubai is a haven of information for journalists’

28 April 2010

Dubai is a recurring theme in the ongoing tragicomedy in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Shashi Tharoor, who has to give up his ministership, was a consultant with a Dubai firm before taking the plunge in electoral politics. His close friend Sunanda Pushkar lives there. The new head of the Cochin IPL franchise Harshad Mehta is a resident of the city. Etc.

Plus, there are is the betting and matchfixing angle with a Dubai edge.

K.P. Nayar explains in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“For a journalist with a ‘nose’ for information, Dubai is one of the most open places in the world. Once a newsman has won the trust of an Arab, howsoever sensitive his position may be, he will share information with you which will be wrapped in multiple layers of secrecy in most other countries.

“In my decade-long experience in Dubai, people share information with trusted journalists in the full knowledge that it will not be written about — until after decades, as in the case of this narrative. Unless, of course, the journalist is seeking a one-way plane ticket out of the Emirate.”

Read the full article: The edge of a precipice

Photograph: courtesy Follow the money

‘Indian media doesn’t value factual reporting’

5 December 2009

Of all the documentaries built around the November 26, 2008 siege of Bombay, none has quite matched the buzz created by Dan Reed for Channel 4.

Partly because it was the first of the lot; largely because it contained eyepopping footage including of the lone surviving terrorist Ajmal Kasab (in picture) being interrogated.

In an discussion held in Delhi, reproduced by MOB (Milk our Bovines), Reed, 47, modestly shines the light:

Question: You managed access to some highly classified data that no one in India had access to. How come no Indian media got their hands on it?

Answer: Over the years I have found that being an outsider confers a strange advantage when approaching a seemingly impenetrable story….

The key was just persistence, an open mind, making friends with the right people, and above all believing (cheesy though it sounds) that you can do it – because as we all know if you believe it strongly enough, others will too.

I certainly don’t think the Indian media was incompetent, but very, very few journalists I met had the rigorous high standards, the passion and the persistence necessary to do first-class work. I believe this situation has arisen because many newspapers and TV stations in India simply do not prioritise factual reporting and rigorous research.

“Why let the truth get in the way of a good story?” is an attitude by no means confined to the Indian media, but it is certainly prevalent there. The majority of the 26/11 stories I checked out in the Indian press contained major inaccuracies or errors. But then there were a few journalists whose work was nothing short of brilliant and who helped me a great deal.

S. Hussain Zaidi (in picture), the brilliant and fearless Asian Age bureau chief in Mumbai (and author of the outstanding Black Friday book), became a close associate of mine on this project and his shrewd assistance, inside knowledge and encouragement were vital to its success.”

Photograph: courtesy Dan Reed/ Channel 4

Read the full interview here: The truth behind the Mumbai attacks

William Safire’s 18 steps to better writing

28 September 2009

It’s not known if William Safire, who wrote the “On Language” column in the New York Times Magazine for 30 years till earlier this month, was conversant with the ways of social media, but it is safe to presume that he would have been horrified at how his demise last night was coveyed to readers subscribing to Jim Romenesko‘s media notes via Google Reader.

“NYT ‘On Language’ columnist Safire dies at 79″

1 person liked this

Of course, Safire, the author of “the nattering nabobs of negativism” and “hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history”, would get the joke, but you get the picture?

Neatorama has a compilation of Safire’s rules for writing:

*  Remember to never split an infinitive
* The passive voice should never be used
* Do not put statements in the negative form
* Verbs have to agree with their subjects
* Proofread carefully to see if you words out
* If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
* A writer must not shift your point of view
* And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
* Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
* Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents
* Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided
* If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is
* Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors
* Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky
* Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing
* Always pick on the correct idiom
* The adverb always follows the verb
* Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives

Read The New York TimesWilliam Safire obituary

Also read: George Orwell‘s six rules for better writing

Sir V.S. Naipaul‘s seven rules for writers

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,222 other followers

%d bloggers like this: