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‘Do terrorists sit around watching television?’

10 December 2008

Did the non-stop television coverage of the terror attack on Bombay reveal operational details of the commando operations, endanger the lives of hostages, intrude into the personal lives of victims and relatives, etc?

In today’s Indian Express, the founder of India TV, Rajat Sharma, claims he tried an interesting experiment last Saturday. He invited a former army chief to address the staff  “to understand, from a decorated war hero, whether news channels went overboard in their coverage”, and what precautions, if any, producers, reporters and camerapersons should have taken while showing “live” action.

Writes Sharma:

“To my surprise, the former army chief was emphatic: “News channels did nothing wrong. Your coverage didn’t do any harm whatsoever to the commandos! I’ve handled action as a major, then as a full colonel, and finally as an army commander in anti-terrorist operations, and there’s nothing I could make out from the news channel about the strategy of our commandos.

“Frankly, I expected him to echo what some have been saying—how terrorists got valuable clues on the commando plan by watching our channels. But sample what he said: “Do you think that terrorists holed up in a hotel facing commando fire had time to watch TV?”

“A young reporter persisted. He reminded the general of the “widespread belief” that the terrorists were being briefed on their Blackberrys by their bosses, watching our news channels. Promptly came the angry reply. “Anyone suggesting this must be mad. (Even) I could not get an idea about the action plan. Who has the time to look at TV and Blackberrys when you are in the midst of gunfire?”

Read the full article here: Reality, not television

Read Barkha Dutt’s defence: ‘The media is not the message. The viewer is king’

Also read: ‘NDTV: Navy chief’s comment is defamatory’

The World Press Photo of the Year for 2007

9 February 2008

British photographer Tim Hetherington’s image of an American soldier resting at Restrepo bunker in Afghanistan, taken on assignment for Vanity Fair last September, has been named the World Press Photo of the Year for 2007. “In capturing the exhaustion of a single man, the image reflects the exhaustion of an entire nation,” writes the magazine.

View the slideshow here: The fight for the Korengal

Why Bangalore Hates the English Media Culture

10 December 2007

RAJEEV RAO writes from Bangalore: I was bemused and bewildered to read the Outlook cover story, “Why Bangalore hates IT Culture“. The choice of topic and the headline used would have been acceptable had it been by an intern at a journalism school submitting a project report for his/her course.

But a correspondent of a national newsmagazine?

A large City never has a white or black, either-or relationship with anybody or anything. There are hundreds of shades of grey in between. It is too simplistic (even stupid) to view Old Bangalore’s relationship with the IT industry through the monocle of “hate”.

It has a love-hate relationship. Just like old and new Madras, old and new Bombay, old and new Delhi. And the myriad towns and villages of Bharat that is India.

But the premise and conclusions of the Delhi-based magazine’s article sort-of epitomises everything that is wrong with the English media’s (in specific, and the national media’s, in general) coverage of and attitude towards Bangalore, Kannada, Kannadigas, and Karnataka.

If there is one thing that Bengalooru and the rest of Karnataka hates, and I am sure I am not alone in this, it is the English (national) media’s carelessness, callousness and general indifference to all things involving our State. Not just the print medium, but all other vehicles of mass communication—radio, television, internet, etc, not excluding churumuri.

And here are the reasons (the list is by no means exhaustive):

# Because the broadcast bozos can’t even get the name of our language or our State right. Kannada is Kannada not Kannad. And Karnataka is Karnataka, not Karnatak. Are they blind? Can’t they see the ‘a’ at the end? Or don’t they just care?

# Because even prominent Kannada/Karnataka names are wrongly pronounced/spelt. Is it really so hard to pronounce names like Deve Gowda and Yediyurappa if you can master Nordic European names? It’s not Deve Goud, darlings; and it’s not Yedi-ury-appa, Rajdeep Sardesai.

# Because despite their deep pockets, all that these English TV honchos can hire are 20-something immigrant journalists who do not know their Mysoorus from their Mangaloorus (let alone our Haassanas from our Arasikeres). With just a passing acquaintance with Kannada or the history of the State, relying on “experts” who know even less, they dish out muck on every topic under the Karnataka sun with frightening poise that it takes the breath away. What a shame.

# Because Bengalooru for our English media has become just about M.G. Road, Brigade Road, Koramangala and Indiranagara. They forget, or rather ignore, that Bengalooru is also and more about Basavanagudi, Jayanagara, Vijayanagara, Peenya, Rajajinagara, Malleshwara, Hebbala, etc. More people live in and experience Bengalooru in these localities, but shockingly they just don’t seem to count.

# Because industry for our media has just come to mean the IT industry. Because infrastructure problems for our English media has just come to mean the road to Whitefield and Electronics City. Vadi? Yadgir? Pavagada? Where’s that?

# Because a college campus in Bengalooru for them only means St. Joseph‘s and Mount Carmel never National College, MES or Vijaya College. A school means Bishop Cotton’s. And of course a restaurant always has to be Koshy‘s.

# Because the English media propagates the fallacy that Kannada is understood only by a minority in Bengalooru. Sorry. People with Kannada as their mother tongue may be fewer than 50%, but more than 75% in Bengalooru understand Kannada, i.e. they can speak, read and write the language. Kannada is the single most used language in Bengalooru. This is never highlighted. This has singlehandedly hurt Kannada and the Kannadigas as a perpetuating self-fulfilling prophecy.

# Because the Kannada/Karnataka view is never highlighted in important issues like Cauvery dispute, the renaming (right naming) of Bangalore as Bengalooru etc. On the other hand, the same media doesn’t squirm when it comes to effectively highlighting the local point of view on issues in other States.

# Because the English media fails to project and highlight legitimate demands of Kannada and Karnataka, be it the Cauvery river water dispute or demand for classical language status. Sugata Srinivasaraju (the author of the Outlook article on “Why Bangalore Hates IT Culture), himself has the following comments on the Cauvery judgement: (a) “fair judgement” …. stuns Karnataka into a sputtering funk after the din of shrill sub-nationalistic rhetoric”, (b)”Karnataka can gladly focus on the pluses”. I wonder what the Tamil Nadu representatives had to say at the same time (or at different points of time during the dispute).

# Because in every forum on Bengalooru and Karnataka on the news channels and in the morning papers, immigrant intellectuals like Ramachandra Guha, and only like-minded Bengaloorigas like T.V. Mohandas Pai of Infosys and Kiran Majumdar Shaw of Biocon are invited, U.R. Anantha Murthy being the odd exception. Do they truly represent Bengalooru? Why not leading Kannada journalists like Vishweshwar Bhat or Ravi Belagere to present a different view. Except a Girish Karnad and Anantha Murthy, don’t we have someone with enough exposure to Kannada and Karnataka talk about issues pertaining to Kannada and Karnataka?

# Because a concert of Shah Rukh Khan in the City with 20,000 people attending is given front-page coverage in the English papers while a ‘Kannadave Sathya‘ concert by C. Ashwath at the Palace Grounds on the same day where close to a 100,000 people attended is buried deep inside.

# Because our English media always find the space, time and inclination to plug third-rate Bollywood, tamilwood and teluguwood content/people than to quality, original Kannada cinema. There is more coverage for Sivaji than for Mungaaru Male, there is more wisdom on Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam stars in the Sunday magazines than about Kannada stars. Because their film critics think all Kannada movies are “remade” while failing to point out that Paheli (India’s Oscar entry) was based on Nagamandala and Swades (another Oscar entry contender) was a remake of Chigurida Kanasu.

# Because the English newspapers have all the space in the world to list out the schedules of 10 Hindi channels on the listings page while they can accommodate only a couple of Kannada channels of the ten or more around.

# Because national media houses on radio consistently ignored Kannada for five years by beaming Hindi songs on Bengalooru’s first FM channel, Radio City, 24 hours of the day. The best (or should it rather be the worst) that they did was telecast Kannada songs on Saturday and Sunday mornings (when research has shown that the listenership numbers are significantly lower than weekday mornings) thus reducing Kannada to the status of “reserved category”. Today, Big FM and Radio Mirchi, predominantly belting out Kannada music, lead audience charts. Radio City has even stopped claiming to be No.1 in the city. Thankfully one end to the self-fulfilling prophecy.

# Because they constantly undermine the achievements of Kannadiagas (example: recent churumuri article about Anil Kumble‘s success being despite him being a Kannadiga a case in point). I can only remember one cover story on Outlook about Karnataka cricketers when 6/7 players from Karnataka were playing for India and Kannada was as much of a lingua franca of the team as English/Hindi.

# Because the 14th (or 15th as the case maybe) of January is Makara Sankranthi, not Pongal; the festival of lights in Karnataka is called Deepavali not Diwali. Just for the unknowing, diwali in Kannada means pauper, or bankrupt, and that we most definitely are not.

***

Crossposted on churumuri

Sex sells. Not always. Not forever. Not in space.

6 July 2007

Every year, India’s magazines do a special annual survey. Not on the economy. Not on farmers suicides. Not on corruption. But on sex. A laborious, cover-to-cover exercise sprinkled with a dubious opinion poll and an esoteric social trend visible only to the author of the piece.

The spiel is that sex is well within the purivew of a magazine and that it is a dipstick test on how India is (and how Indians are) changing. In reality, it is a naked grab for numbers that the word “SEX” on the cover manages to bring.

But there is such a thing as diminishing returns. And Texas Monthly has just discovered that through its Astronaut Sex issue which has turned out to be the worst selling issue in the magazine’s history.

The magazine’s editor Evan Smith writes:

I could only imagine what the reaction would have been if, say, we had gone with the shuttle with a condom pulled down over it. Or the sign on a shuttle door that read, “If this shuttle’s rockin’, don’t bother knockin’.” Or the sign that read, “Do not disturb: Entry in progress.” Or the wordless shot of a shuttle entering a black hole.

Read the full story here: Astronaut Sex

Link via Romenesko

India’s first mobile newspaper is en route

5 July 2007

The seemingly futuristic prediction that the newspaper of tomorrow will be delivered on your mobile phone today has come true. Nokia has teamed up with Malayalam Manorama to launch a “vernacular news portal” or “mobile newspaper” on all of its GPRS-enabled handsets.

TechTree and EFY report that users with Nokia GPRS-enabled handsets in Kerala will be able to access both national and international news in their native language through the mobile service. Sports, travel, music, astrology, and movies are some of the news categories that will be accessible through the vernacular news portal.

The mobile newspaper service will be offered in 10 languages, including Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Oriya, Assamese, Mararthi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada. The application supports ‘Search’ and ‘Mobile advertising’ functions and for the first time, makes the Internet and search options available to non-English literates in India.

“Ease-of-use is a key Nokia proposition. As a leader, we are continuously working towards providing features and services that simplify the lives of our users,” said Devinder Kishore, marketing director for Nokia India. Kishore added that since Internet penetration in rural areas is still relatively low, Nokia would take advantage of the higher mobile penetration in launching the mobile newspaper.

After sending an SMS with the message “MM” to 5555, users will receive a URL to download the mobile newspaper icon and access the service. The news will be refreshed every 30 minutes.

Nokia’s vernacular news portal arrives at a time when the publishing industry is preparing for the highly anticipated e-paper. With the rise of convergence devices and the print-to-online transition, advances such as the mobile newspaper have great potential to revolutionize the newspaper industry.

Links courtesy Editors’ Weblog

Also read: The newspaper in the palm of your hand

Have computers made journalism any better?

5 April 2007

The little bell that struck when you reached the end of a line… The sssseeeeech of the carriage being rolled back after a line… The kreek-kreek-kreek of the roller being rotated to adjust the alignment of paper… The ink-stains on the fingers while replacing the ribbons…

The clickety-clack of typewriters is long gone from our newsrooms. As indeed are the monsters who evoked awe with their sheer typing speed. And the composers whose typewriters sounded as if they were composing songs on their machines, not paragraphs of prose.

But to a generation brought up on the typewriter and its close cousin, the teleprinter, the sight, noise and magic of striking type on paper—furiously if the head was bobbing with ideas, slowly if the boss was hovering around—is a memory that no new technology can erase.

In The Iron Whim: The Fragmented History of  the Typewriter, Darren Wershler-Henry, a professor of communication studies in Ontario, says the typewriter has been invented at least 52 times. Mark Twain was the first major writer to deliver a typewritten manuscript.

Reviewing the book in The New Yorker, Joan Acocella writes:

Something else to think about is the effect that the computer, with its astonishing capabilities, has had on us as writers. Take just one example: the ease of moving a block of text. Highlight, hit control X, move cursor, hit control V, and, presto, that paragraph is in a new place. Of course, we were able to move things in typewritten text, too, but all that business with the scissors and the tape made us think twice, and maybe it was wise for us to hesitate before changing the order in which our brains produced our thoughts. In recent years, I have read a lot of writings that seemed to say, “This paragraph is here because it seemed an O.K. place to shove it in.”

The advent of PCs has made journalism easier, but has it made better? Do we write too much, too carelessly, without too much thought? Did the typewriter slow us, slow our thoughts, allow us to compose our thoughts with care? Did we write much better before tech happened, or is it all nostalgia?

Read the full review here:  The typing life

ANIL THAKRANEY on The Art of the Column

12 March 2007

Ad man, editor, ad man, editor Anil Thakraney writes one of India’s more provocative columns. In this sans serif exclusive, the former editor of The Brief and Mid-Day, Bangalore, shares his 13-point sutra on how best to keep readers engaged and involved.

4. Entertain the reader, don’t just tell him things… use a lot of humour. People make friends with interesting people, not bores.

6. Always write for yourself, never for the readers. Makes the writing more honest and informal.

Click on the ANIL THAKRANEY button the left of the screen for the full text.

Why it’s risky to post a card at Ramoji Film City

16 February 2007

G.N. MOHAN, news coordinator, Eenadu Television, sends us a picture shot by him of one of the “items” dotting the landscape of the sprawling Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad. The film city, a one-stop shop for movie makers and one of the world’s largest, is replete with faux objects and architecture like these.

The writer Jayant Kaikini who spent a few months in the film city a few years ago, says he was always in two minds whether to drop an inland-letter in the post-boxes on the campus because he wasn’t ever sure if they were the real thing , or just a movie prop!

Cross-posted on churumuri

PREM PANICKER: Nine steps to editorial nirvana

16 February 2007

Shashi Tharoor, among others, have called him India’s finest cricket writer. Millions have followed his acid wit and lucid prose across continents. Now, in a sans serif exclusive, Prem Panicker, editor, rediff.com, shares the secret of his writing skills.

“Simple—define your story. Examine the brief, question it, walk around it and see it from different directions, different points of view. Take pencil and paper and list down all the possibilities you spot. Then figure out how you want to do the story. And only after you have that mental clarity, that map of where you are going with this, do you even begin work.”

Click on the PREM PANICKER page on the top-left of the screen for the full text.

Sun TV’s new jets: Whose father what goes

16 February 2007

Sambhar Mafia has a very pertinent post on the profligacy of Kalanidhi Maran‘s Sun group. The group floated an IPO last year with the ostensible aim to  launch new channels, build new studios, etc, in the process turning Maran into the Forbes billionaires list. But the purchase of two Bombarbier corporate jets for Rs 237 crore by the company, not out of Maran’s wallet but with the proceeds of the IPO, raises disturbing questions about how public money is being used.

Read the full article here: Flying high with public money

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