Posts Tagged ‘Aaj Tak’

The investigative TV journo who now sells sarees

6 March 2014

dib

The state of mainstream Indian journalism, it can be argued, is somewhat reflected by the number of journalists churning out books; leaving for greener PR, corporate communications and “policy”) pastures; joining thinktanks; going on sabatticals, etc—and it is probably no different from the rest of the world.

But nobody drives home the issue better than Dibyojyoti Basu.

Once chief of bureau at M.J. Akbar‘s Asian Age in Calcutta. Once the director of Calcutta Doordarshan’s first news-based private television show Khas Khabar (a la Aaj Tak). Once the head of Ananda Bazaar Patrika‘s television wing. Once host of Khoj Khabar on Tara Bangla. And now…

And now, the proud owner of Woven, a lounge in Delhi’s Meher Chand marker, for Bengali sarees.

Basu, who hosted his last show in 2011  on Akash Bangla before it was pulled off by its Left-leaning promoters, sees this as a hibernation period, before he achieves his life ambition of starting his own TV station.

Visit Dibyojyoti Basu’s shop: Woven

Bangalore reporter who became a ‘RAW agent’

31 August 2013

bala

In Lounge, the weekend section of the business paper Mint, the columnist Aakar Patel doffs his hat to Prakash Belawadi, the Bangalore engineer who became an Indian Express reporter, who became a magazine correspondent, who became a television chat show host, who launched a journalism school, who launched a weekly newspaper…

Who made a national-award winning English film, who makes a hit TV serial—and who is winning accolades for his role as a Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) agent in the just-released Hindi film, Madras Cafe:

“Prakash Belawadi started and edited a weekly newspaper, Bangalore Bias (it shut down). He has begun so many enterprises, a media school among them, that I have lost count just of those he has been involved in since 2000, and would not be surprised if he has too.

“Belawadi began his career as a journalist and worked for Vir Sanghvi’s Sunday. He remains a columnist and a first rate one. He has the best quality a columnist can have and that, according to Graham Greene, is never to be boring.

“Belawadi has a dangerous lack of ideology that makes him an aggressive and unpredictable debater. He can casually assume a position, often contrary to one he held a couple of days ago, and unpack a ferocious argument. Like all good men, he likes a fight, and like all good men it is promptly forgotten. He has a quality that is admirable among men.

“He is restless and tireless, and totally uncaring for the middle-class ambitions that most of us cannot let go of, and few of us ever achieve.”

Read the full article: A restless Renaissance man

Also read: For some journalists, acting is second string in bow

Finally, Karnataka gets an acting chief minister

External reading: Dibang of Aaj Tak, NDTV India is ex-RAW agent

Sex, godman & a very hard product placement

30 August 2013

asaram

Long years ago, when the divide between church and state was better protected in journalism and the business side had no inkling what was happening on the other side, the editors at Time magazine ran an interview with Mother Teresa with the quote-headline, “I’m just a pencil in the hand of god.”

When the issue came out, much mirth ensued when an advertisement for pencils graced the page opposite the interview.

In the latest issue of India Today magazine, something similar happens. A story on the alleged sexual indiscretions of the godman Asumal Sirumalani alias Asaram Bapu carries an advertisement for “Vacurect“, a “US FDA-approved medical device for men who cannot enjoy with their partner”, on the opposite page.

The tagline for the ad reads: “get the power to play harder”

Also read: How NDTV gives a nice plug for Lenovo

Aaj Tak bites into a nice piece of Barfi

What happens when a monk meets a nun

Where was Priyanka Chopra going with Bob?*

29 August 2013

There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip in the era of fast-breaking news and even well-equipped organisations like CNN and BBC are not immune from howlers in the “supers”.

On Tuesday, when the Congress president Sonia Gandhi was rushed to hospital, look who was momentarily accompanying her son-in-law Robert Vadra to look her up, in the eyes of Times Now.

* Shameless search engine optimisation techniques at work

Photograph: courtesy Berges, via IQ.

Also read: When AB baby’s cold became hot news

The tenth life of a cat is on the ratings’ chart

When Madhuri Dixit’s ghagra is ‘breaking news’

4 July 2013

Vanita Kohli-Khandekar in the Business Standard:

“When Madhuri Dixit danced to the song “TV pe breaking news hai re mera ghagra,” I wanted to hide. Her sizzling dance number in a red-light area from the latest hit Yeh Jawaani hai Deewani roughly means, “My skirt is the breaking news on television.”

“…Many Hindi films now have a stock television crew and reporter sequence. The reporter is often corrupt or a bimbo. They are shown as bodies with mikes and cameras but without brains. It is the sort of thing that should worry all editors, publishers and news broadcasters.

“Popular cinema is one of the more accurate mirrors of society and its characters. It is also the most powerful creator of images – true or false – and of stereotypes. And once a stereotype is created in popular cinema, it is hard – if not impossible – to dislodge.

“The joke is on the news media, not just TV channels. It has allowed the troubles of the news business to overtake it so completely that now the idiot in the office or the black sheep of the profession has become the standard by which the rest of the world measures us. The media’s obsession with “breaking news” at the cost of truth, efficiency or ethics is now the stuff that item numbers are made of.”

Read the full column: The breaking news syndrome

Also read: What Uday Shankar learnt from a Delhi widow

‘Star News ne Baba ko LIVE dekha

How a martyr’s wife changed Arnab Goswami‘s outlook

When only one side of the conversation is ‘live’

When Amitabh Bachchan‘s cold is breaking news

The tenth life a cat has is on the ratings chart

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

Salman Khurshid, India Today & Sunday Guardian

21 October 2012

Salman Khurshid, the Oxford-educated Union law minister, has taken the India Today group to court in Delhi, Bombay, Lucknow and London claiming damages of Rs 243 crore following Aaj Tak‘s sting operation that accused the trust run by his wife, former Sunday magazine journalist Louise Khurshid nee Fernandes, of a discrepancy of Rs 71 lakh.

But ranting on TV against pesky reporters or the threat to meet his detractors with “blood” are not only the excesses of the smooth-talking Khurshid. His supporters are no better.

In The Sunday Guardian edited by M.J. Akbar (who also wears the hat of editorial director of India Today), reporter Abhinandan Mishra writes of the reception he got in Khurshid’s constituency Farukhabad, when he had gone to investigate the truth behind the camps organised by Zakir Hussain memorial trust.

“Once done with our investigation, we moved toward our car to discover that a small group of men had gathered. One of them asked me the purpose of my visit. When I realised that I was verifying the credentials of the disabled, the mob got agitated and asked me to leave.

“They were shouting that I was wasting my time and was trying to malign “SalmanSahab“.

“I understood the gravity of the situation and did not wish to get into further arguments with the men and decided to leave Pithora. But a well built man in his early 30s started following us on a Bullet motorcycle. He started banging the passenger window asking my companion to roll down the glass.

“When we ignored him, he signalled to the driver to roll down the window. I obliged.

“What followed was a string of abuses and threats at me: “Tu nikal yahaan se. Tu Salman Sahab ka kuch nahi bigaad paayege. Farrukhabad se bahar niklo, batate hain tujhe (Get out of this place. You will not be able to do anything to Salman Sahab. I will deal with you once you step out of Farrukhabad).”

“We asked the driver to speed up.

“The next stop was Kaimganj. As I finished with the investigation and was about to exit the city, the second attack happened, much more ferocious and well planned. I heard a loud thud on the window and saw a man who appeared to be in his 40s attempting to break the glass.

“Threatening me, he shouted, “Kar li tehkikat? **&*&* kuch nahee kar paayega tu, kitna bhee likh le Salman ke khilaaf. (Are you done with your investigation? You cannot harm Salman no matter how much you write).” He then asked the driver to stop the car.

“I asked the driver to accelerate the car. However, the attacker caught up with us and shouted, “Bahar nikal tujhey batata hun. Tu yahaan se zinda nahi jaayega. (Get out of the car. You will not return alive from here).” He then raced ahead and parked his bike. We saw three people joining him and then starting to pelt stones and bricks at our car. They missed us narrowly because of the speed at which our driver was driving the car. They followed us till the time we entered the main city of Farrukhabad.

“I called up the superintendent of police, but the number was switched off. I then called up the assistant SP of the district, O.P. Singh, who said to my shock that I should have informed the police before going to these areas.”

In the Hindustan Times, the Cambridge-educated television anchor and interviewer Karan Thapar gives Khurshid a clean chit:

“There’s one question that’s dominated the last week. It’s been asked again and again. Equally significantly, it’s been put by a wide range of people. “Do you believe Salman Khurshid?” My answer is simple and blunt: yes….

“I have three deeper reasons for believing Salman. First, I’ve known him since I was 21 and cannot believe he would forge letters or pilfer money meant for the handicapped. Second, I admire his willingness to subject himself to a rigorous interview less than two hours after returning from London. A man with a guilty conscious would have ducked for cover instead. Third, he wouldn’t sue for defamation if he did not have a credible and convincing defence. Oscar Wilde did that and look where he ended up!”

Cartoon: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today

Aaj Tak bites into a nice piece of Barfi

14 September 2012

Historically, product-placement has usually meant a newspaper or magazine strategically placed in a movie shot to give the title some airtime. Or a TV star or studio artfully used as a prop.

In both cases, it is big media (movies) pushing smaller media (print or electronic).

With the new Ranbir Kapoor flick Barfi, product-placement comes full circle, with the film’s hero pushing the Hindi news channel Aaj Tak owned by the India Today group.

The curious case of Karan Thapar & a flyover-II

21 August 2012

After 17 articles on the City pages of The Times of India, Delhi, the 14 owners and residents on Palam Marg—including the media baron Aroon Purie and the TV anchor Karan Thapar—respond to the allegation that they objected to the expansion of a flyover becasue it threatened to eat into the service road in front of their mansions.

Image: courtesy The Times of India

Also read: The curious case of Karan Thapar & a flyover-I

The curious case of Karan Thapar and a flyover

7 August 2012

One of India’s top voices, Lata Mangeshkar, earned a fair bit of negative publicity for opposing the construction of a flyover on busy Peddar road in Bombay because it threatened to disturb her peace of mind.

Now, one of India’s top TV faces is threatening to follow in her footsteps in Delhi.

On July 29, The Times of India reported that anchor Karan Thapar had opposed the expansion of a flyover in the posh Vasant Vihar area because it would eat into the service lane in front of his house.

“Arguing that this could become “a matter of life and death”, Karan Thapar has written to lieutenant-governor Tejendra Khanna, pleading that “at all cost the service lane between houses 1 to 8, Palam Marg (Olaf Palme Marg), must not be further reduced in width but retained at its present width.”

In the letter dated July 13, Thapar claimed he was speaking on behalf of other residents. “I know that Aroon Purie, Editor-in-Chief of India Today and Aajtak, and Harmala Gupta, daughter of late Lt. Gen. Harbaksh Singh, endorse and support the request I am making in this letter…”

“The reason this worries me is that even with the present width of 6m, fire tenders cannot with ease access houses on this stretch of the service lane.”

In a follow-up story on August 5, ToI makes mincemeat of Thapar’s claim, quoting residents in the area who see an attempt “to hold the city to ransom for personal benefit”.

“The claim that it will be a matter of ‘life and death’ as fire engines and ambulances will not be able to reach their house is bogus, as is clear from the fire chief’s statement,” said Ratna Sahai, owner of house no 10, Vasant Marg. “The original Rao Tula Ram flyover was meant to be longer and wider. But these people had used their clout to have this altered and truncated into an abbreviated two-lane flyover to protect their precious service lane.” This allegation had earlier been denied.

Refuting Thapar’s claim that he had approached the president of the residents’ welfare association, Gautam Vohra, president of Vasant Vihar RWA, told TOI: “I have never been approached by Karan Thapar regarding the flyover or any related issue. These people have never raised their voice on water or other problems faced by people of the area, nor have they taken any interest in addressing issues of greater public good.”

Rajni Mathur, resident of C block and RWA member, pointed out that these people had themselves reduced the public service road to beautify what they treated as private land. “These are just a few people who don’t even live here and have never come to the RWA. They have encroached upon the service lane with gardens, guard houses and parked cars. They are concerned about their tenants leaving rather than anything else,” she said.

External reading: Express Newsline

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