Posts Tagged ‘Amar Ujala’

Top-6 dailies devote 2% coverage on rural issues

6 September 2011

“India lives in its villages.” “Agriculture accounts for 60% of the Indian economy.” “Two out of every three Indians live in the rural areas.” The cliches abound about Bharat id est India.

Yet, a study of India’s top-three English and Hindi newspapers shows that they devote only a minuscule porportion of their total coverage to rural India’s issues, crises and anxieties.

The journalist Vipul Mudgal, who is currently with the Delhi-based centre for study of developing socieites (CSDS), selected 48 issues of The Times of India, Hindustan Times and The Hindu, and Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar and Amar Ujala from 2009, for the study.

An analysis of the news items in the six top-circulation dailies found that, on average, the papers devoted 2% editorial space for their flagship editions to the issues and concerns of two-thirds of India.

Out of between 100 and 200 items a day, just over three items had a rural theme.

The biggest portion (36%) of even this meagre news coverage was to non-agrarian issues such as crime, general or political (Naxalite-related) violence, accidents and disasters.

There is also little difference in the coverage of rural issues between the English and Hindi dailies, despite the latter being presumed to have their nose to the ground.

“One reason for their lack of interest could be explained by the fact that their readers, advertisers and journalists, particularly in the metropolitan editions, come from urban backgrounds.

“The dailies tend to be more consumer-focused and try to fulfil the needs and aspirations of educated and upwardly mobile urban consumers whose universe often has limited space for issues of poverty and underdevelopment,” writes Mudgal.

Read the fulll article: Rural coverage in Hindi and English dailies

Infographic: courtesy Economic & Political Weekly

Also read: ‘Middle-class media doesn’t speak for the poor’

‘Indian media doesn’t cover 70% of India’s population’

Indian Express vs The Hindu, N. Ram vs N. Ravi

25 March 2010

***

The Indian Express, Delhi, has a front-page “exclusive” on the fracas in the family controlling The Hindu, Madras.

The main points the Express story (also simultaneouly carried in its sister-business daily Financial Express) by media correspondent Archna Shukla makes are:

a) disagreements over the “proposed retirement” of publisher and editor-in-chief N. Ram;

b) the stripping of powers of his brother N. Murali as managing director of the company; and

c) Ram’s recent appointment of family members to the paper allegedly without the board’s consent: his daughter Vidya Ram as the new European correspondent of The Hindu Business Line and Narayan Lakshman as the Hindu’s new Washington correspondent.

N. Ram hit back within hours of the Express story, stating that he would launch “civil and criminal” defamation proceedings against the Express reporter, editor-in-chief, editor and publisher.

“These reports are riddled with demonstrable falsehoods and defamatory assertions, some of them attributed to unnamed sources, made with reckless and malicious disregard for the facts and the truth. And this despite the professional courtesy I extended to the journalist and the newspapers by responding precisely and factually to five specific questions emailed to me on March 24 by Ms Shukla.”

Ram also put out the news of his seeking legal recourse to his 6,562 followers on the micro-blogging site, Twitter.

If rumours of the family rift are true, this is the second round in the battle for control of The Hindu.

N. Ram was at the centre of the first one, too. In the early 1990s, then editor G. Kasturi had made way for Ram’s youngest brother N. Ravi and their cousin Malini Parthasarathy at The Hindu, while Ram was shafted off to edit Frontline and Sportstar.

Ten years later, Ram later teamed up with Kasturi to stage a return.

It now looks like payback time with Kasturi’s son K. Balaji being made managing director of the company at the February 20 board meeting, sharing wideranging responsibilities and supervisory powers over several departments: accounts, production, industrial relations, EDP, purchase of newsprint and other raw materials.

The Express story says Ravi and Malini Parathasarathy have now objected to the manner in which…

“Kasturi’s resources, financial as well as editorial, were used to further the interests of some board members”.

As if to underline the substance of the Express story, N. Ravi revived his Twitter acount after four months to say what he thought of N. Ram’s tweet on (and threat of) the defamation case against Express.

And as if to leave the world in no doubt about who stands where in the undivided Hindu family, Malini Parthasarathy retweeted N. Ravi’s tweet, with her own tweet on Twitter.

Internecine family battles are par for the course in the Indian media. The Deccan Herald group went through it in the mid-1990s, as has the Indian Express reporting The Hindu strife, though both have found ways and means of dividing labour within the family without further bloodshed.

More recently, the Amar Ujala group was also in the middle of a messy family battle, which hit the headlines after some worthies including India Today editor Prabhu Chawla‘s son were caught passing a bribe.

What lends The Hindu vs The Indian Express legal battle an added edge is the abrasive nature of the two people at the helm: Hindu editor-in-chief Ram and Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta. (Ram came in at No. 70 in the Express powerlist published in January this year.)

Secondly, The Indian Express and The Hindu are at opposite ends of the political and ideological spectrum. While the former is a gung-ho supporter of all things America (nuclear deal, GM foods, etc), the latter, under the CPM card-carrying Ram, is decidedly less so.

If the defamation case goes ahead, it will be interesting for more reasons than one.

The resident editor of Express in Delhi (responsible for news selection under the law) is Seema Chishti, wife of CPM leader Sitaram Yechury.

N. Ram and CPM general secretary Prakash Karat have been bosom buddies since their days at Madras Christian Loyola College, where they were together with home minister P. Chidambaram, now ironically seen to be close to Shekhar Gupta.

Meanwhile, as rumours of a fresh board meeting gain ground, clearly the sudden turn of events is causing much mirth in rival publishing houses, too, even if they share the same name as the paper that broke the story.

Aditya Sinha, editor-in-chief of The New Indian Express—the new name given to the southern editions after the Indian Express split following the death of Ramnath Goenka—does his bit to fan the rumour mills through his Twitter account.

“Accused” Chawla is now “Investigator” Chawla

3 December 2009

Ankur Chawla, the son of India Today editor Prabhu Chawla*, who was named in a bribery case concerning the Hindi newspaper Amar Ujala 10 days ago, has had a “status update”.

Chawla junior, a Supreme Court advocate, has now been inducted into the CBI team probing the bribery case involving the acting head of the company law board (CLB).

In other words, the accused has turned approver, with a difference—he will now probe the very case he was a part of.

Chawla had been named as a “middleman” in the CBI first information report (FIR) after the CLB chief R. Vasudevan was caught on the night of November 23 while allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 7 lakh from Manoj Banthia, a company secretary of Amar Ujala, to settle a dispute in the family running the regional daily.

Ankur Chawla feigned innocence claiming he was “out of the country” but his house in New Delhi’s Defence Colony was raided and a file relating to the case was recovered “establishing his links with the case“.

Chawla’s name was also missing from the CBI press release.

The Hindu reported that CBI had registered a case against Vasudevan, Banthia and Ankur Chawla under 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 7 (public servant taking bribe other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act), 8 (taking bribe, in order, by corrupt or illegal means, to influence public servant) and other sections of the prevention of corruption Act.

Although The Times of India reports that Banthia “has all along maintained that it was Ankur Chawla who had allegedly handed over the cash to him asking him to further hand it over to Vasudevan,” a Delhi court was told a different story on November 30.

# “It is submitted that accused Ankur Chawla (the lawyer) joined investigation today,” additional sessions judge O.P. Saini noted, while entertaining a petition seeking policy remand of another accused Manoj Banthia for one more day, reports The Times of India.

# Press Trust of India reports that CBI wanted to quiz Ankur Chawla with the statements made by Banthia during his custodial interrogation but the judge allowed CBI to interrogate Banthia for one more day on the ground that Ankur Chawla had “joined the probe“.

* Disclosures apply

Also read: Prabhu Chawla‘s son named in bribery case

Prabhu Chawla’s son named in media bribery case

25 November 2009

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has named advocate Ankur Chawla, son of Prabhu Chawla, editor of the leading English newsweekly India Today*, for allegedly acting as a conduit to pay a bribe to a quasi-judicial official for “a favourable verdict in a case concerning a media house”.

The Hindustan Times reports that junior Chawla represented one of the two feuding factions of the Hindi daily newspaper Amar Ujala, and had arranged for Rs 10 lakh to be delivered to the acting chairman of the company law board (CLB), R. Vasudevan, who has been arrested for taking the bribe.

The Times of India, quoting CBI sources, says Ankur Chawla had approached Manoj Banthia, a secretary with the Ujala management, with Rs 10 lakh to get the case settled in favour of the daily‚Äôs management. “Banthia kept Rs 3 lakh. Chawla’s name is also in the FIR.”

According to Press Trust of India, Banthia was nabbed while he was emerging from Vasudevan’s house in South Delhi after allegedly paying the bribe. A further sum of Rs 55 lakh was also recovered from the residence of the 58-year-old officer.

The Economic Times quotes a CBI spokesman as saying it was “a double-trap”, in which the bribe-giver and the bribe-taker were arrested.

Atul Maheshwari, managing director of the Amar Ujala group, has clarified he had no connection with the case, but Chawla’s house in upscale Defence Colony was raided and a file relating to the case was recovered “establishing his links with the case“.

Indo Asian News Service reports that Chawla, who was reportedly out of India for two days, has professed ignorance about the bribery but has said he will co-operate with investigators.

However, Financial Chronicle reports that Ankur Chawla was among the three arrested along with Vasudevan and Banthia. But the official CBI press release makes no mention of a third arrest, much less the name or pedigree of Chawla.

The Hindu reports that CBI has registered a case against Vasudevan, Banthia and Ankur Chawla under 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and Section 7 (public servant taking bribe other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act), 8 (taking bribe, in order, by corrupt or illegal means, to influence public servant) and other sections of the prevention of corruption Act.

To its credit, Mail Today, the tabloid newspaper owned by the India Today group for which Prabhu Chawla writes a weekly Monday column, gave the most space to the story among all Delhi dailies without, however, revealing the link.

It quoted the CBI spokesman as saying “an advocate acted as the conduit for giving this bribe,” and that “raids at the advocate’s house revealed documents belonging to multiple offices of the media house.”

Read the CBI press release here

* Disclosures apply

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