Posts Tagged ‘Anurag Batra’

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

How a martyr’s wife changed Arnab’s outlook

28 November 2012

The bumper 318-page eighth anniversary issue of Impact, the media magazine from Anurag Batra‘s exchange4media group, features dozens of print, electronic, digital and radio professionals recounting their personal stories.

Among them is the 2012 television editor of the year, Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of Times Now*:

By ARNAB GOSWAMI

In August 2007, Sanjay Dutt was being moved from Arthur Road jail to Yerawada jail in Poona and we were following it keenly. Everybody was in the middle of this crazy chase, looking desperately for a shot, a sound byte, a picture….

In the midst of it all, I received a phone call from a viewer in Bangalore who said that he had been following my career and Times Now for a long time, but he wouldn’t do it anymore.

I was very surprised and asked him why he felt that way.

The person said he had a friend, a colonel in the Indian Army named Vasanth Venugopal, who had died fighting on the border. His body was being brought back to Bangalore but not a single news channel was bothered, so busy they were covering Sanjay Dutt.

There wasn’t even a mention of this martyr on any channel, while Dutt was being covered like there was nothing else happening in the world.

I was very upset and felt very guilty.

I told the gentleman that we would send a cameraman and get pictures of the cremation and do a story on it. That night, after we had done the story, I requested this gentleman and come and talk about his friend.

When I started my programme, and asked the producer whether the person had come, he said, ‘She is here.’

I told him I was expecting a gentleman, not a lady.

The producer replied, “Colonel Vasanth’s wife has come.”

Subhashini Vasanth had witnessed the last rites of her husband barely four hours back, yet she came to our studio.

Nothing has ever moved me as much as what she said that day.

She spoke about her family and her husband’s martyrdom, making me realise that journalism can sometimes lose its way and that we have an obligation to our viewers that goes beyond the narrow perspective of covering a movie star.

Since then, the way we cover the armed forces, internal security, issues relating to Pakistan is far more detailed than any other channel. That incident shaped the work that we do now.

* Disclosures apply

Photograph: courtesy Apoorva Salkade/ Outlook

‘Why Barkha Dutt needn’t return her Padma Sri’

5 February 2011

Anurag Batra, editor-in-chief of the exchange4media group, in the industry journal, Impact:

Prabhu Chawla was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2003. What’s fascinating is that between 2006 and 2009, six journalists were awarded the Padma Sri: Sucheta Dalal, Mrinal Pande, Vinod Dua, Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt and Abhay Chhajlani, and one Padma Bhushan, Shekhar Gupta in 2009.

“Three out of the six Padma Sris were awarded in 2008 itself, the penultimate year of the UPA government before the elections in 2009. I remember laughing out loud when the awards were announced, as these leading journalists held debates on their respective channels about the authenticity of these awards. Not to mention that when they got it, nobody denied them or denounced them, instead the channels hailed their achievements.

“The latest on the grapevine is that the AIADMK and a few other parties are running a campaign to get Barkha Dutt to give back her Padma Sri award because of the Niira Radia controversy. I personally don’t see the point in that as in my view, Barkha has done good work in the past and continues to do so and should be judged on that. I also feel that journalists have always been influencers so there is nothing new in that.”

Also read: Padma Shri VD, Padma Shri RDS and Padma Shri BD

2008: Why Rajdeep and Barkha must decline the Padma Sri

2009: Third highest civilian honour for Shekhar Gupta

2010: Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria gets Padma Bhushan

2011: Padma Awards for Homai Vyarawala, T.J.S. George

 

86% feel let down by ‘CD baat’ of top journalists

30 November 2010

Impact, the marketing journal from the exchange4media group, has conducted a five-city poll on the mood of the nation after the Niira Radia tapes stung Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi, Prabhu Chawla and eight other media stars. And the results are revealing.

# 86% of respondents feel let down by the thought of journalists as “fixers”. That feeling is palpably higher in Madras (95%) and Calcutta (92%) but Bangalore (73%) seems to be the most pragmatic of the five cities.

# 66% say media is protecting its own, although 43% think so in Madras, where the 2G scam is headquartered more or less (A. Raja, Kanimozhi, Dayanidhi Maran, M. Karunanidhi) and where the only coverage in The Hindu has been by way of comment.

The poll has been conducted by Synovate, but the sample size or the dates of the poll is not known.

Anurag Batra, the chairman and editor-in-chief of exchange4media, clearly has an opinion different from the 86% per cent. Batra who recently called this “the golden era of Indian media”—despite paid news, private treaties, medianet, etc—writes in his latest column:

“What disturbs me of late is the way different media have taken on each other, trying to reduce journalism into a sham and journalists into a caricature! My sense and submission is that some vested interests are trying to paint journalists and journalism as negative and tainted and I believe these vested interests are being fulfilled even if unknowingly by the media itself! Raising questions basis this episode on other senior journalists is like a self goal for the whole media community. It’s sad to see that when the whole nation should be questioning the government about squandering of so much money belonging to the tax payer, we have forgotten all that and focusing on what few people from media did.”

Read the full survey: What does the nation think?

Also read: If you trust polls, trust in media dips

How much do readers distrust us? Not much

Eight trends in Indian magazine publishing

31 January 2009

Anurag Batra, chairman and editor-in-chief of exchange4media group, in Magazine World, the journal of The International Federation of the Periodical Press:

01) English language publishing has disproportionate advertising revenues in regard to its readership in comparison to Indian language publications.

02) India is a low cover-price market, and the dominant revenue stream is advertising. The common phrase “Those who live by advertising will die by advertising,” certainly seems true in today’s times.

03) The yields from advertising are low compared to rates in other countreis. The highest circulation English magazine sells a full page at an average of about $9,000 (€7,252).

04) Distribution is a challenge, though there are specialist distribution arms entering the market.

05) Indian language publishing is likely to see the most growth.

06) The Indian magazine industry continues to attract entrepreneurs, both in the digital space and print and publishing.

07) International flagship titles and home-grown brands exist and compete well in the same space.

08) The contract publishing business, in an era where brands wish to be media owners, is very under-leveraged in India.

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