Posts Tagged ‘Business Standard’

‘News TV covered Modi US trip like govt media’

3 October 2014

Like town criers in the old days, who arrived before the Maharaja and extolled his virtues, Indian news television reporters were in the United States even before prime minister Narendra Modi had set foot in God’s Own Country.

And, over nearly a week, provided breathless coverage that left little to the imagination.

Superman (or was it Spiderman) was interviewed at Times Square; Modi’s “rockstar” thanks-giving address to his NRI followers was shown ad nauseam; and all manner of policy wonks were rolled out to complete the circus.

Business Standard has an editorial:

“Prime Minister Modi’s trip to the United States was marred by news reporting that was excessively fawning. Coverage was, in fact, reminiscent of the bad old days of state-controlled media, when the nightly news bulletin on Doordarshan was little more than a paean of praise to Rajiv Gandhi or Indira Gandhi. In fact, the saturation coverage was so disproportionate to the actual scope or achievements of the prime minister’s visit that it was embarrassing….

“Modi has begun a new tradition since taking office. Journalists no longer travel with him on Air India One. This is part of a larger attempt to keep the media as distant as possible. Only a few journalists from state-controlled agencies went along with the prime minister. Others went there themselves. But the cost of the tickets was wasted when they wound up sounding like state-controlled media themselves.”

Read the full editorial: Over the top

Also read: Why Modi shouldn’t take media with him

Pati, patni and the Editor who was the ‘woh’

30 November 2013

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Sunanda K-Datta-Ray, former editor of The Statesman, in the Business Standard:

“A media that sits in judgement on the world must itself be blameless.

W.T. Stead, the famous English journalist who once edited the Northern Echo and who is credited with inventing investigative journalism, grandly told a Royal Commission, ‘The simple faith of our forefathers in the All-Seeing Eye of God has departed from the Man in the Street. Our only modern substitute for Him is the Press.’

“Some of India’s best-known newspaper magnates have been megalomaniacs without Stead’s talent. But no modern working journalist would be so pretentious though I can think of a non-working journalist editor who used equally bombastic language about himself.

“What was infinitely worse was that behind the mask of pious crusader rampaged a grasping womaniser who left the institution of which he acquired control virtually bankrupt. One thinks of another editor who sacked a junior when the latter’s wife who was his mistress (with her husband’s acquiescence) took up with another man.

“In a third case, revenue officials were disconcerted to discover that the cash donations a businessman they were watching made every month and recorded in his private diary were not to a leading politician but an editor with the same initials. I wouldn’t add open political affiliation as another sin but a paper’s politics is often surreptitious and paid for.”

Read the full column: The media as Caesar‘s wife

HT, Mail Today, and Kumar Mangalam Birla

16 October 2013

Hindustan Times headline: “Coal Scam: CBI books former coal secretary, K.M. Birla”

Mail Today headline: “CBI registers 14th FIR in coal allocation scam”

On the morning after the central bureau of investigation (CBI) named industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla in the coal allocation scam, the news is the page one, lead story, in The Times of India, The Economic Times, The Indian Express, The Financial Express, The Hindu, Deccan Herald, The Pioneer, Business Standard….

But not the Hindustan Times or Mail Today.

HT which belongs to the Birla family (chairman Shobhana Bhartia is daughter of K.K. Birla, whose brother B.K. Birla‘s son was Kumar Mangalam’s father, Aditya Birla) consigns the news to a single column story on page 10 in its Delhi edition.

Mail Today has it on page 25. The tabloid belongs to the India Today group, which is part-owned by Kumar Mangalam Birla, who bought a 26 per cent stake in his personal capacity, in India Today‘s holding company, Living Media in May 2012.

Mint, the business berliner which is owned by HT Media, has it on page one with a single-column story leading into page 3.

Also read: HT wedding unites Birlas and Ambanis

Zee News, Jindals and the silence of the media

Lokmat sets up the freedom of the press statue

Karan Thapar takes on Shekhar Gupta on credit

A ‘mile-high experience’ for the hack-pack

1 October 2013

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A picture tweeted by the prime minister’s office (PMO) of the media scrum accompanying Manmohan Singh, as he answers questions in mid-air on his way back home after a five-day visit to the United States.

Among those identifiable, Raj Chengappa, editor-in-chief of The Tribune, Chandigarh (in suit, ahead of mikes); Jayanta Ghosal of Ananda Bazaar Patrika (behind him); Vijay Kumar Chopra, editor, Punjab Kesari (front row, aisle); and Mihir S. Sharma of Business Standard (third row, window seat).

In all, there were 34 newspaper, magazine and TV journalists on board.

Shekhar Gupta gives up charge as Express CEO

27 August 2013

Below is the full text of the “global” email shot off by Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta on Monday, August 26, in which he formally announces his decision to relinquish his managerial functions at the newspaper group.

***

Dear All,

Looking at the flurry of communication from me over the past few weeks, mainly on corporate and business issues, some of you may have wondered what was going on. This is particularly because it hasn’t been my method to write “dear all” mails often.

Or, more likely, that I am too lazy to be doing so.

Those of you in the New Delhi newsroom know this well, since you see me pacing up and down every Friday evening, wrestling with those 1200 words for National Interest, and in the dread of delaying City-I once again.

So here is the story.

This series of mails was by way of completing a great deal of unfinished business. All of you know what a procrastinator I am. So everything that can be put off till the last moment, is put off. Or, as we like to say in cliched journalism, put on the backburner. Until a deadline takes away the excuses.

The deadline we had given ourselves was end of August (and on a personal note, August 26, my 56th birthday). And both ways we are getting there now. Hence, this note.

***

As you may have seen from my earlier communication, as also the buzz in the market, our company is now in an unprecedentedly robust shape.

We have already had six stellar quarters and, on all evidence as I track revenue figures for this month and the projections for September, are heading for an even better seventh. Businesses have to now work in this brutal QSQT (Quarter-se-Quarter-Tak) environment. And it is a truly brilliant achievement on the part of our various teams given the mayhem in media markets.

We are today acknowledged to be one of the soundest news media companies within-our-size category. And no, we never do paid news, or stretch any of the First Principles of Journalism.

Never.

The truth is, it is overly simplistic to say, that we have a Chinese wall between marketing and editorial. We have never needed one. Because it is our colleagues in sales and marketing who have protected our editorial integrity with as much zeal and commitment as us journalists.

And yet, we have built such a fine company. It vindicates our belief, our founder’s and our CMD Viveck Goenka‘s, that there is no contradiction between good journalism and the market.

This is why, I believe, and can say with great satisfaction, that my job on the corporate side is now done.

***

It was in an unusual set of circumstances, and at a critical juncture in the history of our company, that Viveck had asked me to take over the additional responsibility of overseeing the management.

Those unusual circumstances, or any sense of imminent crisis, no longer exist.

From those perilous years, the company has now been nursed into great health.

Credit for this goes to all of you, but most of all to Viveck.

My profound gratitude is also owed to him for placing his trust in me to handle a responsibility I had no skills or training for. It is a perfect time, therefore, for me, to hand over a flourishing company back to Viveck, now that he has the time to take over the management.

And since you can always trust him to pick the most auspicious day in the calendar, he has chosen, for the new arrangement, August 28, Janmashtami.

***

We will share more details with you in the course of time. I am pleased to also inform you, meanwhile, about the return of another Express Group veteran, George Varghese, as the Company’s CEO, to assist Viveck who will be fully hands-on.

Given where the company has reached now, I believe that we need a more structured and formally organized corporate leadership to build on the wonderful platform all of you have created. That is precisely what we will get now. George is a wonderful professional and old-timers among us remember him fondly.

Please join me in wishing him, and Viveck well.

Since I am a story-teller by profession, though, I can’t help but tell you one here. When Viveck asked me to take over this additional charge one winter afternoon, I was petrified. I did not even know debit from credit and thought an RO, our daily bread-giving advertisement Release Order, was some water purifying system.

So I excused myself for a minute, went outside, and called T.N. Ninan, my friend and former editor whose counsel I have sometimes sought with such dilemmas and who has himself done a fine job of balancing edit and business leadership.

He gave me a bunch of quick suggestions and then concluded, in his usual grave tone: but be careful so-and-so…people should not say that a journalist took over a publishing business and made a mess of it.

If I have no such concerns now, it is entirely because of the motivation, talent, commitment and trust that all of you have shown, often surprising even the thick-skinned me with your resilience and optimism.

***

A couple more thoughts. Besides a consistently decent bottomline, we had also set ourselves stiff targets on improving our working conditions, technologies and, of course, compensations. All of you have contributed to turning into reality what had then looked like an impossibility.

We routinely have media websites wondering how we manage to have such nice offices and pay ourselves so well.

Our answer: go check our balance sheets. So thank you all once again for so energetically putting your shoulder to the wheel, even overlooking the unusual fact that I was such a novice to business. And nor did I carry a corporate title, or any title other than the old-fashioned Group Editor-In-Chief.

Which is how I will be working full-time henceforth. Besides all editorial teams (except Loksatta), our tiny but super-productive brand, innovation, archive and CSR teams will continue working with me. I also hope to be able to find more time to build EXIMS, our media school, which is a labour of love.

I will soon be speaking with the team heads individually and answering any questions they might have. I will be fully helping out with transition on the corporate side. Meanwhile, please make sure nothing falls between the cracks. We must maintain total continuity.

If confused, send communication, clearances etc to me with copy to Kumar Gyanam and we will either give you the answers, or be good postmen and redirect you to the correct addressees.

Yet again, before I sign off for the day, thanks and all the best. In any case, I am always around, and accessible and just as chaotically so — as before.

Shekhar Gupta

Editor-in-Chief

Photograph: courtesy Impact

Also read: To all Express employees, from the editor

‘Licensing journos: recipe for total state control’

22 August 2013

Ravi_pic_ram_leiceL1000002_croppedThe following is the full text of the statement issued by N. Ravi, president of the Editors’ Guild of India, on the proposal mooted by minister of state for information and broadcasting, Manish Tewari, on a “common examination” for student-journalists and a “licence” for journalists to perform their function:

“The suggestion of the Union minister for information and broadcasting, Manish Tewari, that journalists should be tested and licensed to practice the profession is a recipe for the total state control of the media.

“Licensing of journalists is an obviously undemocratic practice that has been condemned repeatedly by international human rights organisations including the Inter American Court of Human Rights. Requirements such as membership of a particular organisation, specific qualifications and licences issued by the government are tools used by totalitarian states to control the media.

“The right to freedom of expression is guaranteed under Article 19 (1) of the Constitution and it is open to every citizen to practise it through the media subject only to restrictions on the grounds specified in Article 19 (2).  The reporting of facts and the expression of ideas is the right of every citizen and to require the passing of a test and the possession of a licence issued by the government would be a violation of the very concept of freedom.

“People with varying qualifications, ideas and interests should be allowed unrestricted access in the exercise of their right to free speech through the media.

“Besides, the media deal with the whole gamut of issues touching on the society– from political, economic and social issues to health, religion, art, literature, cinema, music and travel– and unlike in the case of some of the professions such as law and medicine, there is no fixed or identifiable collection of works or coherent body of knowledge on which journalists could be tested.

“In this age of citizen journalists, bloggers and social media and Internet users, it would be ridiculous to introduce any restriction on who should practise journalism even if it were possible to enforce it.”

***

Business Standard has an editorial on the topic:

“Charitably, Tewari’s point could be taken as an opportunity for the media to introspect as to why there are many calls for it to improve the quality of its output. There is little doubt that, as the media space has exploded, much has been produced that is not of sufficient quality or reliability or even credibility.

“Of course, whether this requires a licence-permit Raj to be introduced for journalism is another question altogether—though a reflexive belief in the virtues of control is the hallmark of the Indira Gandhi-loving United Progressive Alliance, which is in so many fields apparently desirous of returning India to the 1980s.

“Actually, it is diversity that should be prized in an open society with free expression, not uniformity and “standardisation”. It is ridiculous to imagine that an examination, however tough, would, in any case, weed out the corrupt and the incompetent. If that were the case, India would have had the most incorruptible and most efficient bureaucracy in the known universe.”

***

Madhavankutty Pillai in Open magazine:

“The exam and licence for journalists is couched as a measure for the benefit of the profession. It comes on the back of the Press Council of India Chairman, Markandey Katju, floating a similar proposal some months ago. Both are symbolic of our great faith in question papers despite overwhelming evidence that it is possibly the worst way to create an institution.

“IAS and IPS officers, the frame that rules India, are selected on the basis of one exam and what it churns out is an effete, morally compromised, characterless group. People with high IQ and a good memory can clear these exams but it guarantees nothing in terms of either integrity, efficiency or common sense.

“Both Katju and Tewari were lawyers and it is probably the Bar Council exam that they have as a model. Which makes what they propose even more ridiculous if you consider the state of the legal profession in India. The standardisation it has created is in the art of perpetually delaying a case, bribery as a legal strategy and the fleecing of clients.

Also read: Poll: common exam, licences for journalists?

A “license” for journalists is not a ‘sine qua non’

External reading: How licensing journalists threatens independent news media

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

When Roger Ebert wrote to an Indian critic

6 April 2013

On his blog, the bibliophile Jai Arjun Singh writes of his online encounters with Roger Ebert, the iconic Chicago Sun-Times movie critic, who passed away in the middle of the week.

“In a somewhat surreal turn of events, I found myself in correspondence with him around six years ago, after he mailed to say he liked something I had written in Business Standard.

“This begat a comical email exchange because, although his ID and the tone of his mail seemed authentic, my blog had been plagued by some inventive troll activity around the time, and this seemed a little too good to be true.

“So I sent “Ebert” a very cautious, split-personality response expressing my happiness if the mail really was from him, but also being careful not to get too fulsome, and repeatedly using the phrase “assuming this really IS you”.

“Then he would reply trying to convince me. He used faux-philosophical lines like “How can I prove I’m me?” He even sent across two photos from the 1999 Calcutta Film Festival, which I knew he had attended; the subject line of his mail was “Would an imposter have this?”

Read the full piece: Jabberwock

Is news TV becoming a ‘national security hazard’?

15 January 2013

Editorial in Business Standard:

“It should go without saying that the media has a role in informing and educating a citizenry about the issues of the day, providing background, context and holding the powerful to account. A case study in how not to go about this is currently being provided by the electronic media in its coverage of recent raids and counter-raids on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, in which two Indian soldiers have been killed, and one allegedly subjected to post-mortem mutilation.

“Instead of questioning the narrative, news television and some print outlets have instead blatantly beaten the drums of confrontation, hyping even relatively calm statements by the army chief into belligerent displays of national machismo. Coming at a time when the government is attempting to move forward on dialogue with Pakistan that is very much in the national interest, the question should be asked: are some of India’s news channels, and their pursuit of eyeballs, turning into a national security hazard?

“If the electronic media dragoons a weak Indian government into raising the ante with its Pakistani counterpart at a time when it needs instead to be an ally against the powerful Pakistan military’s ability to hijack the security agenda, then the national interest will suffer a serious blow. More, it will count as a signal ethical failure on the part of whichever media outlet is sacrificing context to sensationalism.

“A handful of bellicose television supremos cannot be allowed to dictate a foreign policy that hurts the interest of India’s citizens.”

***

Mani Shankar Aiyar in The Indian Express:

My friend, the cine artiste and poet, Farooque Sheikh, has summed it up better than I ever could. He describes the TRP war being whipped up by our hysterical TV anchors as “dangerously boring and boringly dangerous”.

It is precisely because one had anticipated outrages of the kind that occurred on Sunday, January 6 (and have a much longer ancestry than TV anchors and their guest cohorts are willing to acknowledge—such, for example, as revealed by Praveen Swami in The Hindu, that I have for so long been advocating “uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue” as the only way for India and Pakistan to resolve their issues and normalise their relations.

***

Editorial in The Hindu:

“Few spectacles have been as unedifying as the contemptible baying of warmongers these past days—most of it, it bears mention, emanating from TV studios located at a safe distance from the nearest bullet.”

Read the full BS editorial: Crossing a red line

Read the Express column: The hostility industry

Read the full Hindu editorial: Stop baying for blood

External reading: Was an Indian soldier decapitated?

Nehru fellowships for T.N. Ninan, Harish Khare

23 November 2012

Two top journalists, T.N. Ninan of Business Standard, and Harish Khare, formerly of The Hindu and The Times of India, have been awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru fellowships this year.

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