Posts Tagged ‘Dainik Jagran’

Operation Rajnikant: starring Samir & Vineet Jain

13 March 2014

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There are 12 media personalities in the Indian Express list of the most powerful Indians in 2014—”ie 100″—for 2014, but 10 of them are proprietors, only one is a journalist and the other is a former journalist.

As usual, the most interesting part of the prospective list are the factoids accompanying the profiles.

# 19, Mukesh Ambani, Network 18: Mumbai Indians player Dwayne Bravo calls him ‘Madam Boss’s husband’ (after Nita Ambani)

# 21, Jagan Mohan Reddy, Sakshi TV: He has a personal videographer who records every moment of his public life

# 38, Anil Ambani, Bloomberg TV: He has been a teetotaller except for one swig of champange at his wedding to Tina.

# 51, Samir Jain and Vineet Jain, The Times group: Last year, as part of their cost-cutting initiatives, they launched what they called Operation Rajnikant and Operation Dark Knight in which they set such impossible targets for employees that only a Rajnikant or a Dark Knight was likely to achieve them.

# 52, Mahendra Mohan Gupta and Sanjay Gupta, Dainik Jagran: Their annual chaat parties are a hit, something to look forward to.

# 56, Kumar Mangalam Birla, India Today group: He quit from the RBI central board to avoid conflict of interest with his banking license application.

# 68, Shobhana Bhartia, chairperson, Hindustan Times group: She speaks fluent Bengali and also reads the language. Every morning, a Bengali newspaper comes to her for her to read.

# 72, Aveek Sarkar, editor-in-chief, Ananda Bazaar Patrika group: Sarkar is a regular at the Wimbledon every year

# 80, Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief, Times Now: He is India’s most famous Assamese by a long way

# 87, Uday Shankar, CEO, Star TV: A JNU alumnus, he started as a journalist with Down to Earth magazine from CSE

Among the 27 exiting from the 2013 list are press council chairman Markandey Katju and Sun TV boss Kalanidhi Maran.

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The Indian Express power list

2012: N. Ram, Arnab Goswami crash out of power list

2011: Arnab Goswami edges out Barkha Dutt

2010: Arun Shourie more powerful than media pros

2009: 11 habits of highly successful media people

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Also read: 12 media barons worth 2,962, 530,000,000

10 media barons in India Today 2010 power list

26% of India’s most powerful are media barons

An A-list most A-listers don’t want to be a part of

Blogger breaks into Businessweek most powerful list

 

Shekhar Gupta storms into India Today power list

N. Ram, Arnab Goswami crash out of power list

24 February 2012

Despite stitching up one of the biggest media deals in recent times, TV18′s Raghav Bahl is among four  media persons who have crashed out of the Indian Express list of the 100 most powerful people in the year of the lord 2012.

N. Ram, the former editor-in-chief of The Hindu (No. 73 in last year’s list) finds himself in the doghouse having remitted office recently, as does Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami (No. 90), who had edged out NDTV’s Barkha Dutt in the  2011 ranking. Also out is Sun TV boss Kalanidhi Maran (No. 38).

One media figure makes a lateral entry: the new press council chairman, Justice Markandey Katju.

The number of media people in the Express list of India’s most powerful continues to drop. There are seven media people in the 2012 power list, as opposed to 11 in 200912 in 2010, and 10 in 2011.

As in the past, the list contains a bit of trivia.

#No. 67, Samir Jain and Vineet Jain, The Times of India group: “The elder brother is an ardent follower of a Bombay-based guruji, whom he calls ‘bhagwaan’.”

# No. 69, Sanjay Gupta and Mahendra Mohan Gupta, Dainik Jagran: “Sanjay loves watching Hollywood films while M.M. Gupta likes Hindi film songs of the sixties.”

# No. 71, Shobhana Bhartia, Hindustan Times: “She is a fitness freak.”

# No. 72, Uday Shankar, Star India: “He enjoys cooking Indian food. He loves experimenting so much that he never repeats a dish.”

# No. 73, Arun Shourie: “The prolific writer’s next book is an ‘expanded’ edition of Falling over backwards, which he had written in 2006, arguing against the reservation policy and judicial populism.”

# No. 80, Aveek Sarkar, Ananda Bazaar Patrika group: “He is passionate about art and has a large collection of works from the Bengal school of art and the Raj era.”

# No. 83, Justice Markandey Katju, press council chairman: “It’s not just Urdu poet Ghalib whom Katju likes, he is equally fond of Sanskrit poet Kalidas.”

As in previous years, Indian Express does not reveal how the list was arrived at or who the jury members were, although it asks readers to write to the jury (ie100@expressindia.com) “if you disagree with our jury”.

The tabloid supplement carrying the 2012 list has been “presented” by Central Park, a developer, and Campus shoes.  The lead sponsor like last year is IRB infrastructure developers.

Among the advertisers is Nobel Hygiene which makes adult diapers.

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2011 list: Arnab Goswami edges out Barkha Dutt

2010 list: Arun Shourie more powerful than media pros

2009 list: 11 habits of highly successful media people

Mid-Day Delhi and Mid-Day Bangalore to shut

5 December 2011

The front page of the final edition of Mid-Day, Bangalore, on 6 December 2011, with a farewell note by executive editor Sachin Kalbag

The Bombay tabloid Mid-Day has made three attempts to break into Bangalore. The first was in the early 1980s under the redoubtable Khalid A.H. Ansari, and the second in the late 1980s under his sons Tarique and Sharique Ansari, when the Bangalore editions of Sunday Mid-Day rolled out. Both those attempts  came quickly unstuck.

The third entry came in 2006, when the group launched a daily edition, hoping as all groups do to tap into the “high-earning, big-spending IT crowd” that only media managers can spot. The third entry also coincided with the paper’s full entry into Delhi. Now, both editions are being shut down by the news owners, Dainik Jagran, effective tomorrow.

Below is the full text of the email received by employees from group CEO Manajit Ghoshal at 5.13 pm, and it is remarkable for how lightly it treats the lives of dozens of ordinary journalists and other staffers at short notice, while dishing out the boilerplate managerial bullshit about “corporate scenario”.

***

Dear colleagues

It’s with a heavy heart that I have to announce the closure of Mid-Day Delhi and Mid-Day Bangalore editions. Tomorrow’s issue will be the last issue for both the editions. This has been necessitated by the prolonged losses we had to incur on these editions.

The idea behind starting these editions was to establish these brands in these cities and make a difference in the lives of the citizens there. We had begun well and were appreciated for the quality of product we put out. However, in a corporate scenario the books need to be balanced.

Due to the ever increasing competition in the print media space, the funds required for breakeven in these cities kept escalating. Finally, we had to take this call. We will however, continue to maintain a news bureau in Delhi and our sales offices in Bangalore and Delhi.

But, every dark cloud has a silver lining. The silver lining in this is that Mumbai Mid-Day now will have the strength to soar to greater heights. By cutting our losses in Delhi and Bangalore editions, we will be able to bolster our circulation in Mumbai.

Apart from the plan to channel these investments, Jagran group (our parent company) will invest a large sum in boosting Mid-Day’s circulation in Mumbai. This will give our sales guys across the country to pitch Mumbai Mid-Day to clients and agencies in a new light.

We need to now concentrate on building brand Mid-Day in Mumbai and monetizing Mumbai Mid-Day’s large increase in circulation and in this our sales colleagues in Delhi, Bangalore and Pune will have to play a significant part.

Gujrati Mid-Day and Inquilab continue to go from strength to strength. We are increasing the circulation of GMD at a brisk pace and will continue to do so. Inquilab has flourished in the north and we now have 14 editions in all and are far ahead of any competition in the Urdu space.

Mid-Day Pune is an extension of Mid-Day Mumbai just as the Pune city is an extension of Mumbai. Mid-Day Pune will continue to run at an ever increasing pace and we will be monitoring the Pune media market keenly to spot opportunities to improve the circulation of Midday Pune.

We will continue to invest aggressively in our digital properties as we believe that this is a medium whose time has come.

5th December, 2011 is an important day in the history of Mid-Day. Today, we will have to halt and think. Think about many of our colleagues who will have to move on.

It’s a testing time for them as it is for us. Right now it might look dark but I am sure both of us will come out of this with flying colours. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors. We also need to think about the added responsibilities for all of us who remain in this great organization and who have to carry its legacy forward. Let’s begin this phase of our journey with renewed vigour and conviction.

In conclusion, I can only say that all dreams may not fructify but that will only encourage us to try harder and bring us closer, marching forward with a vision which only we can realise. We strive for continuity and absolutes but are reminded time and again that change is the only constant.

In this time of great pain and heavy responsibility, I am sure God will give us the tenacity to walk on—and then to break into a run—and once again soar to live our destiny.

Cheers
Manajit Ghoshal

How papers are working around wage board

30 November 2011

With the Union government having notified the recommendations of the Majithia wage board for journalists and other employees, newspaper managements are on a collision course.

The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has slammed the government go-ahead despite industry representations; at least three newspaper houses have filed cases against it; and insiders say a November 16 meeting of INS was “defiantly unanimous” that newspapers should not implement it, come what may.

Meanwhile, some newspaper managements, like that of the Bombay tabloid Mid-Day (now owned by the Dainik Jagran group) have commenced their own measures to deal with the debilitating economic effects of the implementation of the wage board recommendations by circulating a bond for its journalists to sign.

Point no. 3 reads, inter alia:

“We, therefore, exercise our option to retain our existing salaries and wages of existing emouluments as defined in Majithia wage board award along with all existing allowances of whatsoever nature as well as method of determination and extent of neutralisation of dearness allowance being following by the newspaper extablishment (Mid-Day) year after year, with retrospective effect. We also realise and agree that all such future increments as may be granted by the newspaper establishment (Mid-Day) in respect of pay, allowances and emoulments shall be in our interest and we shall abide by the same.

“Now in witness whereof we being all the employees of newspaper establishment (Mid-Day) in exercise of our option as available under the Majithia wage board, retain our existing payscale and “existing emoulments” including allowances with retrospective effect by affixing our individual signatures hereinbelow.”

M.J. Pandey of the Brihanmumbai union of journalists (BUJ) writes:

“The Mid-Day management has got its staffers to sign a special undertaking that they are not in favour of the wage board and wish to opt out of the award. Last week, the staffers were called in and made to sign the opt-out form individually and on the spot. No copies of this undertaking were given to them.

“All the journalists, who are on contract, have complied. However, the non-journalist employees, who are part of the Maharashtra media employees’ union (MMEU), have refused to sign the undertaking and are awating the implementation of the award.

“It is incredibe that these journalists have made no calculations of the benefits they would have got under the wage board. This wage board, for the first time, brings the wages of non-contract employees on par with the contract employees – especially in larger media conglomerates – and that’s part of the reason for the stiff resistance of the latter to the wage board.”

Image: via Geeta Seshu

Also read: INS: “We reject wage board recommendations”

Media barons wake up together, sing same song

Why Majithia wage board is good for journalists

9 reasons why wage board is bad for journalism

POLL: Should newspapers implement wage board?

Allow me to point out, Mr Arnab Goswami

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’

‘Media standards not keeping pace with growth’

18 April 2011

Sanjaya Baru, editor of Business Standard and former media advisor to prime minister Manmohan Singh, delivered the second H.Y. Sharada Prasad memorial lecture on media, business and government at the India International Centre on Sunday, 17 April. This is the full text of his address:

***

By SANJAYA BARU

I first met H.Y. Sharada Prasad in 1982 in the very room in which I later sat in the Prime Minister’s Office. He knew me only as Rama’s husband!  I was in Delhi on a visit from Hyderabad where I was a University lecturer and went to call on him because Rama had asked me to.

I would meet him occasionally during my days at the Economic Times and Times of India and tried hard to get him to write for the editorial page of the TOI, when I was in charge of it in 1994-96. He always declined the invitation with a smile. Finally, when he chose to write a column I had already left TOI and it was M.J. Akbar who managed to get him to do so for The Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle.

Perhaps as a consolation he called me one day and told me that he had informed Encyclopedia Britannica that he would stop writing the chapter on India that he had written every year for close to fifty years, and henceforth they should approach me for the chapter.

I was flabbergasted, flattered and honoured.

The editor of Britannica wrote me a warm letter saying that I must be someone very special because after a “life long” association with EB, “Mr Prasad has chosen you to inherit his annual contribution to the Britannica.” I have written that chapter since, every year.”

On 2 June 2004 I joined the PMO in the morning and called on “Shouri mama” (as Sharada Prasad was called by his friends and family) the same evening to seek his blessings and take his advice. He spoke to me at length about the office itself, and the significance of every nook and corner.

“You are sitting in the same room in which Jawaharlal Nehru first sat as Prime Minister,” he told me, referring to the corner room next to the cabinet room. Nehru had to wait for a month to move into what is now the PM’s room, since that room’s earlier occupant, Girija Shankar Bajpai, would not vacate it till the room assigned to him was ready, that being the present principal secretary’s room.

I too had occupied that very room briefly till I moved into the much larger adjacent room, the one Shouri had occupied with great distinction for almost two decades. After letting me know that I was sitting in Nehru’s first room in the PMO, he added with a mischievous smile, “of course Natwar (Singh) also sat there!”

He regaled me with stories about the various occupants of the PMO during his decade and a half there, about their egos and their foibles. He gave me valuable advice on how I should discharge my duties both as media advisor and speech writer that stood me in good stead throughout my four-and-a-half years in the job.

On a couple of occasions when I had difficulty convincing the PM and his senior aides about my media strategy in dealing with an issue, I would called Shouri and having received his endorsement of my plan inform the PM that Mr Sharada Prasad has approved my idea. The PM would instantly fall in line and allow me to go ahead, over ruling the dissenters. Securing Shourie’s imprimatur was enough.

For a man who wielded a powerful and elegant pen for the Prime Minister of India, who had the unquestioned trust and confidence of a powerful Prime Minister like Indira Gandhi, who had travelled around the world with her, hearing her read out his prose, whom generations of Indians had seen in Films Division documentaries and front page photographs sitting next to Mrs Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, here I was with him on my first day in the PMO in his two-room, Punjabi Bagh DDA flat.

Every day of my four-and-a-half years in the PMO, I would recall that first evening that I spent with Shouri.

Don’t fool yourself, I would tell myself, you may be here today, but one day you too will have a modest apartment to retire to. Shouri was among the very few who worked with Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi who had no Vasant Vihar or New friends Colony or Maharani Bagh house to leave for his children. It is the combination of his wisdom and simplicity, his prose and wit, his deep knowledge of both India and the world that makes him a truly unique occupant of that all powerful corner of Raisina Hill. This memorial lecture is dedicated as much to Shourie as to the values he embodied.

***

One of the things that Shouri said to me when I met him the evening of my first day at the PMO was that during his long tenure at the PMO he kept in regular, almost daily contact, with key interlocutors in just five newspapers – Hindustan Times, Indian Express, The Statesman, The Hindu and Times of India. That was a different world.

While India reported less than 500 newspapers in the years Shouri first came to deal with them, and only one television channel, by 1991 there were 923 newspapers and still only one TV channel. But Shouri regarded dealing with just the top five English dailies adequate to influence the rest of the media. These five, he presumably believed, set the tone and the agenda for all others to follow. It is also possible he believed having these five on one’s side is what mattered as far as the PM was concerned.

In 2008, the year I left PMO, the Registrar of Newspapers reported that 2,337 newspapers were in circulation in India. In 2004 there were already several news TV channels, but by 2008 the number had more than tripled. By the time I left my position in mid-2008 I would normally be dealing with at least a couple of dozen newspapers and TV channels every day.  The era when one could happily say that the PM’s media advisor kept in touch with just five top English newspapers was long gone. Not only had Indian language TV and print become more important, but even English language TV and print had burgeoned and the internet had arrived.

It was during my last days in office that I acquired a Facebook account and Outlook magazine put me on their cover, along with some celebrities, for being the first PMO official with a Facebook account. Twitter had not arrived by the time I left office. Today Shouri would not be able to recognise, much less relate, to the media scene in India. My 84-year-old parents take pride in letting me know that they neither watch TV news, nor spend more than a few minutes reading a newspaper. They have opted out of daily news.

But, the rest of India has not. Nowhere has there been a bigger boom in media than in India.

At the last World Association of Newspapers convention in Hyderabad in 2009, India was hailed as the great global hope for media, especially print. The WAN invitation to the Hyderabad convention said:

“Developing literacy and wealth are part of but far from all the story: Great credit needs also to be given to Indian newspaper professionals, who are re-inventing the newspaper to keep it vibrant and compelling in the digital age……. Although broadband and mobile are booming in India, print newspapers are growing right along with them. The country has more daily newspapers than any other nation and leads in paid-for daily circulation, surpassing China for the first time in 2008. Twenty of the world’s 100 largest newspapers are Indian. Newspaper circulation rose a further 8 percent last year.”

Salivating at the India numbers, News Corp top executive James Murdoch told a FICCI–Frames conference in Mumbai last month that “India’s media industry is a ‘sleeping tiger’  waiting to be awakened.” He described global media firms as “grey and tired”. “The impressive achievements of the last two decades have not even begun to fulfill the potential of this great land,” said the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

This boom is witnessed in every language, with Hindi’s Dainik Jagran emerging as the great success story in print media. But with growth have come its wages. The quantitative expansion of Indian media continues to outpace its qualitative development. Extreme inequality in compensation structures means there are some journalists who get world class compensation that would be the envy of even developed economy media, and there is a mass of under-paid staff, many of whom with low skills and lower motivation.

Speaking at the Silver Jubilee of the Chandigarh Press Club in September 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said:

“With the rapid growth of media in recent times, qualitative development has not kept step with quantitative growth. In the race for capturing markets, journalists have been encouraged to cut corners, to take chances, to hit and run. I believe the time has come for journalists to take stock of how competition has impacted upon quality. Consider the fact that even one mistake, and a resultant accident, can debar an airline pilot from ever pursuing his career. Consider the case that one wrong operation leading to a life lost, and a doctor can no longer inspire the confidence of his patients. One night of sleeping on the job at a railway crossing, an avoidable train accident, and a railway man gets suspended. How many mistakes must a journalist make, how many wrong stories, and how many motivated columns before professional clamps are placed? How do the financial media deal with market moving stories that have no basis in fact? Investors gain and lose, markets rise and fall, but what happens to those reporters, analysts, editors who move and make markets? Are there professional codes of conduct that address these challenges? Is the Press Council the right organization to address these challenges? Can professional organizations of journalists play a role?”

Apart from the problem of quantitative growth outpacing qualitative development, there is also the challenge of conflicting objectives and a clash of cultures. News media has become subsumed into the larger business of information and entertainment. This is in large part a consequence of the growing dependence of media, especially news media, on advertisement revenues, though India still has a substantial segment of the market that is still willing to pay for news.

One of the consequences of this growing dependence on advertising revenues, as opposed to subscription revenue, and the competition from competing media is that news media has become increasingly a mish-mash of news, views and plain entertainment.

A recent  FICCI- KPMG report, Hitting the High Notes on the Indian media and Entertainment Industry in 2011 not only unabashedly refers to ‘media and entertainment’ as one industry, but also points to the growing inter-linkages between the two sides of business. News is entertainment and entertainment is news! And, the stakes are high.

According to KPMG, the Indian Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry stood at US$ 12.9 billion in 2009. Over the next five years the industry is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13 per cent to reach the size of US$ 24.04 billion by 2014.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report titled ‘Indian Entertainment & Media Outlook 2010’ predicts that the industry is poised to return to double digit growth to touch US$ 22.28 billion growing cumulatively at a 12.4 per cent CAGR to 2014.

Apart from the phenomenal growth prospects, which have become the envy of media companies around the world, and therefore attracting many of them to India, it is important to also note that there has been a vertical and horizontal integration, along the technological spectrum, of news, entertainment and communication. Print, TV, radio, film, music, gaming, mobile telephony, internet and banking and finance are all getting integrated. New technologies will integrate the businesses and the markets even more.

The KPMG report adds, “While television and print continue to dominate the Indian M&E industry, sectors such as gaming, digital advertising, and animation VFX also show tremendous potential in the coming years. By 2015, television is expected to account for almost half of the Indian M&E industry revenues, and more than twice the size of print, the second largest media sector.  The contribution of advertising revenue to overall industry pie is expected to increase from 38 percent in 2007 to 42 percent in 2012.”

When news and entertainment become two sides of the same coin, indeed some would say the same side of one coin, with advertising revenue being the other side of the coin, and when the distinction between news and views gets blurred, journalism enters an uncharted territory where there are as yet no professional yardsticks to judge either purpose or performance. But it is not just the integration of businesses that is having an impact on media. It is the integration of business with politics and politics with business that is now shaping news media, and not just at the national level.

*** Read the rest of this entry »

What the prime minister told Raghav Bahl

2 April 2011

India’s tiger population is up 16%, but the number of paper tigers on the India Today power list of 2011 is down 20% from last year.  From a high of ten in 2006, the number of media barons on the annual ranking stands at five.

Samir Jain and Vineet Jain of The Times of India group are at no. 4 (up from no.8 last year); Kalanidhi Maran of Sun TV is at no. 20 (down from no. 16);  Raghav Bahl of Network 18 is at no. 25 (down from no. 17); Mahendra Mohan Gupta and Sanjay Gupta of Dainik Jagran are at no. 31 (up from no. 33); and Rajeev Chandrasekhar of Asianet News and Suvarna News is at no. 34 (up from 37).

But as usual, the POAPs (points of anticipated pleasure) are on page 3:

# The Jains have professionalised the brand management with five CEOs, involving themselves only in key strategic decisions. Samir Jain prefers yoga, Vineet loves to gym.

# Kalanidhi Maran has grown a moustache after remaining clean shaven for many years. He loves Apple products, buying the iPad2 on day one, and prefers Chinese food.

# When Raghav Bahl went to present a copy of his China book to the prime minister, Manmohan Singh said: ‘Oh, we’ve come to expect pioneering things from you.” Bahl is Imran Khan‘s uncle-in-law, his niece Avantika having married the actor.

# Mahendra Mohan Gupta prefers a Santro car, while Sanjay Gupta drives a Mercedes.

# Rajeev Chandrasekhar is slated to launch an English channel in south India. His favourite line is one uttered by the rapper Eminem: “I’m not afraid to take a stand.”

Photograph via Facebook

Also read: Arnab Goswami edges out Barkha Dutt on power list

The 11 habits of India’s most powerful media pros

A columnist more ‘powerful’ than all media pros

The curious case of Zakir Naik and Shekhar Gupta

Why is Rupert Murdoch taking on Samir Jain?

23 February 2011

New Delhi’s media circles have agog all this week with news of a “sting” operation on The Times of India by The Sunday Times of London.

The question: why would Rupert Murdoch‘s paper take on Samir Jain‘s, especially when it is not revealing anything particularly new?

Is something afoot between the media giants?

Has a deal gone sour?

Have the first shots been fired in a war between News Corp and Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd?

The Sunday Times article has, however, been unavailable to readers because of paper’s paywall and because newspapers which subscribe to The Sunday Times syndication service have refrained from running it.

Below is the full text of the article, carried without the permission of the publishers. And in the dock is not just ToI but Hindi heavyweights like Dainik Bhaskar, Dainik Jagran and Aaj, the first two of whom are listed on the stock exchanges.

***

India’s media demand cash to run favourable news

By Nicola Smith/ Delhi

The Indian government has condemned a rise in so-called “paid news”, in which newspapers and television channels accept money to run favourable articles about politicians, companies and celebrities.

The move by Ambika Soni, the broadcasting minister, follows a damaging report commissioned by the Press Council of India, which revealed that the practise of playing for positive coverage in the Indian media was widespread.

Soni, who proposed a new body to regulate broadcasting, said the phenomenon was undermining the credibility of new reports. “The paid news issue does not crop up during the elections but at other times as well,” she said.

The Press Council report criticised newspapers and broadcasters that demand money from politicians to run sympathetic stories about them. It said some papers misrepresent paid-for advertising as news and enter “private treaties” with companies that guarantee favourable coverage in exchange for free shares.

The report quoted a long list of politicians who disclosed that newspaper had asked them to pay large sums to write about their campaigns during state elections in 2009.

Harmohan Dhawan, a former aviation minister, was told that if he wanted coverage, he would have to pay two local newspapers, Dainik Jagran and Dainik Bhaskar, up to one million rupees (£13,600) each.

“Representatives of the print medium came to me and asked for money. They said their newspapers (would) give coverage if I paid them money. They offered a ‘package’ to me and in one such package I was told editorials would be written in my favour,” he said.

The story was echoed by Santosh Singh, a candidate for the ruling Congress party in Uttar Pradesh, who said he had been offered packages costing up to one million rupees by the Dainik Jagran and Aaj newspapers.

“The representatives of these newspapers who me said they were merely following orders given to them by their managements,” he said.

The Press Council report also highlighted the role of Medianet, a company created Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd, which publishes The Times of India, The Economic Times and a range of other leading titles.

Medianet, for a price, openly offers to send journalists to cover launches or personality-related events, or arranges “news stories” based on a particular product to appear in the newspaper supplements.

A Sunday Times reporter telephoned Medianet last week posing as the public relations agent of a company wanting coverage for a party at Emporio, an exclusive shopping mall in Delhi.

Chandru Sambasivan, the head of Medianet’s Delhi office, said space could be bought in the Delhi Times supplement, the Times‘ society pages, for £27 a centimetre on the front page, of £16 inside.

He said it could “definitely” be dressed up as a genuine news story, as along it met a “celebrity quotient”. Celebrities were available to attend the event at an extra cost, he said.

“Once you are able to share it (the launch product) with us, we could always build a story around it and make an interesting article for the readers,” he said. “Basically, if you are looking at a launch, then it can go on ‘launch pad’, on page 3 of Delhi Times.”

Sambasivan confirmed that the latest launch pad feature, in which Katrina Kaif, the Bollywood star, promoted Uni-ball pens, had been paid for by a marketing company. The article, which has no writer’s name attached, does not make clear that it was sponsored.

In it, Kaif, 26, gushed: “I’m excited about being the face of a youthful, high-quality, international brand, which I have personally grown up with in the UK; and I particularly love Uni-Jetstream, which I think is the smoothest pen in the world.”

Ravi Dhariwal, the chief executive of The Times of India, said yesterday: “There is no paid in news in any of our main papers and titles. We do have advertising and promotional supplements which sometimes carry paid features.”

The practice of “paid news” has been widely criticised.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, one of the authors of Press Council report, said adverts posing as new were “cheating” readers.

Also read: Good morning! Your paper is free of paid news

Roy Greenslade: India’s dodgy ‘paid news’ phenomenon

Arnab Goswami edges out Barkha on power list

30 January 2011

NDTV group editor Barkha Dutt is the big media dropout from Indian Express‘s 2011 list of the 100 most powerful Indians. Dutt, who entered the ranking at No. 82 last year, has made way for her former colleague, Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, who enters at No. 90.

Barring Arnab and Star India CEO Uday Shankar, who is ranked No. 85, there are no new media names in the Express list. But there are two sub-surprises.

The Hindu‘s editor-in-chief N. Ram who threatened “criminal and civil defamation proceedings” against the Indian Express last year, remains on the list at No. 73. But the Islamic tele-evangelist Zakir Naik, whose inclusion last year and whose Walk the Talk interview with Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta, attracted plenty of criticism after he was barred entry into Britain, is out.

As in previous years, Indian Express does not reveal how the list was arrived at or who the jury members were, although it proclaims that the jury was excluded from the list. The tabloid supplement carrying the power list—heavily advertised on NDTV—is sponsored by Earth infrastructure company, and all the boxes containing subsidiary lists are powered by IRB infastructure developers.

The list contains a one-line kink/fetish of the powerful.

# No. 38, Kalanidhi Maran, chairman and managing director, Sun group: “While in Chennai, he travels in his fleet of super luxury cars. For longer journeys, he has a private jet.”

# No. 56, Samir and Vineet Jain, VC and MD, Times of India group: “The older brother is highly spiritual and his executives often have to make a trip to Haridwar to discuss important issues with him. The younger one’s Holi bashes are considered the best in town.”

# No. 73, N. Ram, editor-in-chief, The Hindu: “He is quite active on Twitter and is prompt with his replies to questions and comments.”

# No. 77: Shobhana Bhartia, editorial director, HT Media: “She is a fitness freak, works out every day.”

# No. 79, Aveek Sarkar, chief editor, Anand Bazaar Patrika: “He is a good golfer and is captain and convenor of the Royal Calcutta Golf Club.”

# No. 82, Sanjay Gupta and M.M. Gupta, CEO and CMD, Dainik Jagran: “Sanjay loves to dance, and MM loves playing cards.”

# No. 85, Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India: “He can’t be in a room which has no TV. He watches almost all the time.”

# No. 86, Arun Shourie, columnist and author: “Shourie’s most prized possessions are his vast collection of books. He is extremely possessive about his library.”

# No. 90, Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief, Times Now: “He hates socialising and is rarely spotted at a social event.”

# No. 92, Raghav Bahl, editor, Network 18: “He is not too fond of socialising. Consequently, he ends up watching a lot of TV. At times, he watches about five or six channels simultaneously.”

There were 11 mediapersons in the 2009 list: eight of them had a presence in newspapers, three in television and only one was from the magazine sphere. Four of the 11 were from the language press. There were 12 mediapersons in the 2010 list.

Photograph: courtesy Outlook

Also read: The 11 habits of India’s most powerful media pros

A columnist more ‘powerful’ than all media pros

The curious case of Zakir Naik and Shekhar Gupta

Who said good journalism can’t be good business?

11 November 2010

The brand managers and consultants in the English media will harangue you that scams and scandals don’t pay. That bad news is, well, bad news. That populating your pages with happy, smiling faces with fell-good stories of success, wealth and achievement is the way to greet readers first thing in the morning.

Maybe, but there’s also another way.

The November 2010 issue of Civil Society, the magazine launched by ex-Times of India man Umesh Anand, reports on an unusual war between Hindi dailies in mineral-rich Jharkhand and an unusual winner—Prabhat Khabar—”proving that content and credibility are good business“:

“The three national Hindi dailies—Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar and Hindustan—are feared because they have giant footprints and are run by aggressive managers and owners. They are networked with governments and politicians and pump vast sums into marketing. No effort is spared to push up numbers and bring in advertising.

Prabhat Khabar is just the opposite. It has a regional identity and has grown with its own resources: which means that finance has come in a trickle. It owners are the Jhawars of Kolkata, who have till recently treated the newspaper with the same affection bestowed on an attractive bauble stored in the family locker: something nice to own.

Prabhat Khabar is editorially led with chief editor Harivansh (in picture, left) enjoying more freedom than others in his position do. The paper highlights problems of development and vigorously exposes corruption. It is positioned as a people’s daily and routinely needles governments.

“From Lalu Prasad Yadav‘s fodder scam to Madhu Koda‘s mining scandals, Prabhat Khabar has a long list of bold stories to its name. It has been a thorn in the thick hide of every chief minister.

“In times when the media is expected to provide celebratory editorial environments and keep advertisers happy, Prabhat Khabar has reported on hunger. It has gone in search of stories of poverty and deprivation. It has made it its business to show how governance has collapsed.

“Each year to mark the paper’s anniversary, Prabhat Khabar does a special issue on corruption. It lists projects big and small and says how much has been paid in illegal commissions.

“It is this model which was being put to test when the bigger, more commercially oriented Hindi dailies decided to enter the Jharkhand market. The fact that Prabhat Khabar has come out on top seems like proof that papers like it can succeed and that people want papers that speak for them.”

Image and photograph: courtesy Prabhat Khabar

Read the full story: Ranchi’s media war

ViewPrabhat Khabar e-paper

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