Posts Tagged ‘Google’

The man who hasn’t read a newspaper for 5 years

15 December 2012

Nikhil Pahwa, the editor and publisher of the media website Media Nama, is among the “37 Indians of tomorrow” in India Today magazine’s 37th anniversary issue.

The 29-year-old digital journalist paints a scary picture of the future for dead-tree media professionals who still latch on to the innocent belief that their word is gospel.

“The pace of growth and the spirit of the community in the digital industry is like a drug to me. I haven’t read a newspaper in the past five years. Twitter is my breakfast, Google is my lunch, and Facebook is my dinner,” says Pahwa.

India Today says Pahwa joined the website Freshlimesoda.com12 years ago and made 22 friends, none of whom he met. The site closed down in 2003 and Pahwa says he is still in touch with all of them.

Photograph: courtesy Pinterest

The many faces of Aakar Patel (as per Google)

8 December 2012

Aakar Prakaar

Google now has a search facility by which you can look up images of people by putting in an image in the search window.

This is what turns up when you look for Aakar Patel, at various times the executive editor of Mid-Day, columnist for Mint Lounge, Hindustan Times, Express Tribune, First Post and Open, and a talking head on CNN-IBN.

Just.

He said it: ‘Indian journalism is regularly second-rate’

Sacrilege! Mihir Sharma takes on P.Sainath

9 June 2012

As he exited the Indian Express last year as its most acerbic pen, the Harvard-educated economist Mihir S. Sharma launched into “adman” Suhel Seth in a long review of the latter’s book in The Caravan.

Now, at the Business Standard as the editor of its opinion pages, Sharma trains his guns at the Magsaysay award winning rural affairs editor of The Hindu, P. Sainath, mocking his selective use of internet search engines.

The provocation: Sainath’s recent piece attacking the profligacy of the deputy chairman of the planning commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia while expecting India’s poor to subsist on subhuman amounts of money:

“The government will get away with it, because of our perennial confusion between public and personal austerity, and our jaw-dropping incompetence with simple mathematics. Consider, for example, the recent attack on Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia by one Palagummi Sainath, famously the favourite journalist of Press Council Chairman Markandey Katju.

“For a widely-read column in The Hindu, Sainath Googled previous newspaper reports that Ahluwalia had spent Rs 2 lakh a day on some of his foreign trips, and that he had spent 274 days outside the country in his seven-year tenure. (He did not mention that Mr Ahluwalia was the point-man in India’s interaction with the G-20 in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Odd, I’m sure that’s Googleable.)

“Let’s assume that that’s excessive; and that Mr Ahluwalia and his delegation should have spent half that. That comes to an excess spending of Rs 40 lakh a year. This year’s fiscal deficit is more than a million times that sum. The folly of such ‘analysis’ is matched only by the cynicism of the UPA, which thinks that responding to laughable smears with its unpersuasive attempts at ‘austerity’ will answer genuine complaints about its profligacy with public funds.”

Read the full article: Austerity abuse

Also read: Suhel Seth shows why he is such a cute tweetiya

Montek Singh Ahluwalia gets a Padma for what?

Why hasn’t India thrown up a media mogul?

30 December 2011

Indian media houses, promoters and practitioners are gung-ho about foreign direct investment (FDI) in all sectors except the media, under the specious argument that the media is not a “commodity”, etc.

Media barons who justify the worst excesses of modern Indian media under the this-is-what-the-consumer-wants logic, somehow find it convenient to block FDI in media although this is also what the consumer might want.

Raghav Bahl, the founder of the heavily bleeding TV18 network (and reported to be considering a dalliance with Reliance Industries’s Mukesh Ambani), gives the protectionist argument some more air in a supplement brought out by the Indian Express, to explain why India hasn’t thrown up a media mogul:

“In India, thanks to the liberal FDI policies and the high proportion of English language speakers, a Google will come and set up base and then use this to gradually move into local Indian languages. In China, however, a Google can’t enter and you need a Baidu. So a Baidu will get market cap in China, while in India it will be Google or Facebook.

“The inroads global media firms have made in India is good from its citizen’s point of view but when it comes to creating value and scale for a local media firm, this is not good news…

“The largest Indian media firm Zee TV has a market cap of $2.5 billion—thats puny by global standards. Few Indian media firms can, for instance, buy a Newsweek but a Baidu can easily do this. Can I compete with a Google or Facebook? The only other company (other than Zee) to get scale of that sort is Network 18. UTV sold out and no newspaper has really created meaningful scale, But we have a market cap of just $300-400 million even after being the biggest to scale up and we have a very levereaged balance sheet because of this,…

“The short point is that India’s advantages for a thriving media industry will be disadvantageous for the Indian who dreams to become the next media mogul. For such an aspiration, countries with closed media markets, such as China, offer an advantage since this allows local firms to build up the capital base that is essential to becoming a serious player in the technology space, so vital to being a global media firm.”

External reading: Network 18: mega hotch-potch of companies

Also read: What the prime minister told Raghav Bahl

‘If we don’t get it first, why should we want it?’

What Raghav Bahl could learn from Samir Jain

Business journalism or business of journalism?

The endgame is near for TV18 and NDTV

Is this man the new media mogul of India?

A top-down salute to a bottom-up revolution

17 May 2011

What is the function of a “masthead”—nameplate, as some call it—in the modern era?

In the eyes of the traditionalists, the masthead is the calling card of the publication, sacrosanct, something that shouldn’t be touched because that is how readers recognise their morning poison.

Yes, if a newspaper is sold largely at the newsstand, but in a country where newspapers are largely delivered home by hawkers, does the reader, really notice the masthead every day? Or does he take it for granted?

The Times of India, like Google, merrily plays around with its masthead, incorporating images into it to celebrate festivals sometimes, and monetising it by selling it to advertisers on other occasions.

In the UK and USA, newspapers sometimes lower their masthead to announce big news. But how low can you go?

Above is the front page of The Telegraph, Calcutta, of 14 May 2011, the day after Mamata Banerjee‘s long march to “liberate” Bengal from the world’s longest democratically elected communist rule ended in her election, with the paper’s masthead at the rank bottom of the page.

Also read: Mastheads are no longer as sacred as they used to be

Selling the soul or sustaining the business?

‘Indians trust magazines* more than newspapers’

11 February 2011

Trust in the Indian media is down sharply by 15 percentage points over the last two years. One out of every two Indians distrusts what they read, see, and listen but—surprise, surprise, OK, no surprise, no surprise!—trust in magazines* is higher than for newspapers, TV news or radio.

These, in short, are the major highlights of the 2011 survey by Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm. The 11th such survey conducted, the media is the biggest loser in India among the four sectors surveyed, other three sectors being business, government and NGOs.

There were 5,075 respondents in 23 countries for the annual Edelman Trust Barometer. The India section of the survey was conducted between October 11 and November 24, 2010 before the Niira Radia tapes altered the perception of media personnel even more in the eyes of news consumers.

Trust in Indian magazines is at 95% against 93% for newspapers, 90% for TV news, and 81% for radio. The barometer reported a 25% dip in trust in business magazines and TV news, and a 21% dip in trust in newspapers, in 2009, in the wake of paid news, private treaties, medianet and other infirmities.

Online search engines like Google command 93% trust, indicating that most people prefer to search for the facts themselves and trust search engines to help them. Corporate communications such as press releases, reports, and emails show trust levels of 86%.

Interesting if true.

Two years ago, the national election survey 2009 by the Lokniti team of the centre for study of developing societies (CSDS) found that 45% Indians greatly trusted what they read in newspapers, and a similar number somewhat trusted newspaper reports.

* Disclosures apply

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

A pre-Google ‘Bomb Mama’ of nuclear prolificity

3 February 2011

The passing away of K. Subrahmanyam, the bureaucrat turned strategic affairs expert and journalist, at the age of 82 after a valiant battle with cancer, has provoked a flurry of warm tributes in newspapers.

The former Economic Times editor Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar, who brought “Subbu” into ET, recalls Subrahmanyam’s prolificity:

“Many journalists have trouble coming out with even two column ideas in a week, but Subrahmanyam wanted to write almost every day, so wide was his repertoire and so deep his enthusiasm.

“I once asked how he came up with so many ideas. He replied, ‘It’s easy. I just have to watch CNN or BBC and I get so angry that I have several things to say!'”

In The Times of India, which “Mr Subs” joined as a consulting editor after his retirement from the IAS in 1987, Jug Suraiya writes of the seniormost member of the edit page who earned the nickname “Bomb Mama”—an affectionate portmanteau encapsulating the Tamil Brahmin‘s hawkish advocacy of a nuclear India.

“Nuclear weapons are anti-life, and I believe in the sanctity of human life, I told Mr Subs once.

“‘Why do you restrict yourself to human life? Why not the sanctity of all life?” replied Mr Subs, who is a strict vegetarian, while I’m a peacenik carnivore with a queasy conscience.

“”Touche,” I said, ceding the intellectual and moral high ground to him.

Subrahmanyam, however, wrote in 2008 of the irony of The Times of India not taking up his offer to write the editorial the day India went nuclear in 1998:

“My colleagues, including the editor in charge of the editorial page, declined my offer. They told me that they were anti-nuclear and, therefore, the editorial would disapprove of the test. They knew I was in favour of India acquiring nuclear weapons and, therefore, I could not write the edit.

“I was amused at the irony of the situation. The same paper had provided me a powerful platform in the eighties to campaign for the nuclear option and in the nineties against India acceding to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Now when India conducted the tests and finally brought about the fulfilment of my three-decade-old campaign, I could not write the edit about the subject.

“Fortunately, at that stage I had a call from H. K. Dua, who was functioning as the editor of the paper. He not only asked me to write an article but also offered to feature it on the front page of the paper.”

In the Indian Express, the veteran political commentator and the former editor of The Times of India in Delhi, Inder Malhotra, writes of Subrahmanyam’s encyclopaedic knowledge:

“He was blessed with a phenomenal memory and an equally prodigious capacity for work. Whenever in doubt about any fact, I rang him up and, as a kind and gracious friend, he gave me the information I needed in a jiffy.”

The ToI tribute in the print edition quotes colleagues who worked with him as saying that, before Google, the one-stop information kiosk was Subbu:

“We joked about sending him to Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) and sharing his spoils. He would say, ‘But I will get stuck on film questions.’ You can always use phone-a-friend to call us, he was told.”

In The Hindu, Siddharth Varadarajan writes on the essence of Subrahmanyam, fast vanishing in modern-day journalism:

“For one who worked in government for many years, Subrahmanyam prized his independence which he saw as the key to his integrity. I have had three careers, he once said when asked why he had turned down the offer of a Padma Vibhushan — as a civil servant, a strategic analyst and a journalist.

“’The awards should be given by the concerned groups, not the Government. If there is an award for sports, it should be given by sportspersons, and if it’s for an artists, by artists.’ The state, he believed, was not qualified to judge different aspects of human endeavour.”

For one who was at the centre of many of India’s biggest events, “Bomb Mama” found himself become a bargaining chip for hijackers in 1984, an incident the Hindustan Times recalls:

“His reputation was such that in the 1984 hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight to Lahore, the hijackers tried to argue during their trial that Subrahmanyam’s presence on the aircraft proved New Delhi had engineered the whole thing so he could “examine Pakistan’s nuclear installations.”

External reading: B.G. Verghese on K. Subrahmanyam

It’s a no contest in a “keen contest” of headlines

7 January 2011

Vishwas Krishna forwards a Twitter link of the number of times The Hindu looks forward to a “keen contest on the cards”.

For the record, a Google search for “hindu.com keen contest on the cards” generates 1,930 results in 0.05 seconds.

Can only people of Indian origin save journalism?

18 May 2010

James Fallows, an instrument-rated pilot, onetime software programme designer, and a 25-year magazine veteran, has a important article in the June issue of The Atlantic Monthly on the efforts being made by Google™ to fix the news business after having played a stellar role in breaking it.

Google’s logic: we are all in it together. If news organisations producing great journalism wither away, the search engine will no longer have interesting stuff to link to.

In other words, Google’s initiative is part commercial, part civic.

Fallows talks to Google engineers and strategists and of the half-a-dozen people quoted in the article are three people of Indian origin: Krishna Bharat, the Bangalorean who founded Google News; Neal Mohan, who is in charge of working with publishers to develop online display ads; and Nikesh Arora, president of its global sales operations.

And to check whether Google’s efforts are beginning to pay off, Fallows troops down to The Washington Post and meets the company’s chief digital officer—Vijay Ravindran.

Read the full article: How to save the news

Also read: If we can send a man to the moon, why can’t we…?

James Fallows‘ commencement speech at Medill

GOOGLE: Experiment. Experiment. Experiment

11 March 2010

Stop cribbing, start innovating, Google economist-in-chief Hal Varian‘s advice to newspapers.
Varian arrives at some stunning conclusions: 1) Newspaper ad revenue is where was it ws in 1982 in inflation-adjusted dollars. 2) The medium with the largest increase in ad revenue since 1995 is cable TV, not the itnernet. 3) Online readership is only 3% of total readership in terms of time or pageviews. 4) Online revenue is only 5% of total newspaper revenue. 5) Time spent per online newspaper is a bit more than one minute per day, compared to 25 minutes per day for offline reading.
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