Posts Tagged ‘Hindustan Times’

Why Shobhana Bhartia was late for PM’s breakfast

12 April 2014

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As is only to be expected, a number of journalists figure in former Economic Times, Times of India and Financial Express journalist Sanjaya Baru‘s book ‘The Accidental Prime Minister‘ (Penguin), on his days as the PM’s media advisor.

But a few publishers and head honchos do too, including Prannoy Roy of NDTV, Samir Jain of The Times of India and his mother Indu Jain, and Shobhana Bhartia of Hindustan Times.

***

In May 2005, as the UPA approached its first anniversary, reports began to appear that the PM was reviewing the performance of his ministers.

On 9 May, when he was in Moscow, NDTV ran a story that external affairs minister Natwar Singh had secured a ‘low’ score on the PM’s ‘report card’ and was likely to be dropped from the Cabinet.

Natwar was most unhappy and took the day off on ‘health grounds’.

This news reached the PM in Moscow when he was in the midst of a briefing at his hotel. He asked me to find out what exactly NDTV had reported.

When I brief him he burst out angrily, ‘Tell Prannoy to stop reporting these lies.’

I called Prannoy Roy and had just begun speaking to him when the PM asked for my mobile phone and spoke to Prannoy himself, scolding him like he was chiding a student who had erred, saying, ‘This is not correct. You cannot report like this.’

Indeed, the relationship between him and Pranny was not that of a PM and senior media editor but more like that of a former boss and a one-time junior,. This was because Prannoy had worked as an economic adviser in the miistry of finance under Dr Singh.

After a few minutes, Prannoy called me back.

‘Are you still with him?’ he asked

I stepped out of the room and told him that I was now alone.

‘Boy, I have not been scolded like that since school! He sounded like a headmaster, not a prime minister,’ complained Prannoy.

***

Rupert Muroch (of Star TV and News Corp) tried a trick to secure an appointment (with the PM).

Having failed on one occasion to meet Dr Singh, he made a second attempt by letting it be known that he was not interested in talking about his media business. Rather, he wanted to talk about China.

The PM was amused and granted him an appointment. Murdoch did duscuss China and explained where he saw China going. But, as he got up to leave, he expressed the hope that the Indian government would be more receptive to his media plan than China had been.

***

Within the PMO, (former national security advisor) Mani Dixit’s imperious style inevitably came into conflict with my own more freewheeling and irreverent style of functioning.

Our first disagreement was on who could travel with the PM on his official plane.

Seeing the name of Times of India journalist Siddharth Varadarajan, who later served as editor of The Hindu, on the media list, Mani sent me a note informing me that Siddharth was not an Indian national but an American citizen and, as a foreign national, was not entitled to travel on the PM’s plane.

I was aware of Siddharth’s citizenship, since this matter had come up when I had hired him as an assistant editor of the Times of India.

I chose not to make an issue of it then and Samir Jain, vice chairman of Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd, the publishers of The Times of India, who took particular interest in the hiring of editorial writers, did not object either. Now the matter had surfaced again.

***

I arranged a series of breakfast meetings with important editors, publishers and TV anchors. As an early riser Dr Singh would schedule his breakfast meetings for half past eight being late to bed and late to rise, editors and TV anchors would protest but turn up on time.

When I invited a group of publishers, the only ones to arrive late were Shobhana Bhartia of Hindustan Times because, as she tole me, she took a long time to dry her hair and Indu Jain, chairperson of the Times of India, because she had to finish her morning puja.

Also read: Kuldip Nayar on Shekhar Gupta, N. Ram & Co

B.G. Verghese: a deep mind with a straight spine who stands tall

Vinod Mehta on Arun Shourie, Dileep Padgaonkar, et al

Jug Suraiya on MJ, SJ, Giri, Monu and Mama T

When Samir Jain served a thali, Vineet served a scoop

When your paper has six mastheads, it’s news

26 March 2014

It isn’t everyday that the front page of your newspaper also sports the mastheads of other newspapers, but this is how the front-page of the Hindustan Times looks today, as it announces an advertising tieup with the Ananda Bazaar Patrika group in Calcutta and the Hindu group in Madras.

A bunch of advertisers—Amul, Britannia, Fortune oil, Garnier, Godrej, ICICI, Kellogg’s, Marico, Morgan Stanley—have even pledged support as “advertising partners”.

HT calls the move a historic first although a similar plan for classified ads in the early 2000s, when newspapers first began feeling the impact of The Times of India‘s predatory practises, came kaput. Then Eenadu of Hyderabad and Deccan Herald of Bangalore were partners.

The “One India” plan has been registered as a trademark™, although one of India’s oldest portals oneindia.in has been around for years now.

Oddly, the announcement is a flanking jacket advertisement in HT, it isn’t so in The Telegraph or The Hindu.

Also read: When journo dedicates book to journo, it’s news

When a Delhi journo joins New Yorker, it’s news

When an editor draws a cartoon, it’s news

If The Economist looks at Tamil News, it’s news

When a stringer beats up a reporter, it’s news

When the gang of four meets at IIC, it’s news

When a politician weds a journalist, it’s news

When a magazine editor marries a starlet, it’s news

When dog bites dog, it’s news—I

When dog bites dog, it’s news—II

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.

***

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

***

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

The media Marwari who’s a ‘proper Tam-Brahm’

8 March 2014

goenka

After a long period away from the arclights, Viveck Goenka, the scion of one of India’s most influential newspapers, The Indian Express, is slowly bouncing into the main frame.

He is now playing an increasingly hand’s-on role at his own paper, making key decisions; is seen at media events, is making his presence felt on industry bodies—and is starting to give interviews.

In his first formal powwow in 20 years, in a special issue on Marwaris in the business magazine Forbes India, the chairman of the Express group, talks fondly of his grandfather, the late Ramnath Goenka, and even poses with his son Anant Goenka in a photograph (above) in the paper’s presses.

Viveck Goenka tells Forbes India:

# “Ramnathji taught us never to compromise on editorial values and freedom… to be fearless and not to be aligned to any political party. I have had a whole lot of people threatening me.”

# “There was one thing clear about Ramnathji. ‘If I have an end-goal, I don’t care how I reach that…’ I agree with him but not everyone does.”

# “I see myself as a proper Tamilian Brahmin [Goenka grew up in Tamil Nadu], that’s my upbringing.”

***

The chairperson and editorial director of Hindustan Times, Shobhana Bhartia; Subhash Chandra and his son Punit Goenka of Zee; Gulab Kothari and his sons Nihar Kothari and Siddharth Kothari of Rajasthan Patrika, are the other media Marwaris featured.

The interviews give an inside view of the austere and conservative business and management ethic of the original media Marwaris, which later generations are eagerly dismantling.

# Shobhana Bhartia: “When we started innovative advertisements, my father [K.K. Birla] was taken aback. ‘No, we can’t do this. You can’t affect page one, can’t place something in the middle of it.’ I can understand that his generation was not used to these things. He felt colour pages would be more like a comic book.”

# Anant Goenka: “[As a Marwari, I have] an inherent drive to spend wisely and to build wealth. Whether large or small, [the 2,500 sq ft bachelor pad he bought after running up hefty hotel bills] is our own. It’s a Marwari thing. We are obsessed with appreciation.”

# Punit Goenka: “It is clear that we are in the business to make money; we are not here for charity or for building power or influence.”

# Gulab Kothari: “If you borrow money for growth, I believe you can’t reverse that decision. The question is, do I give my children 100 per cent of the business or leave them to deal with an outsider who I sold a stake to? My view is, expand less and gradually… we don’t need to jump the gun by taking debt.”

The Marwaris who own The Times of India group, Dainik Bhaskar and Dainik Jagran “did not participate in the story or were not available”.

Photograph: courtesy Forbes India

Also readWhen Samir served a thali, Vineet served a scoop

‘Zee is the only news channel making money’

On TV, Congress loses to BJP, Left loses to AAP

25 February 2014
yechury

Sitaram Yechury addressing the Left rally in Hissar, but without the “Jimmy Jib” cameras

The point has been made before, that the current political coverage, especially on television, is more than somewhat skewed, tilting unabashedly towards Narendra Damodardas Modi of the BJP vis-a-vis Rahul Gandhi of the Congress.

Now, the CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechuri explicates it a bit more in the Hindustan Times, comparing the TV coverage of Arvind Kejriwal‘s Aam Aadmi Party vis-a-vis the Left parties and unions.

“Two days ago, the Left held a Haryana-level people’s rally for a political alternative at Hissar. On the same day, AAP held a rally called much after the Left rally announcement at nearby Rohtak. The latter was widely covered by the corporate media while the former was hardly mentioned notwithstanding larger participation.

“This is not surprising. Earlier, when Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement was on in the Capital, over two lakh workers organised by the central trade unions had converged at Parliament against corruption and price rise. While the former hogged 24/7 media coverage, the latter hardly found any mention.

“Clearly, for the corporate media, a so-called ‘morally’ upright alternative that does not adversely affect profit maximisation is always better than an alternative that aims at improving people’s livelihood while not excessively promoting profit maximisation!”

For the record, though, Kejriwal launched into the media at the Rohtak rally, inviting a statement from the editors guild of India.
Photograph: courtesy Ganashakti
Read the full article: Sitaram Yechuri in HT
Also read: Is Modi media biased against Rahul Gandhi?

 How Narendra Modi buys media through PR

Modi‘s backers and media owners have converged’

‘Network18′s multimedia Modi feat, a promo’

When B.G. Verghese is drawn into row, it’s news

24 February 2014

Nobody is safe in the treacherous minefield that is Jammu & Kashmir. Not even B.G. Verghese.

The Magsaysay Award-winning editor of the Hindustan Times, who was sacked from the Birla-owned paper when he stated that Indira Gandhi‘s annexation of Sikkim was “less than proper” —and a welcome voice of sobriety in a mediascape populated by shriekers and attention-seekers—has been draw into a messy debate by a retired Kashmiri government officer.

Syed Mohammed Yasin, the former deputy commissioner of Kupwara, where 32 Kashmiri between 13 and 60 years of age were raped by Army men in 1991, tells the Kashmir Reader today, that the Press Council of India (PCI) team, which Verghese headed, did not do its job properly by giving a clean chit to the men in uniform.

“Yasin said the Press Council of India team led by senior journalist B.G. Varghese, which later gave a clean chit to the Army, had asked him to “save the soldiers in the national interest.”

“I told him (Varghese) ‘are you not ashamed of what your Army has done in Kunan-Poshpora?’

However, he started threatening me and my family. Even the Special Secretary tried to persuade me to close the case. However, I refused to do so. Later, I was transferred from one place to another but I never comprised over my report.”

Also read: A deep mind with a straight spine who stands tall

As the year ends, a lament for the media

How Arun Shourie slighted B.G. Verghese et al

Ex-journo who lords over a Rs 3,000 crore empire

29 January 2014

mailtoday

Mail Today, the tabloid daily from the India Today group, reports today on Ravindra Kishore Sinha, the Patna businessman worth Rs 3,000 crore who is about to gain entry into India’s most exclusive club, the Rajya Sabha, courtesy the BJP.

Sinha, who runs a security firm called SIS, has declared his net assets at Rs 564 crore, while his spouse has declared Rs 230 crore.

“A self-made man, the 62-year-old leader started his career as a trainee journalist with The Searchlight and Pradeep (now defunct) dailies in Patna in 1971. He quit his job in 1974.

“In the course of his job, he was assigned to cover the Bangladesh war, where he came in contact with some army men who inspired him to set up his maiden entrepreneurial venture, SIS, for the ex-servicemen.

“With a paltry sum of Rs 250, Sinha launched his business and went on to script the proverbial rags-to-riches tale with his sharp business acumen.”

For the record, The Searchlight, which was launched by a group of luminaries led by Syed Hasan Imam, built its reputation as an “anti-colonial newspaper“.

Its first editor was a Muslim, Syed Haidar Husain, and its rolls later boasted of such stellar names as T.J.S. George, who later founded Asiaweek magazine in Hong Kong.

The paper was published from 1918 to 1986, before it was subsumed by the Birla-owned Hindustan Times. India’s first President, Dr Rajendra Prasad, was a founder-director of The Searchlight.

Photograph: courtesy Mail Today

Read the full report: India’s richest MP

Also read: Forbes can now name India’s second richest woman

12 media barons worth Rs 2,962, 530,000,000

‘Tarun Tejpal was trapped in a skin not his own’

25 November 2013

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Former Outlook* publisher, Maheshwar Peri, who now runs Pathfinder Media, the magazine company which publishes Careers 360, on his friend and former colleague Tarun J. Tejpal**.

***

MaheshPeri

By MAHESH PERI

The stupidity of our nation gets greatly exposed with the extreme reactions to Tarun J. Tejpal—the cult following of his journalism at one end, and the lynch mobs baying for his blood, following the outing of his sexual escapades, at the other.

Tarun comes across as a sexual predator, on the prowl, in search of his next victim. He used his power and influence over young women half his age. The girl is his daughter’s friend and his friend’s daughter.

However, this should not take away some of the most seminal work that the journalists of Tehelka have done over the years.

***

Tarun’ s story in itself is an alchemy of desire. He was like most of us: chirpy, fun-loving, naughty. However, post Tehelka, he donned the robe of a saint. He became preachy and started espousing causes that he never stood for and never could.

He was nothing that the nation started acknowledging him for.

He was a normal guy with all the flaws, fallacies and weaknesses.

It was a facade he had to put on for the survival of Tehelka, which was losing money, each year. Only the power exuded by Tehelka could make it viable.

He glorified himself when not due. He “owned” the company when the money came from others. He acted the hero while he was just a team member.The existence of Tehelka is not just because of Tarun.

Tehelka exists because of:

1) The financial contributions of many citizens, celebrities and most importantly [the banker] Shankar Sharma, and,
2) The work of Aniruddha Bahal and Ashish Khetan.

If Tarun’s lofty objective was to start a not-for-profit free and aggressive media enterprise, he could have made all contributors as shareholders. He crowd-funded Tehelka but did not part with ownership. The new shareholders include K.D. Singh, a Trinamul Congress MP, who bought his way into Rajya Sabha.

Any intelligent person should have cried foul then.

It is too late now.

***

Sometime in 2009 when my fledgling publication wrote against an educational institution with doubtful credentials, we got into a lot of trouble.

Editors like Aditya Sinha (New Indian Express), Vir Sanghvi (Hindustan Times), Shekhar Gupta (Indian Express) personally supported us.

We were going through multiple cases and draining all our resources.

When Tehelka decided to do a story to the subject, we were too happy. Who can espouse the cause of investigative journalism better? Only till we got the questions from the journalist. We realised that it was a story being done on behalf of the institution to throw insinuations at us.

I was very upset because I knew Tarun personally but for him, it didn’t matter. We responded professionally, sticking to facts. I dared them to do a story despite the facts. It was no coincidence that the dubious institution is Tehelka‘s biggest advertiser taking all its back covers.

The story never appeared, because our response didn’t leave any gaps. And the owner of the institution was at the THINK fest in Goa, rubbing shoulders with the then HRD minister Kapil Sibal and gained access to a ministry that should have punished him.

Kapil Sibal later attended a special screening of a movie produced by this institution, and the picture was advertised/showcased all over to unsuspecting parents and students. For me, THINK became a place which conducted an orgy over social issues.

I stopped following it.

***

This is not just about Tarun.

It is about abuse of power, by a journalist, an editor and a man. A self-styled messiah. Each time, they believe they can get away with unfair demands, they push the envelope further.

People in power with no humility can destroy like nothing else. The desires, fantasies and a coterie is a very potent combination.Tarun is a victim of his own facade, fantasies and greed. He was never what he was portrayed, then and now. He was never a saint and neither can he be a rapist.

He is trapped in a skin not his own. We couldn’t stop people from hailing him as God, as much as we cannot stop them from calling him a devil.

Alas. It is too late now.

* Disclosures apply

** This comment was first posted by the author on Facebook

Photographs: courtesy Karamchand Jena, and Campaign India

Also read: Tarun J. Tejpal steps aside as editor of Tehelka

Life yourselves up, dearie, or get into my elevator

POLL: Is sexual harassment rampant in Indian media?

Online petition to protect Tehelka journalist’s privacy

***

Tarun Tejpal on the five facets of his life

How Congress regime stepped in to help Tehelka

A magazine, a scam, a owner & his Goan house

NYT, WSJ weigh on Tehelka‘s Goa controversy

Tehelka promoter says he didn’t turn off FW tap

’50-60% China coverage in TOI, HT adversarial’

11 November 2013

A six-month study of India-China coverage in the top-two English newspapers in New Delhi shows that between 50 and 60 per cent of the stories are of adversarial nature, “establishing a pattern of clear negative China coverage”.

The Delhi editions of The Times of India and the Hindustan Times, both of which have correspondents based in Beijing, were surveyed by Debasish Roy Choudhury, who works for the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

“Though a substantial part of their coverage is also neutral, even peaceable, the numerically dominant frames are clearly antagonistic. These frames identify China as an aggressive power… and convey remedies such as arming, border build-up and alliances with other powers. The adversarial frame is propagated through other kinds of stories as well where the general tone is conflictual….

“A closer look at how China is portrayed in top English-language papers can broadly be taken as a proxy for how it is generally portrayed in Indian newspapers….

“English-language dailies do not all follow a consistent line or pattern of coverage on any subject. For example, The Hindu, a hugely respected and highly circulated paper in southern India with an edition in Delhi, and The Telegraph, a comparatively smaller paper but the market leader in eastern India, are noticeably conciliatory and balanced in overall tone towards China, and differ substantially from the China coverage of, say, the Times of India. “

In a story in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, where he works as a business news editor, Roy Chowdhury quotes the veteran jurist A.G. Noorani.

“Shrill, jingoistic and embarrassing,” is how A.G. Noorani describes Indian media’s China reportage. “Every now and then the media breaks into a patriotic frenzy over anonymously sourced reports of border violations without bothering to explain the intricacies of our tangled frontiers.”

Infographics: courtesy Debasish Roy Choudhury

Also read: Role of the press in India-China relations

China Daily hands back occupied areas to India

Hu, Wen and why China scorns Indian media

Media freedom is what separates India from China

Rupert Murdoch on India, China and democracy

The Hindu had a discernible pro-China tilt on Tibet’

The Hindu‘ and a scribe who was told to ‘shut up’

EPW tears into TV’s ‘hawks, hotheads, hysteria’

Why do academics look down on journalists?

29 October 2013

Renuka Narayanan makes a case for journalism in the Hindustan Times:

“There is that palpable feeling that the profession of journalism is not always given its due by academics, administrators and those with professional degrees, as though their jobs are more foundational to the race.

“Is it not correct however that many tenets and rules of the law spring from religion, which itself springs from story – call it journalism or fiction, according to your view – from the fact that ‘once upon a time’ somebody or the other said “It happened this way…”?

“Communities, societies and nations, the quotidian lives of millions and the politics of any number of countries are based on and governed by what those long-ago journalists, writers, editors, compilers, translators and pamphleteers put out in their time into the public domain.”

Read the full story: Possibly the strongest relationship on earth

Also read: Congratulations, we have the worst job on earth

A happy new year to all you psychopaths!

The ten worst jobs on earth

Eight reasons journalism is best profession

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