Posts Tagged ‘JoJo’

How The Times of India went after N. Srinivasan

3 June 2013

toi

ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: Depending on what you expect of your newspaper, either The Times of India played just the right role in the N. Srinivasan matter: proactively taking up an issue that concerns a “nation of a billion-plus”, right up to the very end, even if it did not secure the end it would have liked.

Or, it plainly overdid it, to the exclusion of all else, eventually falling flat on its face.

Over a 13-day period beginning May 22, ToI ran 87 pieces (outside of general BCCI/IPL pieces) with the BCCI president exclusively in focus and almost all of them either demanding, provoking or predicting the end for Srinivasan following his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan‘s arrest in the alleged IPL betting scandal involving Vindoo Dara Singh.

Among these 87 pieces were seven editorials, mini-editorials and opinion pieces, five interviews, and four cartoons.

It even launched a public service advertising campaign (below) midway through the campaign.

toi

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ToI‘s hunt for Srinivasan’s head—which even as of today is far removed from the original IPL spotfixing scam involving S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan—began on May 22, the day it launched its “I Lead India” campaign with the poser: “Do you feel you can be a changemaker?”

But it was only on May 28, the day after Srinivasan told a BCCI meeting in Calcutta that he would not resign following his son-in-law’s arrest for his purported involvement in betting, that the ToI coverage took on a more aggressive, advocacy air—eerily reminiscent of the paper’s Commonwealth Games campaign—urging board members, politicians and other sportspersons to speak up or quit to bring pressure on Srinivasan to do the same.

In making the murky BCCI saga its bread, butter, jam and marmalade day after day for 13 days, The Times of India relegated more important but less reader-friendly stories, like the massacre of Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh at the hands of Maoists to the inside pages.

# On May 26, the day after the Chhattisgarh massacre in which 28 people perished, the story was second-lead (as indeed in the Hindustan Times).

# Srinivasan’s fate was the lead ToI story on each of the 13 days; in contrast, the Chhattisgarh ambush found a front-page mention only on four days.

# Altogether, ToI ran 29 stories on Chhattisgarh as opposed to 87 on Srinivasan alone.

# Four times, ToI invoked the name of India Cements, Srinivasan’s company (“India Cements stocks hit 52-week low”, “India Cements brand to take a hit”, “India Cements disowns Meiyappan”, “India Cements underperform peers”) to drive home its point on Srinivasan.

# On May 29, ToI rounded up 30 talking heads seeking Srinivasan’s ouster.

The role of Times Now in drumming up the anti-Srinivasan mood is outside of this quantitative analysis, but with Srinivasan only “stepping aside” for a month at the end of all the sound and fury signifying nothing, the newsworthiness of the Times campaign is open to question.

Below are the Times of India‘s 87 headlines, graphics straplines, intros, editorials, mini-editorials, cartoons, interviews involving Srinivasan over the 13-day period.

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May 22

Lead story: IPL fixing scandal could reach the top

Team-owner’s relative [Gurunath Meiyappan] under lens

Phone records link him with betting syndicate

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May 23

Lead story: Police prepare to question BCCI chief’s son-in-law for betting links Day after TOI‘s report, CSK boss Gurunath Meiyappan elusive

BCCI chief mum on Meiyappan role

Editorial: Clean the Stables

A school dropout, Guru tried to build career in Srinivasan shadow

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May 24

Cops land at BCCI chief’s family’s doorstep Srinivasan’s son-in-law gets summons, seeks time

[CSK] Team boss lost a crore on bets: Vindoo

BCCI brass faces fixing heat

Rules did not stop him from wearing two hats Industry captain and BCCI power player

From Board chief, the silent treatment

Srinivasan also under CBI lens in Jagan Mohan Reddy assets case

BCCI chief may use his clout

Interview: ‘Those at the top in BCCi should resign': Lalit Modi

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May 25

Guru arrested, Srinivasan may lose crown

After hours of grilling, cops say BCCI chief’s son-in-law ‘involved in offence’

Srinivasan rejects growing calls for resignation, threatens to ‘fix’ media

Interview: It’s either Srinivasan or Sahara, says Subroto Roy

India Cements shares at 52-week low

India Cements disowns Gurunath

Is Srini trying to insulate CSK?

Law catches up with the son-in-law

Srinivasan should quit right away, say voices in the BCCI

Interview: A.C. Muthiah has a go at his arch-enemy

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May 26

Real final: Srinivasan vs Rest of India

Ouster plan: first nudge, then shove

‘I won’t be bulldozed into quitting, media unfair': Srinivasan

Graphic: 3/4 majority to remove President

Strapline: Someone’s stepping down

Cricket fans should bat for a change

BCCI prez may manage to stay on

Law will take its course: Board chief on son-in-law Srini meets Meiyappan’s lawyers

‘Brand India Cements to take a hit’

IPL needs to cleanse itself from within

Former stars want BCCI prez to go

Srini men start lobbying, Shukla meets Jagmohan Dalmiya in Kolkata

Interview: ‘It was a huge mistake to bring Srinivasan into administration': A.C. Muthiah

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May 27

Weak-kneed BCCI falls in line as Srinivasan flatly refuses to walk

Strapline: Chief says he is above board

Editorial: The darkest hour—Srinivasan must quit, followed by the overthrow of cricket’s absentee landlord and revamp of BCCI

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May 28

Lead story: Why are they silent?

Cartoon: He is taking bets on who’s going to be the first to resign

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May 29

Lead story: Jyotiraditya Scindia becomes first neta in BCCI to say Srinivasan should resign

Strapline: Across fields, Board boss under fire ‘Time for him to go’

Talking heads with 30 voices

Interview: Srinivasan holds power and wields it: Kishore Rungta

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May 30

Lead story: Finally, Rajiv Shukla and Arun Jaitley say they too want Srinivasan out

Cracks widen in BCCI, even treasurer Ajay Shirke says he would have quit

Strapline: Chorus against Board boss swells

Six talking heads

Srini still has the numbers to hang on

Cheating case filed against Srinivasan

Strapline: Wheels within wheels

Minieditorial: calling for resignation

Jaitley, Shukla asked defiant Srini to quit; BCCI chief said ‘Not in my nature’

Third edit: The Sons-in-law factor, by Bachi Karkaria

Edit page piece: Rip the veil of silence, by Ayaz Memom

May the foes be with you: all the president’s men are fair-weather friends

The endgame has begun

Dalmiya denies he asked Srinivasan not to resign

No one in BCCI asked for his resignation: Shirke

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May 31

Lead story: Majority now against Srinivasan, can call BCCI meet to remove him

Strapline: Board boss on a turning pitch

How Srini gave himself a life term

Srini’s conflict of interest hearing from July 16

Cartoon: I’m going to hang on to this post as long as I want

India Cements underperform peers

Anti-Srini camp won’t wait for probe

19 talking heads on which way board meet will go

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June 1

Lead story: Game all but over for Srinivasan

Six days after BCCI boss declared he had board’s unanimous support, he’s running out of partners His no.2 and no. 3 quit, several more top officials to follow suit

Cartoon: Punchline: The best spot-fixer I’ve seen—he’s so fixed to the spot that no one can get him away from it

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June 2

Lead story: Srini sets terms for exit, BCCI members unwilling to play ball

Strapline: His four demands

Mini editorial

Srinivasan wanted Shukla to go too

Advertisement: “To run sports in India you don’t need to be good in games, only in gamesmanship”

Srinivasan vs ICC

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June 3

Lead story: Match result: all out for no loss

Srinivasan to ‘step aside': some say it’s a face-saver for him, others call it an anti-climax and a sham

Strap line: Will he really sit it out?

Editorial: nation dismayed: BCCI’s credibility lies in tatters as India’s cricket fans are sold a lemon

For Srini, a strategic time out

‘Nobody dared ask Srini to quit, only he spoke for first 40 minutes’

Cartoon: I’ve stepped aside

Srini shot down Shashank Manohar‘s name

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Infographic and advertisement: courtesy The Times of India

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Also read: The Times of India and Commonwealth Games

107 headlines from TOI on Commonwealth Games

How The Times of India pumped up Team Anna

POLL: The biggest news story of last 175 years?

23 April 2013

The Times of India, formerly known as The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, has kickstarted its 175th anniversary—its dodransbicentennial—celebrations.

Under the rubric “Leading change for 175 years”, R.K. Laxman‘s iconic dhoti-clad Man from Matunga under goes a partial makeover, with one half wearing jeans and goggles.

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On its website, ToI has launched a microsite and there is even a poll on the biggest news story of the last 175 years.

Editorial director Jaideep Bose aka JoJo has a signed piece in the paper, and there will be a full page of archival material in the paper each week for the next one year.

Writes JoJo:

“The fact that this paper has grown from a single edition of a few thousand copies to some 50 editions with a circulation of close to five million — the largest in the world for any English newspaper by a long margin — speaks of its ability to divine the ever-changing mood of this chaotic, contradictory and creative superpower-in-waiting, which lives in many centuries all at once.

“Which big brand in India (and how many globally) can claim to have been around 175 years ago and grown the way The Times of India has? We are often asked, how do you do it?

“The secret, we believe, lies in being contemporary and relevant — the “Old Lady of Boribunder” remains young at heart, nimble on her feet, and razor-sharp up there. Incredibly proud though we are of our heritage, we don’t sail solely on it, but work continually to leave behind a legacy even more iconic than the one we’ve inherited.”

‘Every big story in last 3 years broken by TOI’

15 October 2012

The front-page of the launch edition of Ei Samay, the new Bengali newspaper launched by The Times of India group, in Calcutta, on Mahalaya, the first day of Dasara 2012.

The first day’s issue comprises a 32-page main broadsheet section, a 32-page supplement, and an 8-page tabloid section titled O Samay.

The main section has an eight-page wrapper before the actual newspaper (above) begins. The front page of the paper carries the tagline “Dugga, Dugga” (colloquial for ‘Durga, Durga’, a traditional invocation when embarking on a new endeavour) with the kicker at the bottom reading: opening the window to a new world.

Pages 2 and 3 carry an introduction by Ei Samay editor Suman Chattapodhyay, against the backdrop of a giant cartoon. Chhattopadhyay’s interview with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee gets crossmedia play in The Times of India.

TOI’s Calcutta edition has an introduction titled ‘A Second Homecoming” penned by its editorial director, Jaideep Bose:

Ei Samay will open the windows to brave new thoughts and trends from around the globe even as it celebrates the best of Bengal. It will be intelligent, enlightened and insightful without being dense or inaccessible. It will probe beyond the pedestrian ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘what’ to ask ‘why’ and ‘how’. It will bring alive the drama and excitement of social, economic and political life by providing context and perspective, nuance and texture. It will track a society in transition and anticipate critical inflection points so that its readers are better prepared for tomorrow’s world today.

“It will not sugarcoat the truth, however bitter – almost every big story that has grabbed national headlines in the last three years has been broken by The Times of India. But it will also shine the light on tales of hope and heroism, because there is an army of remarkable people out there doing wonderful deeds to change the lives of the less-privileged, often without any expectation of gain or recognition.”

The launch of a Bengali paper pits the Times group in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with market-leader, Ananda Bazaar Patrika, which recently launched a tabloid newspaper titled Ei Bela to protect the flagship newspaper. The two groups are already engaged in a battle for the English market through ToI and The Telegraph.

Images: courtesy The Times of India

Read the full introduction: A second homecoming

Also read: The grandmother of all newspaper battles

Buy our newpaper: get a Harley-Davidson free!

Times, Telegraph and the Bengali paper wars

The new kid on the block announces an eclipse

Then and Now: How TOI covered the Tata change

24 November 2011

There is a change at the top of Bombay House, the headquarters of the Tatas, and the manner in which it is covered by Bombay’s biggest media house, The Times of India, is illustrative of how much journalism has changed, and how much the way journalists look at business news has changed, in the last 20 years.

On top is the ToI news item announcing the appointment of Ratan N. Tata as the chairman, 20 Octobers ago, succeeding J.R.D. Tata. Below is today’s ToI front page, announcing the appointment of Ratan Tata’s successor, Cyrus P. Mistry.

# Then, the news of the appointment was not the lead story, it was probably second lead on columns 6,7 and 8, continued on “turn page”. Now, the news of the appointment earns lead story status. Business news is no longer anathema.

# Then, when print was king and television was not commonplace, the news of the appointment was conveyed as is in the headline. Now, with television and internet having broken the news 12 hours earlier, the lead headline is a smart pun.

# Then, the front-page picture was larger than the two tiny mugshots now. Interestingly, the 1981 picture had both the outgoing chairman and incoming chairman in one frame. Not so in the tightly controlled media atmosphere of 2011.

# Then, bylines were mostly anonymous. “By Our City Editor” was shorthand for our business editor, probably the veteran D.G. Gupte. On today’s front page, there are at least three bylines: Reeba Zacharaiah, Boby Kurien, Namrata Singh.

# Then, it was just news of the change. Now, there is plenty of backgrounding (“Why Cyrus? How he swung the vote”, “The Mistry connection”) plus a colour piece on his hobbies (“Avid golfer & foodie, avoids cocktail circuit”). Bollywood also sneaks into today’s front page with the slug “Being Cyrus”.

# Then, it was all black white, now there is a profusion of colour, although much of the colour now appears in the typography in the info-box in the absence of a good picture. Then it was just one story, now it is four stories, an infobox, two quotes and five pointers.

The Times of India‘s blanket coverage is also interesting because the paper was blacklisted twice during the outgoing chairman Ratan Tata. Once in protest at ToI’s coverage of the Tata Finance scandal, and then against the backdrop of the Niira Radia tapes, which proved to be a public relations disaster for the group.

Images: courtesy The Times of India

Also read: Why Ratan Tata hired Niira Radia

Have the Tatas blacklisted Times of India again?

Everybody loves a nice mutual admiration club

Four lessons in journalism from Tata’s chief PRO

Ravi Dhariwal: Reader is king, reader is the CEO

12 November 2011

Ravi Dhariwal, the chief executive officer of The Times of India group, on why Indian newspapers still continue to be successful unlike in western markets.

“Coming from an FMCG background, fundamentally the first thing that I look at is, is it good for our consumers? Is it good for our advertisers and customers? The traditional publishing world was very different, it first thought of itself rather than the reader or the advertiser. That mindshift is extremely important.

“We exist because we have a reader; we exist because the guy who pays our bills is our advertiser. Therefore we need to be constantly attuned to them rather than just sitting in our ivory tower and saying, this is what we believe is important and this is what I am going to give to you.

“We [in ToI] are extremely fortunate to have editors who understand this and we have been able to make them understand this. They constantly talk to consumers and they are constantly in the market just to figure out what is really important, what is bubbling, what is good for our readers to know.

“To us the reader is the CEO, I am not the CEO.”

External reading: ‘Our paper isn’t for editors; it’s for readers’

Thrice bitten, will FT find love after 20 years?

4 May 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: For a newspaper that likes to think it is the handbook for global executives on how to run their businesses, Financial Times hasn’t quite had a textbook entry into India.

Twenty years ago, when the doors of the economy were opened ajar and the rumours of the iconic British business newspaper being published from India gained steam, The Times of India group tripped FT by launching a weekly supplement to The Economic Times, mischievously calling it Financial Times. A long courtroom battle over trademark violation ensued between the two groups.

Boxed into a corner, FT got into a tieup with what was then India’s no. 2 business newspaper, Business Standard, becoming the first foreign company to make a major investment in Indian media. FT‘s representatives sat in the BS news and board rooms, but that relationship went sour in 2008, with FT divesting its 13.85% stake in the paper.

Three years ago, rumours of Raghav Bahl‘s Network 18 launching the India edition of FT hit the roof, with rumours of then ToI executive editor Jaideep Bose being wooed to head the operation. ToI again hit back, retaining “Jojo”, as Bose is known, and elevating him to editorial director. The global downturn also helped put the project in cold freeze.

Today, the Indian Express group of Viveck Goenka, which owns the Financial Express, has announced a “content partnership” with the Financial Times, exactly two years to the day after it started printing a facsimile edition of FT‘s rival, The Wall Street Journal.

“In addition to daily news and features from the Financial Times, readers will benefit from access to reporting from FT bureaus around the world and columns by eminent writers such as Martin Wolf, Lucy Kellaway and Simon Schama,” reads a front-page announcement in the Express.

Express is already in a similar “content partnership” with The Economist, which is half-owned by Pearson, the publishers of FT, publishing a co-branded page a day.  The Rupert Murdoch-owned WSJ, besides printing its editions in Express presses, is in a “partnership” with Mint, the business daily owned by the Hindustan Times.

Thrice bitten, will Financial Times find lasting love in relationship no. 4 with the Express group? And will the consummation of the marriage see the birth of FT in the 20th year of reforms? More to the point, is there an unseen hand, with nascent interests in news television, behind the Express-Economist-FT partnership?

When Samir served a thali, Vineet served a scoop

15 April 2011

SHARANYA KANVILKAR writes from Bombay: As it approaches its dosquicentennial, India’s biggest English language newspaper, The Times of India, truly deserved a meticulous biography to tell the world on “what goes on inside this amazing media machine”.

Sadly, Bachi Karkaria‘s Behind the Times (Times Books, 325 pages) is not that.

Poorly structured, poorly sourced and poorly edited, Karkaria’s is an airy tribute to the war-room surgeons who botoxed the Old Lady of Boribunder into a sassy lass, but it airbrushes the foot soldiers in the trenches, on whose sweat, toil and guard stands “The Masthead of India” across the nation.

As Karkaria’s creation “Alec Smart” would have said:

Marwadiya! It’s a bloody Parsimonious salute, dikri!”

Yet, despite its Bombay Gym view of Dadabhoy Naoroji road, Behind the Times has its moments in demystifying some of the myths built around its formidable helmsmen— the brothers Samir Jain and Vineet Jain—and in humanising a gigantic group.

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On SAMIR JAIN, vice-chairman (VC): On the international Response (advertising) conferences—holidays really—the participants not only wallowed in VC’s generosity, they also learnt about cost consciousness from him. Once Indira Deish [of Times Response], while taking her room key, instructed the receptionist to give her a wake up call, and send a pot of bed tea with it. She felt a tap on her shoulder, turned around and saw VC. “He put his hand into his suit pocket, pulled out something, and put it in my palm. It was a couple of tea bags. After that, I always carried a box of these, and ordered only hot water. I learnt the value of thrift.”

Much earlier Indira learnt a similar lesson during the sesquicentennial celebrations in Delhi where she was part of the reception team. At the accompanying dinners, Samir Jain taught us “never to change a plate mid-meal. It unnecessarily added to the caterer’s bill.”

Thrift lesson #3 came from a regular office advice. Samir Jain, preempting the later global fashion, sent detailed instructions on how to recycle, reuse, and refuse to waste. He made it a ‘criminal offence’ to send a fax on a letterhead. The ‘grains’ pixelation of the printed header added three minutes more to the transmission time; so it was far more economical to photocopy and then fax….

Mahendra Swarup was inducted to bring his global marketing skills to Vineet’s baby Times Internet Limited. Before formally starting he naturally had to meet Samir Jain. Swarup had been struck by flu, but he went anyway at the appointed time to Jain House at 6, S.P. Marg, then still the whole family’s address.

If he had been less of a newbie, he would have postponed the meeting because Samir Jain is extremely susceptible to colds, and immediately dispenses with anyone with the slightest sniffle. However, Swarup recalled an extremely solicitous Samir Jain not dispensing with him, but dispensing medication. He summoned a minion to bring out an array of ayurvedic pills and potions, and discussed their various powers. And that was the sum total of the 40-minute ‘interview’. Later in the day, he even sent more vials to Swarup’s house….

For Swarup [who came from Pepsi], the early differentiator between the MNC and VC styles was the dining table. “Whenever we were at lunch, he observed what I relished in the lavish thali, and what I was ignoring. He told me what was good for me, and what I shouldn’t eat. Not just that, he served me personally. And would often show up at my house followed by the driver staggering in with a large hot-case. He’d say, “Mahendraji, aaj aap ki favourite kadhi banayi thi.”

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On VINEET JAIN, managing director (MD): Vineet Jain rolls up his sleeves—-meticulously in v. neat folds—and buckles down to the nitty-gritty in all the media that exercises him at that time. he even orchetrates news stories on Times Now, as he did during the rescue of Prince, the little Rajasthani boy who fell into an open 60-ft-deep borewell, in 2006. His social connections enable him to add muscle or masala to a report.

And on one memorable occasion, the MD actually one of the big news stories of 2009: that Manu Sharma, the politically connected main accused in the high-profile Jessica Lal murder case, was out on parole ostensibly to meet his ailing mother, but actually partying….

The MD was on the case like a proper newshound. He alerted Vikas Singh, the Delhi resident editor; he told the Delhi Times reporter not to file the story till he had vetted it himself. He then called Vikas again, and told him to hold the story because “there’s too much hearsay. Tell the reporter to go back and get the bar manager’s quotes. On tape, and clandestinely if necessary.”

In the meanwhile, Vikas had a run-in with his immediate boss, Jojo (executive editor Jaideep Bose), who was hollering him on the line from Mumbai pressuring him to release the story for all editions so that no one else out-scooped the ToI.

Vikas told him, “The reporter says it will hold.”

Jojo thundered: “Who the hell is this reporter?”

Vikas replied: “MD”.

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On R.K. LAXMAN, cartoonist: The most notable feature of the creator of the common man was that he was completely lacking in the common touch. To all but a close circle of personal friends and a coterie of the editors he worked with, R.K. Laxman was arrogant to the point of rudeness….

Laxman and [his wife] Kamala had gone to Qatar as guests of the sheikh. A public lecture was part of the deal. The opening line of his speech left his audience and his princely host stuned. He said, “Ever since I have set foot in your country, I have been most unhappy, in fact down right miserable.”

He then went on, “If a car is to pick me up at 10, it is always there at five to 10, with the AC switched on. I never have to open the door, the smartly uniformed chaffeur has always jumped out to do this for me. My heart sinks every time I drive through your country. The ride is always smooth with none of the potholes I am used to back home. Every street light is working. The walls are clean without a single blob of betel juice. How do you expect me, a person from Bombay, not to feel totally depressed about this?”

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On DILEEP PADGAONKAR, former editor: Dileep was, in his colleague [former Bombay resident editor] Dina Vakil‘s memorable phrase, an ‘impresario editor’…. Dileep presided over a fine dining table and the TOI, many would aver, in that order. One of the nuggests in the newsroom’s annals is that the only time he sent out a memo and one steeped in aged balsamic at that, was when The Sunday Times of India appeared with ‘bouillabaise’ misspelt. For the Francophile and foodie editor it was a crime worse than a murdered filet mignon.

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On GIRILAL JAIN, former editor: As DileepPadgaonkar described him: “He was given to making Spenglarian statements covering vast ages and aeons in a single sentence. he was a blend of Curzonian ambitions and Haryanvi conceits.” No surprise then that when he went to Iran to interview the Shah, he is supposed to have ended up tutoring the Pahlavi monarch on matters of geo-political strategy. On an evening, Giri would walk in the Lodhi gardens, puff at his cigar and come up with statements that would flummox even the lofty companion he had chosen. he would pronounce, ‘The Hun will be pitted against the Hindu.”

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On  SHAM LAL, former editor: When Sham Lal retired, the newsroom (which he had never stepped into) gave him a farewell. It was held in the 6th floor canteen where the aam janata, not ‘invited’ to the august directors’ lunch room, ate. Sham Lal was seldom seen in the latter, so he probably did not even known of the existence of the former. He was escorted up in the lift and into the huge hall. News editor, chief reporter, subs, peons, all sung his fulsome (sic) praises. The quiet but universally admired editor was presented ‘floral tributes’ and a salver.

Then the master of ceremonies grandly announced, ‘Now Mr Sham Lal will give a speech.’ Sham Lal slowly shuffled to his feet, cleared his throat, and as the packed hall waited in anticipation for an outpouring of enlightenment from the man who had attained intellectual nirvana, he merely said, ‘Thank you’. Then he went back to his chair and sat down….

At a party in Mumbai, Sham Lal was cornered by a large, garrulous American woman. After a 15-minute monologue, she stopped mid-flow and asked, “Am I boring you?” and Sham Lal replied with extreme and genuine courtesy, “Yes I am afraid you are.”

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On PREM SHANKAR JHA, former assistant editor: The editorial HQ was still Mumbai, and he wouldn’t roll up to the portico in a taxi like his colleagues. He arrived with his bulk perched incongruously on a frail moped. He would come directly from his morning tennis at the Bombay Gym and would fluster into the edit meeting invariably late, dripping with sweat and clumsily dropping his helmet and racuqet. Sham Lal would mildly glower and Prem would clasp his podgy hands and say, ‘Maaf kijiye, Sham Lalji, maaf kijiye’….

One day, hearing hysterical screams from the inner cabin, the long-suffering Iyer entered to find his portly boss balanced precariously on a chair, quaking in impotent terror and staring at a cockroach on his desk. As soon as he saw his steno, he ordered him to swat it. Iyer froze at such an unBrahminical directive, with Prem getting more and more apoplectic by the minute. He finally shouted, ‘Kill it, kill it, you f***ing vegetarian.’ Iyer fled.

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On J.C. JAIN, former general manager: J.C. Jain was among the most powerful GMs of the time when this was top executive position. He had a reedy voice, sometimes cruelly described as ‘having one vocal chord’. The story goes that on a visit to Hollywood, JC met the smokey-voiced beauty, [Humphrey Bogart's wife] Lauren Bacall. Trying to think of something smart to say to this icon, he quipped: ” Miss Bacall, is it true that you are sometimes mistaken for a man?” The lady arched her famous eyebrows and retorted, “No. Are you?”

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On T.N. NINAN, former Economic Times editor: T.N. Ninan was extremely possessive about his editorial domain. Samir Jain was raring to bring many innovations into ET, but Ninan, more as a matter of principle, was less than enthusiastic. One of these was ear panels, but Ninan resisted on the belief that the masthead should not be devalued by small ads on either side.

Irritated, the VC called the Bangalore branch head, Sunil Rajshekhar, and said, “This is what I want, and it has to be in ET there tomorrow.” Sunil passed on the VC’s instructions to the RE, Nageswaran, who mentioned this in a routine mail to his boss. Ninan blasted him, “Do you report to me or to Sunil Rajshekhar?” The hapless guy spluttered, “But, Mr Ninan, the VC asked for it to be done.” Ninan thundered, “I don’t care who asked. I am the Editor.” Yes, he was. But not for long.

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On JUG SURAIYA, edit page editor: Some time in 1987, Ashok Jain summoned Gautam Adhikari, and said, “I am told there are no good young journalists in India outside the Times.” Gautam said, “No, sir, there are many good journalists, and I am sure they would be happy to join us.” The chairman said, “Give me a note.” Gautam made out a spreadsheet which included their brief bios, even a ballpark estimate of their current salaries…. Gautam’s list included Chandan Mitra, Swapan Dasgupta and Jug Suraiya from The Statesman.

When Gautam called his old quizzing friend and said, “Could we meet?” Jug thought he wanted to join The Statesman, and sounded out the editor. Sunanda Datta-Ray removed his cigarette-holder from his lips and replied, “He will be an asset. Ask him to telephone me.” But when they met at the Elphin bar, it was Gautam who was doing the offering. To everyone’s surprise, Suraiya was willing.”

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On SWAMINATHAN AIYAR, former Economic Times editor: The economics whiz Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar had many quirks. As a genius he was entitled to the full quota. One of these was unqiue: he always carried his cup of tea to the 3rd floor loo in Times House, Delhi.

***

On PRITISH NANDY, former editor, Illustrated Weekly of India: Some-time Science Today editor Mukul Sharma had acted in Paroma, an edgy film made by his ex-wife, the well-known actresses-turned-director Aparna Sen. He played the foreign-returned photographer who had an affair with his subject, a traditional Bengali house. The beauteous Rakhee essayed the title role. Mukul boasted to his friend Pritish that when he lay atop her for a bedroom shot, he counted 29 golden flecks in her amber eyes. Nandy smirked and said, “36”.

***

On PRADEEP GUHA, former response head: Two years into Pradeep Guha’s powerful stewardship of Response, and his raking in the moolah by the shovelful for the group, the chairman Ashok Jain turned to his son, Samir just after PG left the room, and ingenuously asked, “Achcha, yeh banda karta kya hai?‘ (What exactly does this chap do in the organisation?)

***

On DINA VAKIL, former Bombay resident editor: In December 2003, Salman Rushdie returned to his boyhood city, Mumbai, after a gap of 16 years. The interview team comprised three people: resident editor Dina Vakil, who had published an excerpt from Midnight’s Children in the Indian Express and had met Salman when he was a young tyke, and was allegedly featured as Mina Vakil in the Ground Beneath her Feet. The other was Rushdie fan Nina Martyris. Bringing up the rear was the veteran photographer Shriram Vernekar.

Terrified that Shriram would innocently discuss the ‘scoop’ with his photographer friends in other publications, Dina threatened him with dire consequences as her car drew up to the Taj. “I will kill you,” was her (usual) refrain as she wagged a perfectly manicured finger in his mystified face. Shriram, whose storming ground was the Sena shakha and Ganesh visarjan, didn’t know what the fuss was all about.

While shooting them, the genial Shriram did his bet to put a slightly awkward Rushdie at ease, by engaging him in small talk. He lowered his camera, looked up at the celebrated writer and said conversationally, “First time in Mumbai?” Even as Dina rolled her eyes and looked like she wanted to throttle Shriram, an unfazed Rushdie twinkled, “Not quite.”

***

On RAJDEEP SARDESAI, former assistant editor: Why just the stenos, even the peons were totally clued in and, when it came to Byzantine state politics, the Maharashtrian ones could teach a thing or two to the younger assistant editors. Once Rajdeep Sardesai, hot off the dreaming spires of Oxford, wrote a whole three-part series on the rising presence of the Shiv Sena without, it was whispered, meeting a single sainik or visiting a single shakha. On that occasion, it was left to the more hands-on Kalpana Sharma to fill in the gaps.

External reading: The Economic Times review of the book

The Times of India review of the book

The Business Standard review of the book

Why ToI was right to use The Last Supper motif

6 August 2010

The Times of India printed this 8-column illustration by Neelabh in late July, to accompany a story on galloping food prices in India, and, following complaints from Christians, published an apology three days later.

Allwyn Fernandes, the Times of India‘s former chief reporter in Bombay and now director of media practice and social engagement practice at R&PM: Edelman, joins issue with the protestors.

***

By ALLWYN FERNANDES

I know this is going to upset many, but I must raise it.

Ancy D’Souza has written a letter to Jaideep Bose, editor of The Sunday Times of India, protesting against the cartoon titled “The Lost Supper” in the issue dated July 25, 2010.

You can see the cartoon here.

Ancy (and many others who share his sentiments on Facebook) says that the cartoon has hurt the religious sentiments of Christians deeply by projecting R.K. Laxman’s Common Man as the centre of The Lost Supper, with politicians of all hues sitting around him.

The cartoon symbolises the situation in India today, especially over the past year, as food prices spiral upwards and politicians serve up empty promises, the common man is left empty-handed and with an empty stomach.

But Ancy sees it differently: “You have made mockery of our religious beliefs. Kindly apologize for the blunder you have created or else we may have to plan a very stringent course of action,” says his letter to Jaideep Bose.

But is the cartoon really offensive and has it made a mockery of our religious beliefs?

If Ancy visits my home, above my dining table is a painting from the Philippines titled “Table of Hope.” It depicts Jesus at the table, with a lot of ragged and dirty street urchins around him instead of the apostles. There is also a cute little urchin hiding under the table!

Everyone who has dined at my table has marveled at the artist’s depiction of what Jesus would do today—round up and invite us to his table not priests, bishops and cardinals in pink fancy wear, not even us Catholics praying in churches.

No, he would round up the urchins, the poor and the hungry at our railway stations and bus stands and in our schools and break bread with them. Yes, there is deep hunger even in Mumbai — thousands come to school hungry even in our Catholic schools because their parents have no jobs or the money to give them a proper meal.

That picture was not given to me by an atheist or agnostic, but by a solid SVD priest, Fr Franz-Josef Eilers, secretary of the office of social communications of the federation of Asian bishops’ conferences.

I believe that the Sunday Times of India cartoon, by using a scene that symbolizes Christianity’s most solemn moment, depicts the picture in India today very powerfully.

What are we protesting against?

Did not Jesus say “whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me”? Did He not say, and have countless artists down the centuries not portrayed good being done to the poor, the hungry, the sick, the tired and the dispossessed as being done to Jesus himself? Then how are our sentiments hurt?

That Common Man in the cartoon, dispossessed of his meal, represents Jesus himself. And around him in the cartoon you see politicians of all hues, fussing around him.

Was everyone around the last Supper pure of heart? Did you not have a Judas whom countless artists have painted with his thirty pieces of silver? And did not Peter refuse to let Jesus wash his feet? And then deny he knew Jesus at all thrice before the sun rose, this same Peter on whose rock He would build His Church?

Didn’t those 12 men that we believe were round the table with Jesus at his last meal not human beings, with all their human failings – just like those depicted in the cartoon?

It is time to take a broader view.

That cartoon is something I would enlarge and put up in every church and use for reflection of the hunger that exists in our country today – hunger of every kind, while the politicians huff and puff without purpose around the hungry Common Man at the centre of it all.

Also read: The newspaper cartoon that offended Christians

Newspaper cartoon that’s offending Israelis

Newspaper cartoon that’s offending Aussies

External reading: A day in the life of The Times of India

ToI, Jang, Geo unite to give peace a chance

1 January 2010

At a time when cynicism about the media is at an all-time high, and when war-mongering has become an almost daily routine for media in India and Pakistan, media behemoths in the two countries have taken a small but welcome step on the first day of the new year to reduce the sabre-rattling.

While most newspapers were content with dishing out the predictable January 1 stuff, The Times of India has embarked on a “brave, new people-to-people initiative” in association with Pakistan’s No.1 media house, the Jang Group, to bring the people of the two nations together.

Titled Aman ki Asha, ToI has a provocative, almost unthinkable, headline on its wraparound: “Love Pakistan”.

Seminars, cultural interactions, business seminars, music and literary festivals and citizens meets are on the anvil “to give the bonds of humanity  a chance to survive outside the battlefields of politics, terrorism and fundamentalism.”

The Times of India‘s editor Jaideep Bose writes:

“We believe the media can serve as facilitators in fostering greater understanding between people. Unfortunately — and TOI cannot entirely escape blame — we tend to focus far too much on the negative. In the process, the good that people do is drowned out by the sensational, and by the constant flow of deathand-destruction headlines.”

Gibran Peshimam writes on the Geo TV site:

Aman ki Asha will look to inject impetus into the Indo-Pak dialogue in a manner that is unparalleled, on a scale that is unprecedented.”

Visit the Times microsite: Aman ki Asha

Visit the Jang microsite: Aman ki Asha

Also read: The Times of India discovers peace

Old wine in very old bottle is still old wine

26 September 2009

toi

SHARANYA KANVILKAR writes from Bombay: The Times of India has unveiled its ‘Crest Edition‘ in Bombay and Delhi with a 40-page offering at an “introductory price” of Rs 6 per copy. (The ‘Crest Edition‘ branding is embedded below the masthead in italics.)

“Why another newspaper or magazine, you may well ask. Don’t we already have enough? To begin with, Crest isn’t really a new paper or magazine. It is The Times of India unbound, with narrative pieces that sparkle with rich reporting, great perspective and Aha! moments. We will leverage TOI’s unequalled network of correspondents, analysts, writers and editors to anticipate the changes bubbling below the surface of society as well as enhance our understanding of the world around us. Crest is for the curious mind; it hopes to be every intelligent reader’s guide to politics and policy, art and culture, environment and education, and more,” writes The Times of India‘s editorial director Jaideep Bose in an introductory edit.

The new paper’s menu, self-explanatory, is as under:

menu

The colour theme is: aquamarine with promise of ‘seas unsailed and shores unhailed’.

“Aquamarine is the colour of adventure, surprise and delight. It stimulates, it excites, and it’s cool. It invokes sky, ocean and earth.”

***

All things considered, Crest, coming from the house of the world’s largest English newspaper, breaks no fresh ground and is in fact reminiscent of the Sunday edition of The Indian Express in its design and stories.

Nothing about the new paper—the price (double the regular Times‘ Saturday cover price of Rs 3), the quality of the newsprint (standard), the choice or display of stories—suggests “premium”, “lofty” or “high road”, terms used by Times in promoting its newest baby.

In fact, the tiny masthead of the new Crest edition suggests that Times, which burnt its hands with its earlier premium offerings in Bombay—The Independent and The Metropolis in Bombay—is playing it extra-safe in an uncertain advertising scenario and in markets where the perception is growing that ToI is feeling the heat from a variety of sources, including the competition, for keeping reader interest subservient to the advertiser’s.

The registration number and issue date of the Crest edition is that of the regular paper and the editors are the same as that of the regular Saturday paper (Derrick B D’Sa in Bombay market and Vikas Singh in Delhi market), suggesting that Crest far from being a new paper is just a new, souped-up edition of the old one, issued in the hope that the daily reader will graduate to the new edition over the weekend and help The Times bottomline floundering in the face of the paper’s private treaties and other misadventures.

In earlier days, newspapers had the dak (postal) edition, which was printed earlier than the City edition and mailed to faraway centres or transported over long distances by road and rail.

The Crest edition is a similar venture but legal experts in the print industry might like to look at a juicy question:

Can a newspaper with the same title, same registration number, same volume number, same issue number, and same editor be sold at different cover prices in the same City on the same day?

The RNI number for the main edition of The Times of India in Bombay on Saturday is 1547/57.

The RNI number for the Crest edition launched on Saturday is 1547/57. The volume number (CLXXII) is the same for the main edition and the Crest edition, and the issue number (227) is the same too.

So, has the Times taken a legally questionable step in publishing and selling a different edition of the paper at a different cover price?

Also read: A lofty title takes the high road at premium price

Readers take rest. Premium readers take Crest

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