Posts Tagged ‘Reuters’

RIL, Network18 & the loss of media heterogeneity

12 June 2014

mukesh

Even as the takeover of Network18 by India’s biggest corporate house, Reliance Industries Limited, receives scant scrutiny in the mainstream media on what it portends in the long term, the journalist and educator Paranjoy Guha Thakurta weighs in, in the Economic & Political Weekly:

“The consequence of RIL strengthening its association with Network18 is a clear loss of heterogeneity in the dissemination of information and opinions. Media plurality in a multicultural country like India will diminish.

“In particular, the space for providing factual information as well as expressing views that are not in favour of (or even against the interests of) India’s biggest corporate conglomerate will shrink, not just in the traditional mainstream media (print, television and radio) but in the new media (internet and mobile telephony).

“There is growing concentration of ownership in the country’s already-oligopolistic media markets. In the absence of restrictions on cross-media ownership, these trends will inexorably lead to the continuing privatisation and “commodification” of information instead of making it more of a “public good” that could benefit larger sections of society, in particular the underprivileged.”

For the record, RIL sent Thakurta a legal notice for his book Gas Wars: crony Capitalism and the Ambanis.

Read the full article: What future for the media in India?

File photograph: RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani holds a jar containing the first crude oil produced from the KG-D6 block in 2009 (Punit Paranjpe/Reuters)

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Also read: Has media blacked out RIL takeover of Network 18?

‘Media freedom bleaker with Ambani domination’

Will RIL-TV18-ETV deal win CCI approval?

The sudden rise of Mukesh Ambani, media mogul

Why the Indian media doesn’t take on the Ambanis

Rajya Sabha TV tears into Reliance-TV18 deal

EPW on the Reliance-ETV-RIL deal within a deal

WaPo, Amazon, HT and the Reliance-TV18 deal

Can ‘Modi Sarkar’ create an Indian CNN or BBC?

10 June 2014

The point has been made before but bears repetition. If Britain can have a BBC, if America can have CNN, if Qatar can have Al Jazeera, if China can have CCTV, if Russia can have Russia Today, why cannot India?

Why do Indian broadcasters, public, private or autonomous, not have the vision or the resources or both to establish a global news brand?

The veteran journalist Saeed Naqvi addresses the issue, in Deccan Herald:

“The media’s critical faculty has been so numbed over a century of colonial experience that it cannot, on occasion, separate news from propaganda….

“Not having our own means of covering world affairs, our media ends up using stuff which is part of someone else’s agenda.  It is sometimes inimical to our interests.

“Public opinion in India gets manipulated whenever the US throws a tantrum with, say Bashar al Assad. On Egyptian or Syrian elections we have only western versions.

“We do not have a single news bureau in SAARC countries, China, Japan, anywhere. For the world’s largest democracy, this is something of a shame.

“If we had a news bureau in Kabul, we would have been much better informed about the attack on the Indian consulate in Herat or the circumstances in which Alexis Prem Kumar was kidnapped. Must we depend on western journalists to inform us about Kabul, Jaffna or Kathmandu?

“Must the world’s largest democracy be a passive recipient of images beamed from news centres controlled by CNN, BBC, Reuters and Associated Press?

“This is a disgraceful state of affairs….

“New Delhi gives away billions in assistance to SAARC neighbours. It must take a leap of faith and concurrently invest a billion dollars in its own media which must also cover world affairs as comprehensively as CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera.

“The returns in power, prestige, influence and business will be astronomical.”

Read the full article: Colonial mindset

Also read: Why hasn’t India thrown up a global media mogul?

Narendra Modi, Mukesh Ambani & Network 18

9 November 2013

In the latest issue of Open magazine, former NDTV and Headlines Today journalist-turned-academic Sandeep Bhushan, throws light on how the television media is covering the BJP’s “prime ministerial candidate” Narendra Modi:

“Several past and serving employees of the media behemoth Network 18 have told me that a heavy-duty ‘go-soft-on-Modi’ campaign is underway within the group.

“The editorial line is allegedly emanating from the ‘top’.

“A former anchor with IBN7 traces the changes in the network’s ‘line’ to a specific event. They came about only after Mukesh Ambani picked up a stake in the media group. “Arvind Kejriwal was virtually blacked out after he hurled charges at Mukesh. On the news floor, in both CNN-IBN and IBN7, every journalist knows that there are orders to rein in anti-Modi stories,” he adds.

“There are standing instructions to cut live to any Modi rally or speech”, says another journalist.

“However, Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief of CNN-IBN, trashes all this. “This is all cock and bull,” he says, “There has been no change in line at any time. Both Rahul [Gandhi] and Modi are top contenders for the PM’s post. We neither deify nor demonise either of them, but analyse their pluses and minuses in great detail.”

“But if Sardesai is right, then how does one explain the cloyingly pro-Modi chant on the group’s news portal, Firstpost.com? Here is a gem masquerading as reportage: ‘Delhi on Sunday witnessed a public the likes of which it had not seen in decades’, thanks to Modi’s ‘rock-star’ image that created a ‘maddening frenzy’.

“Another story headline screams; ‘JD(U) MP makes Nitish [Kumar] squirm: Are you jealous of Modi?’ This article, on Shivanand Tewari’s recent speech in Rajgir praising Modi’s ascent, has little explanation of the ‘jealously’ angle. Yet another so-called report on the website gushes. ‘Patna blasts showed Modi’s leadership, Nitish’s ineptness.’

R. Jagannathan, editor-in-chief of First Post, defends the group website by saying. “We are essentially an opinion portal. We also carry news. We have different editors who are free to air their own views. As the editor-in-chief, I don’t interfere.” On the Ambani factor, Jagannathan says, “I report to Raghav Bahl and there are no specific editorial instructions from him.”

The Open article also punches holes in the coverage of Narendra Modi by Times Now.

Photograph: courtesy Reuters via First Post

Also read: ‘Media’s Modi-fixation needs medical attention’

How Narendra Modi buys media through PR

Modi‘s backers and media owners have converged’

‘Network18′s multimedia Modi feast, a promo’

For cash-struck TV, Modi is effective TRP

Not just a newspaper, a no-paid-news newspaper!

Has a ‘desperate party’ bought TV channels?

How Narendra Modi buys media through PR

19 July 2013
cover-story-in

The request for proposal (RFP) document of the Gujarat government that sets ‘targets’ for the PR firm that wins the contract to promote Narendra Modi’s image

In the latest issue of Open magazine, its deputy political editor Jatin Gandhi lays his hand on a “Request for Proposal” (RFP) document of the Gujarat government that shows how “almost every day, the Indian media—and sometimes the foreign media too—is tricked or influenced by Narendra Modi‘s public relations machinery”.

Exempli gratia: “Modi’s Rambo act, saves 15,000” (The Times of India, 23 June 2013) .

The RFP besides setting targets for the PR firm that bags the contract (see image, above) also lists what is expected of a PR firm if it bags the contract to manage the Gujarat chief minister’s image.

# The hired PR firm should ‘arrange for national and international media to visit Gujarat and attend various events organized by the different departments of the Government of Gujarat’.

# ‘The number of media personnel for any event shall be decided by the Commissionerate of information after deliberation on the scale of the event.’

# “It is the Firm’s responsibility to arrange for the visits of journalists to Gujarat, any other part of the country or abroad. The expenses for the same will be reimbursed by the Commissionerate of Information on the submission of actual bills.’

The story quotes sources as saying the state government has already borne the expenses of scores of journalists, paying for their flights, travel within Gujarat and stay on assorted occasions (and multiple visits in some cases).

“Senior journalists are usually assured of luncheon meetings with Modi, with seating plans drawn up to boost their egos. The current Indian PR agency (Mutual PR) has so far arranged meetings between Modi and a range of newspaper and magazine editors.

“Starting this year, the government also has a budget allocation for taking journalists abroad on Modi’s foreign visits….

“At the Vibrant Gujarat summit earlier this year, a list of 20 journalists was drawn for a luncheon meeting with Modi. On this list was Madhu Kishwar, editor of Manushi and a fellow at the Delhi-based Centre for Study of Developing Societies, who has turned from being a critic to an advocate of Modi.

“Internal communication accessed by Open shows that the agency was wooing Kishwar, something she firmly denies.

She says that she is writing a book on Modi: “I am going to include a chapter, I think, on the myth and reality of Modi’s PR. There is no PR. I have written angry letters to the CM’s office asking for information for which I have been waiting several weeks now. They are so overburdened.”

“With Kishwar claiming she is oblivious to the machinery at work, the Gujarat government nevertheless gave her special attention because she was seen as one of the lone voices emerging from the ‘the Left liberal space’ favourable to Modi’s policies with ‘captive column space available to her in The Hindu, DNA and Manushi…’

Read the full article: The Modi mythology

Also read: ReutersModi interview: ‘sensational tokenism’

‘Network 18’s multimedia Modi feast: a promo’

For cash-struck TV, Modi is cost-effective TRP

Modi‘s backers, media owners have converged’

Reuters’ Modi interview: “Sensational tokenism”

13 July 2013

Reuters‘ scoop interview with Narendra Modi published yesterday by the news agency, but apparently given 17 days ago on June 25, has created headlines for the Gujarat chief minister’s continuing lack of contrition for what happened under his watch in 2002.

And for his faux pas of comparing the victims to “kutte ka bachcha” (puppies).

On Twitter, Sruthi Gottipati, one of the two Reuters‘ journalists who sat down for the powwow has complained of the manner in which the interview has played out on Indian TV and in the newspapers.

But those who have been fighting Modi on the courts of Gujarat and Delhi have bigger problems with Reuters‘ interview than the “kutte ke bachcha” gaffe. They say Reuters “failed to, conspicuously, persist with any accurate, difficult or pinching questions.”

Here, below, is the full text of the press release emailed by the Business India journalist turned activist Teesta Setalvad of Citizens for Justice and Peace.

***

PRESS RELEASE: Seven days before Reuters published its [Narendra Modi] exclusive, a privilege denied by the PM-aspirant to an Indian news agency or channel, we [Citizens for Justice and Peace] had been contacted persistently by a Reuters correspondent.

Not Ross Colvin or Sruthi Gottipati who now carry the journalistic honour of grabbing moments with a man who rarely likes to be questioned, especially if the questions are persistent like say those of Karan Thapar in 2007.

Thapar keen to get to the bottom of what Modi actually felt about 2002, did not  simply casually record – as Reuters has done – Modi’s response but asked, insistently, whether Modi actually regretted the mass reprisal killings that had taken place, post-Godhra, on his watch.

Modi simpered, dithered, glared and admonished…when none of that worked, and Thapar persisted, Modi did what he does best.

He walked out.

Not so with Reuters, that managed its exclusive but failed to, conspicuously, persist with any accurate, difficult or pinching questions.

***

The young man from Reuters who finally tracked me down in the Sahmat office at 29 Ferozeshah Road last week was clueless, he said, about Gujarat 2002. Apologetic about this ineptness, he kept saying that his bosses had asked him to track down the SIT report.

They had not bothered to contact us directly.

We insisted that he, read Reuters, do what fair journalism demands: look at the SIT clean chit in context; examine also the amicus curaie Raju Ramachandran’s report that conflicted seriously with the SIT closure and clean chit (opining that there was material to prosecute Narendra Modi on serious charges).

Both the SIT and the amicus were appointed by the same Supreme Court.

We insisted that Reuters examine the Supreme Court Order of 12.9.2011 that gave us the inalienable right to file a Protest Petition; we pointed out that Reuters must read the Protest Petition itself that we filed in pursuance of this order on 15.4.2013, peruse the arguments that we have been making before the Magistrate since June 25, 2013.

***

We tried, as best as we could,  to communicate that Reuters should read the SIT clean chit in the context of these overall developments.

No, No, said Reuters that had possibly already bagged the interview by then.

Who says a politically important interview should address all developments and facts, in a nutshell, tell the whole and complete story?

Much better to perform a tokenism, throw in a few questions about 2002, not persist with questioning the man charged with conspiracy to commit mass murder and subvert criminal justice with the complexities and gravity of charges and legal procedures that he currently faces – and which are being argued in Open Court in Ahmedabad.

Easier to be glib, grab headlines in all national dailies including by the way the one in Telegraph which is the only newspaper to report that Modi used “kutte ke bacche” not puppy as an analogy for which creatures may inadvertently get crushed when a “road accident happens.”

Never mind that many have been convicted for criminal negligence when they drive and kill.

On business and development, too, while Reuters plugs the man themselves in the first paragraph of the interview, there are no real probing questions on foreign direct investment, the Gujarat government’s back out to solar power companies (reported two days ago in the Economic Times) and so on….

So, quite apart from the more than despicable “kutte ke bacche” comment that Modi reportedly made, quite apart from the fact that he chose Reuters for his debutante mutterings not a national agency or channel, what is truly tragic about the whole exercise is the compliant journalism that it reflects.

The Reuters interview is not a dispassionate or thorough exercise that attempts to genuinely probe opinions and views. It is a sensational tokenism.

Teesta Setalvad, secretary, Citizens for Justice and Peace

PTI reporter has a kiss with death at Delhi HC

7 September 2011

A Press Trust of India (PTI) reporter had a narrow escape when the deadly bomb went off outside gate number 5 of Delhi high court today, shortly after he had picked up his entry pass.

The news agency’s legal reporter Upmanyu Trivedi had collected his pass from the reception counter and was moving towards the court building when he heard a deafening sound at 10.14 am.

He looked back and was shocked to find death and devastation on the steps he had just crossed. A PTI story says Trivedi quickly recovered his wits to call the office and break the news of the blast.

“It was a strange kind of emotions. Happy to have survived and broken the news but deeply disturbed to see the gory blast site with scores of people lying in a pool of blood, right in front of the reception counter from where I had got my entry pass seconds ago,” Trivedi said later.

Reporters have on the Supreme Court beat have recently had a run-in with authorities over accreditation following the notification of new rules.

Read the PTI screed: PTI scribe escapes blast by a whisker

Also read: ToI food writer Sabina Sehgal Saikia dies in 26/11 attack

Reports of scribe’s death are grossly exaggerated

Three words that cheered up Reuters journo, Sourav Mishra

Newspapers used to bribe voters in Tamil Nadu

16 March 2011

The second tranche of American diplomatic cables published by The Hindu today in collaboration with Wikileaks, throws light on how newspapers—yes—have become a delivery vehicle for politicians and parties to deliver cash to voters at the time of elections.

The paper quotes from a cable sent by Frederick J. Kaplan, acting principal officer of the US consulate-general in Madras, to the State department, after meeting M. Puttarajan, an aide of Union chemicals and fertilisers minister M.K. Azhagiri, son of the Tamil Nadu chief M. Karunanidhi:

“In an instructive and entertaining section titled ‘Can I get another morning paper?’ Kaplan explained the modus operandi for cash distribution adopted by the DMK in Thirumangalam: “Rather than using the traditional practice of handing cash to voters in the middle of the night, in Thirumangalam, the DMK distributed money to every person on the voting roll in envelopes inserted in their morning newspapers.

“In addition to the money, the envelopes contained the DMK ‘voting slip’ which instructed the recipient for whom they should vote.” This, Kaplan noted, “forced everyone to receive the bribe.” Patturajan , he wrote, “confirmed the newspaper distribution method of handing out money, but questioned its efficiency. He [Patturajan] pointed out that giving bribes every voter wasted money on committed anti-DMK voters, but conceded that it was an effective way to ensure the cash reached every potential persuadable voter”.

The Kaplan cable reports that Patturajan expected difficulties in replicating the Thirumangalam model in the 2009 parliamentary election because the Lok Sabha constituency was seven times the size of the Assembly seat.

According to the cable:

“Azhagiri has been forced to ratchet the payment back down to more typical levels, but he still plans on giving it to every voter through the newspaper distribution method.”

Little wonder every politician and political party wants to start a newspaper?

Cartoon: courtesy Keshav/ The Hindu

Also read: How The Hindu got hold of the Wikileaks India cables

How the US hunted down Reuters’ staffers

Why a ‘serious’ Reuters journo reads a tabloid

3 March 2011

Although India’s print media market is booming, be it in English or the languages, the truth is that it is still the broadsheets that get bowels moving in the morning.

Despite the best efforts of managers, there is a palpable resistance to smaller sized newspapers, regardless of whether they want to call it a tabloid, Berliner or a compact.

The Daily is dead, Mid-Day is struggling, and Mumbai Mirror still rides piggyback on The Times of India in Bombay while Bangalore Mirror comes free with ToI in Bangalore.

Although the brand-wallahs are in thrall of the 5F formula (food, fun, film, fashion, forecast, fornication), most discerning readers, especially journalists, turn their noses at them.

Only Mail Today and Mint seem to have gained some editorial acceptance but at huge cost.

Robert MacMillan, a journalist who works for Reuters in Bangalore, says most people, who hear that he reads the Bangalore Mirror that comes free with The Times of India in that City, exclaim: “But it’s a tabloid!”

In other words, size instinctively colours perception of news sense, although the broadsheets may be guilty of the same crime as “redtops”, which is to dumb down to the lowest common denominator.

It need not necessarily be the case, writes MacMillan, who hails from Jersey City:

“In the case of the Bangalore Mirror, I find plenty to chew over in the morning. The headlines are a little New York Post/ New York Daily News, but there’s a reason people read those papers. More importantly, they’re jumpy and flashy because they often herald good journalism — the kind of stuff that people want to read. No doubt, they likely contribute to the tired “India! Ancient yet vibrant and modern!” PR campaign that has entranced my U.S. media colleagues.”

Link via K.K.

Read the full blog: Don’t hate mate because I read Bangalore Mirror

The light goes out of Selvan Shiv Kumar. RIP.

29 August 2010

sans serif records with a heavy heart the passing away of photojournalist Selvan Shiv Kumar in Bangalore today. He was in his early 40s and had been ailing for some time. He is survived by his wife and son.

Shiv Kumar had worked in The Times of India, Deccan Herald, Hindustan Times and DNA in Bangalore, Delhi and Bhopal, covering the hunt for Veerappan and the manhunt of Rajiv Gandhi‘s killers among other assignments.

In July 1997, Shiv became the first Indian photojournalist to be selected for the Reuters Foundation Willy Vicoy fellowship for the fall term at the University of Missouri, USA. As photo editor of the newly launched Bangalore edition of DNA in 2008, Shiva was responsible for a five-days-a-week picture page.

He was photo editor of Bangalore Mirror at the time of his demise.

Last active on his Twitter account in May, one of his tweets reads:

“Photojournalism has lost its sheen of spontaneous pictures to the present day of posing and the subject looking into the camera.”

Read his profile: Light Stalkers

Visit his blog: http://shivselvan.blogspot.com

View some of his pictures: Flickr

How US forces hunted down Reuters staffers

6 April 2010

In July 2007, two employees of the Reuters news agency were among several killed in Iraq when US military forces opened fire on them. Saeed Chmagh, 40, a driver with the agency with a wife and four children, and Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, a war photographer, were among those killed.

The US military claimed the victims died in battle between US forces and insurgents, and that the conduct of the pilots and guncrew was “in accordance with laws of armed conflict and rules of engagement”. Reuters filed for the video of the attack to be made public under the US’s Freedom of Information Act.

The full video, shot from the primary helicopters, is now up on wikileaks and it is blood-curdling for the casualness with which civilians are hunted down. James Fallows of The Atlantic magazine calls the video the “most damaging documentation of abuse since Abu-Ghraib”.

“As you watch, imagine the reaction in the US if the people on the ground had been Americans and the people on the machine guns had been Iraqi, Russian, Chinese, or any other nationality.”

From 2003-2009, a total of 139 journalists have been killed in Iraq in the line of duty.

Visit the site: www.collateralmurder.com

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