Posts Tagged ‘The Economic Times’

Why NaMo shouldn’t take media on foreign trips

14 August 2014

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addresses the media on the way back home from the United States in October 2013. There were 34 journalists on that junket.

As Indian journalists come to terms with a Narendra Modi dispensation that doesn’t want to court them or take them on foreign junkets, K.P. Nayar, the former Washington correspondent of The Telegraph, Calcutta, writes that the US administration is no better.

Each correspondent who accompanied US president Barack Obama on his trip to India had to shell out $8,400 (approximately Rs 500,000) in air fare, plus an additional $2,500 (Rs 150,000) for a hop-across to Amritsar, plus $1,000 (Rs 60,000) for renting the hotel hall where administration officials briefed the media, plus “filing charges”, plus coffee, plus tea, etc.

All in stark contrast to the pampering and molly-coddling of India media bigwigs by Indian administrations, who not only misuse taxpayer’s money on foreign trips but also throw their weights around in ways that embarrass the tricolour.

To illustrate the point, Nayar, quotes three incidents:

# The most appalling incident of media highhandedness that I was witness to was at Cairo airport, some 20 years ago, when a very senior journalist flung his boarding pass in the face of an Air India ground hostess because his seat had been changed for the next leg of the prime minister’s flight. He then walked off and had to be pacified by having his chosen seat restored before the Egyptian police physically restrained him for breach of security because he was on the tarmac.

The fault-lines go beyond the fourth estate and intersect the government’s media management because this gentleman is a former media adviser to a prime minister: for the record, not one of any recent appointees.

# Accompanying P.V. Narasimha Rao to the UN general assembly one year, we were alighting at the media hotel, the Lexington, once owned by the Tatas.

Two senior colleagues urged me to follow them if I wanted to watch some fun. An owner-editor, who was the first to reach the media centre, was already on the phone to his news desk.

Mein pahoonch gaya hoon [I have reached],” he blared into the phone, “Pradhan mantri bhi pahoonch gaya hai. Baaki sab agency lena. [The prime minister has also reached. All the rest you take from the agencies].”

He put down the phone, then called his office again as an afterthought, “Oh, mera byline dal dena [Oh, put my byline in).” That was his professional contribution for the day. He was soon out in jeans and walking shoes enjoying the Big Apple.

# Visiting Bhutan, Indira Gandhi once strolled into the quarters of the accompanying media. An agency correspondent then, the late A.N. Prabhu’s door was open and she peeped in to find a carton prominently labelled “Bhutan Rum” on the floor.

“What is it, Prabhu?” she asked. “Apples,” Prabhu replied, unfazed.

“I would like some of those apples too,” she smiled. 

Read the full article: Big egos and bylines

Also read: A mile-high experience for the hack pack

How Pakistan helped The Hindu save $800

I couldn’t go to the US, my name’s Zia Haq

When a brand provides the quotes, it is news

17 June 2014

Perhaps a new first in Indian journalism. An exclusive interview in The Economic Times with Argentinian football captain Lionel Messi… with “quotes provided by Adidas”.

Mid-cap stock picks for journalists and editors

11 June 2014

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Although integrity is not exactly rocketing skywards in the Indian media, declaration of assets is anathema to most journalists. The Editors Guild of India (EGI) has periodically tried to bring up the issue but in vain. So, honesty and accountability is a largely voluntary affair.

How heartwarming, therefore, that the maverick business journalist Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar should open his family books to make the point that it is not just Gujarat-based Adani alone that has benefitted most from Narendra Modi‘s rise but midcap stocks like those held by his family members, too (see graphic).

Let the record show that Aiyar’s grandfather and the grandfather of veteran Bihar Congressman Rameshwar Thakur ran a chartered accountancy firm in Karachi in the early 20th century under the masthead “Thakur, Aiyar & Associates”, which paid 97 per cent in income tax.

Infographic: courtesy The Economic Times

Read the full article: Market boom not led by Modi‘s cronies

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Also read: H.R. Ranganath declares assets, liabilities on TV

Ravi Belagere: Income, outgo, assets, liabilities, profit, loss

Aditya Nigam: Editors must declares assets, liabilities

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

Question: India’s best political reporting is in…?

20 March 2014

etplug

Although India’s best and biggest corporate scams—from Satyam to Sahara and everything else in between—routinely escape the business papers and business magazines and business channels, for quite a while, the best political reporting has come from The Economic Times.  And The Times group is losing no opportunity to drum home the message, even as it expands coverage.

Also read: ‘Business journalists are PR mouthpieces': Aniruddha Bahal

Aakar Patel: ‘Indian journalism is regularly second-rate’

SEBI chief: Business journalism or business of journalism?

New York Times: Why Indian media doesn’t take on Ambanis

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

1 November 2013

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It speaks for the level of distrust that the media has managed to earn for itself that the front page of the Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar carries an emblem in Hindi (right) alongside the masthead, in the space usually reserved for ear-panel advertisements, proclaiming “No Paid News”.

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Two years ago, the Bombay newspaper DNA, in which the Dainik Bhaskar group held a stake (which it later divested in favour of Subhash Chandra‘s Zee) too carried a similar logo.

When The Hindu started printing an edition from Mohali in 2011, its then editor-in-chief N. Ram made a front-page declaration that it would not serve up news that somebody else has paid for”.

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Dainik Bhaskar‘s “No Paid News” emblem, however, does not appear in Divya Bhaskar, the Gujarati paper owned by the group.

The paper was in the news last Sunday when it carried a front-page, eight-column flyer-interview by Dhimant Purohit on Sunday, quoting the State’s chief minister Narendra Modi as saying that India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had not attended the funeral of home minister Vallabhbhai Patel.

Dainik Bhaskar too carried the Divya Bhaskar story as a page-one, eight-column flyer, but two days later, Divya Bhaskar later printed a front-page “clarification”

Soon after the clarification, Modi tweeted, “Divya Bhaskar has clarified on a statement about Sardar Patel’s funeral wrongly attributed to me. I thank them for it.”

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In a simple but smart use of archival material, The Economic Times ran a graphic, containing the front-page of The Times of India, which called Modi’s (and Divya Bhaskar‘s) bluff.

Images: courtesy Divya Bhaskar, Dainik Bhaskar, The Economic Times

Also read: Good morning, your paper is free of paid news

A paper without paid news for North Indians

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‘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

HT, Mail Today, and Kumar Mangalam Birla

16 October 2013

Hindustan Times headline: “Coal Scam: CBI books former coal secretary, K.M. Birla”

Mail Today headline: “CBI registers 14th FIR in coal allocation scam”

On the morning after the central bureau of investigation (CBI) named industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla in the coal allocation scam, the news is the page one, lead story, in The Times of India, The Economic Times, The Indian Express, The Financial Express, The Hindu, Deccan Herald, The Pioneer, Business Standard….

But not the Hindustan Times or Mail Today.

HT which belongs to the Birla family (chairman Shobhana Bhartia is daughter of K.K. Birla, whose brother B.K. Birla‘s son was Kumar Mangalam’s father, Aditya Birla) consigns the news to a single column story on page 10 in its Delhi edition.

Mail Today has it on page 25. The tabloid belongs to the India Today group, which is part-owned by Kumar Mangalam Birla, who bought a 26 per cent stake in his personal capacity, in India Today‘s holding company, Living Media in May 2012.

Mint, the business berliner which is owned by HT Media, has it on page one with a single-column story leading into page 3.

Also read: HT wedding unites Birlas and Ambanis

Zee News, Jindals and the silence of the media

Lokmat sets up the freedom of the press statue

Karan Thapar takes on Shekhar Gupta on credit

Are government ads distorting media freedom?

31 August 2013

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Swapan Dasgupta in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“The national capital boasts a multitude of daily newspapers in different languages. On my part, I subscribe to seven dailies and one is delivered to me free of charge. This Wednesday, which happened to be a public holiday on account of Janmashtami, I perused all eight of these Delhi editions for their advertisement content — the main revenue source for the print media. Four of the eight were entirely dependent on display or tender advertisements of either the government (both Central and state) or public-sector enterprises.

“Only three of the eight dailies had a healthy contribution of private sector advertisements in addition to the ones issued by State bodies. The methodology of assessment may not be entirely scientific, but I think it indicates a growing distortion in the media: their over-dependence on subsidies from the State.

“Expressed more cynically it suggests that there is an increased willingness — perhaps involuntary and triggered by market conditions — to be more accommodative to the concerns of the government. And what is true for the print media is even more applicable to the electronic media, where news-gathering expenses are higher and the operating losses even more significant.”

Infographic: courtesy The Economic Times

Read the full article: A growing distortion

Also read: What sustains our ‘free’ media is government ads

Times, Express get most anniversary ads

How UPA is hitting back at ToI, DNA, Indai Today

ET’s advice to media: move on, let go

19 March 2013

As a wave of earnestness sweeps across newsrooms over the Delhi gangrape, The Economic Times strikes a blow against the emerging political correctness:

“The media, the general press especially, must recognise that neither public purpose nor journalistic remit is being served by what sometimes appears to be a predetermined decision to find a ‘Nirbhaya headline’. Two unwelcome consequences follow whenever the media refuses to let go and move on in such situations. One, the lack of broader relevance of such stories becomes painfully apparent.

“Two, such stories begin, even if unwittingly, to trivialise the memory of the person and invade the privacy of those who loved her most. When such consequences become apparent, and they clearly are now, the media must self-correct . The bigger lesson here, one that the media should always remember , is that public discourse is inherently dynamic and many-layered.

“Changes, shifts, variety and multiplicity are its defining attributes. No single story, no single newsmaker, no single tragedy or triumph can really define public discourse. Therefore, efforts to impose a single narrative – no matter how well-intentioned – will always seem contrived. The sooner the general press realises this, the better it is for everyone and everything, not least the memory of Nirbhaya.”

Read the full editorial: ‘Media mustn’t force headlines’

What sustains our ‘free’ media is government ads

12 March 2013

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The advertising share of television, radio and digital is growing, while it is shrinking rapidly for newspapers and magazines. That is the bottomline of these graphics from The Economic Times, partially explaining why the media is in its current shape.

Stunningly, the top advertising category in 2012, both in print and on TV, is “social advertisements”, in other words government advertisements extolling the virtues of one or the other social welfare scheme. In 2005, it used to be toilet soaps and two-wheelers.

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Read the full story: Trends in ad world

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