Posts Tagged ‘The New York Times’

How a TV news presenter fought her cancer

13 July 2013
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Channel 4 news presenter Bridgid Nzekwu after her double masectomy. Her surgeon opted for the ‘tummy tuck’ reconstruction method.

Bridgid Nzekwu-Cancer victim2

Fluid being drained from Bridgid’s chest (left), and the prosthetic nipples she has yet to use

The actress Angelina Jolie made global headlines a couple of months ago for revealing her double masectomy through a signed article in The New York Times.

This week, in The Sunday Times, London, Bridgid Nzekwu, a Channel 4 news presenter reveals her own heroic battle against cancer after she discovered a malignant lump in her left breast.

Over a five-page article (paywall), Nzekwu, 42, recounts her double masectomy in April with the kind of candour that should be a lesson to all those fighting the dreaded ‘C’.

“If you saw me dressed now, you would never know anything that happened. It’s three months since the operation and I’m back to my original bra size. I have enough energy to play with [my son] Oscar, take him to and from nursery, go shopping, cook, do housework. I’ve even started an exercise DVD.

“So far I haven’t used my prosthetic nipples—I quite like the look of my new boobs as they are which I hadn’t expected. They make me feel proud and defiant.

“My new slimeline tummy will take more getting used to. It still looks quite ugly and will do until the revision surgery is completed. Soon I will be going back to work. I’m pretty sure I won’t feel nervous going back on camera; it’s only without my clothes on that I feel self-conscious about my new body.

“Overall, this experience has been less traumatic than I feared.”

Photographs: courtesy The Sunday Times, London

Will TV channels lose out to newspapers by 2050?

18 April 2013

Before the reforms of 1991 prised open the doors of Indian journalism (and the minds and wallets of publishers and promoters), “Gulf” was the El Dorado journalists and editors chased. In Bombay and Bangalore and Delhi, dozens of journalists and editors attended road shows and group-interviews in the banquet halls of five-star hotels.

Khaleej Times, Gulf News, The Peninsula… would eventually be the ports of call that beckoned some of India’s bigget and brightest names, from S. Nihal Singh to Pranay Gupte, Bikram Vohra to Khalid A.H. Ansari.

Khaleej Times turned 35 years old this week and like the rest of its dead-tree brethren across the globe is coming to terms with the realities of the modern world. Ramesh Prabhu who left Mid Day, Bombay, to join the Dubai paper, writes in the anniversary issue on the what the next 35 years holds for newspaper journalism.

***

By RAMESH PRABHU

Eight years ago, while addressing college students at a media seminar in Bangalore, the editor-in-chief of The Indian Express group had bemoaned the fact that television news was chipping away at the raisons d’être of newspapers.

Television channels had expropriated from the dailies, Shekhar Gupta said, the who, what, when, and where of news. “Of the five W’s and one H,” he told the audience, “we are now left with only the why and the how.”

Shades of “Video killed the radio star”?

At the time, in 2005, when Gupta was dwelling on a topic that would resonate with newspaper journalists everywhere, it had not yet become clear that Google was well on its way to eating the newspaper industry’s lunch and dinner, having already chomped down its breakfast.

Quite a few people, especially young adults, were going online to get the who, what, when, and where of news. And when there were no compelling reasons to look for, or to understand, the why and the how, what did they have to read a newspaper for?

Cut to 2013. Already, the iconic Newsweek has gone “all-digital”, while other print publications, including daily newspapers, especially in the West, are in the doldrums, pondering a future without a physical presence, as in the case of Newsweek, or any presence at all, as in the case of the Chicago Daily News and the Baltimore Examiner (visit NewspaperDeathWatch.com for all the gory details).

What to do?

***

Parvathi Menon, resident editor of the Bangalore edition of The Hindu, recently gave aspiring journalists something to think about regarding this issue.

Speaking at a local media college’s annual seminar in February, Menon referred to the economic problems plaguing the industry but she asserted that the principles of journalism have not changed and do not need to change; it is only the medium that is changing.

She also spoke about the urgent need for newspapers to figure out how to make money off their Web offerings. The underlying message: Newspapers are not going to survive, leave alone thrive, unless they come up with a sound online strategy.

But what constitutes a sound online strategy?

The New York Times, one of the world’s great newspapers, has been thinking hard about the answer to this question for some years now.

As far back as July 2008, responding to a reader’s question on the newspaper’s website, Marc Frons, the executive in charge of digital operations, had written that the goal was to enable “our readers to have the best of both worlds — technology that allows them to personalize aspects of their experience while at the same time highlighting the editorial judgment that’s unique to The Times”.

In other words, the aim at The Times was, and is, to engage with its audience not just once a day at the breakfast table but throughout the day with a continually updated, reader-friendly website.

***

Closer home, in India, the respected business paper, Mint, last year adopted what it calls a Web-first philosophy. What does this mean for the reader?

The editor, R. Sukumar, explained in a note in the paper that stories would now be broken first on the website, and updated continuously if they merit updates. The note continued (bear with me here for reproducing the longish excerpt below, but this will help us to understand the manifold changes newspapers need to think about making):

“It means opinion and analysis pieces, too, appear first on the Web, soon after a big event, so that the readers can understand what it means. It means the extensive use of social media to amplify stories, engage with readers, and also, in some cases, to constantly provide updates on developing-by-the-minute stories. It means the extensive use of multimedia, including video. It means reaching out to people on a variety of devices (phones, tablets) through apps and a dynamic website.

“It means producing a paper that factors in everything we have done in the past 12 hours and understanding what makes most sense for readers, sometimes a full 18 hours after the original news has broken. And it means doing all this without compromising our integrity or high journalistic standards.”

There is no better way to chart out what should be the priorities of every newspaper today.

Note the emphasis on reaching out to people on a variety of devices. Most young people I know do not subscribe to a daily newspaper. And they will not read a newspaper, if they can help it. If at all they make an attempt to glean the day’s news, they do it by firing up an app on their mobile phones or using their mobiles to surf online.

Note, too, the emphasis on editorial judgment in The Times executive’s quote, and on journalistic standards in the Mint editor’s note.

***

The zillions of bloggers out there offer news of a sort, sure, but the writing on most blogs, apart from being of poor quality, is often slanted and ill-informed, making it difficult to comprehend what one is reading. Only trained and experienced journalists can provide editorial judgment and be expected to uphold high journalistic standards.

(Yes, and this is sad but true, some publications have justly earned a reputation for being on the make. However, I believe that the greater number of newspapers — and journalists — take very seriously their role as watchdogs of society. This is a discussion, though, for another occasion.)

But are editorial judgment and high journalistic standards enough to attract the next generation of readers, the people who will form the bulk of the readership 35 years from now? The answer appears to be “No”, going by the indifference to newspapers of young people today.

If we want them to read news on handheld devices and if we want newspapers to become the go-to sites on their screens, we need, as journalists, to focus on what I term the three E’s of journalism: engage, entertain, enlighten.

Given that the basic values and disciplines of journalism have been imbibed and are being practised, the writing has to be top-notch, above all. There was a time when the No. 1 quality sought in journalists was their nose for news, their ability to judge newsworthiness; if their writing skills were, at best, adequate, it was considered good enough.

But adequate writing skills are not good enough today. And they won’t be any good in 2050.

Indifferent writing breeds indifferent readers.

Quality writing attracts readers of all kinds.

In a topical book I am reading just now, The Imperfectionists by journalist-turned-novelist Tom Rachman, published in 2010, the editor of a Rome-based newspaper tells the mediator at an industry conference that news will survive and quality coverage will always earn a premium.

“Whatever you want to call it,” she says, “news, text, content — someone has to report it, someone has to write it, someone has to edit it.”

Rachman’s fictional editor, Kathleen Solson, also discusses living in an era when technology is moving at an unheralded pace. “I can’t tell you if in fifty years we’ll be publishing in the same format,” she tells the mediator. “Actually I can probably tell you we won’t be publishing in the same way, that we’ll be innovating then, just as we are now.”

On that promising note, I am going to go out on a limb and predict that 35 years from now when Khaleej Times sets out to hire journalists for its expanded web-print empire, it will be looking for tech-proficient reporters and editors who have not only been trained in Journalism 101 but also have exceptional writing skills, even new writing skills that we are missing out on now.

They will be able to speedily compose and edit articles that will engage, entertain, and enlighten readers. Articles that will be read from first word to last. Articles that will give readers compelling reasons to stay glued to their screens.

The five W’s and one H of news will be buttressed by two additional, crucial elements: “So what?” and “What next?”

There will be an incentive to care about the news again. And a well-known television journalist, speaking at a media seminar in 2050 in Dubai, will then lament how TV news channels are losing out to newspapers.

What is it they say about just deserts?

(Ramesh Prabhu has worked as a journalist in Mumbai, Dubai, and Bangalore, having begun his career with Mid Day in 1981. He is now professor of journalism at Commits Institute of Journalism & Mass Communication, Bangalore.)

How Tinkle magazine came to be called ‘Tinkle’

28 September 2012

Tinkle, India’s English first magazine for children, has just published its 600th issue.

Rajani Thindiath, who took over as the magazine’s editor after the demise of Anant Pai, speaks to the New York Times  blog, India Ink:

Q: First things first. Why is Tinkle called “Tinkle”?

A: Subba Rao, who was the associate editor of Amar Chitra Katha, proposed the idea of a comic book for children to Anant Pai during a meeting. Mr Rao’s idea was accepted, and the team began discussing a name for the magazine. Mr. Pai said he wanted a musical name—and that’s when a call interrupted the meeting.

Mr. Rao, whose phone had rung, told the caller that he was busy and that he would give a “tinkle,” or call back, later in the day. Then, when he put the phone down, Mr. Rao proposed ‘Tinkle’ as the name of the new magazine. Mr Pai liked the name and Tinkle was born.

Soon the ‘Tinkle Tinkle Little Star’ campaigns started airing on radio and TV, based on the popular children’s rhyme, to launch the new magazine.

Read the full interview: Rajani Thindiath

Hussain Zaidi: ‘Unlikely mafia killed J. Dey’

21 July 2012

He is a crime reporter of note, having authored two best-selling books (Black Friday and Dongri to Dubai), one of which became a hit film, another is in the making.

He has seen his protege Mid-Day crime journalist J. Dey murdered. He has seen his own colleague, Jigna Vora, being picked up for Dey’s murder, allegedly for helping the underworld to bump off Dey (after which his stint as the Bombay editor of the Asian Age came to a sudden end).

S. Hussain Zaidi answers the key question in an interview with India Ink, the India website of the New York Times:

Q: Your friend and colleague Jyotirmoy Dey was shot dead last year and your fellow crime reporters are being investigated in that case.

A: Mr Dey was my favorite prodigy. I taught him crime reporting. In 1995, when he joined The Indian Express, he said he wanted to do crime reporting and in turn he would teach me how to do weight lifting.

When I saw Mr Dey’s dead body on June 11, 2011—I have seen a lot of dead bodies. I have seen dozens of dead bodies,—but J. Dey? He was 6 foot 3 inches, when I used to look at him, such a strong muscular man; I thought he would never die. It was incredible sight to see him dead.

Who killed him is really a mystery, but I don’t think the mafia is behind his killing.

Photograph: courtesy Roli Books

Read the full interview: A conversation with Hussain Zaidi

Also read: Will underworld dons trust such a hot reporter?

Journalist arrested in journalist’s murder case

J: Dey: ‘When eagles are silent, parrots jabber’

Time, Sandesh and the six degrees of separation

11 July 2012

As the row over Time magazine’s “Underachiever” cover line on prime minister Manmohan Singh engulfs primetime news, Mail Today cartoonist R. Prasad cuts through the post-colonial clutter.

New York Times‘ India website IndiaInk has a gallery of past magazine covers on India, while Rediff compiles a slideshow of previous Time covers on Indians.

Meanwhile, Prasad links the brouhaha over Time‘s cover with the kerfuffle over Union minister Salman Khurshid‘s comments in the Indian Express on the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a fresh cartoon.

Also view: After the full-page report, the full-page ad

The Indian cartoon offending the Aussies

How to launch a TV channel at half the cost

17 May 2012

On the New York Times site India Ink, Raksha Kumar writes on how the Kannada news channel Public TV got launched:

“I got these lights for just 40 rupees each (76 U.S. cents) when Wipro closed one of its branches in Bangalore,” said H.R. Ranganath, chairman and managing director, pointing at the ceiling.

“These cubicles, which my reporters and editors use, were bought from a shut-down office of Kingfisher,’’ he added, while doors were purchased from a Siemens branch that closed….

“We bought the cameras we use for 200,000 rupees each,” said Shashi Deshpande, facilities manager at Public TV. “Each of them would have cost us one million or more if purchased new….

“According to Mr Ranganath, the cost of starting up a regional television news channel in Karnataka is anywhere from 45 to 50 crores, or 450 million to 500 million rupees ($8.5 million to $9.4 million). He figured that if he could cut capital and operational costs at least in half, then he would be able to build a network without any outside financial help.”

Photograph: courtesy The New York Times

Also read: Editor declares assets, liabilities on live TV

Is there room for another Kannada news channel?

This is your chief minister and here is the news

How the media viewed Express ‘C’ report

5 April 2012

Editorial in Deccan Herald:

“There is reason for deep concern over the report in a national daily, The Indian Express, about an ‘unexpected (and non-notified) movement’ of two army units towards Delhi on the night of January 16-17… To insinuate that General V.K. Singh would attempt a coup to settle scores with the government is downright slanderous. It is an insult to the Indian Army, which has an unblemished record of being an apolitical force. There are enough safeguards in our system to ensure the supremacy of the civilian government over the military.

“It does seem that the newspaper read too much into what was a harmless and routine movement of army units. It should have exercised greater caution and responsibility in reporting the story the way it did.”

Editorial in The Hindu:

“The Indian Express is entirely within its rights to write about a sensitive matter like this, even if its treatment was overblown. Just as it is unfair for anyone to cast aspersions on the Indian Army, it is unfair to question the motives of the journalists who wrote the story.”

Jim Yardley and Hari Kumar in the New York Times:

“The article, splashed across the front page, created a sensation in the Indian news media, stirring a discussion on the country’s all-news channels and on Twitter, where many criticized the Express for, they said, sensationalizing the episode when relations between civilian and military leaders are already fraught….

Uday Bhaskar, a retired Indian Navy commodore, agreed that mistrust between military and civilian leaders had deepened, partly because of the poisonous political environment in New Delhi, which he said was fueled by an increasingly sensationalistic media.”

Sandeep Bamzai in Mail Today:

“A leading daily may have unintentionally extrapolated from the website report and sensationalised the story. Or it may have got it right because as they tell us the event is dated January 16 this year. But to run a story of this magnitude may well be a disservice to media and to national interest. Because now it is not just the Army chief, but the Armed Forces which will be viewed with suspicion.”

Editorial in the Economic Times:

“The overall fallout of the story is to lower both the army chief and the defence minister in public esteem, as those who bumble into a messy civil-military standoff.”

Manoj Joshi in Mail Today:

“In journalism, there are dividing lines that define when a news report informs, analyses, titillates or sensationalises. But there is just one line which separates a report which serves national interest from one which does disservice to it. The report in a national daily, which talks about the movement of two crack Indian Army units towards New Delhi on the night of January 16, not only makes unwarranted conjectures, but in the process, damages the body politic of the country.”

Editorial in the Business Standard:

“A binary choice should not be forced on this discussion. Talk of a coup is absurd and the newspaper report may be alarmist; yet there are questions that must be addressed…. Anything less than direct engagement with the substance of the Express report would serve to further undermine public trust in the institution.”

News item in M.J. Akbar‘s Sunday Guardian:

“Sources involved in tracking sensitive developments claim that a senior minister of the UPA government was the mastermind of the April 4 front page item in a daily newspaper about a suspected coup attempt. The sources claim that the minister is connected – through his close relative – with the defense procurement lobbies gunning for Chief of Army Staff General V K Singh, and that the decision to “trick the newspaper into running a baseless report was to drain away support for General Singh within the political class”, who could be expected to unite against any effort at creating a Pakistan-style situation in India….

“According to these sources,the minister in question “is well-known to senior journalistic levels of the publication” that ran the coup report. A military source was “surprised that the newspaper in question ran such a story,in view of the high level of competence of its senior staff”, but added that ” a senior minister being the source of the initial information would explain their belief in the truth of the report”.

Also read: Indian Express ‘C’ report: scoop, rehash or spin?

Indian Express stands by its ‘C’ report

‘The New York Times’ calls Sibal’s Facebook bluff

13 December 2011

Indian politicians are long used to happily denying what they said on record (and in front of cameras) without ever having their versions contradicted. Union telecommunications and information technology minister Kapil Sibal is learning the hard way that The New York Times isn’t write-your-pet-hate-newspaper-or-channel-here.

Last Monday, an NYT story which said “Big Brother” Sibal had urged global giants like Google, Facebook to “prescreen” user-content set off an online storm. The Congress party quickly dissociated itself from the minister’s remarks and Sibal was reduced to furiously back-pedalling before chummy TV anchors ever eager to oblige.

On Karan Thapar‘s “Devil’s Advocate” programme on CNN-IBN, Sibal said nobody from his ministry talked to NYT, nor did anybody from NYT talk to his department, and that the piece was based on Congress party sources.

Further, Sibal made heavy weather of a light-hearted comment made by an  NYT reporter at a press conference, even going so far as to suggest that the New York Times somehow wanted to get at him.

New York Times has responded to the charges and said it stands by the original story.

# The article posted on Dec. 5 notes, “Mr. Sibal’s office confirmed that he would meet with Internet service providers Monday but did not provide more information about the content of the meeting.’’ India Ink called three people in his office before posting the article: Mamta Verma and S. Prakash, spokespersons who said they had little information about the issue, and Ranjan Khanna, a secretary who was unavailable.  The article attributes no information to Congress Party personalities.

# The reporter who wrote the article, Heather Timmons, introduced herself to Sibal at a news conference the day after it was published with the phrase “just trying to keep you on your toes.” It was intended as a friendly nod to the fact that he may not have liked the story, but that nothing personal was meant by it.

Image: courtesy Outlook* (disclosures apply)

Read the full article: Our response to Kapil Sibal

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Should Facebook be censored?

‘China Daily’ hands back occupied areas to India

28 November 2011

Tongue firmly in cheek, James Fallows of The Atlantic Monthly (a one-time resident of Beijing) calls it “the world’s finest daily”. Two weeks ago it began to appear on the streets of the United States.

Now, “China Daily” has spread its wings to India.

A 24-page edition of the weekly tabloid, printed in Hong Kong and priced at Rs 10, appeared in Delhi on the weekend, tucked into one of the business dailies (not The Hindu Business Line).

Barring a two-page spread of ads of serviced apartments in Hong Kong, the edition is almost completely free of any kind of advertising, except for an in-house ad (above) advertising its availibility in India.

The storylist of the inaugural November 25-December 1 is decidedly nationalistic. The cover story, headlined “Brand Global“, talks of Chinese brands likely to make up the next wave of household items.

Many of the other stories would warm the cockles of Pravda staffers. “Key gas pact signed with Turkmentistan” and “China, Brunei ink energy deals” are the headlines of news stories. There is an opinion piece on East Asia not being a US playground and another warning US against spying activities.

The only India components in the launch issue are an opinion piece by former Hindu and Indian Express analyst C. Raja Mohan on Indo-Pak ties, and a full-page profile of the PC-maker Lenovo’s India head, by a correspondent in Calcutta.

For a “Made in China” product, quality control in “China Daily” is still not cuting edge yet: two different stories on pages 4 and 5, one on China’s global brands and the other on intellectual property laws, carry the same intro: “China is bracing for a leap forward in marketing and promotion of its products across the world.”

No, wait, it is not a mistake; the stories are actually linked, just that the editors thought that a common intro would convey China’s much-renowned sense of uniformity better.

Indian nationalists and nuisance-makers might, however, like to take a second look at the map of India in the issue-ad (on page 6) in the launch issue, which only shows the parts of Kashmir as being occupied by Pakistan and not the parts occupied by China (as a New York Times map, above, shows) .

Surprisingly, though, unlike The Economist which repeatedly faces troubles at the hands of Indian censors for the “inaccurate depiction of India’s borders”, China Daily has sailed through.

Also read: The Hindu and the scribe who was told to shut up

How New York Times stumped Indian censors

Censored, but no copies of Economist have been confiscated

Fareed Zakaria: ‘a barometer in a good suit’

20 October 2011

The liberal American magazine The New Republic has compiled a list of “the most over-rated thinkers in Washington D.C.“, and Padma Bhushan Fareed Zakaria, the Bombay-born former editor of Newsweek International and an editor-at-large at Time magazine, makes it with ease:

“Fareed Zakaria is enormously important to an understanding of many things, because he provides a one-stop example of conventional thinking about them all. He is a barometer in a good suit, a creature of establishment consensus, an exemplary spokesman for the always-evolving middle.

“He was for the Iraq war when almost everybody was for it, criticized it when almost everybody criticized it, and now is an active member of the ubiquitous “declining American power” chorus.

“When Barack Obama wanted to trust the Iranians, Zakaria agreed (“They May Not Want the Bomb,” was a story he did for Newsweek); and, when Obama learned different, Zakaria thought differently. There’s something suspicious about a thinker always so perfectly in tune with the moment.

“Most of Zakaria’s appeal is owed to the A-list aura that he likes to give off—“At the influential TED conference …” began a recent piece in The New York Times. On his CNN show, he ingratiates himself to his high-powered guests. This mix of elitism and banality is unattractive.

“And so is this: “My friends all say I’m going to be Secretary of State,” Zakaria told New York magazine in 2003. “But I don’t see how that would be much different from the job I have now.” Zakaria later denied making those remarks.”

Also read: Fareed Zakaria gets the Padma Bhushan

Will this man be the next US secretary of state?

Who, why, when, how, where, what, what the…

Iran to China, Newsweek has the story covered

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