Posts Tagged ‘The New Yorker’

Arnab Goswami has done a fab job: Vineet Jain

10 December 2013
vineet

From left, Raj Nayak, Kapil Sibal, Vineet Jain, and Anurag Batra at the Impact person of the year event, in Bombay

Times group managing director Vineet Jain has been named person of the year by the industry journal Impact, from the exchange4media group.

In an accompanying interview, Jain junior answers a couple of key questions.

Talking to Ken Auletta of The New Yorker [last year], you said, “We are not in the newspaper business, we are in the advertising business… If you are editorially minded, you will make all the wrong decisions.” Do you think advertising carries the Times Group’s media products or content?

I wish to reiterate that we are in the advertising business and not in the business of selling news – and I’ll explain why. If we were in the business of selling news, then the cover price we charge readers should have made us profitable. Fact is, subscription price does not come even close to covering the cost of newsprint. As much as 90% of our revenues comes from advertising; effectively, therefore, our advertisers are cross-subsidizing our readers. Which is why I say advertising is at the core of our business model.

There is a whole debate about Arnab Goswami being a brand by himself, overpowering Times Now. Is that good or bad for the channel?

Times Now has dominant leadership now for over six years. Arnab Goswami has done an incredible job for Times Now, which has established itself as the ‘go-to-TV-channel’ for breaking news, big news and significant views. He is a courageous journalist and respected by viewers of Times Now. Further, the Times brand is what gives viewers the trust and belief in what he and his able team deliver 24 x7.

Photograph: courtesy The Times of India

Read the full interview: Vineet Jain

External reading: Why Uday Shankar should have won

Also read: An editor explains Arnab Goswami to an NRI

Sachin Tendulkar, Sigmund Freud & the media

18 November 2013

As the Indian (and global) media—print, electronic and digital—reports Sachin Tendulkar‘s retirement from cricket as if it’s the end of the world; as breathless reporters, writers, anchors and tweeters ask “What will happen to cricket now that Sachin is gone?”, now is a good time as any to remember Harold Ross and James Thurber.

Ross was the founder of the New Yorker magazine, and Thurber its most famous cartoonist, who could also write. Twenty-six years after he founded the legendary weekly, Ross passed away, as all of us must, in 1951.

Here’s what Thurber writes in ‘The years with Ross‘ (page 272):

“People still speak of ‘Ross’s New Yorker’, and his name is heard in conversations and seen on printed pages. At least half a hundred people in the past seven years have said, or written, to me, ‘I never knew Ross, but when he died I felt I had lost a dear friend’.

“One man, a literary agent who gets around town, told me, ‘You could feel the sorrow all over the city the day after Ross died. I don’t think I have ever experienced such a sense of communal grief about a man most people I met had never seen.’

“We were all asked, a hundred times, ‘What will happen to the New Yorker now that Ross is dead?’ We had our separate answers to that, but Joe Liebling’s is perhaps the one that will last: ‘The same thing that happened to analysis after Sigmund Freud died’.”

Id est, life goes on.

Chill.

Also read: A front page with two mastheads for two jewels

Sachin Tendulkar, Mid-Day and the Indian Express

Poonam Pandey, Sachin Tendulkar and The Telegraph

India’s cricket reporters are too soft on cricketers

Today’s cricket journos are chamchas of cricketers

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

10 October 2013

J

India’s bankrupt politicians routinely detect a “foreign hand” behind every disaster that befalls the nation. The Indian media, on the other hand, has been somewhat blessed to benefit from foreign hands on the deck.

Caravan the defunct-fortnightly from the Delhi Press group which was reborn as The Caravan of longform journalism three years ago was particularly lucky to have Jonathan Shainin on its ranks early on.

After seeing The Caravan through its infancy, Shainin, a former fact-checker at The New Yorker magazine, returned to his alma mater as news editor of its website this week.

Below is the full text of the email shot off by Caravan‘s executive editor Vinod K. Jose, announcing Shainin’s exit.

***

Dear Team,

This coming week, our dear colleague, Jonathan Shainin is moving back to New York. Jonathan joined by the end of the first year of relaunched Caravan, and is heading home after a very memorable, and extremely productive 3 years with us. The time and attention that he has given to the stories he edited is remarkable, and if anyone ever pays attention to the institutional history of Caravan, Jonathan’s role will be remembered and celebrated with reverence.

In 2009 and 2010, from the period I call the “guerrilla operation phase,” the staff whose strength was in single digits, we have today come a long way with the magazine/brand becoming the outcome of a massive amount of collective editorial energy of 25 people.

The number of editors, and staff writers have gone up, and the family of freelancers and contributing editors have grown as well.

With Jonathan’s impending departure, more associate editors had joined close to a year in advance, and we are right now in the process of hiring more editors to increase the level and quality of attention a piece/writer gets. The more the torch-bearers of the particular Caravan editing and writing philosophy we produce, the more stable the space of longform narrative journalism in India becomes.

In the same vein, I also wanted to celebrate the small, but meaningful flame of good ethical journalism that Caravan was instrumental in doing, which to me worked hand-in-hand with the longform identity we created in the craft space; here again, Jonathan was such an uncompromising editor, and I wish everyone who comes and joins us/after us always build on the hard work/careful walking we have managed all these years, and between us, right now, we shall remind each other how we need to help each other in making the flame retain its virility, and get bigger and bigger if possible in the years to come.

I wish Jonathan a wonderful future ahead, both professionally and personally.

Vinod K. Jose

***

Photograph: courtesy Aayush Soni

***

Also read: Manmohan Singh, Washington Post & the Caravan

Suhel Seth shows Jonathan Shainin why he’s such a cute tweetiya

US scribe at Caravan discovers India’s Abu Ghraib at Bhogal

Vir Sanghvi clarifies on Caravan profile of Arnab Goswami

New Yorker carries TOI response, 7 months later

11 May 2013

Exactly seven months after The New Yorker carried a nine-page profile of Samir Jain, Vineet Jain and The Times of India by its acclaimed media critic Ken Auletta, the magazine has carried a response from TOI’s executive editor, Arindam Sen Gupta, in its May 5 issue, on medianet, private treaties and other subsidiary issues.

Image: courtesy The New Yorker

Also read: Samir Jain, Vineet Jain & TOI in New Yorker

The Times of India and the Commonwealth Games

How The Times of India pumped up Anna Hazare

Samir Jain, Vineet Jain & TOI in The New Yorker

1 October 2012

The October 8 issue of The New Yorker carries a nine-page article on The Times of India by its renowned media critic Ken Auletta in the clearest indication yet that the Times group is bracing for an IPO.

Titled “Citizens Jain”, after the brothers Samir Jain and Vineet Jain, the piece examines why India’s newspaper industry is thriving. (Orson WellesCitizen Kane was a salute to the megalomania of William Randolph Hearst)

A nine-word caption at the bottom of the first page of the article provides the answer: “Their success is a product of an unorthodox philosophy.”

***

Auletta who spent several days in Bombay and Delhi in July reporting the story*, writes that Vineet’s older brother Samir reached out to him two years ago in New York.

“He told me about the unusual ad-sales strategies he had implemented and of his newspapers’ vibrant growth. If I visited India, I asked, would he talk with me about his business?

“He said he would.

“He didn’t. Although Vineet and Times executives generously cooperated, Samir declined to meet.

”The reason he probably doesn’t give interviews is because he doesn’t want the fame,’ Vineet told me. ‘It doesn’t drive him. He doesn’t want to be covered in newspapers and talked about. He’d rather be humble’.”

***

The New Yorker piece is peppered with anecdotes on Samir Jain narrated by media professionals and Times staffers.

# Namita Gokhale recounts sitting next to Samir Jain at a dinner. Jain tells Gokhale, ‘I think history doesn’t exist and if I were Prime Minister I would ban the study of history.’ When Gokhale responds that she would give him two tight slaps and a kick and if he didn’t remember, she would agree there was no history, Samir slips away and ignores her the rest of the evening.

# Shekhar Gupta, the editor-in-chief of the Indian Express, says that whenever he meets Samir Jain, he usually hands him underlined copies of Hindu scriptures and “affectionately” admonishes him that his publication is too dark.

# The inspiration for Samir Jain’s innovative pricing strategies was the zoo in Calcutta, his hometown. As he walked by on a Monday, normally a slow day after a busy weekened, he was surprised to see a long line. To boost attendance, the zoo had lowered its admission price for the day, he learned, which gave him an idea: one day a week, on Wednesdays, he would halve the price of the paper.

# Times CEO Ravi Dhariwal says the first filter Samir Jain uses in any decision is, ‘Will this be spiritually OK? Will I be able to go to my guru? He discusses a lot with his guru. And if his guru doesn’t bless it, I think he just drops it.’

***

In contrast, the more outgoing Vineet is all first-person.

# “Both of us think out of the box,” Vineet Jain told me on a recent afternoon. “We don’t go by the traditional way of doing business. We’re not in the newspaper business, we are in the advertising business…. If I say I am in the news business, then you’ll not do shampoo. If I say I’m in the news business, then you won’t do entertainment supplements. If you are editorial minded, you will make all the wrong decisions.”

# Although the brothers insist they do not determine content, Vineed tells Auletta, ‘I am the content architect.’ Vineett takes credit for the idea of running small, boxed editorials, under the rubric Times View, alongside some front-page stories, as a way of proposing a solution, he said, and because ‘the editorial page is only read by five per cent of readers.”

# When President Barack Obama visited India, Vineet declined an invitation for a state dinner. “What’ll I do?” he said to me. “It’s just meeting somebody, shaking hands. What’s the point?” Besides, he added, “the closer I get to politicians, the more they’ll interfere.”

# “I think of one hundred small ideas, he (Samir) thinks of three big ideas,” Vineet said. Sometimes Samir imparts fatherly advice: ‘He would say, ‘Relax. Work less. Have a good balance. What are you chasing money for?” But Vineet said, “for me, it’s not work. I love creating something. It’s so much fun—I hardly take holidays. For me, this is a holiday.”

The New Yorker profile provides sufficient indication that the Times group is poised for its long-promised Initial Public Offering, probably on NASDAQ, and Vineet Jain goes on record.

“In the long run, we might go public and use the funds to acquire TV stations,” Vineet said. “We don’t need money to grow publishing, but we do to grow television and Internet.”

* Disclosures apply

Also read: When Samir Jain served a thali

Jug Suraiya on Samir Jain among others

What Raghav Bahl could learn from Samir Jain

Aditya Sinha tears into Indian Express ‘C’ report

8 April 2012

Aditya Sinha, editor-in-chief of DNA, in his weekly column:

“There was a telephone call from my father, who lives abroad, a few days ago. He wanted to know if it was true that the Army had planned to attack Delhi back in January, as reported in The Indian Express. Don’t worry, I said, no such thing. If the Army Chief had planned a coup to ensure he spent another year in office, then he wouldn’t have filed a petition on his date of birth in the Supreme Court.

“When we rang off, it seemed that there must be many ordinary Indians far and near who were scared by this story. What a shame. And the author tried to camouflage the cynical timing of the story (immediately after the government’s ugly spat with the Army Chief) by saying the story took 11 weeks to materialise.

“That would be credible if the story was loaded with data or fieldwork, like a story on child malnutrition in Maharashtra, for instance; it wasn’t. Even an RTI application gets answered in less time (though no RTI request would have generated such a cock-and-bull story).

“At the end of the day, a well-regarded journalist (he reported on the Nellie massacre in Assam nearly 30 years ago) was used by a cynical government. Guess who emerged from this looking diminished….”

“Too many editors in India (mostly the post-superannuation lot) who would never dare publish irreverence because they believe themselves to be part of the ruling class, and that it is their job to steer the country…. [Here] the editor not only values his friendship with the powerful over his devotion to his profession, but never hesitates to make himself the centre of the story.

“Compare men of letters (like Kingsley Amis and Edmund Wilson) with those in India who today have no ideology other than the service of power. Instead of the watchdog of democracy they would rather be the lapdog of crony capitalism.”

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

Indian Express stands by its ‘C’ report

How the media viewed the Indian Express ‘C’ report

Aditya Sinha on the world-view of Delhi journalists

Read the full article: When the watchdog turns lapdog

The grass is always greener on the other side

10 September 2010

Former New Yorker and Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown:

“Young journalists [should] go work in India. There are so many great newspapers in India. I go quite a lot, actually. It has a very vibrant newspaper and magazine culture. There’s a lot of energy in Delhi, a lot of newsmagazines. It’s a very literary culture, it’s great.”

Illustration: courtesy E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

Read the full article: Young journalists should go work in India

Also read: ‘Magazines, like mushrooms, should grow in the dark

‘I would redesign the New Yorker

‘How can you say it better in your own style?’

7 September 2009

James Thurber, the legendary New Yorker writer-cartoonist, in a 1959 memo on editing:

“Editing should be, especially in the case of old writers, a counseling rather than a collaborating task. The tendency of the writer-editor to collaborate is natural, but he should say to himself, “How can I help this writer to say it better in his own style?” and avoid “How can I show him how I would write it, if it were my piece?”

Link via Jason Kottke

Even Al Qaida can’t stand frivolous journalism

17 May 2008

Al Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri has kindly “answered” web questions in The New Yorker through the good offices of Andy Borowitz.

A magazine journalist in Manhattan is among those who get lucky.

Stacy in Manhattan asks: I am a journalist for the US publication Tiger Beat. When I heard you would be taking Web questions, I was like OMG, I have totes to write to him!!! Here are three questions we’re asking celebrities this month:

    1. If you could be any character on “Gossip Girl,” who would you be?
    2. Who would be a better friend, Lauren on “The Hills” or Ashley Tisdale in “High School Musical”?
    3. Who is hotter, Zac Efron or Joe Jonas? (LOL)

      Ayman al-Zawahiri writes: “May you and everyone at your magazine burn in Hell.”

      Read the other questions and answers: Ask the Jihadist

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