Daily Archives: 29 March 2007

Sauce for the goose isn’t sauce for the gander

One of the most successful publicity stunts employed by an media house is Time magazine’s “Man/Woman/Person/Product of the Year” gig. What is essentially just another cover story, with all the subjectivity and biases of its editors and reporters, is packaged and sold to the world as if it is gospel truth. And every media outlet¬† in every country falls for it, with the result that a few more copies of the magazine end up getting sold.

Exhibit A: Man of the year in the year of 9/11? Not Osama bin Laden, but New York mayor Rudy Giuliani!

A slightly tinier scam is Time‘s “Asian Heroes”. Across the continent, a dozen worthies—a predictable mix of politicians, bureaucrats, industrialists, actors, sportsmen, and one unknown NGO honcho—are rounded up. In each Asian country where Time is sold, a denizen of that country is presented as the Asian Hero.

Exhibit B: Sania Mirza on the cover in India, Jackie Chan on the cover in the same week in Hong Kong!

To cut a long story short, it is a well honed marketing gimmick. It can pass off as giving the readers what is relevant to them but it wears thin. It is dumbing down with style. Little wonder, then, that even the Americans are seeing through the game.

Time‘s April 2 cover features a story about Pakistani religious extremists filtering across the border of Afghanistan “with the intention of imposing their strict interpretation of Islam on a population unable to fight back.”

That’s the cover that Indians and Pakistanis and Afghans will see. But the magazine’s American readers will see a different cover: “The Case for Teaching the Bible”, always a surefire success on the newsstands.

Blogger Paul Schmelzer wonders why Time isn’t giving the U.S. the same edition that the rest of the world is seeing on newsstands.¬† And, on Mother Jones, Rose Miller asks: “Is marketing getting in the way of the serious news in the U.S.? Or is the media afraid to tell Americans what they don’t want to hear? Only Time can tell.”

Will it?


Wanted: Researchers for global citizen journalism

Oh My News, the pioneering South Korean citizen journalism initiative, has launched a collaborative, open source research into independent citizen journalism web sites around the world. It wants international citizen reporters to conduct interviews with founders of such sites, some of whom will be invited to the 3rd International Citizen Reporters’ Forum to be held in Seoul in June this year.

Red the full article here: OhmyNews opens research into global citizen journalism 

The five principles of citizen journalism

Dan Gillmor‘s Center for Citizen Media has just outlined the five Principles of Citizen Journalism. It’s an attempt, as it says, to “detail the bedrock foundations of journalism to help citizen reporters grasp the fundamentals of the craft in a networked age.”

The principles are: Accuracy, Thoroughness, Fairness, Transparency and Independence.

“We’re not saying that bloggers must follow these guidelines. We are saying that if you’re committed to practicing journalism online, these principles deserve your attention.”

Read the full text here: Principles of Citizen Journalism

And the biggest drunk in journalism is…

Like it or lump it, the most hilarious stories in journalism with a capital J are built around alcohol. Pete Hamill, the legendary New York columnist, in fact called his memoirs A Drinking Life with remarkable candour.

“The culture of drink endures because it offers so many rewards: confidence for the shy, clarity for the uncertain, solace to the wounded and lonely, and above all, the elusive promises of friendship and love.”

Maybe there is a bit of dangerous romanticisation there but the reading public generally assumes that all journos are alcoholics, and we do little to wipe off that impression.

Just why journos drink so much—many of them on the job, in the parking lot, in the loo—we know not. Nirad Mudur says it’s probably because we keep long hours and can’t have the social life other human beings are entitled to.

Maybe. At The Sunday Observer in Bombay long years ago, Rahul Goswami had a little placard on his dashboard: “Reality is an illusion caused by alcohol deficiency.”

And in any newspaper office, in any press club, in any city, in any country, all the best rib-tickling tales are of the drunk. There is, for instance, the classic maybe apocryphal case of Gunda Bhat, the Samyukta Karnataka reporter who was sent to cover the Bangalore karaga procession.

Come deadline and neither Mr Bhat nor his copy were to be seen. A desperate desk manages to whip up some copy using other “sources”. Mr Bhat saunters in the next morning and hands in the copy. What happened?

“The procession just passed by, that’s why,” he says, matter-of-factly. And he wasn’t wrong.

Mr Bhat, a crime reporter much loved by Bangalore’s cops, had met a policeman on duty moments after taking up his position. One thing leads to another, and the two go for a drink. Result: Mr Bhat only manages to catch the procession on its way back the next morning!

As if in salute to the drunks of the media world, Gawker is trying to spot New York’s drunkest journalists to award the “Steve Dunleavy Liver Memorial Award For Drinking In The Line Of Duty.” The honour is named after a hard-drinking Australian tabloid journalist and a legendary boozer.

Talking of Australians, here’s a fine YouTube video of a drunk Aussie journalist on an awards night.

Also read: Who were Fleet Street’s legendary drunks?