Daily Archives: 28 June 2007

It’s fast. It’s slick. It’s a blur. It’s a newspaper

The new TV commercial for the Toronto Globe & Mail.

Link via Innovation in Newspapers


B-school babes will soon have a new opening

Time magazine has an exclusive on Rupert Murdoch, and the soon-to-be owner of the Wall Street Journal responds, in true Murdoch style, if he will tabloidise the venerated business newspaper, a fear most of his detractors express, by, say, putting topless page 3 girls a la The Sun.

“When the Journal gets its Page 3 girls,” he jokes late one night, “we’ll make sure they have MBAs.

Read the full story here: Rupert Murdoch speaks

In Pakistan, fourth estate meets fifth column

At a recent press conference, the BBC Urdu Service’s Masud Alam walked up to a tall, rugged man, with close-cropped hair, wearing a white salwar-kameez and leather sandals.

“Which paper are you with?”

He pretends not to have listened. Some of the reporters around us have heard me though, and they are now watching us with interest.

“Excuse me,” I persist. “I’m so and so. And you are?”

“I am not a journalist,” he says.

“Then what brings you to this press conference?”

“I work for Special Branch.”

The Fourth Estate is deeply penetrated by the Fifth Column, and the friction is beginning to show as President Pervez Musharraf decides, like all dictators everywhere, that if he has to latch on to power, the adhesive he will require is an assault on the freedom of the Press.

Read the full story here: Spooks and hacks in Pakistan

Photographers, go fly a kite for such pictures!

Shooting panoramic pictures in Indian cities is a major pain for photographers, because of the security restrictions and the high cost of hiring a helicopter or glider. Randall Munroe shot this picture of Boston, with the main campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the frame, by fitting a Rs 1,000-camera to a kite.

“To get the camera to take pictures, I built a 555 timer circuit that, every 13 seconds, throws a relay wired to the camera’s shutter button. I used a small delta kite (larger ones on the way) and a cheap $30 digital camera with a large SD card.”

View more pictures here: Randall Munroe

Does a tree make a noise only for the cameras?

What is news? And who decides what is news? Is one politician attacking another, an event which happens every other day, always news? Is the stock market going up or down, an event which could happen several times a day, sometimes on the same day, news?

These are old questions and they get asked again courtesy this MSNBC video of a set of newscasters playing around with news of Paris Hilton getting out of prison. One of them, Mika Brzezinski, refuses to talk about the Hilton heiress, tries to set fire to the manuscript, and then shreds it—all the time with her eyes on the camera.

The point Brzezinski is trying to make, and it is a very popular point, is that we have had too much of Paris Hilton, that her being released is not news, and that there are bigger, more important things happening in the world.

Maybe, but is it even journalism to consciously avoid something especially after providing the oxygen for Paris’ “feats” which landed her in prison?

There is also an inbuilt belief that by depriving that oxygen of publicity to Paris, somehow she will stop doing the kind of silly things she has become famous for. Associated Press tried a week-long boycott for some time. And now Us Weekly has decided to follow suit.

But, seriously, does a tree make a noise when it falls, only when the cameras are around?

Who came first? Paris Hilton or MSNBC?

Also read: Can the media only cover what it wants to?

‘Thank God Blair called the media a feral beast’

Question: What do you do when the Prime Minister has your newspaper in mind when he calls the news media “a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits”? Answer: Hope that somebody will ask his successor whether he agrees with the surmise.

Tony Blair launched into The Independent while speaking at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism . And sure enough a reader of the paper did the needful and asked Gordon Brown the question that would have been bugging Indy.

Question: Do you agree with Blair’s criticism of The Independent?

Brown: As I said at The Independent‘s 20th anniversary party, it is a great campaigning newspaper and it always has been. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with the campaigns or not.

Elsewhere, in The Chicago Tribune, Steve Chapman argues that the Blair comment is nothing to be ashamed about. (Blair complained that the power of the press eclipses everything. For politicians, he revealed, “a vast aspect of our jobs today—outside of the really major decisions, as big as anything else—is coping with the media, its sheer scale, weight and constant hyperactivity. At points, it literally overwhelms.” The result is an unhealthy relationship between government and journalists that “saps the country’s confidence and self-belief,” asserted Blair)

But Chapman says it’s a relief to hear the comment:

“What a relief. Working in a field that, we are told, is increasingly irrelevant and outmoded, it’s nice to know that someone still regards the news media as capable of sapping the self-esteem of 61 million people who are not known for self-pity and who boast a heritage of Shakespeare, empire and the Beatles.”

Read the full article (free registration): Confessions of a feral beast