Monthly Archives: September 2007

The truth behind commercial television

Some call it an anesthetic, others call opium.

Some call it an idiot box, some call it a friend.

What is television really? And how does it effect your brain chemistry, attention span, and behaviour?

The truth behind commercial television.


Ojectivity: Now you see it, now you don’t

MUNCIE, Indiana: There is a school of thought that the relentless pursuit of a non-existent “objectivity” is what took the blood out of the American journalism marrow and rendered it lifeless to fight the greater battles facing the profession.

And Marvin Kitman advocates in The Nation that the floundering evening news shows throw objectivity out of the window if they are to spring back to life:

The problem with objective journalism is that it doesn’t exist and never did. Molly Ivins disposed of the objectivity question for all time when she observed in 1993, “The fact is that I am a 49-year-old white female, a college-educated Texan. All of that affects the way I see the world. There’s no way in hell that I’m going to see anything the same way that a 15-year-old black high school dropout does. We all see the world from where we stand. Anybody who’s ever interviewed five eyewitnesses to an automobile accident knows there’s no such thing as objectivity.”

Read the full story: Is Keith Olbermann the next Edward Murrow?

Link via Alternet

The greatest advertisement of a great profession

In The Insider, Dustin Hoffman Al Pacino plays the role of Lowell Bergman, the CBS investigative journalist who does an expose of the tobacco industry. When a source scoffs at the parasitical role journalists play, Hoffman offers this succinct defence of journalism:

“I was putting my life on the line when you were dicking around golf courses.”

The photograph above, short by a Reuters stringer, captures the true spirit of our great profession. And portrays the lengths to which journalism’s great soldiers go to, risking life and limb, to bring the real picture to readers, viewers and listeners.

In picture, Kenji Nagai of APF tries to take photographs as he lies injured after police and military officials fired upon and then charged at protesters in the Burmese capital, Rangoon, on Thursday, September 27, 2007.

Kenji, 52, a Japanese photographer, was shot by soldiers as they fired to disperse the crowd.

Kenji later died.

While hundreds were dicking around golf courses. Scoffing at journalism and journalists.

Photo courtesy: Reuters

Also read: Citizen journalists evade blackout on Myanmar News

The first casualty of a scoop interview is grace—II

Nothing is what it seems in the big, bad, messy, and utterly incestuous world of Indian cricket (and Indian cricket reporting). Outgoing cricket captain Rahul Dravid gave an interview to Press Trust of India last week. Just another interview by an outgoing captain to India’s biggest news agency, you might think. Well, not quite.

Lokendra Pratap Sahi, the longtime cricket correspondent of The Telegraph, Calcutta, put out a story that Dravid gave the interview to PTI at the “behest” of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Sahi did not name his source, but the story had PTI’s Chief of Bureau (Sports), M.R. Mishra, responding in kind.


Dear Mr Sahi,

This is a grateful note from a humble news agency hack. I read yet another of your great “scoops” in
Telegraph dated September 19. Since you have so many “scoops” every day, I will have to specify that the one I am referring to is your great story about Rahul Dravid speaking to PTI “at the behest” of the BCCI.

Indeed, it was a revelation to us also because we were chasing him for five days. Now we realise we were chasing the wrong person. Thank you for the great input. Now we know where to get the news.

Yes, you are right Dravid rarely gives a one-to-one. Indeed, it would have been shocking to you that he spoke exclusively to a lowly news agency. After reading your piece, we were utterly delighted because till then we did not realise that the unthinkable had happened. We feel doubly thrilled. Many thanks.

Your ever reliable sources in the Board disclosed, as usual only to you, that it was to get the widest coverage that Rahul Dravid spoke to a news agency. This by itself is another “scoop” for you that news agencies have the widest reach.

We are truly grateful to you.

We also note that you have very perceptively pointed out that Dravid did not really say anything earth shattering. Actually, the piece you wrote on the 19th is truly earth shattering. How could Dravid say anything important unless he was talking to Lokendra Pratap Sahi?

All of us hacks normally trot up such excuses to our superiors when we miss stories but this must be the first time that a journalist has put the excuse in print. Journalism of courage!

Good interviews and “scoops” are, of course, your preserve. Such as the lead story in your newspaper on
the 18th that Sourav Ganguly was a strong option for the top job in the ODIs against Australia. For once, your highly reliable sources in the Board have let you down because Dhoni was chosen as was predicted by PTI for days ahead.

May I thank you once again for your kindness to us.

You continue to inspire us.

Yours sincerely,

M.R. Mishra

Chief of Bureau, Sports, Press Trust of India


Mr Mishra,

I wonder if you have any energy left. If you do, find out WHY Dravid spoke to your agency. I’m sure it will be a good lesson for you. You obviously read The Telegraph very selectively, otherwise you couldn’t have missed my story the day Dravid ‘quit’. To enlighten you, I’d written that day itself that the captaincy was set to be split between MSD and ST. I don’t wish to give hacks like you any MORE importance by reacting to the other points you’ve made with so
much affection.

Must say I’ve been touched, though.

Lokendra Pratap Sahi
Associate Editor, The Telegraph


Also read: The first casualty of a scoop interview is grace


A group of social activists have issued the following statement criticising the Delhi High Court for sentencing four journalists of Mid-Day for contempt of court in a case involving the former Supreme Court Chief Justice, Y.K. Sabharwal.


The decision of Delhi High Court to sentence Mid-Day journalists to four months of imprisonment for publishing certain well-researched facts supported by suitable documents… is not merely wrong, it sends a strong signal to the rest of the country, especially to the media that if anyone dares to speak, publish or publicly discuss any wrongdoing by any court or any judge, it would be treated as contempt of court and he/she would be severely punished for that. We, the undersigned, consider this to be an assault on our freedom of speech and expression.

While it is important in any society that its judiciary inspire public confidence, such confidence cannot be engendered by using the threat of contempt action to deter exposure of any wrongdoing in the judiciary. Public confidence in the judiciary is created by the actions of the judiciary and any reckless allegations against it are quickly seen to be what they are. In a free society, such allegations do not stick, if they are incorrect or reckless. The use of the power of contempt to stifle allegations against judges would only increase public suspicion about the judiciary and indeed engender contempt for it.

Public confidence in the judiciary cannot be maintained by silencing dissenting voices or exposure of wrongdoing. Such exposure of all institutions, including the judiciary, is also essential in public interest for corrective action to be taken. Expose of any wrongdoing in any public institution and action against the wrongdoing only enhances the prestige of that institution rather than lowering it. It suggests that self-correcting mechanisms exist.

An independent and credible enquiry is required into these allegations, since that would reveal what the truth is. However, without going into the truth of the allegations, and without ordering any enquiry, the High Court of Delhi has sentenced these journalists to four months of imprisonment each. This judgment, unless reversed, is bound to send a clear message to the whole nation that if any judge indulges in any wrongdoing, the people of India do not have a right to speak about it or demand an enquiry into it.

We, like millions of citizens of India, have great regard for many things that the Indian judiciary has done in the past, particularly to protect the cherished fundamental right of free speech. However, this judgment strikes at the foundation of our respect. It makes us wonder why the Courts are averse to a full enquiry. Further, why are the Courts aggressively pursuing the journalists, who did a public duty to bring these facts in the public domain? To our mind, such conduct of the Courts lends further credence to the allegations reported by these journalists. It is unpalatable to us that the men who did their journalistic duty in exposing corruption be sent to jail while no enquiry is set up against the judge.


The signatories to the statement are: Admiral H.C. Malhotra, Retired Rear Admiral; Amit Bhaduri, Professor Emeritus, JNU; Arun Kumar, Professor of Economics, JNU; Aruna Roy, social activist; A.B. De, Professor of Medicine, AIIMS; Harsh Mander, campaigner against communalism; Jaya Shrivastava, women’s rights campaigner; Jean Dreze, right to food and employment campaigner; Prabhash Joshi, former Editor Jansatta; Rajendra Singh, Magsaysay awardee; Ramaswamy Iyer, former Secretary, Water Resources, Government of India; S.P. Shukla, (former Finance Secretary, GOI); Sandeep Pande, Magsaysay awardee; and Shripad Dharmadhikary, Director, Manthan, water campaigner.

India’s best editors? Just press ‘Click’

The provocation is not very clear. The classification is not very clear. And the parameters of selection are not very clear. But as part of its “Great Media Debate”, CNN-IBN is doing a “survey” of “India’s Top 25 Editors“, whom readers of its website ibnlive can rate by clicking on a button.
And the nominees are:

  • Aveek Sarkar
  • Arnab Goswami
  • B.G. Varghese
  • Cho Ramaswamy
  • Chandan Mitra
  • H.K. Dua
  • Jaideep Bose
  • Kumar Ketkar
  • M.J. Akbar
  • Mammen Mathew
  • Mrinal Pandey
  • N. Ram
  • Prannoy Roy
  • Prabhu Chawla
  • Rajat Sharma
  • Rajdeep Sardesai
  • Rahul Joshi
  • Ravindra Kumar
  • Sanjaya Baru
  • Shekhar Gupta
  • T.N. Ninan
  • T.J.S. George
  • Tarun J. Tejpal
  • Uday Shankar
  • Vinod Mehta