Monthly Archives: December 2007

The perfect New Year resolution for all of us

To all the editors, producers, ideators, anchors, writers, reporters, correspondents, columnists, photographers, camerapersons, designers, artists, visualisers, infographists, and assorted backroom boys and girls across the world, Bart Simpson serves up a New year resolution that we can break at our own peril.

Happy New Year.

Illustration: courtesy The Simpsons

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Al Jazeera: The 15 top media stories of 2007

Al Jazeera English, the global news channel launched by the Qatar-based Arabic channel, continues to be unavailable in the land of the free, but in the age of Web 2.0 what is beyond anybody’s reach if you want it badly enough? The best of the channel’s critically acclaimed output is there for those who make the effort on YouTube—for free.

This edition of its media review programme, Listening Post, hosted by Richard Gizbert, looks at the 15 top media stories of 2007. The survey conducted with the help of a Canadian company called Influence Communication, does not include online news, tabloid press or gossip magazines. The survey took into account the placement of the news item, the circulation and viewing figures, and how often a story was repeated in the media.

A tale of two pictures: signs of the times

Fifty-six Thirty-five years ago, an Associated Press photographer called Huyng Cong Ut, then 21, shot a picture of Phan Thi Kim Phuc (above), a nine-year-old Vietnamese girl running naked towards the camera shouting “Nong qua, nong qua (Too hot!, Too hot)!” during the Vietnam War.

The picture, originally rejected by AP editors because it showed frontal nudity, was eventually circulated, won Ut the Pultizer Prize, and played a role in hastening America’s withdrawal from the war.

In June this year Ut, now known as Nick Ut, photographed another girl in distress (above). The location this time was Los Angeles. Paris Hilton, the billionaire hotel heiress, had just been told that she would have to spend 23 days in jail for a traffic violation.

Ut says he was “very lucky” to get the picture, with 300-400 paparazzi roaming the streets of Beverly Hills, generating over 120,000 pictures a week for syndicating agencies.

A legendary photographer snapping celebrities?

“To be honest, I don’t really mind what I shoot,” he says. “I’m just grateful to have the work.”

Read the full article: Double negative

Photographs: courtesy Associated Press/The Daily Telegraph, London

‘Media became a prisoner of its own fabrications’

Swapan Dasgupta in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“In Gujarat, the media were neither disinterested observers nor merely biased against Narendra Modi; they were an active participant. From disseminating ridiculous stories about lack of crowds in Modi’s meetings and overplaying the Patel revolt in Saurashtra to Yogendra Yadav’s self-confessed doctoring of the exit polls, the media took it upon themselves to ensure Modi’s defeat. The suggestion that the English-language media were the worst offender is not true; for purely collateral reasons the Gujarati print media led the charge.

“Media activism ensured that a large section of India switched on to their TV sets last Sunday morning fully expecting the downfall of the man who has been painted as a cross between Hitler and Attila the Hun. The results helped catapult Modi to the national stage as the man who could dare—and win. If it hadn’t been for the media becoming a prisoner of their own fabrications, the impact of Gujarat would have been strictly regional.”

Read the full article: Merchant of victory

Did this man stand a chance with a future PM?

Death is a pretty grim business in Asian media. Unlike in Britain, where obituaries have been turned into a juicy art form, Asian tributes generally play it safe, spiking all the spice out of a false sense of deference. Last night, however, Karan Thapar, India’s premier television interviewer, who cut his teeth on Channel 4, was different.

Thapar was an old friend of Benazir Bhutto, the slain former prime minister of Pakistan. They had known each other since their days at Cambridge and Oxford, respectively, and Benazir had tried to get him remarried (unsuccessfully) for 18 years after his wife Nisha died of cancer.

Thapar says he spoke to her just four days and had asked her to “stay safe”.

Thapar says Bhutto also had a fine sense of humour. At one Oxbridge debate on “sex before marriage”, Thapar recalls that he rang the bell and asked her if she dared to practice what she preached. The hall went up in laughter. And after the last laugh had been heard, Benazir pulled out her spectacles, screwed her eyes, look at her future interlocutor, and said: “Certainly, but not with you.”

‘Don’t you have anything serious to write about?’

Former Punjab chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh‘s “friendship” with the Pakistani journalist Aroosa Alam has quickly and smoothly moved from the gossip columns to the front pages, with the kind lady trying to explain how a Rawalpindi-based newspaper carried a report about her reported marriage with Captain Singh prompting a fatwa from the Imam of the Jama Masjid in Ludhiana calling for a social boycott.

Alam, who counts former German chancellor Gerard Schroeder among her pals, alleged that the Rawalpindi paper’s owner nursed a grudge against her, as she participated in dislodging his hegemony at the Rawalpindi Press Club, which is why he had hit back. “The owner of the newspaper in question wanted to grab a piece of land allotted to a housing society of journalists in Islamabad. I was among those who had opposed it.”

Accused of being an ISI spy by the Akali Dal, Alam, who is the president of the Pakistan chapter of the South Asian Free Media Association and vice-president of the Rawalpindi Press Club, said she had come to India to visit Captain Amarinder Singh’s ailing mother. Her two sons too were with her, and were staying at the Moti Bagh palace in Patiala.

Preneet (Capt. Amarinder Singh’s wife) has been a good host,” Alam said at a press conference in Chandigarh yesterday.

These are the other gems the 55-year-old journalist dropped:

# “Pyaar nahin, dosti hain (It’s not love, it’s friendship). We’re good friends, not lovers, and will remain so for ever.”

# “I deny any marriage, engagement or affair“.

# “I only said I would marry him in a lighter vein.”

# “Neither he will leave his citizenship nor will I Islam (to marry).”

# “I may have a pretty face but unfortunately it has become a point of entertainment.”

# “Amarinder is a wise man, a man with a vision, a charming person. He has a good stature and is well known in Pakistan as opposed to the current Chief Minister of Punjab.”

# “While I am happy to be with my (media) colleagues (in India), I don’t understand why you have to enter my personal life. Don’t you have any serious matter to write about? Newspapers in Pakistan don’t write on personal lives of people… It is strange in india the media hits below the belt.”

# “I have travelled with Presidents and Prime Ministers on official state visits. Does that make me an ISI agent? If any of you travels abroad with your Prime Minister, does that make you an agent of the RAW? I am definitely not an ISI agent.”

Also read: No private affairs when politicians fall in love

KISS, as in Keep It Simple, Stupid

The obese feline reclined on the linoleum = The fat cat sat on the mat.

According to Dave Barry, “Methodological observation of the sociometrical behavior tendencies of prematurated isolates indicates that a causal relationship exists between groundward tropism and lachrimatory, or ‘crying,’ behaviour forms” =  It is noticed that kids cry when they fall down.

Link via India Uncut