Monthly Archives: March 2008

Why blogging is more interesting than reporting

The jury is still out on blogging—and if left to the mainstream media, it will remain out for ever.

Is it good, is it journalism, does it have the “institutional” checks and balances, do bloggers go out and report a story… questions like these have been hurled for very nearly a decade without hurting anybody.

Now, Poynter’s Roy Peter Clark throws light on a Nieman narrative conference where reporter and Nieman fellow Josh Benton threw up an interesting theory on why blogging has come to be so interesting.

“Eyewitness reporting rendered in real time via the blog represents an interesting and worthy kissing cousin to long-form narrative journalism… in contradistinction to the kind of processed news reporting that still vanillas-up the typical newspaper.”

At its most basic, blogging represents natural reporting. It comes right after an event or an experience, when the story is hot. Through the authentic voice of the writer, it helps the reader catch the spark of the subject.

In a sense, blogging is like a conversation between friends: Fresh, unformed, unfiltered, as-is, not entirely accurate always, but fun, something that captures your attention.

Conventional reporting, on the other hand, takes more time, “neuters the point of view, neutralizes the language, and jams facts into standard suitcases.” But as more time passes, an investigative or feature writer recognizes the unrealized narrative potential of the story. Once again, “interestingness” becomes high.

Read the full piece: From blog to narrative

P. Sainath lecture on media in Bangalore

P. Sainath, the Magsaysay Award winning rural affairs editor of The Hindu, will deliver a lecture on the media in Bangalore on Thursday, 27 March 2008. The lecture has been organised by the cultural tabloid Janashakti. The venue is the Senate hall of Central College. The time is 4 pm.

Also read: ‘A media politically free but chained by profits’

‘Take big steps, urgent steps, fast-paced steps’

‘Conventional journalism serves the powerful’

24 hours, six TVs, one laptop, two radios…

This is the age of the information overload. Gone is the top-down, one-way, take-it-or-leave-it hierarchy of the past. News, views and juice now bombards the reader, listener, viewer, surfer. Scores of voices plead, rant, shout to catch your attention as the dissemination of fact and opinion no longer remains the sole province of people with the rich and powerful. “Now all is out of control. Everyone with a computer is a potential pundit; anyone with a video camera can be on a screen.”

So, how does a lay news consumer cope with all the information that now rains upon him?

Gene Weingarten, a staff writer of The Washington Post, decided to check it out.

Like his father’s friend Boris, who undertook a daily pilgrimage to the public library and read every paper from start to finis, “with ecclesiastic solemnity, a quiet, dignified homage to the majesty of knowledge,” Weingarten sat alone in a room for almost 24 hours with six televisions, a laptop and two radios, listening to only political shows, pundits and blogs, sometimes monitoring four or five of them at the same time.

He survived to tell the tale of “cruel and usual punishment”.

“I’ll tell you it can be, but I cannot tell you how horrible it is. It rattles the very center of your being. If you care about the state of humankind, it fills you with despair. We are as a people bleak and hostile and suspicious, filled with senseless partisanship and willing to believe anything and everything about anyone. We are full of ourselves and we hate. And we do it 24-7. “

Read the full saga: Cruel and usual punishment

A rural newspaper that’s a voice of the women

The district it is located in is one of India’s 200 poorest. There is practically no industry worth its name and the local economy survives on rain-fed agriculture. Literacy levels are abysmal, and only one in three women knows how to read and write. The sex ratio is skewed in favour of men. And incidents of sexual violence are high.

What happens a group of lower-caste and tribal women join hands to launch a newspaper, because the existing media in the area was not reporting on issues that concerned them, because they wanted to enter a male domain, because they wanted to prove that they too could make it as journalists?

The result is Khabar Lahariya, a 4,000-circulation rural newspaper that reaches over 150 villages in Chitrakoot district. And doesn’t accept advertisements that promote casteism, fundamentalism, sexism, violence or superstition.

Kalpana Sharma writes in the Sunday magazine of The Hindu:

Khabar Lahariya is a small shining star on the media horizon. Its circulation figures are not so important as the very fact that it exists, that it comes out every fortnight and that it exposes the hollowness of much that masquerades as “news” in mainstream media.

Read the full column: And now the good news

Tintin publisher Leblanc passes away

Sans Serif records with regret the demise of Raymond Leblanc, the Belgian publisher behind the comic-book hero Tintin. He was 92. The iconic boy-reporter, created by Herge, had first appeared as a character in 1929, but it wasn’t until the association with Leblanc began that he became a global hero. Tintin first appeared in a  fortnightly magazine in 1946, and later became a stand-alone star of the Lombard publishing house.
Also read: All fun and no work makes Tintin a good boy

If Steven Spielberg has a problem in casting Tintin…

Billions of blue blistering barnacles!!!

Alltop: aggregation without the aggravation

There are several ways for journalists, journalism students, journalism educators and journalism consumers to stay on top of what they want from the world wide web. You can surf. You can search. You can subscribe. . You can customise, depending on your interests. You can scan, using an aggregator. Etc.

The indefatigable Guy Kawasaki has now unveiled Alltop, a “dashboard,” “table of contents,” or even a “digital magazine rack” that displays the news from the top publications and blogs. Inspired by popurls, Alltop does “single-page aggregation”, without the aggravation, listing the latest five stories from thirty or more sites in over 40 categories.

“Alltop sites are starting points—they are not destinations per se. The bottom line is that we are trying to enhance your online reading by both displaying stories from the sites that you’re already visiting and helping you discover sites that you didn’t know existed. In this way, our goal is the “cessation of Internet stagnation.”

So, if it’s journalism you are looking out for, bookmark http://journalism.alltop.com as your one-stop online newspaper, magazine, blog rack.

‘It’s all about irreverence, not subservience’

Indian journalist Seema Mustafa on the genesis of her opposition to the India-US nuclear deal, which some speculate could have contributed to M.J. Akbar being eased out of his position as editor of The Asian Age:

“It had to do with a certain commitment with which I joined the profession—a belief that journalism was powerful enough to change the world.

“I was fortunate in working with the greatest editors in Indian journalism, who not just added to this conviction, but also taught me that a good journalist was not one who made his or her peace with the establishment (as that is very easy and very comforting), but who questioned policy and wrote about the pitfalls.

“Journalism, they said, was all about irreverence, and had nothing to do with subservience.”

Excerpted from a column by Seema Mustafa in India Abroad