Monthly Archives: April 2008

Obscenity ain’t in the eyes of the publisher

This promotional advertisement—showing the top half of a woman with a ten-pence coin covering each of her breasts—released by Rupert Murdoch‘s Sun newspaper has been ruled as not offensive or pornographic by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in Britain.

Objections related to women being portrayed as sexual objects, the ads appearing on buses where children could view them, and also that the image was pornographic.

But the ASA ruled that the Ten Pence Bikinis ad, “whilst distasteful to some, was not overtly sexual in nature and the amount of flesh revealed was no different to that in a bikini ad and could not reasonably be argued to be pornographic or likely to cause serious or widespread offence.”

Photograph: courtesy The Independent, London

Also view: The most offensive ads of 2007

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Cursor on screen is edging out ink on paper

Philip Meyer says the last newspaper will be printed, packed, sold, (and hopefully) bought, read, crumpled and thrown in the first quarter of the year of the lord 2043. That’s 35 years from now, but The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin, has acted before that eventuality could take place.

The six-days-a-week newspaper has ceased ink-and-paper publication and become a 24x7x365 fullfledged 21st century internet operation since Monday, writes Roy Greenslade.

“That’s the spirit. That’s the future. That’s how it is going to be. Not everywhere at once. Not right away in every American city. Not next week in any British city. And, looking at the situation here in Australia, not in the next decade here. It’s all about the realisation that the screen is edging aside ink-on-paper journalism.”

Photograph: Staffers hold aloft the last edition of the paper (courtesy Capital Times)

Read the full article: Wisconsin ‘paper’ shows the way

Also read: Will paper tigers last longer than real ones?

Announcement: Vinod Mehta in Bangalore

PRESS RELEASE: Vinod Mehta, editor-in-chief of Outlook magazine, is to deliver the convocation address to the graduating class of 2008 at the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media (IIJNM), Bangalore, on Saturday, 3 May 2008, according to a press release from associate dean, Kanchan Kaur. The time is 10.30 am. The location: IIJNM, opposite BGS international school, Nityanandanagar, on the Bangalore-Mysore highway, after Kengeri.

’80 per cent of Indian journalism is stenography’

P. Sainath, the Magsaysay Award-winning rural affairs editor of The Hindu, at the Rajendra Mathur memorial lecture organised by the Editors’ Guild of India, says the moral universe of the India media has shifted; outrage and compassion among journalists has died.

“One, the fundamental feature of the media of our times is the growing disconnect between the mass media and the mass reality. Two, there is a structural shutout of the poor in the media. Three, there is a corporate hijack of media agendas. Four, of the so-called four estates of democracy, media is the most exclusive and the most elitist.

“The moral universe of the media has shifted. Two things have died-outrage and compassion. You have a lot of drawing-room outrage, but not over issues that moved earlier generations of journalists. The structural shutout of the poor is evident in the way beats are organised in newspapers.

“How many national media journalists were covering the agrarian crisis in Vidarbha? There were six. But there were 512 journalists covering the Lakme Fashion Week in Bombay.

“There is journalism and there is stenography; 80 per cent of journalism you are reading or viewing today is stenography. Everyone knows there is a crisis of credit. Thanks to the loan waiver. How many of your newspapers or channels have told you that the guys who are claiming that they have expanded credit have closed down 4,750 bank branches in the last 15 years?”

Read the abridged text of the lecture: The terrible steno

Also read: ‘Indian media doesn’t cover 70 per cent of the population’

‘India is a nation of two planets: the rich and the poor’

Link via Anand V.

Rupert Murdoch eyeing print space in India?

There have been persistent rumours of it for a while now. Now Business Standard reports that Rupert Murdoch‘s Star group is indeed planning a foray in the print media in India.

Top executives of Star are believed to have visited Bangalore and held talks with liquor baron Vijay Mallya for a possible joint venture. Mallya owned the Tamil satellite channel Vijay TV before he sold it to Star. He also held the Bangalore franchise of Asian Age before letting go of it.

The possibility of Murdoch tying up with Aveek Sarkar‘s Ananda Bazaar Patrika group of Calcutta is also in the air. When rules of foreign direct investment in Indian television changed, ABP picked up Star’s stake. The two groups have also collaborated to launched the Bengali channel, Star Ananda.

Murdoch and Sarkar featured in Nicholas Coleridge‘s biography of the world’s great publishers, Paper Tigers, along with two other Indians, Samir Jain and Ramnath Goenka.

Photograph: courtesy New York magazine

Also read: How Murdoch dumbed down television news

All this, and Star Vijay and Star Bangla

An urgent telegram to Shri Rupert Murdoch

Network 18 rejects no-poaching pact with Times

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: In what is being interpreted as a sharpening of knives before the next round of The Great Indian Print Media Battle, Raghav Bahl‘s Network 18 is said to have summarily rejected a proposal for an informal “no-poaching agreement” floated by the country’s biggest media group, Bennett, Coleman & Co which publishes The Times of India and Economic Times.

Tens of Times journalists have been eyeing Network 18 after the group unveiled plans for an Indian edition of Forbes magazine and the Financial Times. With ToI executive editor Jaideep Bose, aka JoJo, being mentioned as a possible editor of FT, the Times group is understandably apprehensive of a newsroom exodus and an exponential increase in costs to retain talented staff.

(Senior staff at ET have received hefty hikes as high as 50 per cent in recent weeks but it is not proving to be enough for the privately-held Times group despite its deep pockets to keep its flock together. Network 18 is a listed company.)

ToI brand director Rahul Kansal is reported to have sought a meeting with Bahl and Network 18 CEO Haresh Chawla last week to enter into a no-poaching agreement after the exit-JoJo rumours surfaced. With the Times group planning a business television channel to exploit the Economic Times brand image (which could see reverse traffic from CNBC-TV18) Kansal thought he had it all firmly sewn up.

But Network 18, whose print ambitions against the might of the Times group hinges on attracting top-flight business journalism talent, is believed to have nipped the proposal in the bud.

The Times group had entered into a tribal no-poaching pact with the Hindustan Times in an earlier skirmish for the Delhi market. The logic was that both groups would benefit by not trying to poach staff from the other, thus keeping journalists’ salaries in check. The two companies even set up a joint venture to bring out the tabloid Metro Now. But the only winner in the bargain has been the Times group.

Aware of that precedent, the Bahl-Chawla rejected ToI‘s no-poaching overture outright.

“Kansal called and sought a formal meeting with Bahl and Chawla. But knowing what was coming, the two declined even to meet. Let’s meet for a drink if you like, but as far as a no-poaching agreement, it’s a no-no from our side was the signal,” says a Network 18 source in the know.

Meanwhile, as its executive editor’s fate hangs in the balance, the Times group is pulling out all stops to stymie Network 18‘s FT venture. One publisher, who brings out a slew of business magazines, says senior Times functionaries have approached him to join a publishers’ lobby to thwart the entry of foreign titles such Forbes (from Network 18) and Fortune (from Ananda Bazaar Patrika).

“Who are the Times folk fooling by wanting to oppose Forbes or Fortune when they are not even in the magazine space? Their real target is Financial Times,” says the publisher.

The Times group (along with The Hindu) has long been at the forefront of the opposition to the entry of foreign publications and foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Indian media.

It had launched a weekly supplement titled Financial Times in the early 1990s to prevent Pearson from setting foot in India in collaboration with T.N. Ninan‘s Business Standard. After a long court case, when FDI upto 26 per cent was allowed in the print media, FT invested in Business Standard hoping to take the association forward.

But FT pulled out recently and got into a tieup with Network 18, which is what is giving the Times group the heebie-jeebies.

Also read: The dream paper

FT India: The buzz is rising

The ads say it’s going to be smrtr and smplr. Bttr?

Like the proverbial wolf, “Deccan Chronicle is coming”, “Deccan Chronicle is coming” has been the cry in media circles in Bangalore for at least three years now. Well, this time it is coming for sure, and hoardings have sprung up across town promising a smarter, simpler paper aimed at the SMS generation.

Less Words? Shouldn’t that be Fewer Words?

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Neena Gopal to edit Deccan Chronicle in Bangalore