Monthly Archives: August 2008

In fractured media, the word is the common fact

M.J. Akbar in The Gazette, Montreal:

“Mass media take a superpower’s monologue into millions of homes. We think of mass media as a fractured range: oratory, print, radio, television, Internet. There is one common fact to this range, the word. The medium may be diverse but manipulation of the message is through the massage of words, and the disorientation between text and context. That is the key to mind-management.”

Read the full article: An axis of equals


When prices diminish to match attention spans

At Church Street in Bangalore, back issues of American and British magazines are available for a fifth of their cover prices. And on K.G. Road in the same city, a roadside hawker tries to woo readers by marking down prices of science magazines in the local language, Kannada.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Ramnath Goenka India Press Photo Awards 2008

PRESS RELEASE: Entries are now open for the Ramnath Goenka India Press Photo Awards 2008. Professional press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers are invited to send in pictures that show outstanding visual qualities and tell a news story with great force.

The Ramnath Goenka Picture of the Year Award will honour the entry that demonstrates an outstanding level of visual creativity and journalistic skill.

The winning photographer will receive a cash prize of Rs 1.5 lakh. Entries are open for pictures taken between 1 January 2006 and 31 December 2007, and are intended for publication.

The deadline for submitting entries by post is September 30, 2008.

The Awards, instituted by the Ramnath Goenka Foundation, are being presented by Canon this year. The award-winning photographs will be displayed at an exhibition in Bombay. For further details, rules and regulations, log on to

The Express Group initiated the Awards to identify, promote and reward excellence in photojournalism and documentary photography in 2004. Last year, Vipin Pawar of DNA, Bombay, won the top award for his photograph of the stabbing of a young woman at the Gateway of India.

The awards also invite creative entries in various categories like arts and entertainment and sports apart from spot news, which requires immediate presence and documentation of hard news.

‘Azadi advocates should be tried for treason’

Chandan Mitra, editor-in-chief of The Pioneer and a Rajya Sabha member nominated by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP):

“Last weekend two prominent newspaper columnists [Swaminathan Aiyar in The Sunday Times, and Vir Sanghvi in The Hindustan Times] wrote about the need to think out-of-the-box urging us to seriously consider if it is morally right to hold “unwilling” Kashmiris back in this country.

“I agree with them…. But under no circumstances can Indian citizens be allowed to promote secession.

“Advocating the right of Kashmiris to secede, as a professional female agitator [Arundhati Roy] (who believes the Vajpayee Government staged the December 13, 2001 attack on Parliament) reportedly did in Srinagar, is tantamount to treason and must invite provisions contained in the law relating to waging war against the State.

“Personally, I feel that even publicising such treasonable views, leave alone using dedicated columns to indulge in secessionist propaganda, should invite the charge of promoting terrorism and anti-national activity.”

Read the full column: Better Mush than traitors

“Indecent? Vulgar? Repulsive? Suggestive?”

The Shirdi Sai Baba may miraculously open his left eye and left eye only, mind you, just as the Neilsen meters start whirring. The mullahs may spew out hate 24×7 with spit and polish. The 9 pm women may all be vampish shrews with Botox vials in their hip pockets. And aging heroes may fish out live pomfrets from the bras of teenaged actresses who have barely started missing their school periods.

The Orwellian ministry of information and broadcasting can somehow live with the stench of obscurantism, superstition, hatred, sexist stereotype, etc, dished out to the masses on television and in the movies. What they can’t stand is sex—or anything that may make it seem like a remotely pleasurable experience.

“We have found that the advertisement of Axe ‘Dark Temptation’ deodorant is indecent, vulgar and repulsive,” the I&B ministry has stated a communique to Advertising Standards Council of India.

Admittedly the Axe commercials are designed to be deliberately provocative, much as the old Benetton ads used to be. But who are we kidding about their impact on impressionable young minds when they are exposed to far worse and far more objectionable?

For the record, Priyaranjan Dasmunsi‘s ministry has banned AXN channel for airing a show called ‘World’s Sexiest Advertisements‘ and FTV for a show called ‘Midnight Hot‘. More specifically, the (official) moral police have had their eyes transfixed on underwear advertisements proscribing the television commercials of at least three brands in recent times.

Whoever it was who said “Whenever I hear the word culture, I reach for my gun“, never typed “banned commercials” in the search window on YouTube.

Read the full story: Government brands Axe ad ‘indecent’

Also view: If sanitary pads are OK, why not…

Desh ke police kaise ho? Moral police jaise ho!

Are we becoming a nation of blithering idiots?

Just how is this dress an affront to Hindu culture?

Two murders near Delhi > 3,000 farmer suicides?

P.N. Vasanti in Mint:

“The recent case of a double murder in Noida received 3,464 minutes of coverage in one month (16 May-16 June)— almost 70 times more (on an average) than the agrarian crisis (an estimated 3,000 farmer deaths in one year). One of the key reasons for such excessive coverage can be attributed to the location of the crime. A similar event in Madras or Calcutta may not have received the same attention.”

Read the full article: Regional surge, national worry