Monthly Archives: January 2009

World Association of Newspapers congress put off


The annual congress of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), scheduled to be held in recession-hit, scam-hit Hyderabad in March this year, has been put off to the end of the year.

According to one report, the meeting was postponed to due to low registration.

“The economic crisis has had a devastating effect on participation in the events, which are simpldy not viable at this stage,” Timothy Balding of WAN told Juan Antonio Giner, founder-director, Innovation International Media.

A press release from V. Shankaran, officiating secretary general of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), reads thus:

“The 62nd World Newspaper Congress/16th World Editors Forum and Info Services Expo have been postponed and will now be held from 1-3 December 2009 at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre, Hyderabad, India.

“The decision to postpone these most prestigious annual events of the print media the world over, which were originally planned for March this year, was due to certain global compulsions.

“World Association of Newspapers (WAN), which represents over 18,000 leading newspaper publications the world over, organizes these annual events of the print media in different parts of the world in collaboration with a host country industry member association.  The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has successfully bid for  hosting these events in India.   In its history of 61 years these events have never been held in South Asia.

“Over 2,000 top cream of world’s most influential owner-publishers, editors and media personalities in the print media are expected to attend these events.  It is a great opportunity to showcase India to the rest of the world.”

Maya Kamath Memorial Awards for Cartoonists

PRESS RELEASE: The Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Cartoonists is inviting applications for the first Maya Kamath memorial awards for cartoonists. There are four prizes on offer: three for the best political cartoons of 2008, and a special prize for the best budding cartoonist.

The contest is open to cartoonists in English and other regional Indian languages. A maximum of three published political cartoons appearing between January 1 and December 31, 2008 can be submitted by each participant. An English translation of the text should accompany if the cartoon has been published in a regional language, including date and name of the publication in which the cartoon had appeared.

Entries should be sent to the Indian Institute of Cartoonists, No.1, Midford House, Midford Garden, off M.G. Road, Bangalore-560 001, on or before February 28, 2009.

The cartoons will be judged by the institute’s four-member jury that includes playwright Girish Karnad, artist S.G.  Vasudev, The Hindu cartoonist Keshav and The Times of India‘s Bangalore editor H.S. Balram. The award ceremony will be organised in March in Bangalore, along with an exhibition of the selected cartoons.

For details, call 080-25595252 or 25559819.


The award has been instituted in the memory of Maya Kamath, one of India’s few women political cartoonists. Her work appeared in The Evening Herald, The Times of India, and The Asian Age.

Why journalists like Barack Hussein Obama

In his last press conference in Baghdad, George W. Bush received a pair of size 10s from a member of the press corps. But why does his successor seem to get a ’10’ from most journos?

“Journalists like Obama because he’s the ultimate America success story, photogenic and has that perfect family. And because he is less likely to wiretap their phones.”

Read the full article: #44 Barack Obama

Also read: ‘A kiss from the orphans and widows of Iraq’

Jack Shafer: Obama changes his press strategy

Also view: Jon Stewart on Bush and Obama

‘Time for the old rules of journalism to change’

“Objectivity” is the mirage that modern journalism chases, although as a wise sage said eons ago: “The point-of-view that you should not have a point-of-view is itself a point-of-view.”

On online journalism review, Robert Niles hits the nail on the head.

Traditional journalism’s ethics and tenets, he says, are due for change in the more competitive online information market. But it could be argued that they are due for change in traditional journalism too.

# The old rule: You can’t cover something in which you are personally involved. The new rule: Tell your readers how you are involved and how that’s shaped your reporting.

# The old rule: You must present all sides of a story, being fair to each. The new rule: Report the truth and debunk the lies.

# The old rule: There must be a wall between advertising and editorial. The new rule: Sell ads into ad space and report news in editorial space. And make sure to show the reader the difference.

Read the full article: As internet changes the market, some conventions must change as well

Messy desks, and items # 22 and # 69


The runaway success of Stuff White People Like has spawned plenty of imitations, including Stuff Asians Like. So, it was just a matter of time before somebody came up with Stuff Journalists Like.

Let the whole world know that, besides messy work stations, we like:

#3 Free Food

#9 Coffee

#10 Drinking

# 14 Bylines

#22 Interns

# 29 Exclusives

# 69 Dating other journalists

Photograph: courtesy stuff journalists like

Visit the site:

India opens another door for FDI in papers, mags

Eighteen years after the liberalisation process began in India, and just months before the general elections, the Congress-led government has decided to allow 100 per cent foreign direct investment in facsimile editions of foreign newspapers. Simultaneously, 26% FDI has been allowed in Indian editions of foreign magazines.

The following is the full text of the press statement issued by Rajeev Jain, Director (M&C), ministry of commerce and industry.



On a review of the extant policy on Foreign Direct Investment, Government of India has decided to allow foreign investment in publication of facsimile edition of foreign newspapers and Indian editions of foreign magazines dealing with news and current affairs.

The policy for foreign direct investment (FDI) in publication of facsimile edition of foreign newspapers include permitting 100 per cent FDI with prior approval of the Government for the publication of the facsimile edition, provided the FDI is by the owner of the original foreign newspaper whose facsimile edition is proposed to be brought out in India. The policy also specifies that, the publication can be undertaken only by an entity incorporated or registered in India under the provisions of the Companies Act, 1956. Also, the publication would be subject to the Guidelines for publication of newspapers and periodicals dealing with news and current affairs and publication of facsimile edition of  foreign newspapers issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on March 31, 2006, as amended from time to time.

The policy for foreign investment in publication of Indian editions of foreign magazines dealing with news and current affairs includes, up to 26% of foreign investment, inclusive of FDI and investment by NRI/ PIOs/ FII; ‘magazine’, for these guidelines shall be defined as a periodical publication, brought out on a non- daily basis, containing public news or comments on public news; foreign investment shall be subject to the Guidelines for Publication of Indian editions of foreign magazines dealing with news and current affairs issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on December 4, 2008.


Lasantha Wickrematunge, the editor of the Sri Lankan weekly newspaper The Sunday Leader, was killed in Colombo last Thursday, 8 January 2009. As he was driving to work, four assassins on motorcycles stopped his car, smashed its windows with crowbars, and attacked him with sharp objects.

The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF) blamed president Mahinda Rajapaksa‘s men for inciting hatred agaisnt Lasantha. The killing confirmed Sri Lanka’s reputation as a killing field for journalists, and underlined its lowly ranking on the 2008 press freedom index. The island-republic stands 165th among 173 countries, the lowest for any democratic country.

In one of his last pieces, Lasantha, a former lawyer, wrote presciently:

“No other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives for their art save the armed forces and, in Sri Lanka, journalism…. It has been my honour to belong to all those categories and now especially the last.

“Murder has become the primary tool whereby the state seeks to control the organs of liberty. Today it is the journalists, tomorrow it will be the judges….

“Why then do we do it? [Because] there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.”


FRANCES HARRISON, in Sri Lanka, has compiled this list of media workers killed in the island since 2006:

24 January 2006:  Subramaniyam Sukirtharajan. A Trincomalee port employee as well as a journalist, he was shot dead as he waited for a bus to go to work in the morning. He had published photographs and news reports critical of the army and of paramilitary groups active in Trincomalee, in the newspaper Sudaroli Oli. His photographs of the 5 students killed in Trincomalee helped contest the original reports that they had been killed by grenades.

3 May 2006: Suresh Kumar and Ranjith Kumar. As media workers gathered in Colombo to celebrate World Press Freedom Day, a group of unidentified men attacked the office of the Uthayan newspaper in the northern city of Jaffna. Suresh Kumar, the marketing manager, and Ranjith Kumar, a worker in the circulation department, were killed during this attack. Five others were injured and the office was damaged. The police took six persons in custody.

2 July 2006: Sampa Lakmal de Silva. A freelance journalist, he was shot dead by an unknown group. He was abducted at 5 am from his home in Borallasgamuwa, south of Colombo. His body was found three kilometres from his home.

1 August 2006: Marithas Manojanraj. The newspaper vendor was killed by a mine that detonated as he was on his way to Jaffna on July 27 to collect newspapers for distribution.

16 August 2006: Sathasivam Baskaran. Baskaran, a driver and the distributor of the Jaffna-based Uthayan newspaper, was shot dead in his Uthayan delivery vehicle after taking advantage of the temporary lifting of a curfew to deliver copies of the newspaper. He was shot in his clearly marked vehicle in an area controlled by the Sri Lankan armed forces.

21 August 2006: Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah. Sivamaharajah, managing director of the Jaffna-based Tamil newspaper Namathu Eelanadu, was shot dead in Vellippalai. As a consequence of the murder, the publication of the newspaper was stopped.

19 December 2006: Rushika Prasadini. Prasadini, a journalist, was injured in a car accident with another vehicle driven by a diplomat. She later died in Colombo as a result of her injuries. Her family is seeking justice for the tragic death; however, they are facing obstacles due to “diplomatic immunity”.

16 April 2007:  Subash Chandraboas. The editor of the Tamil-language monthly magazine “Nilam” (“the Ground”), the 32-year-old father of an eight-year-old daughter, was shot dead at about 7:30 pm at his residence in Thirunavatkulam, Vavuniya.

30 April 2007:  Selvarahj Rajivarnam. Rajivarman, journalist of Uthyan daily, shot dead in Jaffna. He was the crime reporter, who reported on killings and disappearances taking place in Jaffna.

August 2007: Nilakshan Sahadavan. Sahadavan, 22, a journalism student of Jaffna Media Resource Training Centre (MRTC) and a part time journalist, was shot dead by unknown gunmen. Motorbike riding gunmen woke him up at their family home in Kokuvil, Jaffna, around 4 am and shot him injuring seriously. Kokuvil, just 3 miles away from Jaffna city, is heavily guarded by Sri Lanka military and the shooting took place during the curfew hours.

27 Nov 2007:  SL government jets bombs Voice of Tigers radio station in Kilinocchi around 4.30 pm, killing 11 civilians among them were three media workers of VOT: Isaivizhi Chempiyan alias Subajini; Suresh Linbiyo; and T. Tharmalingam.

6 December 2007:  W. Gunasingha. A provincial correspondent of Sinhala daily Divaina, he was killed when the bus he was travelling was hit by a claymore mine killing 16 people.

28 May 2008:  Paranirupasingham Devakumar. Sirasa, Shakthi and MTV Television Network Jaffna district correspondent P. Devakumar was hacked to death in Navanthurei on his way home from Jaffna town. A friend of Devakumar was also killed in the attack. Devakumar, a resident of Vaddukoddai, Jaffna, was 36 years old and married for a year. He had worked for MTV for nearly three years.

Photograph: courtesy Tamilnet

Join the Facebook group: Protesting killing of Journalists in Sri Lanka

Read the Time magazine profile: Dying for journalism

Coffee Day is right: a lot can happen over coffee


Look, what a cartoon strip can do!

The federation of coffee growers in Colombia is planning to sue Pulitzer Prize-winning American cartoonist Mike Peters for at least $20 million over this Mother Goose and Grimm strip, which they say damages the reputation of Colombia coffee by associating it and its symbol “Juan Valdez” with organised crime.

In addition to damages, the federation wants a retraction from any newspaper that published the cartoon.

In an interview with Comic Riffs, Peters, who was shocked by the response, says, “For the record, I love Colombian coffee —it keeps many cartoonists going.”

Indian media is large & vibrant, but how free is it?

KPN photo

BHAMY V. SHENOY writes from Houston, Texas: Every newspaper reader in India should be shocked at the way B. V. Seetharam, the publisher and editor of the Kannada daily Karavali Ale, is being repeatedly harassed by a democratically elected  government in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

According to this version, Seetharam was arrested last week in a defamation case filed by Bhoja Shetty, a resident of Udupi district, in July 2007. Shetty alleged that Seetharam tried to “blackmail” him for a financial consideration of Rs 1 lakh [approximately $2,000]. When that did not come, the editor reportedly portrayed him as a “rapist” in his newspaper, resulting in the defamation charge.

The charge is certainly serious, doesn’t show journalism in good light, and deserves to be taken to its logical conclusion.

But it is the backdrop of Seetharam’s arrest (a few months after the BJP came to power in Karnataka); the timing of the arrest (after he had accused Hindutva forces of attacking his newspaper for publishing); and the manner in which he has been handcuffed and chained like a common criminal, and taken from city to city (he is currently lodged in the Mysore jail), that should make the world sit up and take notice.

We assume, wrongly, that India has a free and vibrant press with unbridled freedom.

We assume, again wrongly, that India’s newspapers have the full and unfettered freedom to expose individual or institutional malfeasance, in politics, business and other spheres of public life.

In the event the press fails to expose the corrupt practices of politicians or businessmen—like, say, the gigantic Rs 7,000 fraud of Satyam Computer Services—we think it is only because the press is not using its freedom and does not have the courage to stand against the big government or deep pocketed companies.

That is largely true, of course, but B.V. Seetharam’s plight shows that is not necessarily the full story in the minefield that is Indian democracy.

The truth is there are plenty of people who do not want negative stories to come out, and are willing to go any distance and adopt any means to ensure that. And there are plenty of people, inside and outside the corridors of power, who are willing to help them in that endeavour.

B.V. Seetharam’s case is an example.

While we may question Seetharam’s methods and targets based on our individual preferences and prejudices, it must be admitted that he also published articles exposing the wrong doings of corrupt politicians, incompetent bureaucrats, and dishonest businessmen, among others. More recently, he has turned his eyes on the growing communalism on the west coast.

What we are witnessing through his arrest is that in a surcharged milieu, this can be a lonely battle—and very, very messy.

In a political system where the use of extra-constitutional muscle power seems to sit comfortably well with rule-based democracy, an editor like him is bound to have enemies. Such individuals are harassed by the establishment to send a strong signal to others not to follow his example.

Seetharam’s victimisation is a sign of that.

This is not the first time Seetharam has been punished by taking him into custody. Many may recall the way he was whisked away to jail along with his wife in the middle of the night for publishing a story questioning the propriety of Jain monks to walk around naked in public in 2007.

While the solidarity shown by the press to Seetharam’s harsh treatment should be admired, we, the public, should wonder why only one section of society has expressed disgust at the treatment meted out to him. What is involved is the freedom of the press to boldly publish the news without fear and favour. Without such freedom, democracy will lose out as it has been happening in India.

Every citizen irrespective of his/ her ideology should condemn the treatment doled out to B.V. Seetharam.

Photograph: Journalists take part in a protest against the arrest of B.V. Seetharam in Bangalore on Wednesday. (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind’

Mangalore editor held for ‘inciting’ hate

Pseudonymous author spells finis to Mint editor?

Hero survives cost-cutting, jobs freeze, pay cuts

Tintin, the boy-faced Belgian reporter turns 80 years old today, 10 January 2009.

It was on this day that Herge‘s comic-book hero made his appearance in the church newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle, in which  he visits Russia (Tintin in the Land of the Soviets) to describe the horrors of Bolshevism.

Tintin held the ultimate job in journalism. He travelled around the world (and sometimes beyond, Destination Moon), never had to take notes, never had to file a story, never was worried about being missing a deadline or being reprimanded by his boss, and never therefore gets sued.

And since we are in that gorious era, we might as well rub it in: Tintin never had to hear of words like cost-cutting, streamlining, rationalisation, jobs freeze, or salary cuts.

Tintin’s only recorded remark to his editor (on departing for Moscow) is:

I’ll send you some postcards and vodka and caviar”.

That remark, along with several others is included in a strong body of evidence provided by Matthew Parris, the sketch writer of The Times, London, to conclude that Tintin, like Paris, is gay.

“Billions of blue blistering barnacles, isn’t it staring us in the face? A callow, androgynous blonde-quiffed youth in funny trousers and a scarf moving into the country mansion of his best friend, a middle-aged sailor? A sweet-faced lad devoted to a fluffy white toy terrier, whose other closest pals are an inseparable couple of detectives in bowler hats, and whose only serious female friend is an opera diva… And you’re telling me Tintin isn’t gay…?

“But Snowy saw everything; Snowy knows all. And Snowy never tells. “

Read the full article: Of course, Tintin is gay, ask Snowy

Visit the official Tintin site:

Also read: Can a boy-actor hold a candle to an editor?

If Steven Spielberg has a casting problem…

All fun and no work makes Tintin a good boy

Tintin publisher Raymond Leblanc passes away