Monthly Archives: March 2009

Funny joke from a balding journo-blogger*

David Finkelstein in The Times, London:

An economist-friend has just told me a wonderful story about a professional colleague of his.

The colleague was waiting at the airport for his flight to be called when a man ran into his section of the lounge, slightly out of breath.

“Is there an economist in here?” he called out.

My friend’s friend was delighted. He has always wanted to help out in an emergency. He puffed out his chest, stood up and in a clear voice called out, “Yes. I am an economist.”

The man looked back at him with a mixture of contempt and bewildered surprise.

“The magazine,” he said slowly.

*sans serif cannot guarantee that this joke will be funny for all journalists

Also read: How to get from point B to point A

Esquire as a feminist text

Ditto and likewise in India and elsewhere

Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post:

“The biggest challenge facing America’s struggling newspaper industry may not be the high cost of newsprint or lost ad revenue, but ignorance stoked by drive-by punditry.

“Drive-by pundits are non-journalists who have been demonizing the media for the past 20 years or so and who blame the current news crisis on bias.

“There is surely room for media criticism, and a few bad actors in recent years have badly frayed public trust. And, yes, some newspapers are more liberal than their readership and do a lousy job of concealing it.

“But the greater truth is that newspaper reporters, editors and institutions are responsible for the boots-on-the-ground grub work that produces the news stories and performs the government watchdog role so crucial to a democratic republic. Unfortunately, the chorus of media bashing from certain quarters has succeeded in convincing many Americans that they don’t need newspapers.”

Read the full article: Frayed thread in a free society

9 tips from a (super-successful) small paper editor

As the Indian media gets larger and more corporatised, the voice of the small newspaper editor (and owner) is slowly but surely getting snuffed out. It’s almost as if the trials and tribulations of the editors (and owners) of big papers, magazines and TV stations are the only ones that matter.

Star of Mysore, published from the south Indian city of Mysore, is one of India’s most successful English language afternoon newspapers. The 16-page tabloid is 32 years old, sells over 32,000 copies, and has an advertising rate-card and ad-edit ratio that would put most large newspapers in the shade.

Its editor-in-chief K.B. Ganapathy (in picture) spoke to journalism students of the Karnataka State Open University recently, and a couple points he made are worth listening to.

***

# “Sixty-two years after independence, the time has come to change the outdated media laws made by the British to control the natives. If erroneous reports are published, the editor, publisher, and printer have to face the music. But the person who prepared the script and the reporter go scot-free. It falls to the lot of the editor to make trips to the court and face legal action, while at the most the defaulting reporter can be sent home by the management.

“In the early years of newspaper publication, centuries ago, the number of pages used to be one or two or a few more which the editor could read and scrutinise. But today the bulk is such that no editor can scrutinise all the text going into a newspaper.  If the journalist who wrote the offending report is also penalised, it will result in responsibility on his or her part. The frequency of erroneous reporting will also come down.”

Ganapathy also offered tips to budding journalists:

# “I became a journalist out of love for writing and it still continues. This medium does not bring in money. Money can be earned only through blackmail or yellow journalism. Students should make journalism as their career only if service is their motto, not money.

1) Develop a healthy curiosity about everything

2) Aspire for a high level of general knowledge

3) Use your common sense

4) Develop the reading habit and read vociferously

5) Develop a rich vocabulary but show restraint in how you use it

6) Be confident but do not think only you are right

7) Avoid bias in spite of having to write bitter facts

8) Evaluate yourself regularly, and

9) Learn to work as part of a team.

Text and photograph: courtesy Star of Mysore

A newspaper that updates itself as you read?

Is a newspaper with up-to-the-minute news and score cards, photographs that “move”, and a built-in Googler, the only escape route to prevent the inevitable that seems to be staring the industry in the face?

The fluid interfaces group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s media lab has unveiled “Sixth Sensea wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with that information”—at TED, and it does hold out hope for newspapers.

The genius behind the device? Pranav Mistry, a PhD student of Indian origin.

Also read: Loo York Times: All the news that’s fit to flush

Honey, look what they did to the newspaper

Read Pranav Mistry’s profile here, interview here

Link via Madhu Gopinath Rao

MUST WATCH: Business interview of the year

Question: How did the mighty American media miss the financial meltdown?

Answer: The same way the mighty American media missed George W. Bush‘s lies on Saddam Hussein‘s weapons of mass destruction.

That’s not a Q&A from Jon Stewart‘s grilling of Jim Cramer, host of CNBC ‘s revealingly titled show, Mad Money, but it could well have been.

Cramer, “the Howard Beale of business journalism”, popped up on The Daily Show on Thursday night, obviously to defend the business channel which had been roasted by America’s #1 comedian for not  being alert, for not doing its job, for being reckless in its advice and analysis.

What Cramer got was not the chance to clear the channel’s name but the kind of lashing that should remind journalists in general and business journalists in particular that, in the end, our profession is really about the people, the man on the street, the aam admi, the average Joe.

# “I understand that you want to make finance entertaining, but it’s not a fucking game.”

# “Instead of being a very powerful tool of illumination, it feels like we [the people] are capitalizing your [CNBC’s] adventure by our pensions.”

# “It is a game that you know is going on, but you go on television as a financial network and pretend it isn’t happening.”

# “Isn’t there a problem selling snake oil as vitamin tonic? What is the responsibility of the people who cover Wall Street? Who are you responsible to?”

Watch the full episode: The Daily Show

Also read: How come the media didn’t spot Satyam fraud

Biggest corporate fraud is now biggest coverup

Romenesko: ‘An entertainment show on business’

Businessweek: Stewart thrashes Cramer

Associated Press: Stewart hammers Cramer