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Archive for March, 2009
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# “Sixty-two years after independence, the time has come to change the outdated media laws made by the British to control the natives.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
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 Sense—a 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.
Link via Madhu Gopinath Rao
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
How to find new revenue streams in online and mobile digital platforms? How to design and integrate newsrooms for the multimedia era?
Those are some of the big questions facing global media today, and Innovation Media Consulting Group is coming to India to hold a series of one-day seminars.
The aims: to challenge management and editorial teams to rethink the business, to push through reforms, and to inject some positive thinking into the leadership of news organisations.
Interested? Write to Juan Antonio Giner of Innovation.
Whoever said journalism is the last resort of those who couldn’t get into any other humanity-enhancing profession?
Surely, not Vishnu Vardhan Reddy of the University of North Dakota.
Mail Today reports that the 31-year-old who worked as a sub-editor at a New Delhi newspaper in 1999, has made a career in the United States scouring the skies for undiscoverred asteroids. And in six years at UND, has discovered close to two dozen of them.
“I have also discovered variable stars (that change their brightness), binary stars (two stars going around each other) and supernova (violent stars that explode),” Reddy, who was born near India’s rocket launching station at Sriraharikota, tells the paper.
In January this year, Reddy, who is a PhD candidate in the UND department of earth system science and policy, received an official OK from the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to name an asteroid he discovered “North Dakota”.
Photograph: courtesy Vishnu Vardhan Reddy
On the day after India’s Election Commission (EC) announced the dates for the general elections last week, every single newspaper in India predictably led with the news on page 1.
All except The Times of India.
“The world’s largest selling English newspaper“, on the other hand, had a four-page wraparound announcing the second edition of Lead India, a superb campaign exhorting citizens to get their hands dirty by taking part in the “greatest democratic exercise in the world”.
It is routine to hear super-achievers claim that the ultimate stamp of approval of their achievement comes when they are recognised and rewarded by their peers and compatriots.
Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman, in a discussion with the editorial staff of the New Delhi-based Indian Express, strikes a discordant note:
“People ask me what I do for a living. I tell them I am a translator from English to English. I sit down with that banker who really can only speak in the tongue of the financial market and I take that and I turn it into something simple that, hopefully, readers can understand.
“The trick is to make something much more readable without losing the complexity. We are in the communications business and sometimes we forget that. We are not in the obfuscation business and I have never written for my colleagues.
“I don’t want to win the journalist-of-the-year award from my colleagues. I want to win it from my readers. The reason why you should never read your critics is that if you do, you start writing for them and your reader picks up the paper and says, what the hell is this about?”
Read the full article: ‘There’s no Wall Street or Main Street, only one street, and we are all on it‘
Photograph: courtesy Discovery
With competition in the air, Deccan Herald, Bangalore’s oldest English newspaper and one of India’s few single-city newspapers, has undergone a complete design overhaul.
On the left is DH of Friday, 6 March 2009; on the right is Saturday’s redesigned paper.
The man behind the redesign is Palmer Watson, the head of an international design consultancy which has been responsible for creating the design of Le Monde and El Pais, among other newspapers.
For a city emanating from coffeeland, the text typeface of the new DH is Expresso. An article introducing the new design claims DH is the first paper in the world to feature Clan as its main display font.
“The new masthead… exemplifies the can-do and youngish personality of the new DH. The promos—bolder and more colourful—are intended to hit eyeballs and kindle your interest.”
Read the article: Welcome to the new-look Deccan Herald
The latest issue of India Today magazine carries the annual ranking of the 50 most powerful people in the country, and 13 media worthies find a mention.
All but two of them have shown an improvement over last year’s ranking. Remarkably, only one major English newspaper group is on the list.
The brothers Samir and Vineet Jain who run The Times of India group, come in at No.8 (up one place from No. 9 last year); Raghav Bahl of Network 18 is at 15 (up from No.18); Ronnie Screwvala of UTV is at No. 20 (up from No. 24); Subhash Chandra of Zee Network is at No. 22 (up from No. 20); Kalanidhi and Dayanidhi Maran of Sun Networkare at No. 24 (up from No. 31); Ramesh and Sudhir Agarwal of Dainik Bhaskar are at No. 35 (up from No. 37); uncle and nephew Mahendra Mohan and Sanjay Gupta are at No. 39 (up from No. 45); Rajeev Chandrashekhar of Asianet and Suvarna is at No 46 (up from No. 50).
The only media barons whose stock has gone down are Prannoy and Radhika Roy of NDTV who are at No. 42, down 20 places from No. 22 last year.
Missing from last year’s list is T. Venkattram Reddy of Deccan Chronicle and Asian Age.
As always, though, the masala is in the fineprint.
Indu Jain, we are told, no longer visits office. Samir’s daughter Trishala‘s soon-to-be-husband is already ensconced on the fourth floor of Times House in Delhi. Raghav Bahl watches Balika Vadhu. Screwvala has moved into a home in Breach Candy in Bombay that he and his wife Zarina Khote worked on for five years. Subhash Chandra practises Vipassana for 45 minutes every day. Kalanidhi’s “centre of gravity” is his daughter Kaviya. Rajeev Chandrasekhar has Ferraris, BMWs and India’s largest collection of Land Rovers in his fleet, although his favourite is a red Lamborghini.