Daily Archives: 7 May 2009

Two diseases of separation between us & ’em

Arianna Huffington, appearing at a US Senate hearing on the future of journalism, on the difference between traditional media and new media:

“Traditional media has been afflicted with Attention Deficit Disorder. They are far too quick to drop a story-even a good one, in their eagerness to move on to the Next Big Thing. Online journalists have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. They chomp down on a story and stay with it, refusing to move off it until they’ve gotten down to the marrow.”

Read the full article: ADD vs OCD

Photograph: courtesy Huffington Post

Link courtesy Nikhil L.


‘Indian media holding Indian democracy ransom’

The Wall Street Journal‘s bureau chief in India, Paul Beckett, has a major piece on the rampant corruption in the Indian media in the ongoing election coverage, with advertising masquerading as news for a fee, and neither readers nor voters being told about the deal.

Brokers, he writes, are offering package deals for coverage in newspapers, for front-page pictures, for interviews, for printing press releases verbatim, etc.

Thankfully, he reassures us that “the best-known English-language dailies typically don’t do it so blatantly”.

Beckett quotes the former chief election commissioner N. Gopalaswami as saying that he had heard of newspapers having a rate card for positive coverage and another for not negative coverage, and that this is not something that can be ignored.

“The nation’s newspapers usually play either vigilante cop exposing wrongdoing in the public interest (on a good day, at a few publications) or spineless patsy killing stories on the orders of powerful advertisers. Many papers also engage in practices that cross the ethical line between advertising and editorial in a way that is opaque, if not downright obscure, to readers.

“But it is of another order of magnitude to see reporters, editors and newspaper owners holding the democratic process to ransom. A free (in every sense) press is an integral part of a vibrant democracy. A corrupt press is both symptom and perpetrator of a rotten democracy.”

Read the full article: Want press coverage? Give me some money

Also read: Forget the news, you can’t trust the ads either

Sucheta Dalal on selling news and buying silence

The scoreline: different strokes for different folks

Salil Tripathi: The first casualty of a cosy deal is credibility

In prosperous Gujarat, everybody can buy media

For the record, anything goes (* Conditions apply)

Several Indian newspapers and magazines have taken to running a disclaimer on advertisements to insulate themselves from “liabilities”.

For instance, The Times of India group runs this on its classified advertising pages:


But the right-wing English daily newspaper, The Pioneer has, well, pioneered a disclaimer which appears to include its editorial content.


“Merely for reference”?

“Do not owe any responsibility for any damage or loss to any person”?

“This work”?

Newspaper as a journal of record?

Look, who wants to be a journo (after rebirth)

Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, 66, who has had a tempestuous relationship with the media:

“I would like to be a journalist. In fact in my interviews that I had given in the 1970s, I mentioned during most of them that I want to become a journalist in my next life.

“I say this because I feel that it is a very difficult task since sometimes your conscience doesn’t match with reality and that’s where you want to go home and tear yourself apart and take a decision.”

In his next film Rann (meaning: Battle) directed by Ram Gopal Varma, Bachchan plays a media baron, a character rumoured to be the based on the life and times of a bearded TV honcho:

“What will the media do if torn between commerce on one hand and conscience on the other–that is the premise of this film.”

Illustration: courtesy BAFTA