Monthly Archives: May 2009

But why are we only testing water-boarding?

Christopher Hitchens tried it almost a year ago and lasted all of a few seconds.

Now, right-wing radio host Erich “MancowMuller has done so again, fared no better, and come to the same conclusion: Yes, waterboarding is torture.

Sure, in the context of the debate in the United States over the interrogation techniques adopted by the previous Goerge W. Bush administration, all this “experiential journalism” makes for a fine spectacle, but how about going hungry for a few days (like in sub-Saharan Africa), facing a few bombs (Iraq, Afghanistan),living with the Taliban (Pakistan), living without a roof (everywhere), etc, to drive the point home?

Read the Alternet article: Radio host gets waterboarded

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‘I never learned a thing when I was talking’

“There’s something I learned long ago: I never learned a thing when I was talking,” says Larry King, host of CNN’s Larry King Live, answering readers’ queries in Time.

Q: Whom do you most want to interview that you haven’t yet?

A: Fidel Castro certainly. Always wanted to interview a Pope. Any Pope. And J.D. Salinger, who is probably the most impossible interview to get. The Catcher in the Rye had a major impact on me. I’d ask him, “Where’d you go? Why’d you stop writing? Did you run dry after four books?” That just boggles me. That’s something I could never do. Disappear from the scene.

Photograph: courtesy New York Times

Read the other nine questions and answers: Larry King

2 new biz publications in 4 days of Cong win

forbes india

New business publications are raining in India after the unexpected scale of triumph of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in the general elections on May 16.

On Monday, May 18, the Indian facsimile edition of The Wall Street Journal was launched in association with the Indian Express group with long-time WSJ man Suman Dubey at the helm. And on Thursday, May 21, the Indian edition of Forbes published by Network 18 and edited by Indrajit Gupta hit the stands.

“Why invest in a magazine when readership is dwindling all over the globe?” Raghav Bahl, the founder and editor of Network 18 writes in the premiere issue of Forbes:

“Because India is in a transformational phase unmatched in human history. Demographic mobility is creating a huge generation of first-time readers, who will simultaneously watch TV and begin to surf the Net. This demographic push is wo wide and deep that many will not skip the “touch and feel paper-reading phase” of their advancement into newly literate adults. But the magazines for this “digital and paper” generation will have to morph and evolve. They will have to go beyond the first information reports screaming on television and web sites. Magazine editorial will have to become like second-skin analysis, get closer to the bone, display more shades, investigate deeper, be more sensitive, deal with ambiguities, explain the greys and tell it with new-age chutzpah and design.”

An India edition of Financial Times is also on the cards, and ET Now, the business channel of The Times of India group is due to go on the air any time now.

Also read: Is this man the new media mogul of India?

An Indian address for ‘The Capitalist Tool’

The 11 habits of India’s most powerful media pros

Will journalism soon be Twitterature in a hurry?

Monica Hesse of The Washington Post has gleaned some advice from authors of forthcoming books on Twitter how to get the best out of 140 characters allowed in each Tweet:

# Make It Participatory: Use discussion and self-reflecting, philosophical questions, rather than simple questions like “What are you doing?”

# Make it Art: Each Tweet should contain personality, creating a Twitter persona that people want to follow.

# Make It Universal: Avoid using Tweets with specific contexts, because they will be vague to users who do not have personal knowledge about you.

Link via Knight Center at the University of Texas at Austin

Shankar Vedantam named Nieman fellow

shankar

Shankar Vedantam, a national science reporter at The Washington Post, has been named among 24 American and international journalists to join the 72nd class of Nieman fellows at Harvard.

Bangalore-born Shankar will “study solutions to collective action problems and explore how online social networks might solve public policy challenges. He also will study how perceptions of intraracial differences influence education, politics and the criminal justice system.”

Photograph: courtesy American Psychological Assocation

When an Indian journo shouted at Prabhakaran

Dozens of journalists have written on the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Velupillai Prabhakaran, whose death was announced to the world by Sri Lanka on Tuesday, May 18.

On rediff.com, Athimuthu Ganesh Nadar writes of his encounter with Prabhakaran seven years ago when he was among 350 international journalists who attended a press conference in Killinochi.

“I and several others had their hands raised for the entire hour. Nothing happened! Only the BBC, CNN, and The New York Times took turns asking questions.

“”I lost my head, I jumped up and screamed in Tamil, “Ungalukku vellaikaran rombu pedichirndal engalaya yen kuptinga, nangallum kadalay thandi, naady thandi vandu erukkirom. (You like only white people, why did you invite us? We too have crossed the ocean, crossed borders to meet you).”

“Luckily I screamed in Tamil. I believe that is the only reason the LTTE did not shoot me.

“Prabhakaran did not react. [LTTE ideologue] Anton Balasingham came to his feet, “Sorry, sorry please don’t be upset, please ask your question.”

“I forgot to introduce myself, I forgot to tell them my organisation’s name. I managed to ask in a faltering voice, “There are 240 countries in the world, why Norway?””

Read the full article: The day I met Prabhakaran

Never let facts come in the way of a good story

Times

The general elections in India might have thrown up a clear winner, but the general elections on TV continue to throw up a fractured mandate. Nothing illustrates this better than the claims and counter-claims of the TV stations on who captured more eyeballs on counting day, May 16.

Times Now poll coverge tops viewership ratings,” reads the headline of a news story in The Times of India which owns the channel.

Times Now wins the election,” screams an advertisement in the same paper.

“According to viewership data compiled by Audience Measurement and Analytics Ltd, Times Now was ahead on counting day, May 16, with 8.05 GRPs, followed by NDTV 24×7 with 5.84 GRPs and CNN-IBN with 3.77 GRPs,” reads The Times story.

(GRPs is short for gross rating points, the currency used by advertisers to measure the popularity or reach of a TV channel. The higher it is, the larger its viewership is supposed to be.)

However, according to a report in Business Standard, among the English news channels, NDTV 24×7 had the highest GRP of 3.7 on counting day May 16, followed by Times Now (3.6) and CNN-IBN (2.7). In other words, Times Now was second, not first in the ratings.

Times Now claims it has been number one for 26 weeks since its coverage of the November 26 terror attack on Bombay and that the channel’s lead grew in the pre-poll period. But another rival, CNN-IBN, has claimed it was No.1 on at least three of the five polling days, quoting TAM (Television Audience Measurement) ratings.

For its part, NDTV 24×7 claims that a 13-city opinion poll (sample size 5,240) shows it was the most watched of the news channels during the election results coverage, with more viewership than all the other four channels put together.

“These viewership figures are in many ways more accurate than TAM ratings, which can easily be fiddled with and have increasingly become synonymous with corruption and money power,” says NDTV.

***

As if to underline the gap between English media and language media, BS says Aaj Tak clocked GRPs of 20.2, followed by Star News 17.2 and India TV 13.1. English news channels usually get an average GRP of around 1 or less on an average day.

Aaj Tak was No. 1 on polling day,” reads the headline of a story in the tabloid Mail Today, both of which are owned by the India Today group. “Aaj Tak was the most searched news source on Google India on May 16… In the 100 key words for the day, variants of Aaj Tak featured four times.”

If journalism, old or new, is about the truth, Indian television stations seem to be stumbling at the first post.

Cross-posted on churumuri