Monthly Archives: June 2009

When magazine editor marries starlet, it’s news


Journalists marrying movie stars and celebrities is not unheard-of but is not routine.

The editor of San Francisco Chronicle Phil Bronstein did a stint as Mr Sharon Stone, and various Hollywood flicks (think Roman Holiday) have also immortalised celluloid romances between hacks and bold-faced name.

But generally the scrappy job and miserable pay, not to speak of curmudgeonly faces, have rendered journalists unmarketable on the romance/ marriage market.

“Not tonight, darling, I have a deadline.”

Take a bow, Che Kurien.

Che-Kurien_365The editor of the Indian edition of the men’s magazine GQ is rumoured to have tied the knot with the starlet Antara Mali. Antara, the daughter of the film photographer Jagadish Mali, was the muse of the Bollywood movie maker Ram Gopal Varma.

Kurien was earlier with Reuters, Time Out and the Indian Express.

Photographs: courtesy photobucket (top); Campaign India


In a democracy, prince and pauper beg together


Given the kind of space, importance and attention newspapers, magazines and websites give photographs these days, it would not be unfair to say that the just-concluded general elections was visually below-par. There was no stellar frame, no standout picture, no large canvas frame that sticks in the mind’s eye.


‘Astro’ Mohan (in picture, left) of the Kannada daily Udayavani was one of the few to buck the trend. In Udupi, Mohan managed to capture the Karnataka BJP president D.V. Sadananda Gowda “begging” for votes in a commuter bus, while a real beggar was begging for alms alongside.

The picture has won the first prize in the Shooter photo competition organised by the online photo community, Fotoflock. The well-known photographer Fawzan Husain chose the winners.

“It’s a very timely shot where the photographer has been able to shoot people from two different walks of life doing the same thing in a bus. Very rarely does one come across this kind of a situation,” reads the citation.

For his rigours, Mohan has won the Epson Stylus Photo TX700W.

For the record, Sadananda Gowda won the elections; the fate of the beggar is not known.

Photographs: courtesy Karnataka Photo News

Also read: The only difference is a heart that doesn’t beat

Who will book the offender on the wrong side of the road?

Also view: The big picture: India’s massive general elections

Media freedom is what separates India & China

No media debate on Asia is complete with0ut comparing India to China, or vice-versa. Even among middle-class media consumers, there is a barely disguised contempt for the slow pace of growth in democratic India, for all the “obstacles” in the path of progress and development, compared with the frenetic pace in The Middle Kingdom.

But is there a comparison to be made at all?

Is China really in India’s league, notwithstanding the growth rate, the forex reserves, etc? This is a CNN video of its Beijing correspondent attempting to go to Tiananmen Square on 4 June 2009, the 20th anniversary of the massacre, before being engulfed by umbrella-weilding “undercover” police.

As the legendary Atlantic Monthly correspondent James Fallows, now based in Beijing, writes:

“This is the kind of thing that makes you hold your head and say: Rising major power in the world?”

And this, on top of a ban on Twitter and Facebook, and censorship of television stories which begin with “In China today…” or “Twenty years ago in Bei….”

Also read: James Fallows: The June 4 report

T.J.S. George in China: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI

‘The media’s Obama infatuation is worrisome’

The Pew Research Center’s project for excellence in journalism shows that US president Barack Obama has received more positive media coverage (42 per cent) in his first months in office, more than either Bill Clinton (27%) or George W. Bush (22%).


Robert J. Samuelson in Newsweek:

“The Obama infatuation is a great unreported story of our time. The press—on domestic, if not foreign, policy—has so far largely abdicated its role as skeptical observer.

“The infatuation matters because Obama’s ambitions are so grand…. Journalists seem to take his pronouncements at face value even when many are two-faced.

“The cause of this acquiescence isn’t clear. The press sometimes follows opinion polls; popular presidents get good coverage, and Obama is enormously popular…. Perhaps the preoccupation with the present economic crisis has diverted attention from the long-term implications of other policies.

“But the deeper explanation may be as straightforward as this: Most journalists like Obama; they admire his command of language; he’s a relief after Bush; they agree with his agenda (so it never occurs to them to question basic premises); and they don’t want to see the first African American president fail.”

Read the full article: The Obama infatuation

Also read: Why journalists like Barack Obama

How global media covered Obama inauguration

Free, frank, fearless? No. Grubby, greedy, gutless.

A significant outcome of the 2009 general elections has been the “outing” of the corruption in the Indian news media. What was earlier, usually, seen as an individual transgression has grown and morphed into an institutional malaise with long-term implications for our democracy which the aam admi is still to recognise.

Most cases of corruption in the media have so far involved the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Enter, Karnataka.

M.V. Rajeev Gowda, son of former assembly speaker M.V. Venkatappa and a Wharton PhD who teaches at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, writes of the “perversion of the media’s role in a democracy” while campaigning for a friend (presumably a Congressman) during the recent polls.

“Instead of being a neutral, dispassionate observer of what’s going on, media houses milked the election to make big bucks. Representatives of media houses approached candidates promising them coverage in exchange for money.

“Of course, I advised my friend not to succumb because I was confident that we could get substantial coverage just by coming out with different media-oriented events and activities. And we did manage to do that. For free!

“But overall, other candidates jumped on the opportunity to get coverage. And there lies the problem. If coverage just involved reporting on the candidate’s vision, track record and activities, it wouldn’t be that much of an issue. It becomes a challenge when readers cannot differentiate between unbiased reportage and paid advertorials.

“This time, the difference between the two was very difficult to discern. One had to carefully look for “Special Feature” or some other tell-tale sign, which is generally not prominent enough for readers to separate fact and opinion from mercenary fiction.

“I remember the time Ramnath Goenka used to boldly declare that the Indian Express was Free, Frank and Fearless. I don’t know about that newspaper, but many others during this election were just Grubby, Greedy, and Gutless.”

Read the entire article: Notes from the Campaign Trail-III