Daily Archives: 3 August 2009

A package deal that’s well worth a second look



The Times of India may have made many sterling contributions to Indian journalism in the first 150 years of its existence, but its chief claim to fame in the last 21 years has been to blur the distinction between editorial and advertisement to the extent of rendering the former irrelevant to journalism.

The Times is, of course, free to do what it pleases. But when the market leader with a stranglehold on circulation and advertising revenue sets such a low editorial benchmark, it leaves little room for “serious” players invested in journalism when confronted by advertisers accustomed to the red-carpet treatment.

Either they have to swallow their pride and follow the leader hoping no one will notice—or risk losing the advertising and falling by the wayside.

A good example is yesterday’s Deccan Herald, the Bangalore based single-City newspaper that was trounced by ToI in its lair over a decade ago and is now facing fresh competition for the No.2 slot from new entrants like DNA and Deccan Chronicle .

DH carries a half-page advertisement for “affordable premium homes” launched by the listed company Puravankara on page 1, and follows up with a news story on the “good response” to the advertiser’s project on page 4 with prose straight from the advertiser’s brochure.

Only the naive would contend that this is the first time an advertiser has taken an expensive ad on the promise of positive coverage in the news columns, but….

Images: courtesy Deccan Herald

Links via Anand V.

Also read: ‘Indian media in deeply murky ethical territory’

When Puravankara says Jayakar Jerome zindabad


Julie & Julia, Betty Crocker and “Premila Lal”

Sourish Bhattacharyya uses the release of Meryl Streep‘s latest film Julie & Julia to talk about India’s best known nom de cuisine, in Mail Today:

“Many years ago, when a journalist working with a leading newspaper in the country was asked to write a cookery column, she chose the name “Premila Lal” because she did not want the column to impede the progress of her career as a serious writer.

“Little did she know that her pen name would take over her life and Premila Lal, the acclaimed cookbook writer, would become an essential part of the trousseau of every newly wed woman at a particular point of time.

“Premila Lal’s story is somewheat similar to that of Betty Crocker, the big difference being that the name that has sold many million copies of the American cookbook is purely the invention of a publisher. There has been no Betty Crocker—it’s not even the pen name of a real person.

“But Julia Child (played by Streep in Nora Ephron‘s film) was real and she made French food a fashion statement in the US after the publication of her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1981. [And so is Julie Powell] for her blog where she recounted her adventures in the kitchen with Julia Child’s recipes.”

So, who was Premila Lal?

Kiki Watsa.