Monthly Archives: October 2009

It ain’t over till the fat lady & the slim boy sing

The latest round of State elections has ended with a clear victor in each State, but the bragging rights has only just begun.

CNN-IBN, quoting Television Audience Measurement (TAM) ratings, claims it was “India’s most watched English news channel across audience groups across India on polling day. The channel was the leader in all-India market across target groups (TGs).”

Times Now, citing data released by aMap, says it recorded more viewers than its nearest competitors put together.

The claims of NDTV 24×7 are eagerly awaited.

Also read: Never let facts come in the way of a good story

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BBC journalists secure abducted cop’s release

BBC News_Subir Bhaumik_23012009

It’s one of journalism’s oldest questions: should journalists in the line of duty play a part in unfolding news events?

Should they be the eyes and ears of their audience at all times, as expected of their profession, regardless of the situation? Or, are there occasions when exceptions can be made like, say, a life at risk?

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta, MD, while reporting from Iraq in 2003, conducted an emergency brain surgery on an Iraqi boy. Yesterday, in West Bengal, two senior BBC journalists helped broker a compromise between the State government and Maoists, leading to the safe release of an abducted police officer.

The policeman had been kidnapped after a raid on the police office three days earlier and held him hostage demanding the release of 14 tribal women.

According to a report in The Times of India, the BBC journos stepped in and acted as “facilitators and served as a bridge between the rebels and the government” when the leader of the Maoists Koteshwara Rao alias Kishenji, refused to deal directly with State officials.

“Initially, the government was a bit confused. On Wednesday morning, they sought our help. Having worked in the North-East for several years, I have been involved in facilitating several such hostage negotiations. We wanted to start a dialogue immediately but couldn’t since we needed at least one government official to participate but there was none,” the BBC’s veteran eastern India correspondent Subir Bhaumik is quoted as saying.

Subir Bhaumik later reported the story of the policeman’s release for the BBC without mentioning the role played by him in it. All’s well that ends well, of course, but what if the journalists had been caught in the crossfire between the Maoists and the State police?

There is also a strange irony in the involvement of journalists to secure the policeman’s release from the grip of Maoists. In late September, a top Maoist leader Chattradhar Mahato had been nabbed by police who were dressed up as journalists of a Singapore TV station. The impersonation had led to an outcry among journalists.

Photograph: courtesy Subir Bhaumik

Read the full reportJournalists brokered cop’s release

Also read: Dressing up (and dressing down) as journalists

Michael Moore takes on Sanjay Gupta of CNN

Anybody here who’s Hindu and wants to convert?

indianexpress

In the 1980s and ’90s, the undivided Indian Express, it was rumoured, was loathe to hiring Muslim journalists because of the pronounced pro-Hindu sentiment of its proprietor Ramnath Goenka, although there were exceptions to the rule like Saeed Naqvi and Rasheeda Bhagat.

Thankfully, that trend changed with the death of the old man and the division in the family. Now, it is the turn of the paper to point fingers at others still indulging in religion-based segregation.

Facsimile: courtesy The Indian Express

Iran to China, Newsweek has the story covered

NEWSWEEK FAREED ZAKARIA Newsweek magazine cover

More wisdom from the all-seeing, all-knowing editors of Newsweek*.

On the left, the cover of the June 1, 2009 issue. Coverline: “Everything you think you know about Iran is wrong“.

On the right, the cover of the October 26, 2009 issue. Coverline: “Everything you know about China is wrong“.

Also read: Who, why, when, how, where, what, what the…

How a slumdweller became a Newsweek reporter

*Disclosures apply

Sting camera that Amitabh Bachchan didn’t see

bachhancamera

The BBC’s “star of the millennium”, Amitabh Bachchan, has always had a hate-hate relationship with the media, except when he has had to love it to push a product or push himself, which is usually the same thing.

In the first week of his 67th year in the solar system (birthday: October 11),  Mr Bachchan has got his long legs entangled in a classic multimedia landmine.

This time with the Bombay tabloid MiD-DaY.

The paper’s executive editor Abhijit Majumder had sought an interview with the actor to mark his birthday, his 40 years in Bollywood, and the launch of BiggBoss 3. Bachchan, says he was initially willing to do an interview only by email, but relented to give a face-to-face interview.

The interview was published and, not surprisingly, as is usual with celebrities who think an interview is an advertisement, Bachchan complains on his blog that “it did not do justice to the responses I had given”.

What was surprising, says Bachchan, is that a video clip of the interview appeared on MiD-DaY’s website.

Writes he:

“I had never expected either the paper or any one else to have posted something which I would be unaware of. [And] now realize why Mr Majumdar wanted a personal meeting. He had placed a small “sting” camera on the table in front of me, without informing me that the interview was being video taped as well. He never told me that they had a video net facility in operation and that the recorded interview would find a place there.”

Bachchan accuses the editor of dishonesty and says the reason he had sought a one-on-one interview was with the “mala fide intent of recording the interview to be used as a live input on a video electronic facility medium that your paper runs.”

Video electronic facility medium, indeed.

But Majumder has hit back in the paper, printing a photograph of the actor sitting comfortably in front of the “sting” camera, and charging the actor of introducing a new word into journalism: a “sting of one’s own legitimate interview“.

Majumder says he had mentioned to Bachchan in the presence of the paper’s photographer and two unknown gentlemen who also seemed to be videotaping it, that the interview would be recorded on audio and video; that he had asked the actor’s secretary if he could bring along a photographer and somebody to video-record the interview.

“Either you are lying or I am. I would like to believe it is neither; it’s just your memory playing tricks at twilight.”

Of course, it is possible for a 67-year-old to have not spotted the device in front of him. Maybe he thought it was a simple tape-recorder like in the good ol’ days.

But an actor who fails to see a camera lens?

Photograph: courtesy Pradeep Dhivar/ MiD-Day

Link via Anamika Sengupta

Knight News Challenge: Win upto Rs 25 crore

NEWS RELEASE: The John F. and James L. Knight Foundation has extended upto 15 December 2009, the deadline for the the global Knight News Challenge that awards up to $5 million (approximately Rs 25 crore) for ideas that use digital experiments to transform community news.

The Knight News Challenge is open to innovators worldwide and has three rules: “Projects must use digital, open-source technology, distribute news in the public interest and be tested in a local community.”

The contest, now its fourth year, has chosen 35 winners from 7,000 entries.

Applicants can enter under the “open category, which allows the public to view and comment on their submissions, or the “closed” category, for those who are not ready to make their ideas public.

For more information: see the video, read the FAQ

For applications: click here

Link via Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas