Monthly Archives: January 2010

A columnist more ‘powerful’ than all media pros

There are 12 media professionals—proprietors, promoters, publishers, editors—in the Indian Express list of the 100 most powerful Indians in 2010, but an irregular columnist is listed to be more powerful than all of them.

The quirky list, which makes no mention of the methodology or the jury, has two newcomers from the 2009 list—columnist Arun Shourie and TV anchor Barkha Dutt—and shows the door to three others.

Like last year, the IE list chronicles the kinks of the boldfaced names. And like year, Express has diligently kept editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta‘s name out of the reckoning.


# No. 38: Arun Shourie, journalist turned politician: “He asks all visitors to his library to take off their shoes before they enter.” (new entry)

# No. 53: Sameer Jain and Vineet Jain, chairman and managing director, Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd: “Sameer’s daughter and son-in-law are being groomed to take leadership positions.”

# No. 70: N.Ram, editor-in-chief, The Hindu: “He is very fond of western classical music.”

# No. 72: Kalanidhi Maran and Dayanidhi Maran, Sun network: “Daya never misses his evening walk; Kalanidhi owns a Lamborghini.”

# No. 73: Raghav Bahl, founder Network 18: “The TV veteran is terribly camera-shy.”

# No. 76: Shobhana Bhartia, Hindustan Times: “Owns one of the finest sari collections among women entrepreneurs.”

# No. 77: M.M. Gupta and Sanjay Gupta, Dainik Jagran: “Sanjay is a fitness freak, uncle sets agenda at work.”

# No. 79: Aveek Sarkar, editor-in-chief, Ananda Bazaar Patrika Group: “He is in the business of news but doesn’t like to speak to the media.”

# No. 82: Barkha Dutt, group editor, NDTV: “A blogger who slammed her 26/11 coverage had to say sorry.” (new entry)


# Out from the 2009 list: Prannoy Roy, founder, NDTV (No. 61) ; Prabhu Chawla, editor, India Today (No. 71); Ramesh Chandra Agarwal, chairman, Daink Bhaskar (No. 88)

Also read: 26% of India’s most powerful are media barons

The 11 habits of India’s most powerful media pros

Arun Shourie: ‘Intolerant. Abusive. Dictatorial.’

Is a bank not allowed to change its newspaper?

PRESS RELEASE: “T. Venkattram Reddy, president, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), strongly condemns the direction issued vide a circular dated 15 December 2009  by the deputy general manager (P&E) of the Kerala State Co-operative Bank Limited, Kerala, to all senior managers of the bank directing the branch offices of the bank to stop subscription of the Malayalam daily being subscribed and make available Deshabhimani daily, a Malayalam daily published by a major political party, which is in power in Kerala, at their offices.

“This is in gross violation of the spirit of the constitutional provisions and a direct threat to the freedom of the press.   It is clearly a restriction imposed by a government bank to curtail circulation and tantamount to promoting and marketing of a newspaper published by a political party in power.

“Freedom of the press cannot be curtailed by   administrative guidance or instructions, which clearly lack the sanction of law.”

Sports writing, statistically full of shit?

Sports writing has been ranked the No.1 “statistically full-of-shit profession” by Cracked magazine. In other words, the so-called “expertise” of sports writers amounts to little more than a shot in the goddamn dark.

And they have the numbers to back their claim.

“An actual study on sportswriters’ ability to predict college and national football league games discovered their success rate to be 0.476, which you may notice is slightly worse than a coin….

“Even Accuscore, a service that charges for its sports predictions based on complex computer algorithms that crunch stats and predict trends, only claims about 53 to 54 percent accuracy, which is still enough to make its customers money.”

Read the full article: Statistically full of shit professions

Deloitte: micropayment will be all bark, no bite

The global consulting firm Deloitte has released its predictions for the media sector in 2010.

Deloitte India’s media leader Ashesh Jani says, “there will be ongoing challenges for the newspaper and magazine industry, which will continue to threaten to charge readers for online content but that talk is unlikely to be matched by significant action.”

“In 2010, the newspaper and magazine industry will continue to threaten to charge readers for online content, however that talk is unlikely to be matched by action.

“Publishers rumoured to be thinking about pay walls may ultimately decide against it, or are choosing hybrid models where most content is free, while charging only for a limited quantity of premium content.

“Publishers who use pay walls need to maintain and publicise the premium nature of their content. Excessive cost-cutting could devalue the brand.

“Online readers might be willing to become micropayment customers, but only if the content is good enough and worth the effort. For some, acquiring an article for 30 cents online may not justify the time taken to enter credit card details.

“Also, the value of the micropayment strategy to the content provider requires volume: one micropayment per customer every two weeks might result in transaction costs exceeding gross margins.”

Link via K.R. Balasubramanyam

For a copy of the report, mail Deloitte corporate communications manager Mallika Kumar:

There are two types of journos in the world…

Robert Thompson, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, in The Australian:

“It is becoming clear that there are two personality types in the world of content: the creators and the reverberators. The latter group is merely an editorial echo chamber: the noise is sometimes interesting, but they are neither composers nor musicians.

“If we make a comparison to tennis, in which the sublime Spaniard Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer fight out a final on centre court, the reverberators are like ball boys and ball girls. If one stretches the imagination you can almost imagine Arianna Huffington and Eric Schmidt scurrying around the court, part of the event but not why you pay money to attend.”

Read the full article: End of the world as we know it

Link via Nikhil Moro via Facebook

How a newspaper welcomed the new republic

The front page of the Bangalore newspaper Deccan Herald 60 years ago, on 26 January 1950, the day India became a republic.

Launched in 1948, the paper was then edited by the legendary Pothan Joseph, who, besides editing The Dawn when it was started in Delhi by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, also had a role to play in the Hindustan Times, The Mail and The Hindu.

Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria gets Padma Bhushan

Fareed Zakaria, the Bombay-born editor of Newsweek International and the host of CNN’s GPS, has been decorated with India’s third highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan.

Zakaria’s name finds mention in the annual Republic Day honours’ list released by the ministry of home affairs.

Zakaria, whose mother Fatma Zakaria was one of the stellar names of the now-defunct Illustrated Weekly of India under Khushwant Singh, is the only journalist on this year’s list of 130 names, in this the 60th year of the founding of the Indian republic.

“I am deeply honoured and humbled. I am absolutely delighted to be in the company of people with extraordinary achievements,” Zakaria told Press Trust of India.

“I believe India and the US are moving on a path of inevitable partnership. (There are) so many broad forces pushing these two countries together — from strategic forces to cultural forces to intellectual force. I believe that we would see the 21st century in which the US and India ideas, interest, values and increasingly cooperate on the global stage.”

Also read: Will this man be the next US secretary of state?

Who, why, when, how, where, what, what the…

Third highest civilian honour for Shekhar Gupta

Why Rajdeep, Barkha must decline Padma Shri

Was this man the Father of Advertising?

Charles Babbage is seen as the father of computers. Vinton G. Cerf is seen as the father of the internet. Norman Borlaug is seen as the father of the green revolution.

Who is the Father of Advertising?

Emperor Ashoka who lived 2,200 years ago, says Prof A.V. Narasimha Murthy, former professor of ancient history and archaeology at the University of Mysore.

Reason: the emperor who lorded over a vast kingdom practically consisting the whole of undivided India, parts of the north-west frontier province and Kandahar, Afghanistan between 272-232 BC, used inscriptions to get the message across to his subjects.

And the inscriptions, the professor says, were akin to modern-day advertisements.

Over 100 have been found on polished pillars which were set up on what would now be considered highways, which were used by elite travellers and tourists. The rural masses were targetted through inscriptions on boulders.

Tellingly, emperor Ashoka used the language that the target group would understand in different parts of his vast, far-flung empire: Northern Brahmi, Southern Brahmi, Aramaic, Greek, Kharosthi.

Typical examples of Ashoka’s “advertisements”:

“Dharma is not the prerogative of the rich; even a poor man can achieve dharma.”

“All men are my children; Just as in regard to my own children, I desire that they may be provided with all welfare and happiness in this world and in the next; the same I desire of all men.”

“King Priyadarshi wishes that all religious sects should live harmoniously in all parts of his dominions. They should perform their duty.”

When even God couldn’t save religion reporters

A grand total of 14,845 journalists lost their jobs in the United States in 2009, according to Paper Cuts. According to Freaknomics, four religion reporters have moved out in just the last month.

Read the full article: 2009 layoffs and buyouts

Link via Freakonomics