Monthly Archives: May 2010

Anything ToI does, the competition can do worse

Over the last two decades, The Times of India group has earned plenty of flak for its marketing and advertising gimmicks that have erased the difference between what constitutes editorial and what is supposed to be advertising.

But what about its glorious competitors?

On top is the front-page wraparound of Monday’s Hindustan Times, with a full-page advertisement of the German automaker Volkswagen.

In italics is the punchline, “Anything that’s specially crafted by hand…”

Clearly as part of the ad campaign, which includes a 16-column ad for the Phaeton on the centrespread of the newspaper, every headline on every multi-column story on every page of the 24-page main section of HT is specially crafted by hand in the same italics font that adorns the Volkswagen ad.

Innovation? Or intrusion?

Does the reader care? Should she?

Also read: A package deal that’s well worth a second look

External reading: Volkswagen India road block: blitzkreig

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A health report male journos will agree with?

Lies, lies and damn fags: Indian women journalists light up more often than ordinary Indian women.

That’s the finding of a month-long study (authored by a male doctor) spanning 1,500 mediapersons in 15 print, television and advertising companies on the occasion of World No-Tobacco Day.

While the national average of Indian women smoking is 1.5 per cent—meaning, out of every 100 women, between one and two women like to take a drag—the average among women journalists is between 5 per cent and 35 per cent, if your poison is The Hindustan Times.

Or has shot up from 5 per cent to 35 per cent if you believe The Indian Express. The comparable figures for men are not known.

The study was conducted by Ravikant Singh of the non-governmental organisation “Doctors for You“.

While women smoking has often been interpreted as an affirmation of their identity as a free and equal person and attributed to peer pressure, Singh reports that women journalists smoke excessively to “curb their hunger pangs”.

Verily, “You’ve come a long way, babies“.

Photograph: Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru helps a British envoy’s wife light up in a picture shot by India’s first woman photojournalist Homai Vyarawala

Wash it down: How well do you know your alphabet?

‘Vijaya Next’ gives ToI Crest a Kannada avatar

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: The Times of India group has unveiled its latest product in Bangalore: Vijaya Next, a broadsheet, all-colour, Kannada weekly for the “upwardly mobile Kannadiga population“.

The 24-page Friday offering, priced at Rs 6, is a customised version of the Crest edition of The Times of India, complete with shades of its aquamarine colour.

And like Crest, the product offering has the usual “upmarket” mix of relationships, health, education, sex, travel, food, fitness, films, celebrities, automotive, gadgets, and sport.

The strategy behind the hurried launch of Vijaya Next, according to insiders, is essentially the same as ToI’s Crest: to slip it along with the group’s flagship Kannada daily Vijaya Karnataka every week and get more out of the customer’s monthly newspaper bill without increasing the cover price of Vijaya Karnataka.

Vijaya Next is edited by Deepak Thimaya, a well-known TV anchor with almost no newspaper journalism experience on his resume barring a few columns, and is produced by residual staff from the Kannada edition of The Times of India, which was shut down in early March at a day’s notice.

(The Kannada edition of ToI had itself been launched in quest of a similar “upwardly mobile” Kannadiga audience after shutting Usha Kirana, the Kannada newspaper that fell into the group’s lap when it bought Vijaya Karnataka and the now-defunct Vijay Times from BJP parliamentarian Vijay Sankeshwar.)

Vijaya Next has been grandly proclaimed in a full-page ad in today’s Times of India (Bangalore market) as the “first-ever Kannada weekly“, although what that means is unclear when full-fledged features weekly magazines such as Sudha from the Praja Vani group and Taranga from the Udaya Vani group, have been available for decades.

Also, there are innumerable Kannada weekly tabloids, part news, part features and part crime, such as Hi! Bangalore, Lankesh, Agni and so on. Most of them do not carry advertisements as a matter of policy and are priced at between Rs 12 and Rs 15 per copy, giving Vijaya Next a price advantage.

But there is little confusion on what the brand managers mean when they say that Vijaya Next will take an “entertaining look” at the world and stories and issues that matter to you.

“Now read all di stories that matter, nimmade bhasheyalli (now read all the stories that matter in your own language),” reads the copy of a half-Kannada, half-English, half-page ad that runs in Vijaya Karnataka, which has lost considerable ground to the Deccan Herald-owned Praja Vani in the last two rounds of the ABC.

If nothing else, Vijaya Next will muddy the waters before Rajeev Chandasekhar‘s Jupiter group begins ploughing in money into Kannada Prabha, in which he bought a stake recently. It will also perhaps prevent him from finding people to staff the paper. Many of the ToI Kannada staff were absorbed in Vijaya Karnataka as a preemptive measure.

Also read: The Times of India to shut down Kannada edition

9-month Express programme in journalism

Express Institute of Media Studies, the journalism school of The Indian Express, is inviting applications for its 9-month programme. The last date to apply is July 3.

Visit the website: Express Institute of Media Studies

Also read: India’s ten best communications schools

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach?

Times School of Journalism seeking applications

‘The PM did his job; it’s the media that didn’t’

Manoj Joshi in Mail Today:

“The Prime Minister alone cannot be blamed for the lacklustre national press conference he held on Monday.

“True, he did not articulate an overarching vision for his government, nor for the country, for what is being touted as our decade of opportunity.

“The media in equal measure failed to extract that vision from him. It got distracted in trivial issues like his retirement or relations with Sonia Gandhi, things on which you are unlikely to get an honest answer through the medium of a press conference anyway, especially from a person who is notoriously reticent.

“By its very nature, the media has a short take on events and developments. Even so, in a national press conference, perhaps the third held by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, their viewers and readers deserved better. They needed to be informed about the government’s longerterm perspective on relations with China, the energy crisis, how the Right to Education or Food Security Bill would work, what would happen if the monsoon failed the second time around and so on.”

Also read: And who’s afraid of a face-to-face powwow?

Why Manmohan Singh Should talk to media more

Does Manmohan Singh not trust Indian media?

Times school of journalism seeking applications

The Times of India‘s school of journalism is inviting applications from graduates under 27 years of age for its business journalism course. The last date to apply is June 10.

Visit the website: Times School of Journalism

Also read: India’s ten best communications schools

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach?

‘Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose’*

* Or the more it changes, the more it remains the same.

“Journalism in India was once a profession. It has now become a trade. It has no more function than the manufacture of soap. It does not regard itself as the responsible adviser of the public.

“To give the news uncoloured by any motive, to present a certain view of public policy which it believes to be for the good of the community, to correcçt and chastise without fear all those, no matter how high, who have chosen a wrong or barren path, is not regarded by journalism in India its first or foremost duty.

“To accept a hero and worship him has become its principal duty. Under it, news gives place to sensation, reasoned opinion to unreasoning passion, appeal to the minds of responsible people to appeal to the emotions of the irresponsible.”

The author? Dr B.R. Ambedkar.

The year? The year of the lord, 1943.