Monthly Archives: June 2011

How Coke and Colgate denied this man his due?

The more things change, the more they remain the same—and nostalgia is no longer what it used to be.

Two-time, stop-gap prime minister Gulzari Lal Nanda‘s death in January 1998 didn’t get its due on the front pages of newspapers because, well, market forces had taken hold of the media in post-reforms India.

In a column in the Delhi tabloid Mail Today, the architect Gautam Bhatia writes:

“Some readers may have noticed that former prime minister Gulzari Lal Nanda’s death could not be covered because Colgate and Coke had both given full page ads that day.

“Editors went so far to request the Nanda family to postpone the death by a day, but Nanda, being an obstinate politician, carried on with his original plan; his death was a two-line obituary below an oversize Coke bottle.”

Nice story.

The bad news is Mahatma Gandhi‘s assassination in 1948 didn’t make it to the front pages of The Hindu either because “India’s national newspaper” only carried ads on page one in the heady days of pre-liberalisation India.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même Coke?

Also read: What a newspaper editor told Mahatma Gandhi

Thus spake the editor-in-chief of the Harijan


When a tennis reporter bumps into a tennis icon

Nirmal Shekar in The Hindu:

“Twenty-five summers ago, on a glorious sunny morning, an egregiously overdressed sports reporter from India walked in circles for almost an hour around Wimbledon Park in south west London before locating the correct point of entry for mediapersons—Gate No. 5—at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

“After security clearance and a good two minutes spent staring at the statue of the last Englishman to have won the men’s title 50 years earlier—Fred Perry—the reporter, heart pounding, feeling a sense of reverence and awe he’d never before experienced in his short career up until then, walked up the steps leading to the Centre Court like an ardent pilgrim on the verge of realising a cherished dream.

“Slowly making his way down those same steps was, to the reporter’s utter disbelief, the great Perry himself, with a broad smile on his handsome, if creased, face.

“As the reporter introduced himself with uncharacteristic shyness, Perry, after patiently answering a few questions, resumed his journey down the steps. Then, quickly turning around, he asked: “Is it your first Wimbledon visit?”

“‘Yes,’ muttered The Hindu’s newly-designated Tennis Correspondent, fidgeting with the notepad on which he had just scribbled down Perry’s comments.

“‘Enjoy yourself. You will never forget the experience,’ said Perry.”

Read the full article: Why Wimbledon stands alone

Photograph: courtesy M. Hangst/All England law tennis and croquet club

Also read: What’s in a name when it’s all about a soundbyte

Mixed metaphor bhath

External reading: What’s it like for a reporter covering Wimbledon?

BBC Hindi Service gets a fresh lease of life

The protests and signature campaigns have borne fruit: BBC’s Hindi Service has been saved from closure.

British foreign secretary William Hague has announced an additional 2.2 million pounds for the BBC World Service over the next three years, which will enable continuation of the Hindi and Arabic services.

Hague’s statement confirms chairman of BBC Trust Lord Chris Patten‘s efforts to ensure the continuation of the Hindi Service, which, he told PTI last week, was a “very important service”, reports Prasun Sonwalkar.

In January this year, BBC had announced the closure of the Hindi service by March, but after much criticism it was given a year’s reprieve to explore an alternate model of funding to ensure its continued functioning.

Also read: ‘The poor in rural India need BBC Hindi service’

All in a month’s work for a greenhorn journalist

PRABHU MALLIKARJUNAN entered the profession a month ago. In just his first month at work at a business newspaper in Hyderabad, he has calculated that he has received Rs 6,560 worth of gifts and freebies.

Four corporate buffet lunches (@ Rs 1,100 + taxes 12.5%) Rs 4,950; leather wallet Rs 600; 2 GB pendrive Rs 350; note pads Rs 100; Parker pen Rs 100; other stationery Rs 100; T shirt Rs 300; coffee mug Rs 60. Total Rs 6,560.

“Initially I thought it was OK to receive stationery (notepad, pen and pencil). But as days passed by, I started getting calendars, coffee mugs and pens. I thought this might be the ‘corporate culture’. Then came 2 GB pendrives, T-shirts and leather wallets…. On average, a business journalist can get over Rs 78,000 as uninformed incentive.”

Read the full article: The (dis)grace of being a business journalist

Also read: The journalist who offered a Rs 2 crore bribe

Cash transfer system is already here for journalists

Bangalore journalists named in site allotment scam

Malayalee reporters of Delhi, don’t be so selfish

SEBI chief: Business journalism or business of journalism?

Raju Narisetti: ‘Good journalists, poor journalism, zero standards’

Why doesn’t INS oppose ‘no-poaching’ pacts?

The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has branded the recommendations of the Majithia wage board as an attempt to muzzle the freedom of the press. But why does its heart beat for media freedom when competing newspapers enter no-poaching agreements which curtails the freedom of journalists?

That is the question that Yogesh Pawar asks. Pawar, a former Indian Express reporter who did a stint with NDTV before joining DNA recently, has been both a wage board employee and a contract comployee. He says both systems have their pluses and minuses.

But he uses tacit no-poaching agreement between papers (essentially to keep wages down) to drive home INS’ hypocrisy in ranting against the Majithia wage board in the name of media freedom.

Pawar writes:

“When there were only two broadsheets in town (The Times of India and The Indian Express in Bombay), they had a deal disallowing movement between themselves.

“What this did to morale and salaries can only be guessed as the drive to do well and get noticed simply stopped mattering. While some moved to television briefly as a bridge arrangement before coming back to their jobs of choice, others moved to Delhi where there were more options. The ones who couldn’t simply languished.

“Apart from your annual appraisals from within, when offers are made from other firms, it means the other organisation recognises your value. When media organisations changed to contract regimes, it was said that media-persons confident of their work need not be afraid.

“Doesn’t this work the other way round too with anti-poaching deals?”

Read the full article: What is sauce for the goose

Also read: Should papers implement Majithia wage board?

Why Majithia wage board is good for journalists

9 reasons why wage board is bad for journalism

Media barons wake up together, sing same song

INS: “We reject wage board recommendations”

External reading: Why not wage board for all journos and non-journos in media?

Should papers implement Majithia wage board?

Notwithstanding the exponential growth of the print media post-liberalisation, it is clear that the voice of journalists in the publications they bring out is subservient to that of the proprietor, promoter and publisher on most issues and certainly so on the Majithia wage board for journalists and “other newspaper employees”.

Although owners and managers have unabashedly used the columns of their newspapers to rile against higher wages and build “public opinion” against the Majithia wage board through reports, opinion pieces and advertisements, a similar facility has been unavailable for journalists to air their views in the same publications.

It is as if journalists and “other newspaper employees”, whether on contract or otherwise, are in sync with their organisations in opposing the wage board’s recommendations. Which is, of course, far from the truth. Which is, of course, why a nationwide strike has been slated for June 28  to draw attention to journalists’ demands.

So, what do you think?

Is there a case for higher wages for journalists and “other newspaper employees”? Should the Majithia wage board be implemented or should wage boards be abolished? Are newspapers, which are rolling in profits, exploiting journalists with low wages and longer working hours? Or should journalists wisen up to the realities of the modern work place?

Is there truth in the charge that industry organisations like the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) are being used by big newspaper groups to prevent if not stall the new wages? Or is the contention of newspaper owners that they will wilt and crumble under the pressure of a higher wage bill justified?

Note: This sans serif poll is protected from repeat voting. Only one vote per computer, per IP address.

Also read: Why Majithia wage board is good for journalists

9 reasons why wage board is bad for journalism

Media barons wake up together, sing same song

INS: “We reject wage board recommendations”

Prabha Dutt fellowship for women print journos

PRESS RELEASE: The Sanskriti Foundation in collaboration with the Prabha Dutt memorial foundation is inviting applications for the annual Prabha Dutt fellowship in journalism, in honour of the pioneering Hindustan Times journalist.

The aim of the fellowship is to encourage mid-career, women print journalists between 25 and 40 years of age, to investigate and research on any topic of contemporary relevance without having to work under the pressures of short deadlines.

The 10-month fellowship carries a grant of Rs one lakh including travel expenses. The work can be executed in Hindi, English or any regional language. Fellows will be required to publish a stipulated number of articles in established publications. They may also work on a book or monograph for subsequent publication within the given time frame.

Interested applicants should e-mail their CV and a synopsis of 250-300 words of their project proposal along with the names of two referees to (mention ‘Sanskriti-Prabha Dutt Fellowship’ in the subject line). E-mailed applications should be followed by a hard copy.

The last date for receipt of application is 31 August 2011.

Further information can be had from:

Sanskriti Pratishthan
C-11 Qutab Institutional Area, New Delhi – 110016
Telephone: (011) 2696 3226, 2652 7077
Fax: (011) 2685 3383