Monthly Archives: May 2013

Why Times Now doesn’t share TOI’s Aman ki Asha

On its edit page today, The Times of India has provided an extraordinary explication of the guiding philosophy behind the various newspapers, radio and TV stations that are part of the Times group: federalism.

Authored by Kaushik Murali and Saubhik Chakrabarti, the 926-word piece says this federalism means Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL) has no “house view or line”: its many publications are free to do what they want.

This allows them to evolve, in different ways, with different views, approaches, at different paces, and in response to different challenges and consumer needs.

“To illustrate, if TOI were to be considered the main BCCL publication, many times the Navbharat Times‘ coverage may be opposite of TOI‘s.

“The entire format and design of city-specific local newspapers like Mumbai Mirror will always be different from that of TOI‘s, TOI Crest will have a different style of journalism to TOI‘s and NBT is sometimes found to be running editorials with a headline that proudly proclaims “TOI ke virudh“!

“In fact, much to the consternation of many, Times Now anchors are seen fulminating against Pakistan, sometimes on the same day as TOI carries the Aman ki Asha campaign! Essentially, then, all newspapers within the group have the freedom to have entirely opposing viewpoints — unparalleled pluralism — on the same topic.”

Read the full article: Federalism: the BCCL bedrock

The capital ‘I’ returns to The Times of India

The capital ‘I’ doesn’t appear on the pages of The Times of India, not on the edit page, not on the commentary page. That’s one way of keeping commentators from preening in the first-person.

And that’s by order from the very top.

But as the paper turns 175 and launches the ‘I Lead India‘ campaign in association with Maruti Suzuki, the dreaded ‘I’ returns, in ads,  in hoardings, and in BCCL chief marketing officer Rahul Kansal‘s opening essay.

The ‘I’ here, of course, is You.

Sudheendra Kulkarni ends his ‘Express’ column

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Sudheendra Kulkarni, the former left-leaning Sunday Observer and Blitz journalist who became a close aide of former prime minister A.B. Vajpayee and BJP president L.K. Advani, has ended his column in The Indian Express.

Kulkarni, who was jailed for his alleged role in the cash-for-votes scandal and wrote a book on Mahatma Gandhi and the internet upon his release, writes in his farewell piece:

“I always tried to use this valued space to write what I believed in, and on issues of concern and interest to society.

“Although I have long ceased to be a Marxist, there is one maxim of Karl Marx which continues to hold a sway over my mind, and which consciously or subconsciously dictated, each time I sat down to write my column, that I should take this communication with my readers seriously.

“Ideas, Marx says, become “a material force as soon as they have gripped the masses”. And they grip the masses if they are radical (which, to me today, means if they are truthful in the Gandhian sense of Truth).

“To be radical,” Marx adds, “is to grasp the root of the matter. But for man the root is man himself.” Man-making, in the words of Swami Vivekananda, is the mission of all education—and journalism is nothing if it does not regard itself as an educator of society.

“I sincerely attempted through this column to accomplish two things. Firstly, I tried in my own very modest way to participate in the ongoing battle of ideas in Indian society, believing both that good ideas are what India desperately needs and good ideas are what ultimately will triumph.

“Secondly, with the hope that spurs every goal-oriented social-political activist who has access to some media space, I hoped that my words could influence some positive change somewhere in our society, even though this hope is increasingly giving way to the realisation that Gandhiji was right in exhorting that one can influence change in the world only after creating the desired change in oneself.”

Photograph: courtesy NDTV

Read the full article: Thank you

Also read: Do journalists make good politicians?

12 gems from a response to a TOI legal notice

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There’s something decidedly execrable when a media company thinks it is well within its rights to use its might to silence another media company or media professional with a fire-and-brimstone legal threat.

Even more so, when a 175-year-old media giant like The Times of India group picks on a 22-year-old girl.

In April, lawyers representing Times Publishing House, a Times subsidiary, tried to scare Aparajita Lath (in picture), a student of the national institute of juridical sciences (NUJS), with civil and criminal action for writing a 669-word blog post in February 2013 capturing the Times group’s long-drawn trademark tussle with the Financial Times of London.

The Times lawyers probably expected a cowering apology.

What they got instead was a rocket from Shamnad Basheer, the founder of SpicyIP.com and a chaired professor of IP law at the NUJS, who also recommended an IQ test for the Times lawyer.

Usually, lawyers go all weak in the knees when taken on by a Goliath. But Basheer’s 5-page response to the Times‘ 7-page notice “most unapologetically” speaks truth to power with candour. It’s an object lesson to media companies which try to silence critics, and an even bigger lesson to law firms.

Here are 12 standout sentences from Basheer’s response:

1) “We strongly object to the vile language and the highly aggressive tone used in the notice. We can respond in kind, but we choose to be a bit more civil with you.”

2) “You choose to issue this highly malevolent letter, hoping to intimidate us into a meek apology. Unfortunately, while the meek may inherit the earth, they are bound to be shown no favour by corporate powerhouses such as your client.”

3) “So, let’s cut to the chase and explore your alleged grievances articulated rather flatulently in over seven pages of a highly intemperate legal notice.

4) “We could send you stacks of material originating from your client that cause the same [shock] effect on us, particularly the numerous page 3 images that continue to assault us on an almost daily basis.

5) “As any law student in a decent law school will inform you, in order to constitute the legal wrong of defamation, you need to prove that the statements made by us necessarily lowered the reputation of your client in the eyes of a “reasonable” public.

6) “We assumed that as a qualified lawyer, you are well aware of the distinction between an opinion and a fact…. If the law has changed in this regard, please to intimate us, so that we may notify our readers of this sea change, which has gone unnoticed, without so much as a whisper.

7) “… we are prepared to issue a clarification. However, we will do so only upon your sending us a more polite letter seeking this clarification. ‘Please” and “thank you” are words that have unfortunately become relics in this fast pace world of ours, and even more so with fast paced lawyers such as yourselves.

8) “We fail to understand how any reasonable reader would have arrived at such a fanciful conclusion. And those that do are in dire need of a serious IQ check. We believe there are several robust online tests floating around these days, should you wish to take one of them.

9) “Apparently you’ve not sent Mint a legal notice as yet. We can only guess that you’re averse to picking people your own size…. We’re guessing that you’ve shied away from sending a legal notice to Harish Salve, widely acknowledged as a leading legal luminary and heavyweight [quoted in the Mint article and the blogger’s story].

10)  “We are particularly amused at your allegation that a 22-year-old law student caused “irreparable injury” and “loss of reputation” to a powerful media house by highlighting a highly technical trademark dispute of public importance and reflecting on the protracted nature of the litigation. Continue to amuse us, and we may begin to reciprocate.

11) “It is surprising how you’ve twisted simple sentences . We belong to the land of yoga, no doubt, but this is simply too much of a stretch. Clearly, neither your client nor Financial Times Limited are ‘hapless’ when both have been spending crores of rupees in fighting this protracted legal battle for more than 20-odd years!

12) “If you continue with this character assassination and threaten us any further, we will be constrained to initiate legal proceedings against you. This will needlessly fill the coffer of two sets of lawyers but perhaps that’s what you really want. In the sincere hope that your client is smarter than you, we remain, most unapologetically yours.”

For the record, advocate Ashish Verma signed the Times legal notice for the Delhi-based K. Datta & Associates.

Also for the record, a similar notice was served on Paranjoy Guha Thakurta for writing the Mint article, although Mint, which is owned by Hindustan Times, has been spared the agony.

Photograph: courtesy Spicy IP

Also readThrice-bitten, will FT find real love again?

Financial Times takes on The Times of India

Now The Times of India takes on Financial Times

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The Hindu threatens to sue The Indian Express

Bloomberg threatens to sue CNBC-TV18

Shekhar Gupta threatens to sue Vinod Mehta, et al

Editors’ Guild backs Times Now in libel case

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External reading: Was Times right to take on blogger?

How Sarojini Naidu’s son helped launch a paper

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The Times of India has turned 175; its rival in Hyderabad, Deccan Chronicle, has turned 75.

Despite the travails the publicly listed company is publicly going through, Andhra Pradesh’s No.1 English daily has kicked off its 75th anniversary celebrations through 75 artists who have joined hands to pay tribute to the spirit of Hyderabad with an exhibition at the Salar Jung museum.

And on the pages of the paper, the paper’s embattled owner T. Venkatram Reddy has a short note:

The Deccan Chronicle is as integral a part of Hyderabad as the Charminar. Deccan Chronicle was conceived by three friends — a journalist Theodre La Touche, an advocate, B. R Chari and Sarojini Naidu’s son, a homeopath, M.N. Jaisoorya. They sold the idea of an “everybody’s paper” to Mr Rajagopal who supplied papers to the Nizam’s government Press. Thus was born the Deccan Chronicle in 1938.

“From those patriotism-filled pre-independence days, Deccan Chronicle has retained its position as the leading newspaper and has only grown stronger as the ‘people’s paper’.

“The expansion and modernization of Deccan Chronicle began when my father, the late T. Chandrashekhar Reddy, acquired DC in 1977. As the city changed and evolved, so did its people. And along with them changed and grew the Chronicle.”

The paper’s editor, A.T. Jayanti, writes:

“As we complete 75 fantastic years, we look forward with excitement and energy. We are ready for the learning curve that the changing technology of the ‘now’ generation will demand of us. This is a familiar challenge.

“Each time a new medium of communication has been introduced, the pundits have predicted the end of newspapers. On each occasion, we have integrated the new with the old and converted it into a win-win situation for you, the reader, by providing the latest news, views and visuals, and for us by garnering increasing readership.

“We find that the explosion of news and views on every new platform — 24×7 live TV, Internet news sites, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and online comments — has only helped make newspapers more relevant. Readers depend on newspapers to make sense of all the cacophony, filter and present the fragmented picture in a sober and fuller manner.

“TV depends on the print medium to promote its programmes. Online achievements and apps benefit from newspaper coverage. We can say with quiet pride that when something goes viral, the readers learn of it through DC.”

‘Regional TV better than English news channels’

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Malvika Singh, the publisher of Seminar magazine, in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A pathetic scam that is plaguing the Indian Premier League has been making headlines for days, as though nothing else of any importance is happening in India. The media has been grossly irresponsible in this regard. This has not only made public discourse mediocre, but the truth has been systematically blotted out from news and reportage.

“How news is reported and presented is governed by higher powers and personal leanings. Half-baked news stories, a foggy truth and self-promotion come together, causing disaster.

“The electronic media — particularly the English language channels — report much like local city channels do in the United States of America, where even the slightest of things makes headlines. Ironically, the quality of news on the regional language channels and the state channels is better; it is far more cohesive and centred around real and dominating socio-economic and political issues.

“On TV channels, the same boring, predictable faces spout their personal views and positions with abandon, collect their performance fees, and go home. Outside broadcast vans have been known to arrive at private dinners to get a ‘bite’ from people who are guests at another person’s house, thereby rudely disrupting the get-together for the other people present there.

“There is something utterly ugly about this kind of uncultured, uncivilized and unabashed self-promotion. On the superficial social circuit in the capital, such television appearances titillate the performers more than the audience.”

Photograph: courtesy The Indian Express

Read the full article: Service by the people

Also read: ‘Indian TV is like a nautanki, a real soap opera’

They also serve who sort, insert and distribute

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In the Bangalore neighbourhood of Ulsoor, newspaper vendors slip pamphlets, flyers and other materials into the Sunday papers before heading off to doo-deliver them.

Photograph: M.S. Gopal/ Mumbai Paused

Also read: So, how many journos cracked CAT 2012?

Every picture tells a tale. Babu‘s tells a tome

When Chamundi betta relocates to amchi Mumbai