20 secure phones to assist in staying anonymous: $5,000
Fighting legal cases across five countries: $one million
Upkeep of servers in over 40 countries: $200,000
Donations lost due to banking blockade: $15 million
Added cost due to house arrest: $500,000
Watching the world as a result of your work: priceless.
Not so long ago, a much-feared Indian publisher who shall go unnamed wanted the broadband expansion in India to be slowed down because, well, it would woo readers away from his newspaper to the world wide web.
Well, the times, they are a-changing.
Last month, Indiatimes.com, the internet arm of The Times of India group, bagged the global internet, mobile and audio rights for season 4 of the Indian Premier League (IPL), and the happy coverage of the happy event, and its happy fallout, is a standout example of the perils of cross-media ownership.
Here’s a brief timeline of how the IPL-Indiatimes partnership has been covered on the pages of The Times of India and The Economic Times.
March 22: TIL-Nimbus bag IPL media rights
“Our convergent media approach across the web and mobile, coupled with the strength of the entire Times Group, will take brand IPL to the next level for audiences across the globe,” said Times Internet Limited CEO Rishi Khiani.
“Several traditional brands, who would earlier consider advertising only on television, are now keen to also launch their online campaigns. The primary drivers are innovation and interactivity, possible through this medium. Advertisers will get an opportunity to do better targeted campaigns and reach out to a younger demographic of office-goers,” he said.
Live streaming of the inaugural IPL match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings on Friday turned out to be a big hit on the net. The Indiatimes site, where this edition of the IPL is being hosted, had as many as 500,000 unique visitors, a healthy jump from last year…. “The first day was an enormous success,” said Rishi Khiani, CEO Indiatimes. “We had nearly 100% uptime which was a great feat given the amount of traffic.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Google will be a non-exclusive partner for IPL content for two years. Both Google and Indiatimes will seek to capitalize upon individual brand strengths and collaborate on monetization efforts both in India and rest of world markets.
Times Internet CEO Rishi Khiani said the online audience for IPL was experiencing rapid growth compared to the previous edition of the 20-20 league. “We used the first 2 days of the season to iron out all of the kinks in getting the experience to work perfectly for everyone. But from the beginning, the audience growth has been trending higher, with every next day having more visitors than the day before it. On Wednesday we had over one million visits.”
April 19: Online viewership of IPL rises 62%
“We foresee a bright future for online screening of IPL matches in coming years,” said Rishi Khiani, CEO, Times Internet. “A common misconception is that people only watch online from the office. But our stats show that night games have almost as much consumption as day games. The experience allows you to do much more online, including watching highlights of previous matches, and viewers like that,” he added.
Indiatimes CEO Rishi Khiani said: “We routinely receive one comment per second during a match, which can spike up to three comments per second during exciting periods. Indians are passionate about cricket and love talking about it, and what better way to do so than online? You can catch up with old friends, make new ones, share stats and trivia, get involved in debates – and do all this without missing a single ball.”
“Interactivity” has been the buzzword in the English media for over a decade now.
Readers have always written letters to the editor in the past, but now they also do film reviews, shoot and caption pictures, draw cartoons, ask and answer questions from other readers, take part in citizen journalist shows, post realtime comments by SMS and Twitter, and so on and so forth.
Much of this interactivity—intended at giving the news consumer a sense of participation in the news production process—is at the front-end.
How about some interactivity in the rear of the shop?
In an era when television, the internet and the mobile phone deliver news realtime, Vishweshwar Bhat, the new editor of Kannada Prabha, the Kannada daily belonging to the New Indian Express group, pulled out a new trick out of his hat in the past week.
Using his blog, Facebook account and Twitter feed, Bhat invited readers of Kannada Prabha to suggest “fresh, crisp, bright, punchy” headlines for the Union budget, railway budget and the State budget for the following day’s paper—and printed them in the paper with due credit.
At 6.30 pm on February 24, Bhat invited suggestions for an 8-column banner headline for the State budget. He received 126 comments by the 9.30 pm deadline he had set.
“I hadn’t expected such a response. None of the contributors were fulltime journalists but their headline writing skills were on a par with that of professional sub-editors,” wrote Bhat.
While the winning headline made it to the front page of Kannada Prabha, tens of other entries with the names of contributors found mention in the sidebars on the inside pages.
Photograph: The March 1 front page of Kannada Prabha, carrying an eight-column banner headline suggested by reader Ravi Sajangadde for the Union budget. The editor’s note at the bottom-right of the page explains the headline and acknowledges the reader’s contribution.
Facebook is seeking a Journalist Program Manager with proven experience using Facebook in progressive ways as a journalist.
The Journalist Program Manager will utilize both partnership and program management skills to help journalists understand the value of using Facebook, get started, and use it effectively over time.
This is a full-time position based in New York on the Marketing team, and will work closely with the Media Partnerships team.
Link via Shobha Sarada Viswanathan
The media website Hoot is offering five short-term research internships for studentsto be completed between January and March 2011.
The internships are open to undergraduate and post graduate students from any part of the country.
Each intership is for Rs 10,000.
Proposals have to be related to Indian regional media, in English or a regional language, and in print, television or online. Pick a narrow, manageable subject of enquiry based on a trend or topic of media coverage you wish to explore.
Explain the scope of your study and your methodology. There will be a first draft deadline, and a final deadline. Send your proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline for proposals: January 25, 2011.
Final projects will be published on The Hoot.
Link via Shobha S.V.
PRESS RELEASE: The Press Club of Bombay is inviting entries from Indian print and digital journalists for cricket writing and crime reporting in memory of two former members, K.N. Prabhu and Pradeep Shinde.
The K.N. Prabhu award for cricket writing and the Pradeep Shinde award for best crime story will both carry a cash prize of Rs one lakh. The winning article/story will be awarded prize money of Rs 75,000 and a citation. The next best entry will be awarded prize money of Rs 25,000 and a citation.
Each entrant is eligible to submit three stories published in newspapers, magazines and websites in calendar year 2010. Language submissions have to be accompanied by English translations. All entries have to be supported by a letter of recommendation from the editor/ department head.
Soft copies of entries can be e-mailed to email@example.com by 24 January 2011.
This should be followed by a hard copy along with a brief CV to: The Manager, The Press Club, Mumbai, Glass House, Azad Maidan, Mahapalika Marg, Bombay 400 001 by 29 January 2011. The envelope/cover with the article must be marked ‘Journalist Awards’.
Link via Shobha Sarada Viswanathan
SHARANYA KANVILKAR writes from Bombay: Some time in the mid-20th century, the legendary New Yorker writer (and foodie) A.J. Liebling famously said, “freedom of the press belongs to those who own one“.
For proof in the early 21st, he might like to take a look at Raghav Bahl.
The founder, editor, controlling shareholder and managing director of Network 18—the company behind CNBC-TV18 and Awaaz; CNN-IBN, IBN7 and IBN Lokmat, Forbes India, in.com and a myriad dotcoms—has just penned his debut book on India and China titled Super Power?: The Amazing Race between China’s Hare and India’s Tortoise.
But judging from the unabashed promotion, further promotion, continuing promotion and continuing further promotion of the book on the Network 18 platform, it would seem as if James Joyce has returned to rework, well, Balika Vadhu.
# For days before the launch of the book on August 17, senior editors across Network 18 channels burnt the midnight oil sending off invitations (and reminders) to assemble a sizeable “power” audience.
# In April, four full months before the launch of the “Superbook on Superpowers”, CNN-IBN featured a 2-minute, 3-second report on the book by the network’s best known voice, Shereen Bhan, with accompanying text helpfully reminding viewers that the “brilliantly written, superbly documented, rich and comprehensive account” is already being called as “one most definitive books on the subject.”
# On moneycontrol.com, the financial portal owned by Network 18, an announcement of the book’s launch by Penguin said the book offered “telling insights”.
# By a happy coincidence in April, Bahl received a nice little plug on CNN-IBN‘s breakfast show following his inclusion in a book by an Australian lawyer of corporate India’s bigwigs: “Raghav Bahl among top 30 Indian businessmen.”
# In May, Forbes ran a piece by Bahl titled 2050, An economic odyssey on how India and China would reclaim their positions as economic giants, with the author intro saying the book “is forthcoming from Penguin Allen Lane.”
# In July, Bahl took part in a discussion on Karan Thapar‘s CNBC show India Tonight, with Pranab Bardhan, whose book on the India-China theme ‘Awakening giants of clay‘ was published around the same, as co-panelist.
# In August, all the network’s channels carried the book’s grand launch in Delhi, with their websites carrying Bahl’s opening remarks and the panel discussion moderated by CNN-IBN editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai.
# Promotional advertisements on the book have crawled on screens of the network’s channels for months now. On the group’s portal in.com, an anonymous guest posted a discussion urging readers to “Kindly promote this book in institutes“.
# On the CNN-IBN website, a 4,876-word extract of the book was posted on the day after the book’s launch in August.
# Readers of the August 13 issue of the Indian edition of Forbes magazine, received a free 48-page booklet containing an “exclusive excerpt” from Bahl’s book.
# The following issue of Forbes contained a four-page debate between Bahl and Yasheng Huang, an MIT professor of Chinese origin, on the India vs China issue.
# The day after the launch, CNN-IBN declared on its website that “the book was drawing praise from the stalwarts of India Inc and the government,” with a 1-minute, 41-second news report even exhorting viewers to get their copy in “English or Hindi”.
# Readers of the September issue of Entrepreneur, published by Network 18, received a free 48-page booklet of Bahl’s book containing another “exclusive excerpt”.
# On the network’s Hindi business channel, CNBC Awaaz, Bahl featured in a debate with Congress and BJP leaders moderated by the channel’s editor, Sanjay Pugalia.
# In early September, Bahl gave an interview to Shereen Bhan on CNBC-TV18 again, on the “amazing race between India and China“.
# In early September, as the issue of land acquisition for infrastructure projects gathered steam, Bahl popped up on CNBC-TV18‘s special show Fixing India’s Governance, offering the Chinese example.
# At last week’s broadcasters’ association awards fete, all participants of panel discussions received a complimentary copy of Superpower, and so on.
To be fair, Bahl’s debut book has received plenty of press outside the Network18 platform.
The launch was widely reported by The Indian Express, The Asian Age, DNA, Zee News, Financial Express, Hindustan Times (Delhi 1) and (Delhi 2), and Hindustan Times (Bombay), and assorted industry publications like exchange4media, afaqs!, and Indian Television,
Nevertheless, the issue at hand is one of Bahl, Network 18 and Superpower?.
The boilerplate excuse is, if an owner cannot push his own book on his own network, what use is his ownership? A good counter question is, would any other debutant author get so much play and promotion across so many media vehicles over so many months?
It can aslo be argued that Bahl is not the first media personality to use his baby is for self-promotion.
The Hindu routinely carries news items of its editor-in-chief N.Ram‘s speeches. The Times of India is full of promotions of its various “brands”, including pictures from Vineet Jain‘s annual Holi parties. India Today and Outlook routinely sneak in pictures of this or that group event on its pages.
Yet, there is such a thing as overdose when it involves the bossman. As a first-generation media mogul, Bahl might like to pick up a lesson from ToI‘s Samir Jain or Anand Bazar Patrika‘s Aveek Sarkar, both of whom maintain a very low profile in their publications.
Or, maybe, Bahl will take comfort from A.J. Liebling’s other famous line: “The function of the press in society is to inform but its role is to make money.”
Photo-illustration: courtesy Forbes
Also read: Is this man the new media mogul of India?