Tag Archives: Bombay

How Bombay is skewing the media worldview

On the day the world economy was in a tailspin and the rupee was tanking, much of the media led with a spat between Shah Rukh Khan and a security guard at the Wankhede stadium in Bombay.

Much of the blame for this warped worldview rests with the Bombay media, says DNA editor-in-chief Aditya Sinha:

“Whereas everyone moans about how Delhi runs things, it is actually Mumbai which sets the agenda, and nowhere is this more manifest than in the media…. after all, this is where the media began getting corporatized, where news became a commodity, and appeal to the lowest common denominator became a badge of honour.

“To put it in perspective, when American matinee idol George Clooney recently hosted a fund-raiser for President Barack Obama — a legitimate political event — the serious US news outlets gave it prominence, but did not make it lead….

“You could claim that the traditional media is booming in India and not in the US, but it is also true that more innovation, both in areas of content and revenue, is happening over there rather than right here.”

Read the full article: Fiddling with the stars

Also read: Aditya Sinha on the “worldview” of Delhi journos


Vir Sanghvi “suspends” Hindustan Times column

Vir Sanghvi‘s weekly Hindustan Times column Counterpoint will not appear from next Sunday, after tapes of his alleged conversations with the lobbyist Niira Radia surfaced in Outlook* and Open magazines last week.

The column which will appear tomorrow, 28 November 2010, will be his last, although Sanghvi claims on his website, a) that he is merely taking a break and will be back soon, and b) that his other work for HT will appear as usual.

“The whole episode has left me feeling battered. Perhaps it will drag on. Perhaps more muck will fly around. I have no desire to subject Counterpoint to this filth. It deserves better. So, Counterpoint will be taking a break. When life returns to normal, so will Counterpoint.

“As for me, I must say in all humility, that I will use the break to do some thinking. Of course, I’ll still be around, both here at the HT and in Brunch and in all the other places your normally find me (TV, books, live events, etc.). Counterpoint has taken a break before (six months in 2000). It returned rested and refreshed. This time around, perhaps a rest will lead to renewal.”

The rumour is that the New Indian Express which, too, runs an exclusive column by Sanghvi has decided to drop him after the tapes’ scandal.

Sanghvi, who happily drops the names of Congress bigwigs Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in his conversations, suffers further public opprobrium in the letters column of Outlook* magazine, where a “clarification” reads thus:

“After Outlook’s disclosure of the 2G scam tapes, sources close to the Congress leadership have said journalist Vir Sanghvi’s references to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in his conversation with Niira Radia were a figment of his imagination. He was neither consulted during the cabinet formation post-2009 election nor given the opportunity to speak to the Congress leadership on the allocation of portfolios.”

Oxford-educated Sanghvi was editor of Bombay magazine of the India Today group, Sunday of Ananda Bazaar Patrika group, and Hindustan Times before being named “advisory editorial director of HT“.

One of the few print journalists to graduate to television with ease, Sanghvi has hosted shows on a number of networks Star and Discovery Travel & Living, and writes a popular food column.

Counterpoint has appeared for over two decades in both Sunday and HT.

* Disclosures apply

Update: An earlier headline for this piece suggested that Hindustan Times had “suspended” the column.

Read the full column: Setting the record straight

External reading: The Niira Radia tapes and transcripts

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

screen-bill.mao-newsweek newsweek copertina newsweek

The new, redesigned Newsweek has had plenty of what can only be mildly termed “negative fan following”.

The designer Juan Antonio Giner wrote recently that it was time to “forget Newsweek“.

“It’s irrelevant. Awful design. Cheap opinions. No reporting. No news. No quality. No necessary content. And… a newsroom of hundreds. For what? Fat newsroom for a dying magazine.”

Vir Sanghvi, the former editor of the now-defunct Sunday, Bombay and Imprint magazines, called it “uninfluential, unreadable and unprofitable“:

“The desire to emulate The Economist has made the new Newsweek less dependent on correspondents and more focused on columnists. That may not be a bad idea in itself but the problem is that the columns are dull and are so poorly laid out that you never want to read them. My guess is that either Newsweek will rethink this format or it will finally close down.”

The Economist bug is reflected in the desire to explain everything that happens in the world.

Who, why, what, where, when, which, how, what next, what the….. may be the fundamentals of journalism, but when done week after boring week from the ramparts of the desktop, it can get very predictable, resulting in an “analysis paralysis”.

Below are 45 headlines, straplines and introductions from just the last eight issues of the international edition of Newsweek (dated July 13 to September 14) edited by the Indian-born policy wonk Fareed Zakaria, and they present to the reader the scary spectacle of a bunch of smug know-it-alls, who have cracked every problem on earth.

Every problem except how to make their own magazine*.

1) How Russian and US interests align

2) What we don’t know can hurt us

3) How China’s consumer society is built by the state

4) Helping Africa save itself

5) Why ‘steady’ lost

6) How Obama looked at the Kremlin

7) Why the economic crisis is hitting the rich hardest

8) Why the crisis is good for some powers that be

9) How the crisis only makes Washington stronger

10) How the mighty have fallen

11) Why the GOP is falling out of love with gun-toting, churchgoing, working-class whites

12) Why France needs Turkey in the EU

13) How India will define its grand strategy

14) Why Japan isn’t rising

15) What lurks beneath

16) Why polaroid is the new black

17) Why the US will emerge from the crisis on top

18) How Tony Blair came to be Europe’s choice

19) Why good web sites shouldn’t be free

20) Why it’s even worse than we feared

21) Why fears of a Muslim takeover are all wrong

22) Why the United States will come out of the crisis on top

23) How crisis will kill off the empire

24) Why space junk is a nuclear threat

25) How do we move forward, not back?

26) How come Goldman is making billions and I’m still broke?

27) How crisis will make the EU stronger

28) How we filled the skies with junk

29) Why bad times could make America’s top schools even stronger

30) How to solve the education crisis—and why more money alone isn’t the answer

31) How Koizumi killed Japan’s ruling party

32) Why IBM is profiting despite the crisis

33) Why goofy glasses are in your future

34) What’s good for IBM is as good as it gets for America

35) Why Japan’s new rulers will only solidify into the second rank

36) What you need to know: alient exist, settlements aren’t the problem, elections aren’t the answer, and more

37) How Ted confounded the Kennedy myth

38) How Russia sees the world

39) How football went East

40) What Teddy can’t teach us

41) Why, years after the Cold War, the Kremlin’s still obsessed with getting respect

42) How nuclear weapons may make the world a safer place

43) How do you break the internet?

44) Why Japan’s new leaders aren’t so scary

45) What to do if jobs don’t come back

* Disclosures apply

Also read: Fareed Zakaria: Will this man be the next US Secretary of State?

Tina Brown: Magazines, like mushrooms, should grow in the dark

Any resemblance between mastead & headline…


Any resemblance between the masthead of the newspaper and the headline of the news item is purely coincidental and wholly unintended.

A screenshot of the homepage of the Bombay newspaper DNA (Daily News & Analysis) reporting the latest developments in the special court on the November 26 siege of India’s business, film, advertising and media capital.

Man who educated Bombay journalists is dead

sans serif records the demise of T.N. Shanbhag, the founder of Bombay’s legendary book store, Strand Book Stall, in Bombay on Friday morning. He was 84.

Mr Shanbhag, who was once so poor that he couldn’t afford 75 paise to buy a paperback, built his enterprise, now happily expanded to Bangalore and Mysore, on the motto that no young person should walk out of his store without a book in hand.

For his rigours, he was awarded the nation’s third highest civilian honour, the Padma Shri.

Strand’s location in the busy “Fort” area of India’s commercial capital, also made it a chattering hole for journalists working in nearby addresses.

Writes Namita Devidayal in The Times of India:

“There was a time when the senior editors of The Times of India would go to Strand after lunch, browse and catch up with Shanbhag, and then stroll back through the arched arcades of Dadabhoy Naoroji Road, as part of their daily constitutional.

“‘Sham Lal’s wife hated me because he spent all his time and money on books,’ Mr Shanbhag used to joke about the former Times editor. The writer Khushwant Singh [former editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India published by The Times group] once declared, on a BBC show, that Strand was the only ‘personal bookshop’ in India.”

Read the full obituary: He spent a lifetime serving the written word

DNA obituary: End of an era for book lovers

Also read: Khushwant Singh on his last day at The Illustrated Weekly

Vinod Mehta on Sham Lal: Editors are only as good as their papers

Wife-beater? Freeloader? Menace to society?

Restaurants are now suing newspapers for bad reviews claiming “defamation” and loss of business. But how should authors respond to bad reviews? Should they just be thankful for the publicity? Should they get into a slanging match with the reviewer and hope for the best?

Should they, as Shobhaa De, the author of “Superstar India” has done, get personal?

De’s latest book has got a poor review in India’s leading English magazines, India Today and Outlook. India Today‘s reviewer tore into the book calling it “the worst thing she has written” and said its subtitle “From Incredible to Unstoppable” made him wonder if it was commissioned by the ministry of tourism. Outlook‘s reviewer called it “quite mediocre” and said it read like a “teenager’s diary”. Etcetera.

But De, former editor of the film magazine Stardust (and the shortlived Celebrity), and the woman who has worn titles such as Sultana of Scuttlebutt and “Maharani of Muck” with aplomb, goes below the belt in response.

In an interview with Arathi Menon of Deccan Herald today, De is asked of the unkind reviews that have greeted the book in India. Her response?

“The particular review you are referring to (in a leading magazine) is a personal attack on me. The person who wrote it is a wife-beater; a freeloader; a frustrated has-been and a menace to society. There are other ratings that have already put the book on the best-seller list. So do I really care about that interview?”

As the pioneer of bitchy page 3 journalism, Shobhaa De of course doesn’t name the reviewer or the publication, but if the reviewer/s had given a good review of the book, would De have been enlightening the world with such vengeance in public?

Is the reviewer’s past or present relevant to the debate at all? Or should she be answering the criticism of the reviewer?

Photograph: courtesy Newsline, Pakistan

Read the India Today review here: De turns into night

Read Shobhaa De’s interview here: 60 years young

Also read: Singer Sonu Nigam accuses reviewer Subhash K. Jha of “sexual assault”

‘Did we fight Emergency for this kind of media?’

The media coverage of the verbal and physical violence in Bombay over the influx of outsiders continues to draw attention. Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) reports that at the Union cabinet meeting on February 14, senior ministers “expressed their outrage” at the reporting which some of them felt sparked panic and led to a mass exodus from the metropolis to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Cabinet sources told IANS that once Railway Minister Lalu Prasad raised the issue, some ministers described as “irresponsible” and “provocative” the media coverage of the MNS protests that began Feb 3.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil pointed out that television news channels had been beaming pictures of sporadic trouble frequently giving a “false impression about the violence and thereby creating panic”.

A cabinet minister told IANS: “For once, every minister was furious and everyone agreed that the media coverage caused more trouble.”

One minister felt that it was the media that made Raj Thackeray, “a person who tried to strengthen his party by dividing the country,” into a hero.

“The media should not forget its social responsibilities when it reports such events. It is high time that there should be some control over such reporting,” a minister told reporters on condition of anonymity.

In The Indian Express, Peter Ronald DeSouza, director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla, writes that the media coverage raises doubts about “the role of the press as a sentinel of freedom, of news not massaged, of media as the mirror of reality”, and goes so far as to ask if fighting for media freedom has proved to be futile.

“Is this then the same free media for which we fought the Emergency? Thinking about this question I have the sinking feeling that the ground has shifted, that the moral reasons on which we fought for a free press are no longer so clear and firm. The story of the frog and the hot water keeps coming to mind. Throw a frog into a pot of boiling water and it will jump out. Immerse it in a pot of lukewarm water, and put the pot to boil, and the frog will remain there quite unaware that it is being boiled. Which frog is the media today? Which frog is the reader-viewer today?”

Read the full story: Who’s that in the mirror?