Tag Archives: Twitter

Why media shouldn’t name Delhi rape victim

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The British newspaper Sunday People has outed the name of the Delhi gangrape victim, but the Indian media has not fallen for the bait—yet—although it has been trending on Twitter.

Here Rajeev Gowda, chairman of the centre for public policy at the Indian institute of management (IIM), Bangalore, argues why it is best not to name the girl.

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By RAJEEV GOWDA

Should the Delhi rape victim’s name be revealed? At least for the purpose of honouring her (with her parents’ consent) by naming revised anti-rape legislation after her, as Union Minister of State for HRD, Shashi Tharoor has suggested?

The issue is substantially more complicated.

The Indian media has been admirably restrained so far by not revealing the names of the victim or her companion. Instead, she has been given different monikers like Nirbhaya, Damini, Amanat and Jagruti to describe her fighting spirit.

But the media has also twisted Tharoor’s tweets as if he were interested in making public her name, thus causing needless controversy.

A more diligent media would have instead focused on what inspired Tharoor to make this suggestion. His inspiration comes from United States where names are often attached to laws, especially to add a poignant human angle to legislative changes.

But this little media episode demonstrates a key lesson on why it’s better for India to refrain from going down the path of honouring the victim by naming the bill after her.

Naming this victim potentially gives a license to name other rape victims and that can cause incalculable damage to victims and their families in an India where values are in flux and rape-related stigma is cruelly real.

Further, it is quite likely that we will get into political wars over the naming of future bills and parties that thrive on symbolic huffing and puffing rather than concrete content would just divert attention from the actual work that needs to be done and probably hold up parliament over such non-issues.

Various commentators refer to Megan‘s Law, named after a child killed by a released sex offender, as an example of how the USA names laws. In the USA, numerous other laws are named after the legislators who promote them. But in the American context, unlike in India, there is tremendous scope for individual Congresspersons and Senators to initiate and pass legislation.

Megan’s Law itself is part of a set of initiatives involving naming and shaming, which has also been raised in India as a policy option after the recent Delhi tragedy.

The recently deceased News of the World tried to launch a campaign for a Megan’s Law-type bill in the UK. This media campaign resulted in attacks on people who resembled the perpetrators of crimes and also triggered violent vigilante attacks. Such outcomes may satiate the anger and passions of mobs but certainly do not strengthen the rule of law.

In a decade-old book chapter, I had examined the political and media processes that led to the passage of Megan’s Law and similar laws across the USA using the Social Amplification of Risk framework. I emphasized the importance of politics and contrasted the American experience with how the British dealt with the News of the World campaign.

The British were suitably restrained, appropriately so.

Based on those experiences, I would assert that it’s better to retain the anonymity of victims (and possibly perpetrators too) and focus instead on the harder tasks of changing societal attitudes and improving governance to prevent such crimes from ever taking place.

Otherwise, the collateral damage from name-related moves can be substantial. The twisting of Tharoor’s well-intentioned tweets is just a hint of how counterproductive things can get.

Also read: Free, frank, fearless? No, greedy, grubby, gutless

The man who hasn’t read a newspaper for 5 years

Nikhil Pahwa, the editor and publisher of the media website Media Nama, is among the “37 Indians of tomorrow” in India Today magazine’s 37th anniversary issue.

The 29-year-old digital journalist paints a scary picture of the future for dead-tree media professionals who still latch on to the innocent belief that their word is gospel.

“The pace of growth and the spirit of the community in the digital industry is like a drug to me. I haven’t read a newspaper in the past five years. Twitter is my breakfast, Google is my lunch, and Facebook is my dinner,” says Pahwa.

India Today says Pahwa joined the website Freshlimesoda.com12 years ago and made 22 friends, none of whom he met. The site closed down in 2003 and Pahwa says he is still in touch with all of them.

Photograph: courtesy Pinterest

Prabhu Chawla, Pritish Nandy & Modi 87:13

Narendra Modi‘s detractors (and drumbeaters) went into overdrive recently when The Times of India reported that 46% of the Gujarat chief minister’s one million Twitter followers were “fake”, 41% were “inactive”, and only 13% were “good”.

TOI used a newly launched internet website to check fakers on Twitter to arrive at the numbers. Status People deems followers as fake when they have “few or no followers and few or no tweets. But in contrast they tend to follow a lot of other accounts.”

Generally speaking, celebrities tend to attract more fake and inactive followers.

Here’s how 32 of India’s tweeters from the media world—reporters, editors and columnists; hacks, flacks and wonks—fare when subjected to the same test as Modi. Jonathan Shainin of The Caravan magazine who has over 11,000 followers has the highest percentage of “good” followers (52%); Shashi Tharoor with over 15 lakh followers is neck and neck with the PM’s office for the most “fake” followers (43%).

Former Illustrated Weekly of India editor Pritish Nandy, with over 275,000 followers, has the fewest “good” followers: 13%. Both Nandy and former India Today editor Prabhu Chawla, who has 97,000 followers, have as many “fake” and “inactive” followers as Narendra Modi: 87%.

The chairman of the press council of India, Justice Markandey Katju, with 6,000 followers, has 40% “inactive” followers.

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@bdutt: 36% fake, 49% inactive, 15% good

@sardesairajdeep: 31% fake, 51% inactive, 18% good

@virsanghvi: 34% fake, 50% inactive, 16% good

@sagarikaghose: 43% fake, 41% inactive, 16% good

@prabhuchawla: 39% fake, 48% inactive, 13% good

@nramind: 36% fake, 46% inactive, 18% good

@pritishnandy: 44% fake, 43% inactive, 13% good

@thejaggi: 8% fake, 47% inactive, 45% good

@swapan55: 16% fake, 47% inactive, 37% good

@tavleen_singh: 12% fake, 54% inactive, 34% good

@kanchangupta: 11% fake, 48% inactive, 41% good

@malikashok: 11% fake, 59% inactive, 30% good

@sachinkalbag: 9% fake, 48% inactive, 43% good

@waglenikhil: 22% fake, 49% inactive, 29% good

@suchetadalal: 10% fake, 54% inactive, 36% good

@madhutrehan: 11% fake, 55% inactive, 34% good

@smitaprakash: 32% fake, 52% inactive, 16% good

@praveenswami: 22% fake, 45% inactive, 33% good

@mint_ed: 11% fake, 43% inactive, 46% good

@jonathanshainin: 7% fake, 41% inactive, 52% good

@mihirssharma: 30% fake, 45% inactive, 25% good

@shivaroor: 9% fake, 48% inactive, 43% good

@madversity: 25% fake, 40% inactive, 35% good

@fareedzakaria: 15% fake, 52% inactive, 33% good

@svaradarajan: 24% fake, 41% inactive, 35% good

@dilipcherian: 9% fake, 50% inactive, 41% good

@suhelseth: 23% fake, 60% inactive, 17% good

@acorn: 8% fake, 42% inactive, 50% good

@pragmatic_d: 6% fake, 47% inactive, 47% good

@shashitharoor: 43% fake, 42% inactive, 15% good

@PMOIndia: 45% fake, 44% inactive, 11% good

@katjuPCI: 9% fake, 40% inactive, 51% good

Poonam Pandey, Sachin Tendulkar & Telegraph

There are many pertinent questions to be asked about the unbridled (and burgeoning) use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media as a source of news by newspapers and TV stations—not to mention websites like these.

One of those questions faces The Telegraph, Calcutta, which carried a picture* posted by the actor-stripper Poonam Pandey on her Twitter account (@iPoonampandey) in its tabloid t2 section on Monday.

In the picture*, Pandey—who threatened to pose nude if India won the cricket 2011 World Cup—stands naked with a photograph of “God” as an offering to Sachin Tendulkar, who scored his 100th hundred in Dhaka last week.

“Thinking what pic should I gift the “God of Cricket”…. This historic moment reminds me of an old pic which one of my fans had morphed…. this was the pic….”

The use of a tiny picture* in a city tabloid to celebrate the momentous occasion has resulted in a fullblown communal issue in Calcutta.

Wednesday’s Telegraph carried a front-page appeal by the chief minister, Mamata Banerjee.

“Some people are trying to stoke violence over a photograph published in a newspaper. I appeal to all members of the Hindu and Muslim commuities to steer clear of any provocation. The newspaper which carried the picture today tendered an apology.”

The Telegraph‘s apology, also carried on page one, read:

The Telegraph tenders an unconditional apology for reproducing a tweet by @iPoonpandey in Monday’s edition of t2. The publication was the result of a technical error. The Telegraph had no intention to hurt the sentiments of any community. We sincerely apologise for the hurt the publication of the tweet has caused.”

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* photograph for representative purposes

At 7, Race Course Road, this is Pankaj Pachauri

In what is perhaps the first acknowledgement of the fact that the UPA government could do with slightly better media schmoozing, Pankaj Pachauri, the host of NDTV Profit’s magazine show, Money Mantra, has been roped in as communications advisor at the prime minister’s office.

Pachauri, 48, has previously worked at The Sunday Observer, India Today and the BBC Hindi service in London. He will report to the PM’s principal secretary Pulok Chatterji.

An official press release reads:

“Pachauri, who will report to the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, will advise on communicating the Governments programmes, policies and achievements to the media and the public at large, particularly using the electronic, print and new and social media.”

Pachauri’s first two tweets to his nearly 26,500 followers since taking over reads:

# “Prime minister starts discussions on skill development with a dozen cabinet colleagues. Most important issue for this decade.”

# “Adviser to PM on skill development S. Ramadorai presenting roadmap to train and skill millions of youth in India.”

The PM’s media advisor Harish Khare, who has resigned in the wake of Pachauri’s appointment, has been quoted by PTI as saying: “I want to rediscover the joys of being a reporter.”

Image: courtesy Mail Today

Also read: Why the PM is hopelessly wrong about the media

How well is the PM’s media advisor advising him?

Because when dog bites dog, it’s news—I

Because when dog bites dog, it’s news—II

Never believe anything until it’s officially denied

Suhel Seth shows why he is such a cute Tweetiya

Those who live by the media shall die by it, was not what the editor-in-chief of the Harijan said. But he would well have had he been around in the era of Suhel Seth. The adman cum image consultant cum lobbyist cum columnist cum TV regular, who counts media bigwigs and gasbags among his many admirers, has known nothing but a fawning press.

But a scalding review of the balding Seth’s book Get to the Top by the Indian Express journalist turned Business Standard journalist, Mihir S. Sharma, in the latest issue of the monthly magazine Caravan, has seen the boarding school-boy from St. Paul’s school, Darjeeling, lose his shirt and civility—and on Twitter.

Seth called Caravan a magazine no one reads and the Harvard-educated Sharma an unemployed economist sacked from every job he has held. As blogosphere heated up, Seth, who was recently sued by tobacco major ITC for Rs 200 crore for a set of similarly senseless tweets, got the message and pulled out the tweets.

Thankfully, Caravan senior editor Jonathan Shainin has captured the exchanges between author and critic for posterity.

Screenshots: courtesy Jonathan Shainin/ Caravan

Read the review: The Age of Seth

The TV anchor who’s caught Omar Abdullah’s eye

Nora Chopra, the diarist/ gossip columnist of M.J. Akbar‘s weekly newspaper, The Sunday Guardian, gives a delicious little rumour floating around in Delhi some more oxygen.

“If the Delhi grapevine is to be believed, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah and his wife Payal are getting divorced by mutual consent.

“The reason behind the break-up is apparently a TV anchor from the State, who the 41-year-old CM wants to marry. The anchor is a divorcee and has been in two live-in relationships since her divorce. But the marriage is being opposed by his father Dr Farooq Abdullah and his party, the National Conference, as the lady is not a Muslim. The NC wants Abdullah to marry a Kashmiri Muslim girl….

“Omar had married Payal, the daughter of Major General Ram Nath (retired), a Sikh, in 1994, four years before he entered politics. He has not visited his Akbar road residence in New Delhi, where Payal lives with their two sons, for the last six months. When asked by this columnist, a close Omar Abdullah aide said on the condition of anonymity, ‘All I can say is that they are separated.’

“Mixed marriages are common in the Abdullah family. Farooq Abdullah had married a British lady, Omar Abdullah’s sister Sarah is married to Sachin Pilot. But conservative Kashmiri politics has not allowe these women to make Srinagar their home.”

Update 1 (15 September): The Delhi Times supplement of The Times of India too has jumped into the picture, with a story that claims that the separation of Abdullah and his wife of 17 years, Payal, “can now be safely assumed to be official status”.

“…people Delhi Times spoke to confirmed the fact that the split had been coming for a while, most of them declined to comment on the speculation over the reason behind the split. They did, however, affirm that talk of Omar’s remarriage is on.

“In that context, there are two names doing the rounds – one, a friend of Omar, supposedly his choice (a highprofile mediaperson), and two, a choice preferred by his dad and his party, the sister of politician Nasir Aslam Wani. Wani, believed to be a confidante of the CM, is currently J&K’s minister of state for Home.”

Update 2 (15 September): Meanwhile, Omar Abdullah has responded to the speculation on his Twitter account, posting four messages within minutes of each other, and promising a “separate statement” shortly:

# “Have seen with dismay and anguish the growing tide of speculation in the media about my private life and the status of my marriage

#”While it’s true my wife and i have separated, speculation about the motives and my future actions are unfounded, untrue.

# “stories abt my remarriage are completely false, concocted. It’s a pity, while repeating these lies, no effort was made to ask me the truth

# “I appeal to the media to please allow me and my family privacy. Am sure you will appreciate that i have not let this affect my work

Photograph: Omar Abdullah with wife Payal and their children in happier times (courtesy The Telegraph)

Also read: NDTV reporter puts an ‘indecent proposal’ in print

Wall Street Journal denies minister sent reporter SMS

Everybody loves a good affair between celebrities

In love? Married? A threat to national security?

‘Don’t you have anything more serious to write about?