Tag Archives: Wall Street Journal

Learning photography 10,000 feet above sea

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What can two photojournalists with enviable CVs do when the bug to do something away from the straight and narrow of daily and weekly deadlines, bites them?

T. Narayan and Sanjay Sharma provide some inspiration to their kinsmen with a photography workshop 10,122 feet above sea level.

The first batch will be held from April 25-28, the second from May 16-19. For further details, call Narayan on 08826212122 or Sanjay on 09811083888. Email: tnssphotography@gmail.com

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An ad? An edit? Advertorial? Edvertisement?

The front page of The Sunday Times of India on January 15, with the anchor story at the bottom headlined”Get 110% out of your body with Functional Manual Therapy”.

Credited to “TNN” (Times News Network) and printed in the same body font as the rest of the paper, the article touts an “effective evaluation and treatment system that promotes optimum human performance by enhancing body mobility.”

It also mentinos where the therapy is available. At VARDAN, a wellness center in New Delhi, which is “an initiative of The Times Group in collaboration with The Institute of Physical Art (IPA), USA.”

An identical front-page article in The Economic Times on Monday, has led to a Wall Street Journal article. The article quotes Times CEO Ravi Dhariwal as saying that the VARDAN articl…

“is a news report, not an advt/advertorial. No money has been charged for it. We do cover our in-house activities/events/launches in a similar manner.”

Image: courtesy The Sunday Times of India

Read the full article: Is this a news story or an ad?

NYT, WSJ weigh in on Tehelka’s Goa controversy

The controversy surrounding Tehelka magazine’s Goa conference, ThinkFest, had so far been largely confined to sections of blogosphere, which used an editorial page piece in Hindustan Times by the theatreperson Hartman de Souza, and Tehelka editor Tarun J. Tejpal‘s response to it, as a trigger.

Only Deccan Herald among the large English dailies gave any play to the kerfuffle kicked up by remarks reportedly made by Tejpal at the end of the first day of the conference, that since they were in Goa, they could eat, drink, be merry and “sleep with whomever you want.” (Also see “Crusader turns Collector“)

Possibly because Tehelka‘s conference had international backers in Tina Brown‘s Newsweek and its sister website, The Daily Beast, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have both found the controversy over the location and sponsorship juicy enough to put out stories today.

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Lydia Polgreen in NYT:

The slick and well-attended conference led some in the Twitterverse and blogosphere to wonder: had Tehelka sold out to India’s mining barons and real estate tycoons?

The festival was sponsored by some of India’s top corporations and held at a hotel allegedly owned by men in jail awaiting charges involving the 2G telecommunications scam.

Potentially even more damaging, Tehelka faced accusations that it withheld an investigative story about illegal mining in Goa in exchange for the Goa state government’s support for the festival, an allegation the magazine’s editors strenuously deny. A version of the article was later published by Firstpost, a news Web site….

Tarun J. Tejpal, Tehelka’s editor, said that he was unaware of who owned the hotel or any environmental violations in its construction when his staff scouted the location months ago.

“When we looked for a hotel that could accommodate the scale we wanted, we couldn’t find a single hotel that could find a hall that could accommodate 600 to 700 people,” until they found the Grand Hyatt, which was still under construction. “Much later on the virtual eve of the fest we began to hear of these other issues.”

By then it was too late to shift to another location, he said.

Essar, one of the corporations sponsoring the festival, runs huge mines in Chhatisgarh and elsewhere, and some press critics have accused Tehelka of softening its criticism of the mining giant in exchange for sponsorship.

Tejpal flatly denied this, and said it was spurious to claim that his magazine’s journalism was somehow suspect, arguing that no publication has done more to highlight the plight of India’s dispossessed than Tehelkha, which frequently runs exposés of corporate and political misdeeds.

“There is a kind of absurdity for these arguments,” Tejpal fumed. “At the end of the day, by that count, virtually everything in India is suspect.”

Lucy Archibald in the WSJ:

However, some of the controversy merits a closer look. Most contentiously, writing in the Hindustan Times, Hartman De Souza, the sexagenarian theatre veteran and activist, accused the Tehelka editor of compromising a story about Goa’s illegal mining in order to get a green light for the festival.

According to De Souza, Tehelka reporter Raman Kirpal visited the state in March and discovered the illegal mining of iron ore at several times the environmentally cleared rate. This allegedly amounted to an illegal profit of Rs 8 billion ($163.5 million). Subsequently, the state-appointed Public Accounts Committee reportedly put the figure lost by the state exchequer closer to Rs 3,000 crore.

De Souza contends that Tejpal delayed the publication of the story just when he was in talks with Goa’s Chief Minister Digambar Kamat about approval and sponsorship for the event. And so far no such story on Goa’s illegal mining has run in Tehelka.

The reporter has since left the magazine and published his story on Firstpost.com, where he has now taken up a staff position. Coverage of the mining scandal followed in various local media outlets.

Several Goan government officials, including Kamat, were allegedly castigated in the committee’s report…. As a result of all this, De Souza objects to the inclusion of the Goan government as a sponsor of the ThinkFest event.

Tejpal published a strong riposte pointing out that the reporter in question was fired by Tehelka “on account of poor performance.” He strongly rejected De Souza’s version of events, calling his article “bizarre and baseless” and its author “full of rage at the world, but no facts.”

He also pointed out that they “actively refused sponsorship from all the Goan mining companies.” The festival was partly sponsored by companies including Aircel, Essar and Tata Steel.

Photograph: courtesy Newsweek

Also read: A magazine, a scam, an owner and his Goan house

Tarun J. Tejpal: “We haven’t bent or violated any rule”

‘Reporter lets Steve Jobs die on sidewalk’: RIP

Newsrooms across the world which have Apple machines in the design and editing sections, will remember Steve Jobs, who passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer.

Walt Mossberg, the iconic technology correspondent of the Wall Street Journal, writes on the Jobs he knew in today’s paper:

“After his liver transplant, while he was recuperating at home in Palo Alto, California, Steve invited me over to catch up on industry events that had transpired during his illness.

“It turned into a three-hour visit, punctuated by a walk to a nearby park that he insisted we take, despite my nervousness about his frail condition.

“He explained that he walked each day, and that each day he set a farther goal for himself, and that, today, the neighborhood park was his goal.

“As we were walking and talking, he suddenly stopped, not looking well. I begged him to return to the house, noting that I didn’t know CPR and could visualize the headline: “Helpless Reporter Lets Steve Jobs Die on the Sidewalk.”

“But he laughed, and refused, and, after a pause, kept heading for the park. We sat on a bench there, talking about life, our families, and our respective illnesses (I had had a heart attack some years earlier). He lectured me about staying healthy. And then we walked back.

“Steve Jobs didn’t die that day, to my everlasting relief. But now he really is gone, much too young, and it is the world’s loss.”

Read the full article: The Steve Jobs I knew

Second editor of Indian origin for ‘Newsweek’

Tunku Varadarajan, the Indian-born, US-based writer-educator, has been named the new editor of Newsweek international, becoming the second journalist of Indian origin after Fareed Zakaria to hold the reins at the American magazine.

Tunku broke the news through a tweet on Wednesday: “My news: Looks like I’ll be editing Newsweek International”.

Born Patanjali Varadarajan, 48-year-old Tunku—named after the father of Malyasia’s independence—is currently writer-at-large at The Daily Beast, the online magazine floated by legendary British editor Tina Brown. His appointment comes as part of the revamp of the struggling magazine, after the Washington Post company sold it to stereo tycoon Sidney Harman for one dollar (Rs 45) earlier this year.

Tunku, whose brother Siddharth Varadarajan works for The Hindu in New Delhi, has served as the correspondent of The Times, London, in Madrid and New York; worked at the editorial and op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal; and taught business at New York University and journalism at Stanford.

When his old boss Rupert Murdoch (who owns The Times) bought the WSJ, Tunku left to join Forbes.com.

In 1997, the 50th anniversary of India’s independence,  a  New Yorker item listed the nattily dressed Tunku, then 34, as one of New York City’s “most in-demand bachelors”.

“‘At the Times, we used to have a rule. Always dress as if you might have to go to a funeral or interview a Cabinet minister’…

“How often is he invited out? ‘Every day, I fear. A lot of these calls I take completely blind,’ he says, sipping a Scotch-and-soda. ‘If the person’s voice sounds nice, I tend to say yes. I suppose this could get me into a lot of trouble.’

Cricket-mad Tunku, a firm believer in the gung-ho vivacity of British newspapers as opposed to the deadly dull objectivity of their American counterparts, called Pakistan a “State of nothing” on that midnight child’s 50th anniversary.

Photograph: Tunku Varadarajan with wife Amy Finerty. The couple have a son, Satya (via Facebook)

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Also read: Who, when, how, why, where, what and WTF

How a slumdweller became a Newsweek reporter

‘Magazines, like mushrooms, should grow in the dark’

‘A too-argumentative Barkha squanders chance’

Barkha Dutt, the “massively influential but ethically embattled” NDTV anchor subjected herself to an inquisition last night in a bid to extricate her credibility after the Niira Radia tapes were outed by Outlook* and Open magazines.

Unlike her well-lit Buck Stops Here set, NDTV situated the interrogation in a dark and spooky set, and the usually boisterous Dutt (“pretty” in the words of one editor) appeared sans her usual makeup, lending a mournful air to a rather morose affair.

In the words of the Wall Street Journal, she squandered her chance by being “too-argumentative”:

“Barkha Dutt sometimes gets flak for her interviewing style, with people saying she interrupts her interlocutors and doesn’t give them enough of a chance to speak.

“And unfortunately—especially for her, given this was a chance for her to win back alienated viewers—she was no different last night.”

BBC online correspondent Soutik Biswas writes:

“Indian journalists are fixers!” shouted a young lady in the audience during a play I attended in Mumbai last week. She even took the name of one of the country’s leading news presenters to demonstrate her point. The play was about to begin, and one of the actors was engaging in casual banter with the audience. “Do you think news is unbiased in our country?” he asked.

“Many in the audience guffawed, and the lady spoke up in outrage. At that moment it struck me how much the controversy over leaked phone conversations between some senior Indian journalists and a prominent lobbyist had enraged people. It is, clearly, the Indian media’s biggest crisis of credibility.”

* Disclosures apply

Scrrenshots: courtesy NDTV

Read the full story: A too-argumentative Barkha squanders chance

Also read: Indian media’s credibility crisis

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar threatens to sue tabloid

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: A full-fledged war has broken out between “India’s future Nobel laureate“, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and underworld don-turned-journalist-turned-film maker, ‘Agni Sridhar, with the godman’s Art of Living foundation threatening a preemptive Rs 50 crore defamation suit against the latter.

The suit just comes four days after AoL claimed it was receiving extortion calls from a telephone number belonging to Sridhar, the man behind the eponymous weekly Kannada tabloid, Agni, and is clearly aimed at stemming the flow of negative news that has bedevilled “Mr Shankar” in the last month.

Last Tuesday, June 29, Ravi Shankar’s AoL filed a complaint before Bangalore police saying they had been receiving SMSes and calls from the mobile phone belonging to the journalist demanding Rs 42 crore (one million dollars).

Agni Sridhar was not named in the complaint.

An AoL  spokesman told reporters Agni Sridhar had visited the ashram to initiate “joint social development projects” with organisations associated with him, but when ashram representatives visited him, he changed tack. It is alleged he said he had some compact discs (CDs) to malign the ashram.

(Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has since claimed in an interview with the Bombay tabloid Mid-Day that “someone” was blackmailing him with a fabricated video.)

The following day, Agni Sridhar called a press conference to clear his name since his phone number had been mentioned, stating that he was only interceding on behalf of Paul Fernandez, a non-resident Indian whose 15-acre plot of land had been allegedly grabbed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s ashram, a charge denied by the ashram.

Now, AoL has followed up its police complaint with a legal notice to Agni Sridhar, demanding an unconditional apology for all the defamatory articles published by the weekly over a seven-year period. That’s Kannada reports that Sridhar has confirmed receiving such a notice.

Curiously, the notice has been sent by advocate S. Dore Raju, a former state public prosecutor seen to be close to the ruling BJP government in Karnataka if not the sangh parivar itself.

The police complaint and the legal notice cap a month of negative publicity for Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who earlier last month complained of being the target of an “assassination attempt” only to find Bangalore police assert that it was just a neighbour shooing off wild dogs.

The sudden spurt of incidents involving Sri Sri ravi Shankar also throws light on a possible war between godmen in Bangalore.

In a separate interview, Agni Sridhar had alleged that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was behind the Nithyananda video as he was wary of the latter’s growing popularity. Nithyananda who was caught on film with a Tamil film actress was released from custody recently.

Sridhar, a “reformed” underworld figure, has more recently branched out into making movies. He scripted the critically acclaimed Aa Dinagalu (Those were the days) on his stint in the margins, with the Jnanpith Award winning writer Girish Karnad. Two other films Slum Bala and Tamassu have since come from his stable.

Photographs: courtesy Enemiga Publica and Belli Tere

Also read: When a newspaper recites the Gita to a godman