Friday, May 30, 2008

Frikkin Hot...

In a weird sort of way, it seems normal to have traditional Delhi May weather back again as my car thermometer announced that the outside temeprature was 48 degrees centigrade today afternoon as I drove past India Gate. Maybe a few degrees off the mark, but the weather is back to normal.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I solemnly swe-ear...

That I, K, anonymous/pseudonymous blogger, do not write this as an official blog or a quasi-official blog or anything of the sort. This blog is not sanctioned by organisation or by my editor. So please for God's sake, if you meet my Editor don't tell him that you love our organisational blog run by me - aka this blog. He is a nice man, but he is known to love his temper once in a while, and I don't wish to be on the wrong side of it. In fact, if you meet my boss, please tell him that this blog is a load of crap, trust me, nothing will please him more. Now that I have told you the secret to my bosses heart, let us all watch the new Coldplay video which is coming from their new album Viva la Vida, and generally feel happy about life.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Left hand, Right Hand!

People ask me why I pick on EchTee. But I was not the genius who thought of this. One hand says the man is coke-addled maniac. The other fetes him. Don't believe me? Judge for yourself. This is what went on May 28. What else can I say?
By the way, Mr Modi, saying that you entered a 'Plea' bargain bargain because you didn't want to fight the case is a ridiculous defence. Several spoilt, rich Indian kids go to the States to study and discover the joys of frying their nuts out on Cocaine, few however get caught for you are accused of doing. Good story, by the way!
Note to people, the debate on plagiarism has to be started, because it is an emotional topic which people feel strongly about. Over here, people are debating the rights and wrongs of taking bylines for follow-up stories which may or may not have more information. I am not judging people, but I don't want to be the one seen to be pointing fingers. If an edit page article has lifted text, bring it out. Nobody is infallible, a senior editor had his reputation destroyed because of this problem which plagues the industry.
To the commentor who suggested Kuldip Nayar's name as a regulator - the man is a boring fart whose worldview is stuck in the 1960's. TV is a dynamic medium, but no-one deserves to have their reputations maligned on TV because of an incompetent reporter or editor. The treatment of the Noida murder case by certain televsion stations has been pathetic, and India TV in particular. I don't care how 'fearless' the channel claims to be or how 'tabloidish', some of the stuff they've done defies logic and basic decency. I wonder how it is before Rakhi Sawant starts reading the news. Crazy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Starting a debate.

I will not start about the crass way certain Hindi-news channels have covered Arushi talwar's case. One channel showed a decapitated head, another one showed a blurred video of a girl in her school uniform taking off her top. Now, as a very close friend of mine mentioned, while many of us can pretend that we know it is a dramatisation, many viewers of Hindi news channels (especially India TV, I'm afraid) will not. So, while you should take that idiotic IGP for maligning the girls reputation after she is dead (like me sying rajiv gandhi was corrupt, no wait...) the media frenzy which followed the murder, particularly after the botched police investigation is pretty bad. There is no doubt the police have been incompetent, but after watching some Hindi channels, I am beginning to think the idea of a regulator for news channels is not a bad idea. Crass is a serious understatement.
OK, recently I made a now redacted post on plagiarism, I should have read the email more carefully and I removed the post when i did. However, that email raised a few points and I have raised those in a previous post. recently, I was told of a photographer whom I have worked with who is changing jobs claiming that pictures clicked by other people are his. That is not just plagiarism, that is technically stealing. But so then is plagiarism. A writer from ET got upset about these accusations, and sent me a mail. The mail is there for you to read, would like to know your thoughts on this, and particularly in a world where you can check everything online. I would really like people to write in here, because there have rarely been meaningful discussions on the topic, remember an editor of HT lost his job because he lifted entire sentences from other columnists.
Will anyone define plagiarism? Those who claim to be waging a "war against plagiary" seem to be unaware of the basics of journalism. 'Any development is worth a follow-up' is one of the basic tenets of journalism. Even if it is minor, you are updating your reader, after all. Despite having spent over six years in the profession, I fail to understand the obsession behind "bylines". Earlier, it was about whenand how one should take a byline.
Now, the obsession has gripped thereaders (or rather warriors) too, who seem to be taking a keen interest in bylines. The "Why of a byline" is the warrior's dimensionto the byline business. It is surprising that in this fast-pacedworld, there are actually those who have the time to monitor who's taking a byline and who's not. To all those who seem to be keeping track of others' work (at the expense of your professional and personal life), I just have one thingto say: Grow up! Stop passing comments on who deserves a byline andwho doesnt because every publication has its own rules to measurewhich copy should go with the reporters' name and which should not.
Plus, newspapers are chasing news, which is developing everyminute, every second and to expect an update to come without thebackgrounder (coz using backgrounder will be plagiarism) is utterly foolish. Are all those writing for DNA and Mint plagiarists? Of course NOT! These newspapers have the policy of giving byline to all reporters whocontribute. A press release or a press conference copy also goes witha byline. Now who is the plagiarist? Will the warriors against plagiarism explain? Come to ET, a newspaper which breaks the maximum number of news, apaper which most of you can't do without and yet the paper which iscriticised the most.
Like all publications, ET may be having its shareof plus and minuses, but nobody has the right to question its policy of giving byline to its reporters. Those heading ET know better thanthe "warriors" that which story should go where and with or without abyline. Increasingly, the paper is encouraging bylines even in routinestories where there is substantial value addition in terms of analysis, comments from stakeholders, insight for the comman man etc. Plus interviews with senior officials always go with a byline even ifthey are talking about everything that's not earth shattering. These stories may appear to be repetitive, but they are not.
A byline story in ET will definitely give you more than other stories onthe same topic will give. And then to accuse the reporter of plagiary shows that the accuser has an agenda. What repeatedly surprises me is the amount of free time people have on hand to keep a check on whatsomeone is doing rather than setting their lives in order. I say setting their lives in order coz anyone with a healthy professional and personal life will not have the time to sit up and monitor eachand every story someone is doing. So Cheer up! Just look outside thewindow. There couble be a lot more you can do than pointing fingers at others. As for ET, join the paper if you have the guts and, of course, the ability. People out there will surely give you a patient hearing.
Why does formatting go for a toss when you Ctrl-C Ctrl-V from Gmail. And this is not my writing by the way, before I get accused of plagiarism myself. Oh yeah, and people have stolen chunks of text from this blog as well in the recent past.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Social kya?

I find social-networking daft at a quite fundamental level, though I have (I mean, the K beyond the K) has signed up on all the major ones. You know a social network is uncool when either your parents or your boss signs up, but when Outlook does a half-assed cover story you should certainly sign off permanently. But sadly, I haven't been able to. While I do ignore the tends of email spam inviting me to the latest 'get rich quick' social network idea where venture capitalists usually use other people's money to fund their wives/sons/relatives/mistress' new and throughly pointless copy of Facebook or LinkedIn, getting out of those two is tough. Go out for a meeting during the day and somewhere down the line someone will ask you if you have a LinkedIn profile. At night, you might meet a pretty girl or an interesting chap at a club and sooner or later it will be 'we'll catch you on Facebook', not let us swap numbers. Nope. Just Facebook. And once on Facebook people go out of their way to bug you and doing increasingly irritating things. Not 16-year old kids mind you, but 25-plus supposedly grown-up people. I don't want to be 'poked' twenty times a day! Yes, it is great fun finding friends you have not met since you graduated from school, but then you figure out that there usually was a very good reason you did keep in touch with them.
Sorry for the rant! Nice ad about 'poking' though.


There are somethings that I just cannot understand, one of them being the huge number of underwear adverts on Indian TV. I know India is a great market for underwear, but why so many adverts?

Friday, May 23, 2008


Is a byline justified in a follow-up? We can argue about that can't we. Follow-up with a quote? Depends on your view, and your publication, sometimes people take bylines on stories they should not, not new in India is it? Attribute your source, or 'news sources' if your organisation can't stomach mentioning a rivals name. The post has been temporarily removed and as I said, someone has agendas but people have the right to defend themselves. We don't conduct trial by blog.

Interesting Article.

Emily Gould, former editor of Gawker and writer of Emily Magazine has written a brilliant article on blogging and her life for the NYT Magazine. Read it!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Skid marks on the undie!

Many of my friends at UndieTV 24x7 have been an aggrieved bunch of late, not just because the anchors have been shuffled around and 'credible' faces have been brought in, but in an attempt to rehabilitate some people, a whole new bunch of script checkers have emerged, whereby 35-year old senior reporters are having scripts 'checked' by 22-year old greenhorns, and this has as you can expect in a world full of inflated egos led to a summer of discontent at Archana. There is no full-scale mutiny as yet, but that is what the East India Company thought in 1857.
It also appears that simmering tensions between channels are getting worse, and one person in the channel claimed that 'How can a channel that no-one gets have a higher viewership than ours!' (refering to Metronation). It also appears that a whole bunch of senior reporters are in 'talks' with an upcoming new English news channel being set up. I am sure things are not as bad as some people say they are, but with corporate focus shifting entirely to the entertainment channels, and musclebound self-styled 'tech experts' claiming that they are now the powers that be, things are not looking so good either.
In other news, while some people will not desert the sinking ship just yet, it appears that the resident editor of the ship's Delhi edition is running away to Dubai. Thanks to a ego-clash 'incident' involving an old man past his prime, the ship might also end up losing one of its better reporters - even though the 'incident' in question led to the French ambassador calling up Madam B. Though, the sinking ships tale is not even half as interesting as the tale of the confused old men but because I have been 'embargoed' from writing about the degree of confusion, I will not.
And lastly, so what if you are a new paper, you must follow Indian journalism's hallowed tradition of plagiarism! Just what can you possibly say?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Belting around!

Those of you who know me personally know that I have a repository of salacious stories about one hell of a lot of people, and despite my disgust of the sexual proclivities of some of these people, you know I do get a bit weirded out by some of these things. Of course, nothing beats the mobile-phone camera recordings that came out of one particular media house. However, when people's professionalism goes for a toss thanks to alcohol or sex, I might end up passing a snide remark. Yes, maybe the last post was below the belt, but the belt has been off for a while and that shows now!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


In news not related to the Times Group and associated movements or non-movements, it appears the editor of a prominent, or formerly prominent publication (and who was formerly a China stringer) is having a torrid affair with the (recently married) boss of a large PR firm which primarily takes care of business for one large conglomerate. This is a brilliant example of extremely bad taste on both sides.
Edit: I would like to state that I have never really cared who is banging whom in what position and up which opening. To each their own, but when there is a clear and defined conflict of interest, as is evident in such a case, I think I should write about them. As I have said, what has been written may also be untrue, since people could have better taste than drinking 'Vino' all the time. Anyway...
In news related to HT, I met one of the organisations better writers at 'the' book launch last night and I asked him why he hadn't left as yet.
His response, "Most offers have been quite poor, but trust me I will not be the last rat to leave the ship."
"So it is sinking then?"
"Sinking? The crows nest is underwater... Plan B might need to be put into play soon."
"And what the fuck is 'Plan B'?"
"I need another beer."
Hmmm. It was a nice book launch though, there was some bad music and some good music. And lots of beer. Though why we still drink VJM's beer when Carlsberg is freely available is beyond me.
Note: I am not having an affair with a PR chick/girl/lady. Just thought I would make that clear. Actually, as of now, not having an affair of any sort at all. Damn!

Monday, May 19, 2008


It seems to be in the air right now. Enough said!

Friday, May 16, 2008

More Pictures

Almost everybody loves travelling. But over the past year or so, thanks to a strange set of circumstances, I have actually managed to travel a lot. Not just within India, when I was dispatched to the Andamans but also to some rather exotic places, both on my own time and on office time. Recently, just after returning from Cambodia and Thailand I was about to submit my passport for renewal when my procrastination actually worked in my favour for once. Because I delayed the process, I actually managed to snag a very lovely trip (well, I actually pleaded to be sent, but that is another story) up to Lake Como on Italy's border with Switzerland. Here are some pictures of the trip.
On Lake Como, I was staying at Moltrasio, one of the myriad of small towna that dot the shore. While there I took the (really slow) ferry ride to Bellagio.
At Bellagio, playing around with the camera.
In Bellagio, the average room rates sometimes exceed 500 Euro a night for a 'normal' room, which in Europe will likely be miniscule. But with a view like this...
We took a motorboat the next day, that is Moltrasio in the background
Cruising past the 500-year old Villa D'Este at Cernobbio
OK, I had gone for a car show, and what a car to see the $2.3million, stupendously expensive and incredibly fast Bugatti veyron. Not just any veyron though, this is the special edition Hermes Veyron.

This was also a classic car gathering, and while I have two SD-cards full of classic car images I won't bore you with those. Here is just a sampler.

I was flying back to India via Munich, though I had decided to extend my trip for one night at Munich, I really didn't expect the flight from Milan-Malpensa to Munich to be so spectacular. High-wing aircraft are a lot better for photography.

OK, so I loved the view. I have almost fifty shots in this series.

This picture is of Munich, or more specifically the pedestrian heart of Munich, which is a bloody expensive city, but to the credit of the Germans what a magnificent re-building job they have done, though you can evidence that in Frankfurt and Berlin also. Honestly, despite paying 50 Euro a night for a Pension I should have spent a few more days here. If only bank balance wasn't busted after south-east Asia.
These pics are copyrighted to me (that is K) but under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported. Please read the terms in case you're confused. Thanks


To be fair to MJ, at least he made sure that his new magazine has a functional website where you can go read the stories to get suitably bored. Then again, going through the stories these guys seem to veering further left of Outlook, the cover is a suitably vicious hachet job on Sharad Pawar. At least, and I repeat, they have a fully functional website (simple, but functional) unlike Sakaal Times or Financial Chronicle.
But here is the problem, Covert (and their Covert funders) does not have the distribution muscle of either the India Today Group or the Outlook Group (of course, those who claim to know Covert's funding sources claim otherwise, though magazines are quite a different commondity for what is usually distributed). And despite that, both IT English and Outlook have seen drops in readership in the IRS R1. India Today English, for example has seen 'Claimed Readership' (CR) decline 4 per cent to about 6.9 million readers. Keep in mind, Claimed Readership and Average Issue Readership (AIR) are two quite different things, calculated in different ways (we'll get to that some other time). The same survey shows Outlook CR declined 10 per cent, to around 1.9 million readers.
The truth of the matter is that while hundreds of new magazines are being launched, magazine readership is declining, even the publication I work for saw a decline, not as scary as the 21 per cent decline for Cosmopolitan, but decline none the less, in fact, lifestyle magazines registered some really scary numbers. And the IRS does not even include many of the new-fangled publications which would barely register a blip, such as those published by the Ponytail (who seems to be skipping salaries). I've gone through the numbers and declining readership copupled with rising newsprint costs and the rise of the internet, is not going to make for a pretty time very soon.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I didn't know that Radiohead had a video out from 'In Rainbows' as yet, and was pleasantly surprised to see this on VH1 last night. The video is for 'All I Need', a great track from what is a wonderful album. The video has been made in collaboration with MTV's EXIT campaign (End Child Exploitation and Trafficking). I guess you know that child explotation is a severe problem in India and though the news usually gets buried in the nation or city pages with a cursory description, every day you read about children being rescued in a major urban area - some right next door to some of the posher parts of the city. Of course, there is also the large-scale problem of child-prostitution in India as well, something that successive governments have turned a blind eye towards, of course you'll hear the right noises. The oft-used argument is that there is poverty in India and children need to work to feed their families. I don't buy this argument. Yes, there is poverty and poverty exacerbates the problem, but the main problem is poor governance. Children have been ignored in the rush to prosperity in this country, and if you are born on the wrong side of the social divide, your childhood years are pretty much guaranteed to be miserable. I'm proud of being an Indian, but sometimes every one of us sees stuff that just makes us cringe a bit, and I will always thank my lucky stars that I was born on the right side.
Enjoy the video and sign up for EXIT!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fly Kingfisher drinking RC!

The honorary Doctor (and he who selects air-hostesses 'personally') contends that he would have bought MSD, Uthappa and McCullum instead of his 'fantastic' team (though with RD still being an icon player) but since the IPL has a 'salary cap' this year, he would have had to play with a team of four. Add up the salaries of these three players, plus the fact that RD would then be getting $1.8mln since MSD would be paid $1.6mln, and you would touch the $5mln limit. Of course, I get to hear from friends in Bangalore (many of whom now support the Shah Rukh - Akhtar show) that people are not pleased with the honorary Doctor bad-mouthing Bangalore's greatest son - RD. To be fair, if I were the hon. Doc I would be pissed too, but so are the owners of the Hyderbad team and they aren't throwing a hissy fit like a spoilt brat.
But then again, when your Formula 1 cars advertise your airline well by flying in the very first lap, what can you expect? Obviously look at the softer target, making sure the media ignores flying stunts. The hon. Doc wants to be a mid-field player in F1 soon, but with the teams back to base in Europe (showing their true pace) and Super Aguri out of the reckoning, the hon. Doc is sullying India's name (why Force India???) through the mud (with flying Fisi admitting as much), of course, Bangalore's rep is in the mud already. But then again with such god-awful uniforms what did you expect.

The flying fish - or Kingfisher's new jet?

Though, it appears that the hon. Doc will make sure the salary cap will be removed next year and he will go all guns blazing for some big names from the other teams, which means the IPL might actually become profitable for everyone else. Of course, for the poor shareholders of United Spirits however, it is a different matter.

Heck, even I'm drinking Carlsberg nowadays! I quit RC a long time ago, though Mallya still gains since the IPL is an even better surrogate ad for booze than the airline.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


It was pointed out to me that I did not post any pictures from my holiday to Cambodia up on this blog, so here are a couple of pics. I shot these on a Nikon D50 using a 18-55mm lens. Was actually contemplating upgrading to a newer Digital SLR, but still debating between the Canon 400D/450D and the Nikon D60. Any suggestions would be welcome! Won't put too many images up, just a quick sampler.The first is a view of Angkor Wat from the east. Even though Angkor Wat is (uniquely) a west-facing templehis was in the morning and the light was hardly suitable for shooting the western side!
This is one of the shikhars at Bayon Temple, which feature these incredible peaceful, smiling faces on each side (pointing at the cardinal directions)
This is Ta-Keo Temple, not a large temple, but definately one of the more 'interesting' ones from a physical exertion point-of-view.
And this is Ta-Prohm Temple, which is being renovated by the Archeological Survey of India, you can argue that the guys can't take care of what they have here why on earth are they going outside India, but I would say that they know more than most, and this is one hell of a job they have on their hands.

The last temple, a rather out of the way one is Banteay-Kdei.

Will do another post sometime with pics from Lake Como. These pics are copyrighted to me (that is K) but under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported. Please read the terms in case you're confused. Thanks


BS has a story today on BCCL doing an IPO, not new news but here are a couple of things. First, last December I wrote about Bennett looking at a private-equity placement at an estimated valuation of $12 billion. Despite the markets crashing, it is unlikely that BCCL's valuation of itself has gone down, in fact the $15 billion number - in excess of Rs 60,000 crore has been mentioned, though Rs 50,000 crore is more plausible, even though that would be a earnings multiple of between 15-20x.
But, if Times has been looking so hard for a PE firm, why can't it find one?
The answer it seems is Papa Murdoch. SJ does not want Papa M to have any say in his company, even indirectly, now Indian PE firms have nowhere near the capital required to invest in BCCL, and many of the big boys of the PE world are close to Papa M (he is after all a client of so many of them). I mean, with Papa M looking longingly at the Indian Print market, SJ doesn't want to be funded by Papa's dosh.
Secondly, an IPO before the General Elections?
Very unlikely. While an IPO is on the cards by all indications, and not just because stock options will be handed out (with several million clauses in them) it is unlikely to happen with the UPA government still in power. If the BJP manages to pull off Karnataka, there will be absolute turmoil at the Centre.
By the way, with the gradual downfall of the honorary Doctor starting after his cars started tumbling all over the place and his cricket 'team', well didn't quite play ball - no knowing where the ball was. It is rather ironic that a man who claims to take a 'personal role' in everything he does (including selecting the girls for his calendar) claim not to have taken a 'personal' role in team selection? I mean you can take enough time to choose the girls (and even the air-hostesses) but in something that is possibly taking your reputation through mud, you let people play with $100 million. To sign a test team?

Monday, May 12, 2008


Talking about sports...
I am not a Manchester United fan, my alligieneces lie in North London with Arsenal, but you can't deny that Man U were the better team through the season, and with goals like this by a player in the best form of his life, you really could not deny them could you. Everyone thought that Ferguson was a nutter to dump David Beckham and hand the #7 jersey to some unheard of Portuguese kid, but my god, with goals like this.. you can't argue!

I'm really looking forward to the Euro 2008 Championships later this year and I have a funny feeling that the Iberian peninsula could do really well!

A clarification.

I want to point out that this is not an 'HT-attack' blog. I learnt my trade for two years at 18-20 KG Marg and maybe because I owe the paper a lot of gratitude that I feel so pissed off at its decline, because there is a part of me which wants it to do well. My history with The Hindustan Times goes a lot deeper than just two years in a dark corner, those of you who know who I am will know what I am hinting at, but it suffices to say that for many years as a senior school student I used to walk down to the building and spend hours in the library there, it was only correct that I would want to work there.
That is not to say that there has been a palpable improvement in the Times of India over the past few years, HT's decline in Delhi, the western part of the city aside is extremely irritating to me. At every level the paper seems to screwing up. And this decline has happened thanks to ham-handed management from the top-down (starting with but not limited to the 'no-poaching agreeement with BCCL), stupid editorial decisions, not least of all having almost no stability at the top and not knowing what it wants to be, and at a level there is this sense of refusal by the paper to cut with the past.
Like an old lover who just holds on, unable to give up, some overhyped people have reained for years while a whole crop of young and talented young guys moved off to greener pastures, and many of them could have been retained if only a more sincere attempt was made. Heck, the paper dithered over signing my extension papers for so long and when they did gave me a decent hike, though my current employers (where I have stayed for the past five years now) had already made me a better offer and I had signed on by then. I would have continued at HT if only they had been a few months faster.
I work with several former-HT hands today, I am still close to several of my former colleagues at HT, all of them very good people, well most of them anyway, and all of them dfespair at the decline of the paper. Of course, it can be argued that the devline started around eight years ago, and the denial mode the paper went into when the first IRS report came out showing that ToI had overtaken it (I was there, I worked on the denial story) was telling.
That was however, the first of several reports - today, by all indications, HT is trounced by ToI in the NCR, even though in its bastion of West and Old Delhi the paper still leads comprehensively. The problem is in the 'newer' Delhi, the younger, hip Delhi/Gurgaon/Noida where HT loses out. Not because the product is bad, but because it lost crucial readers long ago (and because of godawful distribution). In fact, say what I will about editorial, HT's weakest link is management which has been awful for over twenty years. While BCCL has made a few mistakes (and Private Treaties is not one of them, despite the portfolio really not looking that pretty anymore) such as losing a young Times Music executive called Haresh Chawla a decade or so ago, it has managed to ramp up and take on all comers. Sure HT's gone public, but if BCCL goes public (and it might, maybe post-election) the valuation it will get will be so immense, that it probably afford to buy HT for around five-seven per cent of their stock (in an all-stock deal).
I do not believe that the paper is beyond redemption, but the steady decline of the paper in Delhi is reminiscent of the Indian Express' decline in Mumbai in the eighties. HT is more than just a Times wannabe, it is a great institution and the decline of the paper is a man-made decline. A decline that can be halted not by bringing foreign imports one after the other, but by level-headed management and some good young people at the helm. I wonder if anyone at HT management will ever read this post.
The question is, 'Will Madam B sell?' And this question has been getting louder and louder over the years. I have no clue, because I do not have an insight into the matter, but I would not. I so not believe HT is beyond redemption.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

When you're failing in the IPL...

You try and pretend that your Formula 1 team is good. No wait... They suck almost as badly. So you start the new 'Party Championships'. You just have to give it to Doctor M, he may not be much of a Doctor, but boy oh boy, can he throw a party.

Friday, May 09, 2008


The latest, according to some text messages doing the rounds is that Jaggi (R Jagannathan, Editor, DNA) is the man who might be called to head up the FT-TV18 Joint-Venture after Ravi Dhariwal slew Haresh Chawla on the battlefield of offers and counter-offers.
What is this about senior members of HT's editorial staff going to Police Stations to file FIR's about computers getting hacked? Anyway, the latest doing the rounds when it comes to the Birla paper is that Sid Varadarajan or Swapan Dasgupta might be the papers next editor. Sounds rather incredulous, because the political views of both these men are almost totally opposite. But the question is would anyone choose to join a sinking ship, since many others have refused. Anyway, with Sharad Pawar's paper luring away half of HT (a Delhi launch on the cards?), there might not be much of a ship to right.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Going, Staying, Going, Staying, Going...

I will not go out on a limb and say this is the final word on the matter (if you can't figure out what I'm on about, too sad), but everyone seems to be staying as of now. Love the way such things boost traffic - close to 41,000 unique hits and 60,000 pageviews already this year. In 2007 there were 80,147 unique hits and 105,677 pageviews, but I'm not raking in the Google moolah as yet. Dang!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Doubt I'm a kid anymore and convergence divisions headed by people who spout acronyms and have waffled from job to job without doing anything of note other than try their hands at (bad) poetry are better best avoided. Anyway, was sent a link to this yesterday, I wonder who is being spoken about - now really I have to add a ;-) here as I would in a text.
India's latest paper launched today - Sakal Times - they don't have a website so we can't 'review' content. And on the topic that everybody is interested about, things have now seemed to have bounced back. Why media movements flip-flop more than John Kerry during his ill-fated 2004 US Presidential campaign are beyond me. This obviously has led many to ask, if people DON'T leave, what then for the yet-to-be launched newspaper - it will be like Steve McLaren taking on the England football managers job Scolari turned down only to end in disaster.
In other news, Mint's leadership team are currently out on an offsite and when they come back we might get more clarity on their new set-up and how it will impact 'internal' politics (where the editor had publicly stated to an outsider that someone else was his #2) . We might also find out the fate of Mint TV, which is already making news stories and starting to produce bulleteins (though not broadcast quality). In even more news, things at Archana seem to have livened up after Vasu was made Managing Editor though feathers have been ruffled, though people aren't lining up to quit since News X is hardly an option - this is an organisation where the managemnt seems more interested in buying cars than running a channel. Not that champagne baths were much better though (Do the math, how many champagne baths will 7.96 big ones buy you?), but with unintelligible anchors, the channel needs help - because as a friend explained 'Doing, clean, straight-up news, without making any noise or doing specials is extremely difficult because the screw-ups are not buried under the noise of an inconsequential sting operation or pointless debate about something that pisses off ex-bureaucrats.'

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Biz TV

Since my TV life revolves around what Tata-Sky decides to show me, it appears that UTVi Business has been alive for a while but I can't see it anywhere, not even on my office telly which has an old-fashioned coaxial cable sticking out its backside. So, will wait till then. In other business channel news, Abheek is being tapped up supposedly to head up ET TV(Money TV or whatever it will be called) and Raju, who has throttled back at Papermint, supposedly will look after Mint TV, which will be HT's first foray into television since the ill-fated Home TV fiasco in the late-90's. Strange that Mint might launch a channel because another story doing the rounds is that old man Murdoch, keen to enter the Indian print market might actually 'break' the deal with HT Media (which would ironically help Mint make money) and launch something like WSJ India with either ABP, or as it seems likely the man who bought a test team for the IPL. So, sometime next year you might see the Good Times Street Journal or something as convoluted as that. Wonder where the journalists are, and I don't think I'll get a job anytime soon the way I blabber.
Oh yes, and at NDTV which has a scatterbrained 'convergence' division (they're organising a summit on 'media trends' with a sworn Luddite as the lead keynote speaker) there are plans to launch a print media division too. I don't think NDTV is quite happy that they have fallen behind TV18 in the 'companies launched recently' stakes.

Jaipur, Goa and now Dubai?

They might soon be editorless, or several tens of editors less (or not, as people from the second floor of BSZ Marg are telling me now), but the marketing machine that is the Times of India will not quit. Which is why even the denizens of Dubai (EDIT: It may not be Dubai as someone just corrected me, but according to sources in the advertising world, there is serious talk of an international edition, which may or may not have the Times brand, or it could even be a Gulf edition of ET) will soon (hopefully) be able to get daily gossip about some failed B-actress and some actor who had a hair-job while finding out why they should invest money in the same companies as the Times Group, but more on the seemingly pervasive nature of private equity deals by media companies later on in this post.
Plus, this private placement thing seems to be catching on, even TV18 is getting into it in a big way, HT is already into it and so, we are informed, is The Indian Express. Huh? Just what can the Express offer any company is a bit beyond me, but heck they're getting into the game also. Interestingly, expect another large wave of mid-level shuffling across all the business publications. The monies being offered by some organisations borders on the ridiculous, but I can't blame anyone for being blinded by dosh.
This will also happen across the business channels, despite UTVi being absent from theairwaves (or at least I can't seem to find it anywhere) and Money TV (Bennett's new business channel) still in the planning stage but lots of names are being bandied about - the husband and wife pair (talk about ethics) or maybe the God and Godess (unrelated) of CNBC. The salary figures being quoted are astronomical, so ridiculous that I think everybody desperately needs to lay off the cocaine. Three-Four-Five Crores, the prime minister was complaining about the salaries of Chief Executives, soon the government (Priyo) will start making noises about journalists and
Sainath will bemoan this fact when he addresses journalism students with dollar signs in their eyes.
Plus, someone really ought to tell Sainath to quit moaning, because that is not the way reportage of rural affairs will happen. I do not deny for a minute that rural matters are neglected in the Indian media, hiden somewhere inside some actresses vapid mind. But, where do you fit rural affairs in? No paper wants to have rural news on front pages since they believe they are addressing an urbane audience, which is rather selfish. Who cares if a farmer in Bundelkhand doesn't have water, is what the readers are saying, because there is no water in Kalkaji.
The problem doesn't lie with the media or editors or media houses, it lies with the Indian middle classes.
And the 'point of no return' fact I mentioned yesterday apparently means that someone somewhere will be making a lot of money in their next few pay-cheques! Even if they don't quit.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Oh well...

Sometimes discretion is better than valour, but what I can say is that once this saga comes to an end, and it will one way or another by the end of this month, you will see a lot more here. Now, what I can write is that things are beyond the point of no return.
In other news, exciting things are happening at Undie TV 24x7 with a complete reshuffle of senior editors and anchors - the channel feels that 'credible' faces are required on the prime-time shows, which will probably lead to the channel losing some of their very good other anchors. They did lose one fairly recently who went and joined PR. There are also major doubts among several of the reporting staff, but also a feeling that the channel did need to change if it had to keep up with CNN-IBN. According to some senior reporters there is also a level of office politics involved with senior anchors playing against each other - Vasu's return to Delhi being just one of the signs.
The problem here is also that a lot of the senior editors have stayed the same for far too long, NDTV 24x7 has gone far too long, going back to the Star News days without major change and things have come to head. While issues on the ToI-FT front will more or less resolve within a few weeks, expect more news to come out of Archana.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Quick Post.

I will not explain why yesterday's post mysteriously disappeared, so we'll just keep it at that, right?
Anyway, will write more on the matter soon.