Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
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
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!
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
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
Sorry for the rant! Nice ad about 'poking' though.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
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
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
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
Friday, May 16, 2008
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
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
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
Enjoy the video and sign up for EXIT!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
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
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
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!
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
Friday, May 09, 2008
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
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
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
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.
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
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.