Monday, June 30, 2008

Wow...

HTTabloid has been around for a while, calling out to escort agencies. Now, NDTV wants in on the act as well. One question - why? This is the internet stupid, I mean if I want to see semi-naked women I just have to Google (after switching SafeSearch off you can even see total no-hold barred porn). And if the logic is that these portals serve up silly news - heck, all news is pretty silly nowadays. Like the name though.

On defending...

Actual conversation today...
"Why are you of all people siding with office vamps?"
"What?"
"You removed that comment about that woman..."
"Not because of her, but because the person who asked me to remove it had a point."
"But K, of all people you should not sympathise with vamps."
"People have all the right in the world to sleep around, you know, emancipation and all. Of course, that does not lead to good taste but, to each his own."
"So you're defending office vamps and sluts?"
"Well, there are man-whores also in offices, they're as bad."
"You are defending marriage breakers."
"I know what you are getting at, and I just think that the marriage was not stable enough as it is if the lure of a dirty hole can break it. But that is just my opinion on the matter. I've been an innocent bystander to my parents broken marriage. I can't spend the rest of my life asking 'What If's?' way too many dependencies. Dangerous area, since that will probably throw me over the edge and I'll need to visit a shrink again."
"And what about HT now?"
"Don't know, I just hope that they can get a good guy, because that paper deserves it after cocking around the last two years."
-----------------------------
Thrash incomeptence, which is what almost everybody is guilty of in the sorry mess and not stupid affairs. Because the incompetence was there to begin with and not created as a result of what might or might not have happened. Yes, it might have made the problem worse, but the bigger problem with HT is not in the editorial, its in management!

Spain won!

The semi-finals were throughly more entertaining, but Spain deserved to win this tournament since they played delightful football. Had a nice time watching the match yesterday, and now I can look forward to some downtime away from sports. Back to video games it is then.
PS: I'm surprised at the anger that is evident in several comments and emails that have come from HT-staffers regarding PP. It seems there is this great sense of happiness at this purge and anger that the paper has been directionless for so long (something I feel too). However, in a new twist, it appears that all departments will now directly report upstairs, including Sports - where it seems the rot started.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekend

Well, tonight is the big game and since I'm and Arsenal fan I want Jens Lehmann to lose, preferably thanks to a goal created by Cesc Fabregas. I've loaded up on the Carlsberg and hopefully the sleep as well. Tonight will be a long night!
Sucheta has posted her response here, there are some comments about EchTee too, one an extremely long one, but I can fully sympathise with the emotion. As I have said, this blog is not anti-HT, it is just incredibly frustrating to see somebody (or thing) shoot themselves in the foot. Over and over again.
As for much I make from AdSense, not enough for me to go to the man and tell him I'm going! Honestly, I barely make $10 a month and that number has increased after some degree of placement optimisation. I'm sure that if I got serious and all, I could make big money, win awards and generally become a pompous bastard. But the access and the cash I get now is still far too attractive.

Friday, June 27, 2008

EchTee Update

Apparently Pankaj Paul has finally quit. More later.

Updates

Sorry, I'm having a hectic Friday and the off Saturday that I wistfully looked forward to has been screwed over by a major meeting. Anyway, quick points - a Business Standard IPO will make the Jet Airways IPO look like a wealth creator and anyway while we might have hit rock bottom, there are those who're saying that there is a huge void underneath the thin crust of 'bottom'. Also, there are stories of reporters thinking their Editors have lost it on Arushi Talwar case - more on that later. And are things all happy at 18-land? Of course with the recent episode of the fax that never came but actually had come but nobody bothered to check the fax-machine, things may not be as hunky-dory as they seem. And BCCL strengthens their proposal for a new flanking business product, more details tomorrow.
Oh, and if you live in Gurgaon, you should check out 'The Monk' at the Galaxy Mall, loved their sticky rice bowls.

Interesting Read

Nikhil Pahwa's new website has an interesting interview with the Private Treaties guys. The other side of the story I guess, even though many may not agree.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

South India update.

Since I can profess to have little knowledge of the media scene in southern India, a friend mailed me some quick details of what is going on there. Here goes, and many thanks to this kind soul whom I will buy a drink when we meet next! This blog gets a considerable number of readers from the south and I would love it if you guys can comment on this post. I did have a sneaking feeling about the Andhra Jyoti scene, but please do comment. As you know, comments are moderated but you can comment anonymously.
...all I can tell you is that Karunanidhi is trying his best to kill Sun TV etc, but that Maran brothers are looking to launch an English language paper in tie-up with a British broadsheet by the last quarter of 2008; that Rajshekhar Reddy is trying to promote his son’s Sakshi by arresting the Andhra Jyoti editor; that The People’s Daily of Chennai is flexing distribution muscle big-time to restrict TOI to a circulation of 1.2 lakhs (TOI Chennai is printing nearly 1.7 lakh at the Dinakaran press, but have a whopping 40 per cent return of unsolds); and that DNA is getting down to the business of launching southern editions starting with Bangalore in August-September while TOI hemorrhages in Hyderabad and Chennai...

Private Treaties et al.

I was sent this link to a story in The Hoot. I still believe that Private Treaties will come back to haunt BCCL.
In other news from BCCL, it appears that the new business paper will not be a tabloid but a broadsheet. This is not justa defensive move to suck up journalists, but a classic anti-competitive Times move to kill advertising support for its rivals. See, the logic will work like this; Times goes to big advertiser with proposition - Rs 100 for ET/TOI but for just Rs 25 extra get space in unnamed trashy business paper. Now, when space sellers from Papermint or FT-TV18 go to them even with rates of Rs 50 for the same amount of space, the advertiser, who wants bang for the buck will tell them to buzz off. This will hurt Financial Chronicle the most.
Now, people can argue about the lack of a price-based newspaper or magazine model in ndia and I also think it is unfortunate, but telling people to pay ten bucks for a papetr when they're paying two bucks now will not happen overnight. Sure, people can afford paying 10 bucks per paper per day, but then people might not take a second paper. And suddenly might start holding the papers accountable for the news they print. Which of course, the papers would not like - particularly since they have love-in's with shady real-estate developers at times!
Plus, according to sources Forbes is looking at a September launch. Get ready to get bored!

Are the Indian editions of Forbes and Fortune still on?

Forbes and Fortune decided to launch Indian editions a few years ago, and after years of waffling they got their acts together. At least Forbes even went ahead and hired IG to head up the thing. But, after IG's unfortunateheart problems, it appears that some people who were about to join him got cold feet, and the launch of what would have been TV18's first foray in print seems to have been 'delayed', we just don't know if the term 'indefinately' can be added here. As for Fortune, it was supposed to have been launched by now, but we believe is still on track but it was supposed to have been launched months ago.
Now, I also believe there is another negative element here - a declining economic scenario and thus, since everything in the media boils down to space selling. Now, this has impacted the potential launch of several TV channels from a shady real-estate operator (who gave tax-free joining bonuses in cash, which is another story) but according to some friends in the ad circuit, the rates being quoted are rather 'high' particularly for the current economic scenario. Would these magazines, which might be thin on local content be viable in such an enviroment?
I'm not being negative about the 'India Story', I still believe there is a great deal of potential in the market, and a softening of the unabashed exuberance of the past three-odd years is not a bad thing. Well, it might be a bad thing for the Congress, but that is about it.
Plus, with newsprint prices going up, expect some more fun on the ad-edit ratio front!

Money Mirror?

This comment had the juice, and I've been hearing this from three or four places. Cheap, trashy business tabloid on the way?
Times always does this 'lock in' gimmick with journos, ending up having ten people on the same beat, but with ET still the 800-lb gorilla in the room, can you argue? However, with Haresh not kowtowing to the extremely anti-competitive and possibly illegal 'no poaching' agreement that Times has with some other players, we should see some fun if and when FT India gets launched. Plus, we hear that BS has decided to put on some new lipstick and go crusing for customers, but with TN asking for a bomb as always, nothing might come out of it, unless, if one rumour is to be believed, UTV decides to do something about it.
Watch this space.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

So?

"Do you suppose a new paper with a bent towards business news would work?"
This was a strange question, coming from an unlikely source.
"Are you refering to the FT-TV18 thing?" I asked back.
"Yes"
"Maybe, I don't know, depends on how much money they pour into it, and TV18 knows how to pour money into ventures."
But, taking a step back, I am more worried about content than I am about initial success. I'm sure the guys at TV18, though they are novices at newspaper distribution would throw a ton of money behind the deal, with the same crop of maybe 60-100 people jumping ship left, right and centre can such a paper work? It is pretty much certain now that the old men are not leaving, since they found the allure of the old lady too enticing rather than jump into the arms of an 18-year old bar pick-up.
The cost of creating a new media property, even though it is still quite high, is comparitively lower than before. Acquiring content, generic content, is also easier than before with the interwebs and all. But a full-fledged newspaper with need for exclusives and proper news, in a country suffering a distinct lack of editors, and worse still much like the Indian Army which suffers from a 'Major Shortage' there are far too few middle-level people. And while style can help push a paper for a few months as can attractive subscription offers, I still think there is still an argument for substance. Long-term viability is an issue, and even if the paper launches with gusto and content, it might not make money for a while, indeed lose huge chunks of cash, just like the last major launch - Papermint.
Anyway, anybody else got any thoughts on the issue.

Persepolis

A friend of mine thinks that I am becoming a crochety old man at the age of 29, and insisted that we go for a movie. It had been a while since I had seen a movie in a hall and I was pleasantly surprised at the PVR at Select Citywalk, nice big seats and even the popcorn seemed to taste nicer. Sure, like any self-respecting movie they had to ice down the cola to the point of no-recognition, anyway slightly less sugar never hurts. We ended up watching Persepolis, a brilliant film based on the graphic novel of the same name which I read a while back. Very well adapted, and I would suggest that you go watch it sometime as well, if you're into that sort of thing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bored!

Have you ever started a story and then somewhere in between realised that the topic you're covering is extremely boring? Or worse still, it is a commissioned piece because of some survey your employers have done and you find yourself writing something which is so dull that you struggle to put 500 words together? I mean, I'm not short on talk or writing, as you must have guessed by now, but sometimes you just have deal with people from the bottom of the barrel in the 'interesting' stakes. Your body tells you to stay up, but your brain wants to shut down or worse still, if you're like me, I whip out my mobile and update my Twitter - which usually says bored.
Not that I'm doing anything boring right now, actually as of right now, I am not working on any story per se, instead I'm trying to conceptualise a micro-site for our website. Something like stamping my footprint deep inside the digital world. Or generally some blah, whichever way you look at it. I'm also not the type to wish for excitement to happen, because I know everytime I crib that life has become a bit grey, a tear is made in the space-time continuum and something bites my posterior. That rarely has to do with work, it usually involves a long-lost someone calling you and then you decide to make a massive mistake without realising why you became long-lost in the first place.
But of course, in my case it could well be what is going to happen on Friday. A couple of my old school friends, the more enterprising lot of them anyway, have decided to organise a get-together on Friday. So far there are no strippers involved, but with this lot, I just have a bad feeling that shit will hit the fan, I will be responsible for some of the shit hitting the fan, and have a ruddy good time while doing it.
Note to self: Do not make fun of anyone's baldness! People can be very touchy at 30!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Going or not?

Manmohan wants to quit. Country collectively yawns and is more worried about how they are going to buy next week's vegetables. The Commies threaten to withdraw in the N-Deal is signed, but they don't exactly want elections in Bengal or Kerala where things are not exactly going swimmingly. The DMK isn't exactly looking forward to elections in TN, and Lalu for all his posturing (does he get paid by Zee and who is his ghost writer? And blog comments are mostly to do with how the Railways are screwing up) got a massive slap in the face from HT yesterday. Who wants an election, really? Other than the BJP, that is.
However, even if there were an election, there is a school of though which goes that no-one wants to win an election later this year or early next year. The problems will not disappear and one of the first decsions of any new government will have to be raising prices - again. Going on bended knee to the Saudi's won't exactly help. Sorting out issues like why, despite 'supposed' massive finds, almost no gas is flowing from the KG Basin. No wait, thats because two brothers are fighting. Or maybe because the gas is just 'gas'?
But my point remains, Manmohan said he would quit. Nobody cared. Maybe he should quit when he has some pride left.

Where were you?

When India won the Prudential World Cup on June 25, 1983?
I was in Oxford, where my father was a doctoral student, and I remember asking my mother what local Indian students in the University were doing going mad and running with flags in the evening. My father unfortunately was back in Calcutta. So technically, I was closer to the action than most people, even though at the age of four I couldn't get cricket yet!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

College Tales

As a Stephanian, I have been rather bemused with all this quota talk. Some fairly prominent alumni have flayed the increase in reservations (Ram Guha and Sanjeev Bikhchandani have very strong opinions on the issue and have written about it), and the associated reduction in cut-off’s for Christian students. But, while Ram and Sanjeev, believe this will lead to a erosion of the ‘academic excellence’ at SSC, I totally disagree, and I’m of the opinion that if college wants to take the road to perdition, let it go straight ahead.
I’ll let you all on to a little secret, the quality of ‘education’ at St. Stephen’s, in most departments (other than Physics and Mathematics, and Maths students can argue about the latter) borders on the average. St. Stephen’s has always been about the crazy people who are in your batch with you.
Crazy but incredibly intelligent individuals, many of whom, including me gave a flying eff about education, since the real learning almost always happened after smoking two or three pudiya’s of the harsh ganja from Mall Road, over coffee and listening to music. And maybe a bottle of whiskey sitting on the roof of Muk East. I will admit to anyone who cares to listen to me, that I hardly ever studied in college, I was far too stoned or too drunk, but I still pulled off some rather good grades, won enough quizzes and even a debate or two to have a decent life and enjoy the company of some great people.
College did not go for a toss last year, it started going for toss at the start of the decade when they started cracking down on the fun. People got suspended for smoking. Cigarettes. College started to become school. SSC was always a liberal outpost when the rest of the country was stuck in the middle ages, today as the country liberalises, particularly on social views, SSC is going back into the past – Bal Thackeray would be proud! What is happening today is natural evolution of the tripe that started happening back then.
I don’t want to buy arguments from either side, because for me SSC is beyond redemption. Being a current day Stephanian is not fun anymore. Heck, seeing some of the faculty members in my department today, I almost want to cry, since they have actually managed to make the English Department worse! Quite an achievement, which I honestly did not think would ever be possible. It is almost as if SSC is being run as an offshoot of the Bush administration.
I’m glad I graduated when I did. I got an education, and maybe even learned a bit along the way. I believe people like my father and his batchmates were even luckier to have seen SSC in the mid-70's, the golden era of college. The crown does not sit easy anymore, because it fell down half a decade ago.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Say a prayer for Getem!

Getem Apang, a batchmate from college, all-round nice guy and good guitarist was kidnapped by suspected Bodo militants last night. According to my friends in the North-East, the family hasn't recieved a ransom call as yet. I hope everything will be fine.

Starting off...

I have a couple of rants planned for later today, but first to answer the comment where I asked 95FM to play more contemporary music - why am I still bombared by 2006 or 2007 music, Mika and Timbaland for god's sake! It's June 2008, and I haven't ever a song from big albums last year - In Rainbows, Raising Sand, or even for that matter new cutting-edge hip-hop. And don't radio stations usually get albums before they launch, P2P networks certainly do. Remind me that when I buy my new car, buy one with a iPod plug-in. I've found FF3 to be fairly stable on three different machines.
Anyway, as a Delhi-ite we've suffered at the airports, now we're going to also suffer thanks to rising air-fares, but this is supposed to be the future for Delhi airport! I'll believe it when I see it!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My new favorite saying too.

I was reading Mark Cuban's fairly entertaining blog BlogMaverick - and if you track media/internet sort of things it is a fairly entertaining read given his stance against the Googolopoly of the interwebs - when I came across this post. And I must say, somewhere down there it did resonate.
"Today is the youngest you will ever be. Act like it."
(Though this comment is also true)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sleepy

The France-Italy game got me so charged up that I didn't end up sleeping before four (I was watching The Weakest Link on BBC Entertainment - Anne Robinson has a hypnotic voice) and despite making attempts to cover my head with the pillow (and murdering a case of Tiger), I really didn't end up sleeping 'too' late today. So today has been one of those dazed days where I bang on the keyboard aimlessly. I desperately want to go back home and play Ninja Gaiden II on the console. By the way, I kept my pledge and am using Firefox 3 right now, quite nice!
As for revenue streams, I am more than willing to start something here, this blog has tremendous untapped revenue potential. But before that I need to give this blog a makeover - from a design perspective and that isn't happening until I get around to it.
Talking about banging aimlessly on a keyboard, I have a couple of things to write for my 'official' blogs. Yes, I do also now blog under my own name for my employer and I should be filing a bit more there also. Check them out if you have the time sometime - since I'm assuming the more regular readers of this blog know who I am. Those who don't, let me assure you the interesting stuff is still here.
And a quick link back to a post I made a while ago on how to subscribe to Rich Site Syndication (RSS) feeds, particularly for this blog since someone asked me again how to read a 'blog' anonymously. If you want to get every post on your email, check out RSSFwd, a service that allows you to do just that. However, you will still have to come here to make comments (and I like the comments, even the not so nice ones) but you can always get in touch over email at Presstalk (at) Gmail (dot) com.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What's your favourite ad on TV right now?

I'm a sucker for adverts with a sing-along soundtrack, so I actually like the new Maruti-Suzuki corporate adverts. Bring more music into adverts I say! I'm seriously surprised since most automobile advertisements have been plumbing the depths of stupidity, Maruti themselves a prime candidate with awful adverts for the SX4 and the Zen Estilo.



Request.

Given that this blog seems to have a life of its own, people constantly send me requests or comments pushing their new web properties (A Google PageRank of 4/10 isn't half bad, but I will not use it indiscriminately). Guys and Girls, I'm sure some of that stuff is very good, and I must tell you some of the stuff that gets sent is nothing but a bad copy and while I completely agree that there is a lack of good content online in India, duplicate websites are not the way forward, even though some VC's I have spoken to argue about 'concept arbitrage' - the market is in content creation. Get maniacal nutcases who love slamming a keyboard, clicking pictures and taking pictures on-board and that's that! Keep on sending me stuff, but don't expect me to write about them.

Links

This comment had a link to this interesting news item that more bloggers are getting arrested nowadays - not surprising, sinmce there are more bloggers across the world. However, I feel that this other article I read was even more interesting, on how bloggers are approaching journalists to hone their 'journalist' skills. Maybe our celebrity ranters like RGV could do with these lessons too.
I have said several times that the internet is blurring the boundaries of journalism and several people have written epics on this, but I still do not believe that 'Citizen Journalism' as is being touted by several websites promising money and yada, yada is not going to work. Most articles on these sites are little but rehashes of agency news copy, badly written and worst of all, most of the stuff there are rants. I still think that India is a way from creating a Huffington Post (and even they have 'proper' journalists) and it definately will not be created by someone who is trying to be a AdSense scammer. It is the internet stupid, blogs cost nothing!
Anyway, Election 2009 (or maybe 2008) will be heavily blogged about in India for sure. The problem for many people sitting in Delhi is that usually hear the half-swallowed words of a city-slicker who has gone to a village with Rahul Gandhi singing his praises. Maybe not even a city-slicker, but even smarter people. Now, with the democratisation of information, I should be able to find out a lot more about what is actually happening. Even Google has an opinion about it, not about India but on elections+internet in the US.
That said, Election 2009 will be a major differentiator for the news channels, how they report (and predict) the elections will probably make or break some newer channels.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Firefox 3

The guys at Mozilla have some pretty awesome servers, they're trying to set a World Record tomorrow for downloads of Firefox 3. I've been a Firefox user since the 0.8 Beta release, that is over three years. While this post is being composed in IE (since I run multiple browsers to get multiple logins, I'm sure there is an easier way, but I don't care) I am a big Firefox fan, and I've pledged to download Firefox 3 tomorrow. If you use Firefox you know what to do and if you don't - Duh!
Here is a handy field guide to Firefox 3.
In completely unrelated, though media related news, Triveni has supposedly hired yet another Aaj Tak hand (DC) for their upcoming Hindi news channel. In fact, Triveni's OB vans have been seen in the wild, but their massive plans - which call for a network of ten channels and some print publications do sound a bit bombastic. I still have my doubts, but then again...

Blogging...

You must have read stories about celebrity blogs, Laloo using his to get a political point across, Aamir well basically trying to remind everyone he still exists (what is that Samsung ad all about?) and Amitabh, well is like any cranky old man, because he is one. But, nothing is as bitchy as this one - RGV hates movie critics.
Most entertaining, and it takes the rather long fight between movie-makers and critics to an all-new level online. But, how on earth is the guy going to deal with a whole generation of online critics (and I'm not just talking Greatbong here who has given the movie a complimentary review) - you can be petty and claim all sorts of things but when the viewing (paying) public don't exactly lavish the movie with praise (possibly because the movie might be a bit high-brow perhaps, reading the tone of the reviews), can't you just admit something is wrong - just because the Times can't make up its mind about your film doesn't mean its good. The Times gives everything a decent grade, think of the Times as a teacher who hates making her students fail.
But back to the point, RGV has started a very dangerous trend over here, if you attack me online I have to fight back. But then again, I think RGV has had enough of bad reviews (of bad movies like James, which I actually wasted three hours watching. Long story, don't ask) so he just decided to let a post rip, and what a rip. It would be great fun to watch to watch a full-on internet flame war in India. This would make the saga of the Ponytail look pale in comparison. By the way, if someone looks into Ponytail's pieces you'll probably find the man contradicts himself with alarming regularity.
Anyway, I'm probably just going to wait until it comes out on some TV channel or another, though I have a funnty feeling it will be exclusive content on Anil Ambani's new DTH venture which will be launched soon.

What a Euro 2008!

Who would have thunk that the land of Gouda, Tulips and the most ridiculously expensive hashish in the world would decimate both 2006 WC Finalists within a week. It also does not bode well that their front line play for Real Madrid, imagine adding Christiano into that mix (Chouri├žo with Gouda)!
And then there was last night! The Turks seemed to have learnt from the AC Milan - Liverpool match that took place in Istanbul. Last night's finish was reminiscent of the time when Manchester United pipped Bayern at the post inthe Nou Camp. What a game, what a tournament and it makes me realise that our Information and Broadcasting Minister, also the man responsible for not letting the game grow in India is a complete twat. I'm sure with the new 'austerity' program on, he won't go to Vienna for the Finals (bets anyone? I've got dosh going on The Netherlands) but then again I don't think UEFA gives finals tickets to non-descript football associations.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Whaaa...

TV Shows have corny names, particularly chat shows - though we have been spared 'Sanctimonious Sagarika' or 'Get Bored with Barkha' so far, I just have to ask who the hell thought up this one up! Not that you'll watch it, unless the couch action gets... you know... It could become the biggest telly show ever. But I'll probably stick to watching footy.
Go Holland! I have 500 bucks riding on you.

Yes...

The eleventh season of Top Gear is only ten days away! I'm sorry to write a post about this, but this is by far and away one of the best 'talk' shows on televsion - from planning to execution. I'm pretty sure you don't really need to heart cars to like this show. Must pay my broadband bills, I'll need the bandwidth to download this show.
Back to media talk, rumours are swirling that Bennett will bring the 'Mirror' brand to Delhi after fairly successful launches in Bangalore, Kolkata and Pune. Supposedly, Sameer Kapoor, CEO of Metroploitan Media, the bastard child between Times and HT which brings out Metro Now quit yesterday. However, Metro Now is currently printed at the HT Press (which is an independent company and will also be printing the Sakaal Times at its scheduled August launch in Delhi) and Times, despite improving its presses in Delhi does not have the capacity right now to bring out a small format 48-pager which if they follow strategy will go out with ToI as the mothership itself is increasing circulation in Delhi.
But the operative word is 'right now', we mightwell see a 'Delhi Mirror' sometime in 2009. Or maybe not. Metro Now has had its hits and misses, but more misses than hits and it still does not have a website. You have to remember that Metro Now was brought out to fend off competition from new launches such as Mail Today and Mid-Day Delhi. People who know a bit of media history will do well to remember 'The Independent' in Mumbai. That was a long, long time ago. You tend to remember all sorts of crap when you grow up around journalists!
Note to HT Media: Fire your creative agency for coming up with that awful ad for Shine.com. Ugh!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Yes we can.

To answer, to the best of my knowledge stories weren't bought and sold.
Anyway, this is Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am's music video for Barack Obama, I think it is pretty cool. Obama is changing politics in the US, hopefully some of that will spread out over here and go beyond the cursory blog post by a politician which suddenly makes him a cause celebre.
Our politicians have historically let India down, but then again many of us by refusing to express our franchise have done the same. I really hope the US can change some amount of its policy by electing Barack Obama, but somehow while I feel America is ready for a Black President, I just don't know if the rest of the world, India included, is ready for a black American President. Imagine, the Commies will be confused, what would Prakash Karat say when he launches a fusilade against the evil Americans? At least with John McCain he say say, that VietCong missed a trick.



Anyway, one commenter sometime ago said that Obama's policies towards the Middle East will be as bad as American policy before. I just have one question, you would seriously rather have a Republican? I don't really believe that things will calm down in the Middle East anytime soon. But, somehoe, and even though barcak Obama's foreign policy isn't well formulated yet, you know, things could change, though honestly American policy on Israel-Palestine has been the same for decades.

Biblical...

I said, I can't do a Pilate and feign ignorance, and doing a Judas would be to say it is all their fault, but I won't do that. I did the story, but things were strange then (almost everyone was more interested in talking about themselves, though there were enough happy faces in Hyderabad) and have become even stranger now. can things change dramatically in six months? Yes. Can surveys, done with the best of intentions, be manipulated? Yes, any survey done by any publication can be manipulated. Heck, several media organisations don't trust the readership surveys done by media coalitions in which they are partners. Or in some cases, pick and choose the results depending on the publication.
Can a disgruntled employee be very cynical? Yes. Happens all the time, doesn't it? Anyway, the company in question has gone into almost near-total lock-down mode, almost like Coke when Sunita Narain blasted them with pesticides. American multinationals can become very nervy when bad news starts leaking out, worse than governments almost.
This is a very interesting read, it is the speech by veteran American anchor Dan Rather given at the National Conference for Media Reform in the US.

Point

This is a response to an unpublished comment (yes, I read all of them) pointing out something ironic about Microsoft - I did not gloss over that, I did read the entire post and all the collective comments. I am not surprised about the story and while I will not do a Pontius Pilate, let me just say, there are stories that you conceptualise and write and then there are some which you don't. Yes, it gets your byline and then all you can do is grin and bear it, because you've just been 'cockpunched'!
Oh well...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Business News

Anonymous first commenter, I don't know who you are, but I whole-heartedly agree with you. I still don't know why a fourth channel is coming into the English business news space, and maybe a market downturn will be good for the industry in the sense when shit the fan people start looking for scapegoats. But, that said, Undie profit has been way too patchy, they can't hang onto their better people, half their presenters look like they're coming off a hard night of powder, which is strange because I'm fairly sure they're not snorting (Lifestyle journalists on the other hand...).
I've always found Profit confused about what they want to say, and the problem is that with NDTV as an organisation changing focus by entering the GenEnt space, Profit which suffers from a lack of direction will be like the Bismarck - rudderless and heading to her fate.
I will not pass judgement on UTVi just yet, I think it has a while to go. maybe following the CNBC model works from them initially, maybe unlike some other channels, UTVi will evolve into a better channel, but as you pointed out, can it compete with the CNBC brand? As for ET Now, I just have a bad feeling about it, Times Now is a much improved channel but it took them a while, however business news is a whole new ballgame. But somewhere down there I have a bad feeling about all BCCL properties because I think this 'Private Treaties' crap is going to come back and bite them in the ass. Hard. Well, I want it to.
he joker in the pack might still be Mint-TV a.k.a Fox Business a.k.a Whatever the hell they choose to call it. While the mother paper, good as it might be, continues to bleed copious amounts of cash, a TV operation may not be such a bad thing, if the Murdoch's take control. I mean, say what you will about Rupert, I don't think he'll be doing 'Simon Says' like the boys at CNBC-TV18.
Anyone have an opinion on 'Colors 18' as yet?
And by the way, to the powers that be at NDTV - Blogs should not be regulated and don't invite people with next to no idfea of the medium to discuss the topic. You twats! Is TV News regulated? It should be, shouldn't it? After all, didn't some channels do more damage to Arushi's reputation than those inept policemen? Brakha, welcome to the new world of the media, and be scared. Very scared!
And on popular demand... running a retromercial special here. And YouTube's Indian servers are acting up, so it might say the video is no longer available, so try to reload them.

Gold Spot - Orange and Sweet and god knows if the colours they used would be considered safe today.

The way we ravelled. Well, my dad had a Lambretta.

Lalitaji!

More Classic Stuff!

And from before I was born...
I can't embed this one, but how they've grown!

Really old stuff

Some of you who are as ancient as me will remember the time of one channel TV, and I will admit that I'm not not that ancient since I remember black-and-white TV. Though I do remember evenings with black-and-white versions of the Japanese show 'Giant Robot' (the show which was the grand-daddy of the Gundam craze taking over young kids in India as well) running and waiting for Chitrahaar at 8.30. And Babu Basu hosting Quiz Time instead of setting questions for SRK. Dang!

Dysfunctional...

Sometimes I wonder if India has become a crazier country, or somehow thanks to the rise of the all-pervasive TV cameras and OB-vans (I saw a WagonR with a dish on top.. a WagonR!) that all the crazy shit gets reported. maybe it is because of the number of people we have, maybe it has also something to do with the massive wealth disparity in this country, but people are absolutely nutty here.
About the markets, I can't claim to know much, though I am a very diligent student of companies, since that is part of my job. Certain valuations made no sense when the markets were trading at 20K levels, being massively overvalued, insanely in certain cases and you don't need to be a trader to realise that. To the last commenter on this post, I don't just think it is the anchor-boy, who seems to be less on air nowadays for some strange reason, but almost a whole generation of market reporters and even analysts who have grown up in a bull-phase, not just in the markets, mind you.
I do not believe the India growth story is going to get unplugged, but like the rest of the country, the voltage might get very, very low. And the markets are always a sentiment leader, some shit is going to hit the fan in India soon. There might not be a very happy festive season later this year.
(Disclaimer: This blogger has a considerable amount of his savings invested in the markets, but a family friend manages my portfolio, and I have no idea what he does with my money really)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Crazy idea!

Measuring print journalists contributions on a column-centimetre (or column-inch) basis? Sound frikkin' batty, doesn't it? Well, according to this article, the Tribune Company, owners of the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times has come up with this brainwave. With increments at a certain media group already hitting rock-bottom here in Delhi, imagine if this had been factored it. But why am I giving management ideas? Because I'm evil.
There i said it!

Falling, falling...

I have a colleague who is a pessimist when it comes to the markets, and she has always been. During the unbridled exuberance of last year, she kept on telling me that, "Something has to give, K, you know that, I know that." And I agreed with her, at 20,000 levels most scrips on the exchanges were dramatically overvalued. But the problem with sentiment is simple, there is no mean level when it comes to the exchanges. Either that, or the software that controls a lot of the trades is extremely buggy. Right now, CNBC is flashing that the markets are at their lowest point in 2008, with everyone selling. I won't say the economic fundamentals are all awry, but a lot of people became very rich on very little but ideas, and as usual, it is the small guys that got suckered. Expect recriminations during the Monsoon session.

Life is Beautiful*

*Conditions Apply
Sorry, but my head is a bit dazed after seeing the Dutch rip Italy to shreds last night. Fantastic Game, and the second goal was spectacular. And it appears van Nistelrooy was not offside according to FIFA regulations. More later. Till then enjoy this spectacular goal!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Steve Ballmer

I've interviewed a fair few Fortune 100 CEO's over the past half-decade with my current employers, but my most entertaining interviewee has to Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, not including the time when thanks to over-reliance on technology I discovered to my horror that my office's digital transcriber was full (and thus learnt never to trust office equipment, unless they were in your own possession) . However, I will hark back to my first interview with the man that Fake Steve Jobs politely refers to as Monkey Boy back in November 2004.
I will try and find the transcript in the archives, but I remember asking him about Google and he dismissed the threat of the Mountain View company, calling them just the 'current hot thing' of the internet (this made for an interesting second interview two and a bit years later). Anyway, since I am generally feeling unemployed today and was surfing all over the interwebs, I came across this interesting conversation that Ballmer has with the editors of the Washington Post.
"...there will be no media consumption left in 10 years that is not delivered over an IP network. There will be no newspapers, no magazines that are delivered in paper form. Everything gets delivered in an electronic form..."
Now, while this obviously means the US and other developed economies, this is an interesting statement and unlike his rather crazy dismissal of Google back in 2004, this is rather more serious. I do believe that things will not be so dramatic in India, but lets be honest, I am very sure that over 99 per cent of the readers of my publication have access to the internet, and sooner or later will find consuming information from the internet a far easier proposition than spending money and buying the 'offline' magazine.
I have said time and again, the main reason I hopped onto the blogging bandwagon, what some 300,000 pageviews and 700 posts ago was because I had to be online. I realise that the future is not in paper. Ballmer is right, you know, he might have no clue how Microsoft will leverage this paperless world, and the newspaper may take longer than 10 years to die out in India, but we're in for interesting times over the next few years.
Oh, and if you want to know why fake Steve calls ballmer 'Money Boy', you have never seen this YouTube classic.


EDIT: Microsoft India seems to be in serious crisis.

Coldplay

This is not a music blog, and will never pretend to be, but Coldplay's Viva La Vida or Death and all his Friends is possibly the biggest album release of 2008 so far. And will in all probability be discovered by 95FM in Delhi sometime in 2010. No insults to 95FM, but for god's sake, Mika is over, done and dusted. everything you guys play is at least a year old, your hip-hop is jaded and you play the same classics over and over. You don't want me to call you guys up, because I am going to rant!

As usual, I digress. Coming back to my point...

Well, they got U2's long-time producer Brian Eno to produce their fourth studio album, and after getting my hands on it yesterday and promptly having loaded it onto my iPod, I'm trying to get to grips with the album. Coldplay inspired a whole generation of imitators, some pretty good, some ordinary, but this album is quite different. And the reviews also have that ambivalent feeling. Read them here - The Guardian, The Times, NYT. Maybe this album will grow on me, as will Coldplay's new sound, but I don't know if this will be Coldplay's 'Achtung Baby!' moment.

Plus, Vanity Fair has done a fantastic piece on the history of the internet - remarkable what the American Industrial-Militray complex can create.

Edit - Comment

While HT has spent a bomb on marketing the new 'HT City', they probably will spend next to nothing marketing their re-branded Editorial page, now called the 'Comment' page. I was a bit taken aback to see the page, but I really did enjoy Amitav Ghose's piece on his new book. The edit page is an interesting page for most papers, it is usually read by very few readers and I will admit that I just glance through the edit pages, only bothering to go through them very occasionally. However, the people who do read them are a fairly vocal bunch, and while I found the humour in the 'Why?' piece (undoubtedly Indi Hazra) asumsing, I don't know if people will take to it quite well. I can't get a full-page screen shot, you could check out the HT ePaper's 'Comment' page. If I were HT, I would have set up an interactive section on the front page of the website and elcit views from readers, not print outraged latters the next day. I don't know how the redesign will progress, when instead of interesting pieces by the only Stephanian author of note you have boring paeans to Mrs G and Surdie-Boy. Anyway, but for the time being, I like, and attached is a screengrab and below, Indi's tongue-in-cheek explanation, which as usual on a media site, did not have a link, so has been cut-and-pasted from the ePaper where paragraph breaks do not seem to exist!

______________________________

Er, what the hell's happened to this page?

It's called a makeover.

It looks like dumbing down to me! Why is the worthy Hindustan Times going down this road to perdition?

You said the same thing about having photos on this page some nine years ago. And having Amitav Ghosh is not dumbing down, silly

I don't know about all this. I still don't know the fate of the nuclear deal, how to tackle inflation and what the percentage of India's Gujjar population is.

No one, not even the government knows those things. But don't worry, all those things and much more will continue to be written about with utter seriousness.

I have a strong feeling that now we'II be bombarded with commentaries on Aamir Khan's blog entries and Beyonce's food habits.

But aren't those the sort of things you also keenly follow?

Neh-ver! And certainly not on this page.

You sure seem to know that Aamir has a blog and that Beyonce eats in these global food crisis days.An-e bhai, don't worry There'll be politics, economics and border dispute pieces written with words like 'insomuch' and 'suo motu' too.

And what happens to the seriousness of the page, eh?

Well, if you think a better-looking page with a more flexible design robs the page of its seriousness, you can always switch to...

Oh dear...

I rest my case.

Call me old-fashioned, incredibly intellectual and semi-retired, but I don't like the idea of reading an edit page that has a weekly column as moronic as this one.

Oh, there'll be others, I'm afraid. But you'll always have the choice of opting for at last one 'serious' piece every day. Why, I hear that someone's writing in favour of the anti-Naxal Salwa Judum tomorrow. That'll be something new.

You mean the page will continue to carry pieces that deal with solving india's corruption problem, judicial reforms and caste politics?

Absolutely!

Don't say: I can't differentiate my elbow from my gravitas!

Do say: Oh my God! I can actually understand what's written on this page.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Pricks

"You journalists are selfish pricks", a senior PR-type told me recently after a few too many pegs. Now, a self-righteous young reporter straight out of media school would say all sorts of bullshit about how we are not, you know, the stuff you sometimes see on CV's claiming that they want to 'make a difference' and all. Sorry, I am not being cynical, but sometimes mediapersons are just utter pricks, and I must start with my creed, that is Bengali's and their irritating habit of assuming that everybody and their granduncle knows the language, and if you don't you are not worthy. Last night, thanks to another friend, I was introduced to one such gem, who insisted on using 'Phataphati', which would I guess translate into 'Awesome', and despite being the only other Bong in the room insisted on speaking to me in Bangla.

Now, I will be the first one to admit that my Bangla has improved considerably since I started out in the profession, since I'm rather 'probashi' (roughly translating into Non-Resident Bong) to use the language again, see even I do this stuff. Anyway, sometimes when people I haven't seen in months, insist in a crowd to say 'Kamon Aachesssss?' it is a bit disconcerting. Listen I'm proud of being Bong, you know cultural superiority and all, but for gods sake, I understand why several of my non-Bong friends get upset at the parochialism. And as I said, I'm guilty of it too at times, but usually only to transmit gossip. To all my Bengali friends and colleagues in the media and I know a lot of you read this, chill out on the Bangla and public places with other people around. It is irritating and kinda builds up the stereotype.

Back, to the topic at hand, why are we 'Selfish Pricks'. This gentleman contended that journalists are a self-serving bunch of hipocrites. Of course, I got on into the class-war that has been unleashed by different media organisations targeting completely different markets. Like the police in UP drawing inference to Arushi's character based, almost entirely on the non-urbane mentality of the bhaiyya's in some language channels who, much before the Noida police, questioned Arushi's character on nothing more than hearsay. This gentleman agreed with me, but he came to more important points.

"Look at the BRT corridor in South Delhi", he said, "Now had that corridor been made in Rohini or Dwarka, the media would not have uttered a peep, but the Delhi Government insisted on putting it slap-bang in the middle of an area close to homes of several senior journalists and on the route to a media orgnaisations headquarters." The guy gave me examples of how the electricity distribution company in the capital actually ensures that the electricity supply is better at Mayur Vihar than other parts since that will keep them out of the news. "Keep journalists minds cool."

"Well, isn't that any community of professionals", I argued back, "Monks and Nuns aside." The guy agreed with me, but said that the hipocrisy is aparent when the media cries bloody murder if any attempt is made at regulation citing 'Freedom of Speech". But after this Arushi thing, I really do think we deserve a regulator for the TV media. that might also stop stock market manipulation, but that is another argument for another time.

-----------------

The Ahmedabad case gets even murkier, with a senior BJP functionary recently commenting, "Narendra Modi appointing a Dawood man, do you really think the world has gone nuts?" The guy argued that the ToI had been fed a cock-and-bull story, but the cop himself had over-reacted by pressing 'sedition'. Why the guy didn't file defamation, for that matter criminal defamation charges is strange. Was the guy scared the charges will not stick? Anyway, it seems there is a lot of back-channel work happening in Delhi to clear the mess in Ahmedabad, but from all indications something is going to give.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The beeb got the Nano!

The first story with the Tata Nano in action did not end up going to an Indian news organisation it seems.

If you have to read this blog...

Don't think of this as a tech article and more than a hundred of you who have feeds of one sort or another onto this blog will probably laugh, but at least two people told me at an event last night that their evil employers are preventing them from accessing it, so I told them 'Get the feed', which led to rather blank expressions on their faces. There are people out there who do not know what a 'feed' or RSS (Rich Site Syndication) is and how to subscribe to one, so this is an easy primer.
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Do you read this blog? And your evil employers have blocked it, which I hear a couple of media organisations have. So much for proclaimations of 'media freedom', media houses like to guard internal information zealously and the internet is screwing all of that up. Anyway, here is what you can do - chances are that you have a Google account of some sort or another, so just point your browser to Google Reader. This is a web-based feed-reader, I prefer Bloglines (especially its new Beta version) but I guess that is force of habit, because I've been using Bloglines for years. There are several other free web-based feed-reader services. All you have to do then is to type in the address of this blog, or any other blog that your evil management overlords prevent you from accessing just enter this address (right-click here and say 'copy link location' and paste that onto the feed address bar on Google Reader or Bloglines, else just click the big orange button on the right-hand bar, scroll down you'll find it). There simple. All you have to do now is visit this third party site and read this blog, though I will request you to drop by sometimes and add to the 15,000+ monthly hits I get nowadays, and maybe even help out by clicking the ads.
God, there is just so much technology out there!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

More than meets the eye.

A former Times Ahmedabad man told me that the 'crisis' in Ahmedabad will just blow over. Times' RE in Ahmedabad Bharat Desai, who has also been mentioned in the FIR's is pretty close to Modi. But then again, Police commissioners are also political appointments. Gujarat, like many other states, has a history of fairly dodgy cops - some are murderers others cheat on exams and everyone knows that there might well have been complicity during the riots.
But, hachet jobs on people, especially when they are the lead stories require a couple of things. First, the knowledge of very senior editorial people as well as a very good political source. Just like the Lalit Modi story as HT's lead might well have been an excellent plant by Modi's rivals in the BCCI, and believe me, Modi has his fair share of rivals straddling the political spectrum. Journalists don't just 'come upon' stories unfortunately, there is always an agenda behind them. Covert slaying Sharad Pawar? Well, MJ and Suresh Kalmadi go back a long way. Every story like this, where an individual is a target has a fairly well-established agenda behind it.
So, I'm not so sure what is going on? Is the Times' caught inside Gujarat BJP hi-jinx? The BJP is not immune to intra-party fueding, though in Modi-Land it has been kept to a minimum thanks to Modi, but I am pretty sure that petty difference exist. I wonder...

When chemistry and sex collide!

And would you believe this video is funded by the EU. I wonder if they will show this in desi convent schools. I remember in Class X they showed us a sex education tape where the act of coitus was edited out, but the birth process placenta and all was shown. Noe, this was a boys school and it was kinda gross. I mean having the guy sitting next to you decide that his half-digested tiffin belonged on the head of the guy sitting in front of him wasn't pretty. A few weeks before that they had shown us a video of an abattoir, which put half the batch of meat for three days. Anyway, enough about twisted convents run by a bunch of crazy Irishmen. But isn't the emerald isle part of the EU as well.

Why we blog!

Many thanks to SS who pointed me out this wonderful article in Scientific American. Yet another reason I can stay out of the gym, "Three posts a day, keeps the doctor away!"

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Speeches Again.

I'm hearing the Prime Minister give a basic economics lesson (Man, thank god he taught in English) and god he sounds dull. Lets put Manmohan Singh in perspective, "Guys I'm so, so sorry for raising prices. I'm sorry, sorry, sorry." He sounds a bit too apologetic and mechanical and his Hindi has this strange 'accented' feel to it, almost Italian what say? I'll put up a YouTube video once I get one, if once has bothered to make one.
Many thanks to Nikhil, who pointed me out to this brilliant story on Gawker which is a complete guide to stealing stories. Puts plagiarism in its place, doesn't it?

Leaders.

Obama has one hell of a speech writer. And he speaks very well too. God, I wish we had leaders with this sense of conviction and inspiration. Instead we get murderers and frauds who buy dodgy medicines and used syringes. Change is good, and Rahul Gandhi is not going to be the person who delivers that change to us, no matter how much the English-language media puffs him up. I don't know who will deliver change, but we need change as much as America. Just hear Obama!

So will you drive less now?

Well, fuel prices have gone up and expect saturation coverage about fuel across the television channels. Of course you will hear that government had no choice, because they really didn't but some Leftie crackpot will claim that the common man will get hit. But the Leftie will be right also (though this 'common man' notion is still rather suspect), inflation, always a fairly dubious measure in our country will touch double-digit numbers pretty soon, actually the moment the rise in fuel prices gets reflected into consumer price figures. It will be quite fascinating to see the spin that is put on this. Of course, the guys who had planned to litter reams of newsprint with poorly researched Environment stories tomorrow (it is World Environment Day after all tomorrow) will see them relegated.
So will you drive less @ Rs 50 a litre (in Delhi) than you did at Rs 45?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Trouble in Modi-Land!

There is this rather ridiculous charge of 'sedition' against the Times in Ahmedabad. Now, the Times isn't prone to doing hachet jobs, a la HT, but this was a good story.
Now, the Times has a stranglehold on the Ahmedabad market, a almost 90 per cent share and the Times' brass is very close to Narendra Modi. Mathur probably knows he is cornered, and is looking for a way out but like all cops looking for a way out of a difficult situation of late (UP Police) but the man will not go down with a fight, he is purportedly digging out old cases and is threatening Times journalists in true mafia style, getting more coverage to the case which might take on a political angler, though it is unlikely the story did not have some sort of 'official' blessing earlier. Now Narendra Modi does not want to alienate the national media all over again, the 2007 Elections did allow him to repair his image with a lot of the middle-classes. A loose cannon of a policeman is the last thing he needs.
Though if the Congress gets involved, he might just say, 'Screw It!', though given that Arun Jaitley might want to matter to die down sooner might mean some action will take place. The charge of sedition will never hold in court and arresting journalists, including some close to him (and also tied into the pro-Modi Gujarati media) is anathema. The Times is not Tehelka blowing up some lame 'sting' operation.
What do you think will happen? Will the right-wingers in the Times Group get through to BJP top-brass and prevent a meltdown? Will Modi realise that if he is to ever become PM, he should not make enemies with the English language media all over again, after all Gujarat doesn't have that many seats in the Lok Sabha and delimitation just increases the power of cities (where people read the Times). I personally think this will blow over by the middle of this month, but given that this is the Times, things could stretch.
Moving on, we stick with Jain-run company. Yes, the self-congratulatory stories aside, why did the Times Group foray into Radio in the UK? I have a funny feeling that the 'Radio Mirchi' brand will be stretched and from being a purveyor of sad Brit-Pop, it might actually start going after rich desi's in the UK with sad Indi-Pop. Long live Globalisation. To clarify, HT Media's tie-up with Virgin for Fever FM is not affected by this deal since 'Beardy Branson' (to quote Jeremy Clarkson) runs that through Virgin Radio International.
Also, to be fair, this is not the worst government since 1977, because I forgot the VP Singh, Chandrashekher, IK Gujral and Deve Gowda governments. But those are like footnotes in Indian history, this government will likely be the worst full-term (or close to full-term) government we have ever had. I am not saying that because of my affilliations for the BJP, I am saying that thanks to the complete and total economic mismanagement of the country. It isn't all the UPA's fault, depending on such great allies like Prakash Karat, what could you expect.
Oh yeah, and the Financial Chronicle website is frikkin scary.

Digital...

The World Association of Newspapers is having their annual summit meeting out in Gotenburg, and one of the major topics of discussion is the emergence of the 'digital form'. As I wrote, many media organisations are having a huge problem coming to terms with the internet, some don't even have a proper strategy going forward prefering to stick their head in the sand and hoping it will go away. Anyway, I was just reading this recent report by the Associated Press, which reveals that young people are suffering from news fatigue thanks to the sudden explosion in information.
Many of us who have had to deal with the Arushi case being given wall-to-wall coverage over the past three weeks can relate to that (click the link for the latest Google News coverage, and I doubt any parents will be calling their kids Arushi for a while) it is as if the desi media latches onto something and refuses to move on until the next big story, milking it for everything it has got. I wonder if such a case had happened in a city other than one bordering Delhi if the coverage would have been so widespread. Don't get me wrong, I believe this was a horrific incident and the perpetrators should be brought to justice, and the media should put pressure on the authorities to resolve the case, but for god's sake, isn't there any other news. And now that the IPL is over, you don't even have 'buffer' news.
Oh wait, other than the fact that the economy is tanking and fuel prices are going up, or might go up when the government realises that 'off-balance sheet' expenses (oil bonds) can be rather destructive. After all, that is what brought Enron down. I don't believe the country will collapse, but it is in a rather dire state. Heck, if mis-governance has made cheerboy's like Vinod Mehta change their spots, I wonder what will be next. Will 'The V' dare criticise Manmohan and Madam in his column? Has hell really frozen over?
Anyway, if you haven't read Jug's brilliant article attacking The People's Daily of Chennai, you must!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Trouble at HT Media?

You don't have to make up stories about HT anymore. Not that I ever did.
The Resident Editor of the Delhi paper is off to Dubai and this fact has been written about by a Gulf newspaper. (EDIT: Link corrected) The RE of the Bombay edition runs off for a three-month holiday with his wife, who heads the weekend supplement of the group's financial paper by threatening to quit. Increment's are so bad at the main paper that tens of more people are leaving to join anywhere they can find (now, apparently Sakaal Times is the latest destination - Sharad Pawar's not so bright political fortunes aside), and it seems people on the edit page of the paper have no idea of the term 'copyright'.
Of course, these poor increments are offset by the fact that Papermint is handing out huge salaries, though after the recent shuffle at the top, is supposedly looking for a new new boss - though that appears peculiar. This coupled together with the fact that James, a son of the Murdoch is coming to India to discuss a potential tie-up with another paper group for launching a general paper is even stranger. And there is that little thing about Papermint, have you seen their 'video reports' on their website, these are the rudimentary beginnings of their proposed business TV channel.
And as I asked in my previous post, what on earth has Vinod Mehta been smoking lately? And to answer one commenter. Yes, tech is a lot cheaper than before, and spending collosal amounts on hardware to service small numbers of customers is not a big deal anymore, leasing tech is quite common and the incremental cost of serving new customers is pretty close to zero, but you still need to spend on a decent content management system as well as some amount of fairly expensive hardware. There is a cost, and while you can set up a website for next to nothing, setting up a decent website with content coming in fairly regularly, and one one that can handle a good amount of traffic and stream videos and what have you will still cost. Of course, the cost of tech is probably lower than the cost of an overpaid and idiotic manager, but that is another story.

Media and the Internet Ep. XXXIX

media companies don't have choice but to be online nowadays, how much money you pour in to your online venture however is a question companies are finding increasingly difficult to answer. Sure, you will have some Adsense revenues, but technology costs a bomb, and who on earth will write content? In several places, many journalists, particularly 'brand-name' find it beneath their dignity to file copy for online ventures of their employers. I guess until one large media house decides to bite the bullet and make filing online exclusives/features a part of every (or most) journalists KRA's, most media houses will continue to see this dichotomy. Trust me, hiring an online desk/reporting staff will not really redress this problem, you need to have the same eyes and ears that you already have reporting.
But all of this is just a moot point, from recent experience I have a feeling that it isn't senior journalists who are scared of the internet. Most journalists in India will die without Google, heck, thousands would die without their daily Facebook fix and you can't really use Facebook to get a story, unless you're Outlook and make Facebook a story. (A quick aside: Why is Vinod Mehta sucking up to the BJP all of a sudden, has he also realised that the UPA is the worst government we've had since 1977?) The problem I believe comes in management. Now, I have to admit not all media company managers are paranoid about the Internet, though almost all of them are paranoid about the bills for the hardware and bandwidth. But there are several managers working in fairly senior positions in India who are extremely obstinate about the internet. Primarily I guess because they see the internet as a 'thing' that will erode their power. In fact, the strength of opinion generated is quite scary at times.
Now coming back to journalists, I don't understand why it is so difficult to sell the internet proposition to so many journalists. I don't believe that my peers should see the internet as a threat, and most don't, but a significant number do, dismissing the internet as a collection of half-facts. Others of course, see the internet as a great place to lift stories from thanks to the power of Google (which also sees them get caught) but I don't want to re-enter that argument all over again. The thing is this, people do Google you, and filing a ton of work on the internet, on either your site or elsewhere is a great way of building your online brand. Google works everywhere, I use a heap of Google services on my Nokia smartphone and throughly enjoy it.
Because in ten years time, no-body will give a shit about the body of work that you might have done in a heap of old, faded magazines or newspapers or no matter how many exclusives you broke while loitering outside some ministry or another. What is the body of work you have on the internet? And does your employer have a clear and defined internet strategy. If you work for a manager who thinks the internet is the coming of the anti-Christ, it would be advisable to quit. No really!