Monday, June 30, 2008
"Why are you of all people siding with office vamps?"
"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!
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
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
Oh, and if you live in Gurgaon, you should check out 'The Monk' at the Galaxy Mall, loved their sticky rice bowls.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
...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...
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!
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!
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
This was a strange question, coming from an unlikely source.
"Are you refering to the FT-TV18 thing?" I asked back.
"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.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
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
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.
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
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
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
"Today is the youngest you will ever be. Act like it."
(Though this comment is also true)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
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
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
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...
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.
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
Go Holland! I have 500 bucks riding on you.
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
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.
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.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
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.
More Classic Stuff!
And from before I was born...
I can't embed this one, but how they've grown!
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
There i said it!
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
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.
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.
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...
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?
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.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
"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
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
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...
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
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?
So will you drive less @ Rs 50 a litre (in Delhi) than you did at Rs 45?
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
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.
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
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.
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!