Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Counterpoint

Dude, there are websites and then there are websites but The V's website is not as good as it could have been (it cost five lakhs to develop supposedly) - it went live today. The most interesting snippet so far - Vir's fusillade at Mint - this is a no-holds barred attack on Suku (more fun soon? But also read Suku's esoteric but excellent blog here) EDIT: The site is back up (up, down, up, down - WTF?) in case it goes down again - view it here and the piece that wasn't carried here.
Also read Outlook Groups response to Monika Halan's resignation letter, they call Monika's charges baseless and defamatory. This could shape up to be quite good fun, stay tuned for more. The morning papers seem to have drunk the Obama Kool-Aid and overdosed on it, five, six pages to what was a rather ordinary speech but one that sounded like the Sermon on the Mount - though you can read Mihir's counter-argument to Obama-mania in the Express today. Obama sounded messianic yesterday according to my mother with whom I watched the speech and I must agree with her, and that frankly scared me - the man is an extremely intelligent man and extremely intelligent people are as scary as extremely dumb people. Talking about pomp and pageantry, I was thinking of going down for the R-Day celebrations on Rajpath, it has been at least a decade since I went to my last R-Day parade and while security has always been insane, if the weather holds, it should be fun.
Also, since the morning I've been getting text messages talking of lots of lay-offs at HT Media (read Nikhil's post on HTM's Q3 results and the immense amount of cash sunk into FireFly) companies and from what I've heard is that there have been lay-offs at all major media groups in the marketing, printing and distribution functions. In editorial functions there have been lay-offs in some media houses, but to the best of my knowledge there have been no lay-offs per se. at EchTee. I believe that several people might be, and this is not just in EchTee, taken 'off the rolls' where they become consultants rather than full-time employees.
Listen times are bad everywhere (I believe at Times Life, SToI's supplement is down to one or two adverts, this was until a few months ago an advertising supplement for all intents and purposes) and employee costs have soared over the past few years. fair enough people were being paid jack till the media boom, but there are far too many examples of rather lacklustre people getting paid quite a lot. Some people will lose their jobs in editorial, and one hell of a lot of interns will not get jobs. I've seen a couple of message boards with 20-somethings crying about their lot in the media, but this is the current economic reality.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

From MEDIANAMA.com:

"Consultancy costs HT Media Dear
One significant reason for the decline in HT Media’s profitability is the payment of Rs. 7.53 crores made towards consultancy for strategic plans for new areas of business."

McKinsey looted them! hahahaha

shyam said...

Serves the Big V right for trusting enterprise-strength content experts Olive to do the site, though I think the billing is on the lower side.

All media companies are going to slash like crazy through JFM, that is if we have hit bottom. Then there will be a review to see if costs are anywhere near revenues. Current cuts are largely the blanket %cut across divisions, which will wind up hurting all of these guys more in the long run, because it will hurt operations negatively.

Shorter version of the story: these are panic cuts, since the losses can't be wished away and the widening loss margins can't be bridged either via debt (too expensive, if you can find any) or via dilution (lousy valuations) and there is really no longer the much abused 'potential' in play anymore.

The big IF is whether the bottom is further down the lane. That would be way too insane, I don't even want to imagine what it would look like, because that would make the current picture something out of a Swiss postcard.

At the end of it all, 2 quarters down the line or maybe 3, it will be reminiscent of Neo being shown the real world outside by Morpheous: burnt skies, stark landscape and so on.

This will be really really ugly.

To borrow the final Matrix concept for the day this is what it will be "Buckle up Dorothy, cause Kansas is going bye bye"

Nag said...

I think Sukumar may be in some trouble, though I sincerely hope not. In any case, I found his decision distressing for reasons I talk about here.

Briefly, pulling a column is a terrible idea. Why couldn't he have just written a rebuttal?

Presswalla said...

Well, it Seems The Big V is against uncle Suku. Moreover, the shit abt political reporters can be digested by him only. Everyone knows if there are any scams disclosed by political reporters.

V has gone horribly wrong this time. Meanwhile, is he in love with the little birdie from exchange4media. well it seems so.

Anonymous said...

Can't see Sukumar surviving for very long. Mint is already in deep trouble as losses mount and there is a mass exodus of staff looking for other jobs or leaving even without finding them. Mint gossip has it that Priya Ramani will be the next to go.
Meanwhile the HT's memsaab has already turned against Mint because of its vendetta against her friend, Chidambaram. And the attacks on her husband's pizza company.
The battle with the mighty V may be the last straw. Sukumar is an idiot for behaving unprofessionally and censoring a column when he is already on the verge of becoming the next Chaitanya Kalbag at the HT.
This is sad. At a time when journalistic jobs are in danger we should all stick together not ban each other's columns.
At least Sukumar will have saved lots of money from his Rs 2 crore salary. But what about all the others?

Anonymous said...

I think Vir protests too much about his column getting dropped. If I were in Suku's place, I would throw the following very good reasons:

a) No editor will accept criticism of his own paper on it's own pages unless it is for a valid reason. Vir's criticism of Mint's INX coverage were too broad, and the one fact he uses to pin dpwn Mint, of getting the buyer wrong is shared by everyone. Right down to e4m or afaqs or anyone who finally reported it, when everyone knew it.
b) as a majorly aggrieved party in the whole INX saga, Vir had no business using his column in Mint to take potshots, or approve coverage of the same. Especially as his own views seem to have been based on who carried his version.
c) A business paper can hardly be too thrilled about carrying a column where 'gut feel' is proposed as a better option over facts and figures. 'Gut Feel' might work for a guy of Vor's experience and substance, for for normal, mortal journo's, I will take facts and figures and logic anyday.

Anonymous said...

What's the betting on how long Sukumar will last. Rajiv Verma has asked Mint to shed 15 per cent of its staff. All travel has been stopped. The number of pages will be drastically reduced. And editorial budgets have been slashed.
Mint's losses this year are estimated at Rs 80 crore. Even the profits of HT Delhi cannot sustain these kind of losses.
Raju Narisetti had the brains to get out in time. But who will give Suku a job?

Anonymous said...

How much more stupid can Vir get? All the allegations he's made against Mint around its reporting on INX occurred during Narisetti's watch--in spite of which, he has a great deal of respect for Narisetti (this is not a comment on Narisetti's leadership--in fact, I have a great deal of respect for the man and what he did. I just want to highlight the contradictions in Vir's diatribe)

Let's not forget Vir was and continues to be an interested party in the INX affair. To that extent, the "rejected" piece in question, smacks of vendetta. It's pretty obvious he wants to use the platform to further his own interests.

If I were editor at Mint, I would have done exactly what Suku did -- Ask Vir to fuck off! Way to go Suku!

Anonymous said...

I work for HT and I have to say that all you guys are dumb.
Nobody is going to sack Suku within one month of appointing him. He will be effectively demoted because his old boss, Sanjoy Narayan, will become editor in chief of HT and Mint.
The real story is that Rajiv Verma is on his way out after hundreds of crores of losses on Mint, Fever, Shine and other stupid ventures. The two sons have had enough and have asked their mother to sack him.
The V would never have launched an attack on Mint without checking it with his best friend, the lady boss. This is the beginning of a much deeper game.
It is not about editorial freedom. It is about the beginning of the end for Mint

Abhi2point0 said...

"gut feel" works great...

... if you are a food reviewer.

Else, it doesn't seem to work for Mr V either! I'm sure his gut feel when starting NewsX was that it would be a success!

The site is ok - As a reader, I rather read a single linear blog over a mini-Portal with content all over the place.

Anonymous said...

I hear tha V is planning to write about the Mint fiasco in his Counterpoint column on Sunday.
It is open war between HT and Mint.
Guess who will win? Guess who makes the money? Guess who loses it?

Anonymous said...

was wondering how long sukumar would remain in his `reformed' persona. am not surprised at what he did, though vir should have known not many editors will publish such pieces. if my memory serves me right, indian express pulled out madhu trehan as a columnist after she criticised its coverage of something to do with spectranet. but that came after the column got published. if i am wrong on those facts, someone please correct me.

Anonymous said...

If Vir is sighting exchange4media as the model for the others to follow, god help journalism. Everyone knows exchange4media only pastes advertorials and press releases.

exchange4media's done its share of kiteflying like jojo's move; maybe vir didnt read it or understand it because of the poor language. After all e4m's english could pass off for japanese

Anonymous said...

I think its the editor's discretion whether to carry a column or not. Also the column in question smacks of personal vendetta. I don't understand why people are so awed about Vir Sanghvi or the V.

There are better "journalists" in the industry who are reporting on things that matter. This five star media personality was never a journalist.

He may look good on television discussing food but apart from that there is nothing relevant that he can claim he has done. Being the youngest editor and all that shit, even Murdoch became the owner and editor of the newspapers his father controlled.

Being a journalist and an arm-chair media columnist are two different things...

Anonymous said...

After reading the article, I felt Suku's decision was right. I left a comment saying so on Vir's website - it was initially approved, but I found just a while back that it has been deleted :)

The man just can't take criticism, can he?

- Bonatellis

Anonymous said...

Bonatellis (now what kind of name is that?)
I have been monitoring the comments on the Mint item very closely and nothing that was ever published was later deleted. And there are some very critical comments posted there as well (not sure what name you posted under).
Are you sure you have your facts right?

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with everything Vir Sanghvi says. But he has the right to say it. Sukumar is being childish by denying freedom to columnists. Many people who would have read the article in Mint would not have agreed with Vir but would have praised Sukumar for carrying it.
I guess it's difficult for the guy to think like an editor. By the way, what is so wonderful about Priya Ramani and the shit she produces every Saturday? All five-star bullshit.
Mint needs a proper newspaper man as editor. None of these guys know anything about news. If Sukumar is fired as your blog says then it is a good opportunity to get a proper editor.

Anonymous said...

These are bad times for mint. First Raju goes. Then HT Media cracks down on spending and asks for journalists to be fired. Then Priya Ramani resigns (to be announced shortly). Then Jyoti Malhotra goes. Then the paper's star columnist resigns.
The only good thing is that at least people are talking about Mint because of the controversy.
Earlier, I thought nobody would notice when HT media did what it did to Metro now and quietly closed it down.
This controversy may have given India's most unprofitable publication a new lease of life.