Sunday, November 29, 2009

Everyone else is an unwashed dog!

Despite the fact that the New York Times syndication service is subscribed to by several large newspapers in India, including Mint, I doubt this article will ever see the printed page in India. The relevant passage is highlighted below.

“Some very simple practices that you often take for granted, such as being ethical in day to day situations, or believing in the rule of law in everyday behavior, are surprisingly absent in many situations,” said Raju Narisetti, who was born in Hyderabad and returned to India in 2006 to found a business newspaper called Mint, which is now the country’s second-biggest business paper by readership.
He said he left earlier than he expected because of a “troubling nexus” of business, politics and publishing that he called “draining on body and soul.” He returned to the United States this year to join The Washington Post.

All I can say is - Ouch! But then again, why am I not surprised. Expect a lot of bitching about Raju emanating from KG Marg very shortly.

Due thanks to Mr AR! And the post headline is from an 'anonymous' commenter.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday Tunes

A senior Editor who was exhorting me to change jobs recently told me something strange, “More people read your blog than read you.” Of course I defended myself vainly, but there was a slight iota of truth about that. My claim to media notoriety is not through halfway-decent stories but through halfway-shitty blog which is usually badly written, almost always an un-subbed first draft but somehow quite a few people like it. So much so that at a wedding reception last night, someone commented how my post frequency has come down. I mean this is not a blog being written by a high-class escort girl, so sometimes the blog’s popularity seriously befuddles me occasionally. Times like right now, downtime between stories and meetings and before I open my Amazon Kindle review unit to come face-to-face with Jeff Bezos’ idea of the future of the media.

Maybe I need to do a big-ass story again, though it has only been a couple of months. And the urgency to do giganormous epics of government failings or corporate skullduggery isn’t as urgent as that of having regular sex. Honestly, I would rather drive a fast car right now and then drown in a barrel of 17-year old Malt. You know that the smaller A-roads are absolutely wonderful in the Scottish Highlands. I’m sorry but I’m feeling bored and this is what I would rather be doing right now than hearing my fingers not-so-gentle maul my HP keyboard.

Come to think of it I do type extremely loudly.

Sorry, but I genuinely feeling extremely bored right now, I have finished reading all the webcomics I follow and short of suddenly attempting to finish all the unread posts over on my RSS reader – which I can’t because accessing Fleshbot in office is a total ‘No-No’ and there is only so much of gadgets and electronics I can take (no, really) before I want to take a soldering iron to my head. And our kindly office IT admins have banned YouTube in office, not that the craptastic internet connention they have here could serve up too many pointless videos of people trying to be Jedi’s anyway. There is something wrong with the world when your home connection is faster than the office connection.

Anyway, I’m close to expending 400 words on this post. If I was in a daily I would consider my job done and go home, and if I had a box 360 I would play some Forza 3. But nope, the lure of big-ass story is strong!

Even though, there is a special joy in staying home on a working day.

PS: In response to a couple of 'friends' - I am not, repeat not, a high-class escort. I am pretty sure that they have a lot more fun than I do, and I am not going to be one to judge, but if someone (anyone) was to pay to have sex with me, they would need to be brain-dead, blind coot. Then again, if you have trawled the internet as long as I have you will know that you can find people with any sort of perversion online. Even so...

PPS: It isn't as if I don't 'believe' in what I write, other than the occasional load of boredom and being stuck in something patently unenjoyable, I genuinely have fun on the job most of the time. Which is why I've not been a 'bouncer'.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I know people will forget about it in the noise about the ‘leak’ of the Liberhan Report, henceforth known as the Liberhan Leak which got Advani more agitated than he has been in years. In fact, it made the BJP forget that they had given in to the demands of a bunch of environment destroying Mafiosi in Karnataka. And are depending on the Congress to strike back at them. But the results of the second round of the Indian Readership Survey came out earlier today.
Simple conclusion, HT has been trashed by ToI in Delhi on the one survey where usually they weren’t trashed. This means that the number of adverts offering ‘Russians, Afghani’s and Air-Hostesses’ in HT will only increase. But then again after the collective amnesia that happened when it came to Manu Sharma, I’m genuinely not surprised. In fact, the paper that surprises me is Mail Today. I have no idea of their readership numbers, but they do tend to have a couple of interesting stories, in fact they were the only paper that kept up on Manu Sharma from the time he was given parole. Even NDTV which feigned moral outrage once Manu was caught clubbing didn’t seem to care. Or given that much of that network sits in ivory towers, never knew what was going on to care.
That brings me to a rather interesting trend which is in place in some television channels – that of ‘paid’ internships. I find the concept slightly bizarre, and can’t quite explain it. The amount of money involved is usually minimal, but someone it seems to go against the concept of internship. This isn’t a course, or even an excuse of a course, and much like air-hostess training institutes, many media colleges have also gone AWOL. But paid internships? I find the concept to out of whack that I can’t even write what I’m thinking right now. Or maybe I’m rushing through because I have the shits.
A couple of things, there is no need for me to react to attacks by misguided sexually frustrated followers of a demented twit. Enough said. But before you accuse me of getting on a another bandwagon, imagine you are Sachin Tendulkar, and make a lot of money from endorsements, would you have said anything other than what you said? That said, I would like to see how Sunny Gavaskar reacts now that he has been anointed a savior of Marathi’s by the senile one.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Weeks End

Short, quick post. I had an interesting morning meeting today with an independent MP who dabbles a bit in the media. The money quote, "A channel can break even, they can spend a lot of money for eyeballs, but it takes a special kind of genius to lose 200 crores quarter after quarter and still stay in business." Of course, this was interspersed in between comments about the media's lack of credibility, but that was like a preacher talking to the choir.
But I will write a post tomorrow about more interesting things, but this weekend I really do plan to watch Liefenstahl's Triumph of the Wills, one of the most revolutionary movies of all time but also a masterpiece of propaganda. Then again, the Congress does not need to pay for propaganda here.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Honestly, there are times that I wish I can piss people off to the extent that they write angry yet erudite mails explaining their anger to me. Usually all I get are some silly comments (and some nice ones too) but while my articles have generated a lot of anger in some readers, usually people in PR, I've never seen such a passionate letter. And a bloody good one too!
And there is a very interesting report out by ICICI Securities on the state of teh Indian Media, including the televised news media. Which will not make for good reading for the folks at ET Now. I can't post it because of copyright issues, but try and get your hands on it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, World war 1, 'The Great War' came to an end. Every year since, most former British and Britain itself colonies which lost their young men on the battlefields of Europe, and subsequently in battlefields across the world in World War 2 have always marked this day as 'Remembrance Day'. I say 'most' former British colonies because there is one former colony that in a perverse display on supposed anti-imperialism, which is the way I can possibly excuse it does not give this day the honour it deserves. That colony was the erstwhile 'Jewel in the Crown', a former colony that is yet to live up to its potential 62 years after it stopped being ruled from Westminister. That colony is India.
Four years ago, a very close friend who happens to be a prominent anchor on TV and a war-buff dragged me to the graveyards at Monte Cassino. This monastery town a hundred clicks or so south of Rome was the site of one of the most ferocious battles of the Italian campaign as the resolute Nazi and Facist defenders of Rome. Hundreds of young Indian men died. On a field in Italy. In 1943. Fighting for a foreign King. The names are unmistakably South Asian on the memorials. I went to Monte Casino unwillingly, I returned chastened and respectful.
The sad thing is that while we do remember the dead of World War 1 in one of the nicest war memorials anywhere in the world - India Gate - many people and children forget this fact. That on the Somme and Gallipoli, 93 years ago (1916 was the first battle of the Somme, Gallipoli was 1915 if I remember correctly) thousands of Indians died. But we forget even the dead of our recent wars - Kargil for example. And some wars we choose to forget ever existed - 1962. Weirdly enough the Chinese do have a point, we as a collective have wiped out that war from our collective memory and only when China rumbles about Arunachal Pradesh do some remember.
I am no fan of war, yes like many other people I am fascinated by the technology of military-industrial complex, because much of this tech, such as the internet itself, will have some civilian application someday. I am just disgusted at the ability of our forgetfulness. There might be a billion of us today, but we should always remember the millions who died so that we could be here. I am not being a right-wing lackey, I am not being a nationalist, I am just being a respectful citizen and child of India.
And keep in mind, while your civics and history textbooks would like you to think that it was Mahatma Gandhi's non-violence movement that won us freedom, do not forget the impact of either the devastated British economy or the Royal Indian Navy Mutiny - a mutiny which showed the British that they had lost control of the only thing that had made the empire possible - The Indian military. That, and not 1942, was the final nail in the Empire's coffin.
Remember those who died for you and salute them.

PS: I am not saying that we should also observe 11th November as 'Remembrance Day', but any day - 16th December perhaps, the day the 1971 war ended. If we mark the birth and death anniversaries of our political leaders who led us astray, why can't we mark one day for the millions who fought for us? Of course, the TV channels today will be talking about the impending deluge in Mumbai, or why Sheila Dixit felt it fit to let a cold-blooded murderer out on parole. That said, why was Manu Sharma out of parole? And Manu, we are not biased. You ARE a murderer, you murdered a girl because you wanted a drink or wanted to get laid. You almost got away with it, and we didn't let you. So rot in jail.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Uncle M pulls a fast one

You have to love Uncle M. Just because he could not convince Google to fork over more bribe money like they did with MySpace, he wants his newspapers to stop being indexed on Google. Now, I don’t quite buy into Google’s ‘Don’t Be Evil’ philosophy. Any organization where people can have the food that Google offers along with unlimited Red Bull has to be doing something evil. I mean, I’m convinced Uncle M is fearful of them as The Emperor was of Luke, only this is a double-headed Luke. OK, this is going nowhere is it?
The problem is that Uncle M is treated as a God by several media moguls in India, even though he cannot understand why FDI isn’t allowed in newspapers. The future of the net and how content will be distributed online is an area where Indian media groups are hopelessly behind the West and they don’t have a frikkin’ clue either. The argument is not a easy one, there is a serious issue of ‘content stealing’ that happens in India. Citizen Journalism, other than the occasional lucky video is nothing more than wild opinions masquerading as journalism, or is that Times NOW? Most ‘Citizen Journalism’ is nothing more than second or third hand reporting. Anyone who followed Twitter during the events of last November in Mumbai would know that.
Listen I am not defending traditional journalism, I still maintain that most journalists in India are either dumb or lazy, sometimes a horrible mix of the two. I can’t honestly say that I do not fit into either category, even though chances are another editor will make a third category for people like me – ‘fat’. Back to the point, there have been far too few discussions on how the internet will change journalism in India. Do I know? Nope, I have no clue, but I can pretty much assure you that journalism will be drastically different even by the time my father retires (if he does), let alone ten years time.
I don’t know if I want to poll blog readers for opinions, because I’m afraid much of it as usual will be vitriol directed towards me. And I will give people more and more reason to hate me even more soon enough. Alongside my image of a seriously mentally disturbed potential psycho-killer, I am quite hatable! As for being a 'jealous hater', yes, I do not like certain people, but 'jealousy' is an attribute that I don't think I have unless it concerns women.
And for the record, why on earth would I want to suck up to (an evidently suit-hating) Suku? And the first comment on the last post mentioned, I genuinely enjoy where I currently work because I get to do things I love doing, I possibly have more fun on the job than any peer of mine. Sure, I’ve never worked for the money, but I can run a blog like this. Why would I want a strait-jacketed job which I would want to leave at the first opportunity I got to leave. I believe the secret to good journalism is a happy journalist. You might or might not agree with me, but I don’t give a flying eff!

Monday, November 09, 2009


Will someone please explain what the heck is going on in The Economic Times? For those of you not aware, in the past two weeks there has been an exodus of sorts from the country’s largest business newspaper. And the exodus is limited to overpaid editors but some of the papers best reporters, who would rather commit what some of us consider career suicide rather than continue in ET. I can see the grin on Sukumar’s face!
By career suicide, I mean FE – I know some of the guys joining FE are loyalists of the new FE Editor MK Venu, but honestly that paper only exists for the tender adverts, it is not bad or anything but ask yourself (if you are not in PR or in the Indian Express group) when was the last time you read FE for a sustained period of time. I just about manage to glance through it in office. That said, I wish the new team in FE all the best towards achieving the ‘high profile’ that Shekhar Gupta wants, but Mint won the ‘profile’ wars long ago. That said, I just wonder how many people are ‘parking’ themselves to break the ridiculous and anti-employee ‘no-poaching’ pact between BCCl and HTMedia.
Some of the seeds of chaos were sown by the concept of an integrated newsroom but differential pay structures for print and TV. My reporter friends in ET have expressed their displeasure with this over and over and they were just waiting for an uptick in hiring to jump ship. But I laughed this away, a couple of people of people here and there, the scale of this desertion is mind-boggling. But then again, I have to admit a couple of Editors I have worked with saw this coming, along with the plunging ratings – which isn’t surprising when they send a vapid but pretty face to interview the CEO of a company that Robert Noyce founded.
Admittedly the business news space is more robust than general news, but the attendant chaos is limited to the second floor of 7, BSZ Marg and not the third floor. Puzzling, or maybe because ToI staffers aren’t jealous of Times NOW staffers as ET staffers seem to be of ET NOW staffers. Maybe people in ToI just take a look at Arnab’s zeal for war with China and/or Pakistan and thank their lucky stars!
Oh yes, and an apology for not writing over the past few days, I’ve acquired a new Editor and he has been flogging this slightly thinner reporter. And I’ve been enjoying myself quite a bit at work.