Category Archives: Media

Mass Media Talk

Contemporary trends in Mass Media, was the topic of seminar at Pratap University, Jaipur where I was invited on Friday. For reasons beyond me I was feeling a bit jittery.

It was the first time an invite mentioned I should have enough stuff to engage the audience  for close to 75 minutes and should have a ‘presentation’, something I am not most comfortable with.

As I reached the University, I was amazed to see students decked impeccably for the welcome. If that wasn’t a shock enough, once at the auditorium I was to do the customary lamp lighting. It didn’t help much to calm my nerves.

One last time before I could brush up my presentation, the Vice Chancellor Lt. Gen R K Karwal, mentioned in his address the role media plays in shaping up public perceptions, at times goes overboard, exaggerates and has to give to the demands of the market and consumers.

All valid points and they turned on its head what I had prepared for the talk. The hack in me who is trying to carve a niche using mass media to his advantage got a perfect start. I began emphasizing what Mass media does in today’s time. How it empowers individuals to question what at times goes wrong in the mainstream media.

Over the next hour shared my experiences, things I learnt at the University of Westminster, how my professor David Dunkely Gyimah converted a print journalist to an online practitioner and how Western Media was miles ahead when it came to using Mass Media in not just journalism but in other fields.

We went a bit beyond journalism for the betterment of the larger audience which had a majority of Engineering and MBA students. Touched on developments in the digital world and how corporate and individuals are using them to their benefit.

Lucky enough, I was successful in engaging my 200 strong audiences engaged for a little over the scheduled time. The house was open to questions and students asked how can freelancers make a head start in journalism, how mass media tools can be used for national integration and what page three journalism is?  There was considerable interest in knowing how different education system in India and UK are.

The second half of the session was to be addressed by Prabhat Sharma of Media Mirchi.  He started in wonderful Hindi, loved the ease with which he used words, some heavy for me, but I did my best to catch up.

Prabhat stressed on the various streams of Mass media and various roles a journalist and other experts play in electronic media. His aim was to enlighten students about various roles in a news organization to help students find a suitable role for themselves.

When his turn came to answer questions, there were some serious questions posed: What is the role of national broadcaster Doordarshan in today’s media? A loaded question that Prabhat tried best to defend by saying the broadcaster still holds a lot of promise in the 24/7 breaking news environment.

Well something I quite don’t agree. Some time back I had expressed my views on the national broadcaster in my blog.

The best one came when a student asks should there be a censor body for news channels? Prabhat’s safe response ‘use remote’.

But as a scribe the last two questions set me thinking as I moved out after an eventful day in quite some time.


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Murdochs docked

News international is truly the international news of the moment.

With those exposing scandals being entangled in their own web, the fast developing story never ceases to surprise. All of a sudden the invincible Rupert Murdoch seems gullible like any other mortal.

After throwing the familiar I care a damn attitude the Murdochs Rupert and James have agreed to face the culture select committee. This has been described as remarkable theatre by Martin Moore, director Media Standard Trust.

If that be the case than the ensemble promises a great theatrics when they will be confronted by question s like what did they knew and when? That apart there will be plethora of questions thrown at the trio of Murdochs and News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks.

The key to the questioning will be James Murdoch who will have to defend his previous statement where he stated that he came to know of the incident at a later date. That is a string admission and will be difficult to defend.

With all parties inUKjoining the crusade to ousted Murdochs or cut them to size it will be worth watching, how the media moughal responds to one of the biggest crisis of his career.

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Media mayhem ahead of India – Pakistan semi final

News channel Times Now dishes out series How to demolish Team Pakistan.

CNEB declares that the second semi final match is fixed and that India will lose the semi finals.

CNN-IBN debates on whether or not India-Pakistan matches can be fixed or not.

At NDTV the anchor of a top prime time show says, “looks like there is no news other than Cricket”.

All reputed news channels and all treading the same line.

The way in which Indian broadcast and print media have gone in frenzy after the 100 over game scheduled on Wednesday makes one wonder whether or not anything else is happening in the country? We have 28 states, which were churning out decent bit of news till 72 hours back.

Debating on cricket diplomacy and mixing politics with sports media organisations have left the basics miles behind.

Can’t understand someone in as senior editorial position say ‘looks like no other news’, sir it’s for people like you to take a call on what is news and what people should see.

Show after show one clip being from a show being used in other, repetition or ‘byte optimisation’ at its best how many times will the cricket diplomacy be debated.

For how long do respected editors stress even after getting a simple answer.

The CNN-IBN show ended with  the note lets not pressurise players by raising the ghost of fixing without any evidence. This stand came only after debating the issue and raising it for sufficient  period of time.

Don’t the news editors get bored with the same stuff?

I am sure there is more happening in the country that deserves mention; at times even the guests have got miffed answering the same question.

Was amazed to see the series titled How to demolish Team Pakistan on Times Now, is it the channel from the same group which started the ‘Aman ki Asha’ initiative.

The anchor begins by saying its war minus shooting….we are on a mission how to demolish Pakistan.. is that a newsman’s language?

News to my limited understanding is all about putting facts to people. Since when have advice and opinion become news? And listening to the anchor it looks like watching English version of sensation ridden hindi channels.

Times Now don’t mind what they are saying about team India’s prospect and are reporting even basics of training session like ‘Tendulkar hammering his bat’ as if this is for the first time he is doing so especially for this game.

But when Pakistan Captain Shahid  Afridi says something about Pak bashing to a Pakistani TV channel they take offence. At least their reporting sounds like that.

Given the people’s sentiments, excitement the Indo-Pak ODI’s generate and dash of diplomacy the game does deserve prominence in news space but that should not mean it hijack the news agenda.

Agrees jingoism sells, but news is all about fair and just reporting as in reporting.

All the channels who flaunt the glorious taglines should at least give them some thought at the end of the day.

In doing so for many viewers, instead of adding to the excitement the overkill destroys the fun of the game.

Let there be some gentlemanly spirit in the gentleman’s game.

This it seems is wishful thinking, for Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN tweeted couple of days back, “After watching most of our news channels, feel we want to make it out to be World War 3. Jingoism ‘sells’. Sad.

Sad even after acknowledging it, editors seems to have no better way out.

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Same news, different values

Unrest in Libya grows as each hour passes.

Exclusives, updates, blog posts, first person accounts pour in every hour with media outlets describing the overwhelming unrest dramatically to suit their audiences.

Each update shows situation deteriorating and doesn’t miss out on a chance to market its moves.

The guardian starts its report saying ‘first foreign journalist to reach Benghazi’, while Time magazine flaunts it managed to get a first person account of a medical student.

Reporting of the unrest over the past one month seems has become a media spectacle where in post Tunisia following Egypt every other news has taken a backseat, at least this seems to be the case for British media and to some extent the US media.

While in stark contrast back home in India all these unrests haven’t made it to leading headlines.

This hysteria and ennui to the same event across different regions amuses me.

Does it indicate that there is an audience for these stories in the UK and not in India? Or are the newspapers and broadcasters dishing out what they want despite of indifferent audience tastes in Britain.

A section of media is critical of the coverage Indian media is doing of the uprising and N.Ram of the Hindu on CNN-IBN said, “With the advancement of technologies we are shrinking our international coverage. Earlier there used to be more international news.”

Might be Indian broadcasters and newspapers have their plate full with scams coming out every other day. While on the other hand it seems news except unrest have dried in UK, all major headlines and features are about unrest.

How much is too much and how little is too little as of now remains beyond my understanding

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ipad newspaper ‘the Daily’ a game changer

I-pad newspaper the Daily is now a reality.

News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch on Tuesday unveiled the Daily at New York’s Guggenheim Museum and clicked on what many (including me) feel could be the next step for print journalists.

The $30 million product from the News Corp. stable is indeed a brave launch in times when newspaper circulations in west are heading southwards and feasibility of paid online content is being tested in the market place.

Reviewes across the world have tagged it as well designed, pleasurable, aspiring product but some are sceptical of its performance and the quality of content daily will be able to generate. Some has dubbed it to be a sophisticated version of the earlier similar products.

In a nutshell it has generated all the emotions one would usually associate with a Murdoch offering appealing, stylish and above all paid.

For me what makes the development significant is how Murdoch puts it: “New times demand new journalism.” (The Times)

Journalism is fast evolving, what matters the most is how differently same bit of news can be put across on different platforms and how quickly journalists need to adapt and learn to report in accordance with their new mediums.

Murdoch has hired 100 journalists for the new venture and given the News Corp’s ability to gather news it has kept the option of outsourcing the news open. This move signals toward a small yet interesting opportunity for exciting bunch of journalists to make a head start.

It also hints that the dynamics are changing fast and the way content is dished has undergone sea change.

Couple of days back at the Reuters headquarters in London, senior journalist John Mastrini shared that he was conducting a course for journalists at Reuters training them how to effectively report using twitter as well as reporting on twitter.

All  of this hint at great opportunities for journalists, especially print hacks. If they can mind their words, the future holds immense possibilities for them


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Twitter takes to Live reporting

Twitter changed the way we look at news.

On Tuesday when District Judge Howard Riddle allowed scribes to tweet from the courtroom without disturbing the proceedings in a matter of minutes Twitteratti took over the conventional modes of reportage and for those few hours, Breaking news was like a passé.

The 140 characters did what the 24X7 news channels couldn’t, they broke into the courtrooms and it looked like this might be the beginning of something new.

The micro-blogging site gave a blow-by-blow account of proceedings sans lengthy arguments. Even before the websites and news channels could flash the breaking news the word was already out.

Anticipation was high on Thursday as Julian Assange stepped in the courtroom, steady stream of tweets followed and newspapers, broadcasters and websites set their tweet rolls in place.

The joy was short lived as the Judge barred tweets from courtroom.

Heather Brooke @newsbrooke posted an hour before the proceedings she posted ‘hearing rumours that twitter WONT be allowed #Assange’, it was true.

What a letdown and almost immediately there was boo for this ruling on tweets. Brooke later argued on twitter, when lawyers have laptops and blackberries, why not public? In open court what is difference is typing from pen and paper she questioned.

Well no great difference, just that typing reaches out to the world and in this case possibly to over 190 million Twitter users (source Tech Crunch).

Though barred Tweets for time being changed the way we looked at news and how news reached us.

In days ahead more might be in store.

I stumbled upon a year old article in TIME which described  How Twitter will change the way we live.

Tweets tick

The 140 characters allows one to be precise and be on spot.

It is smaller than 160 character SMS and this precisely makes tweeting easy and convenient to use from simplest of the cell phones. Upgrade to a smartphone and the experience enhances.

User innovation has fuelled tweeters growth.

Many of its features and applications like shortlink, hashtag, search, tweetpic etc were developed by the users and added freshness to the social networking site.

At the time the abovementioned article was published there weren’t many news websites using twitter, but now its first on twitter and then elsewhere.

Though twitter doen’t has the kind of following Facebook enjoys, but it indeed is a very effective and popular mean of communicating news.

If it’s not on Tweet it isn’t news.




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Unfair Media Trial

A media trial in the real sense of word is underway in India. Media is under trail, those in question are some of the leading brand names in the world of Indian journalism.

The list of those featured in the infamous tapes in question are Barkha Dutt and Prabhu Chawla, group editors of NDTV and India Today respectively, Vir Sanghvi, editorial director of Hindustan Times, M. K Venu, senior business journalist and the managing editor of Financial Express are there to name some.

While most of the leading dailies and broadcasters have stayed away from publishing (owing to complexities of their names in some way or the other being associated with those who feature in the list) or airing the debate, some magazines and tabloids have kept their focus on the trial.

But there are some inherent similarities in all these none of them dialled these people involved in the tapes for their takes and they were selective.

There are close to over 100 tape conversation according to the Outlook report and have doyens of the industrialist like Ratan Tata featuring in it, but its only two Dutt and Sanghvi who are being portrayed as villains in most reports.

Their responses are nowhere to be quoted making it a one-sided report. Though Outlook is carrying Dutt’s tweets and letters from NDTV and Open magazine on its website, it still misses the simple quote from the duo under spot.

Barkha Dutt tweets: “Question for Mail Today’s so called “campaign.” Why doesnt it mention journalists from its own group who are on the tapes? Convenient.” She raises a valid question, as names of Prabhu Chawla and Shankar Aiyar (then with India Today Group) are also featured.

In the Ratan Tata conversation Radia observes the media has become very greedy and it won’t give someone who advertises heavily bad publicity.

This is a very serious allegation and a harsh reality in some media outlets. The tape scam gives the fraternity to come out clean and ensure that the sanctity of the profession remains intact in public eye.

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