Tag Archives: New York Times

Hu said ‘What’ and who interpreted ‘What’?

Hu Jintao visit to the USA has all the makings of a media spectacle.

With leaders of the two ‘competing and dependent’ economic giants of world who barely share anything apart from economic interests meet in the most cordial manner, lot is on offering for media houses at large not just in the US or China.

Browsing through reports in the New York Times, the Guardian, BBC, CCTV and The Times of India, it was interesting to observe how differently they all approached the visit and reported.

The host scribes set their eyes on the deals and sales on offer and how the Obama leadership has rolled out red carpet and given the best welcome to the Chinese president.

The focus was the deals worth $ 19 billion and oer 1,00,000 jobs in store for the US and development of the ties between two nations. There was mention of noble laureate Liu Xiaobo, but it was business first.

This reminded me about the over the board euphoria shown by Indian media when Obama last visited in September 2010.

The British media focused on Human Rights, and the BBC and the Guardian harped on their concerns about what Hu said about human rights.  Hu saying China still needed to do “a lot” over human rights was a sentiment that echoed across in stories at the BBC and Guardian.

The Guardian in one of the reports described how Obama administration recognised the meeting as meetings of equals unlike how Bush administration gave Hu a White house working lunch.

Chinese media did what it is perceived to do best, dish out information fed to it by the regimen.

As BBC’s Damian Grammaticas mentions : “Just hearing a Chinese president deal with direct questions on human rights is incredibly rare. In China the heavily state-controlled media doesn’t pose them”

The CCTV and others as the Guardian points out underplayed human rights remarks. A visit to their website reaffirms the same.

Amidst all this how can Indian scribes be far behind, a headline in The Times of India read  ‘Hu-pla around Chinese President’s visit centers on American debt’ pun intended it gave away what can be broadly considered as playing away on average Indian sentiment when it comes to doing anything with China. Add to this the copy highlighted human rights issue and how Hu and Dalai lama were both treated by the White house.

Amidst all this frenzy over the visit for me what is interesting to see is that how the tines of both parties are changing US recognising the rise of China and the red dragon too gets to face the world and get a reality check on how world looks at them.

That apart it showed how a same visit can be portrayed to the world in so many different ways.

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Let people filter the Wikileaks

Is information knowledge? Does more data mean greater understanding, even minus context and editorial filters?

This was a tweet from Barkha Dutt for her show We the People debating Will Wikileaks change Diplomacy forever?

The last bit of the question set me thinking. Does Wilkileaks require an editorial filter?

NO. Was my initial and intuitive response.

After a pause I thought, how different will editorial filter make Wikileaks look like? What will form the basis of filtering the information? Finally in the era of information sharing will it be possible to curtail the raw information going out to people?

In my opinion, which could be challenged, it’s alright at times to let the information flow out in raw form and let people make a judgement. For there is no guarantee that people will agree and toe the line editors dish out.

What Julian Assange has done is going to change the way people in power communicate, though it might not have an impact in the way diplomacy is conducted.

Validate

As Mukul Kesavan on the NDTV show pointed out that the New York Times went ahead and took the cables to the US government and after a check published them shows where not to go for reading the cables.

I agree, for the fact that one can’t be sure reading NYT in that case if that is the complete information.

Beyond Assange

A blog in the economist suggested WikiLeaks needs an ethical review board? It further observes WikiLeaks is an important organisation that’s doing something the world needs. But like other human-rights and humanitarian organisations, it needs to lay down some clear, public ethical guidelines about how and why it does what it does.

I trust the way they handle it, in part because I know who they are. Who’s WikiLeaks? Besides Mr Assange, I don’t know, and they’re not really telling. Do you know? If so, start a wiki about it.

Wonder how different this would have made the situation, agreed that nobody except Assange is known to the world, but what if that is the organisation policy?

Right now one persons motives are being doubted, if there were more than one then sceptics or critics would have questioned more motives.

This would also have given governments irked by leaks more people to make targets and drift the focus away from the actual issues at hand.

As of now there are five reputed media outlets apart from Wikileaks to make a choice from, it for the readers to pick their choice. There is raw data as well as filtered one available, make your choice and take a call.

In fact the readership of Wikileaks and others post disclosures will give an indication what people want.

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Barkha’s date with NYT a let down

Barkha  Dutt features in the Saturday profile of The New York Times.  Well not for the reasons she would have loved.

The Mediagate controversy which in many ways is being wrongly dubbed as Barkhagate by many outlets won the NDTV group editor this distinction which she would have liked to let go.

I was all excited to read how the NYT reported this, but it was a letdown.

Understanding that it was a profile even then it was over exaggerated, too over the top and flouted the basics.

There I go with what made me wonder if it was an NYT report.

1.       But last Tuesday Ms. Dutt, the most famous face of India’s explosively growing 24-hour cable news business, found herself the subject of the kind of grilling she normally metes out.  (Well she is famous but to call her the most famous is a bit too over the top. In J schools we are taught to mind our adjectives)

2.       Ms. Dutt the 38-year-old star reporter and anchor of the biggest English-language cable news network, has become the most recognizable face of this media explosion. (sounds like a bit too much)

3.         In the tapes, Ms. Dutt appears to offer to pass messages between Ms. Radia, who appeared to be trying to get a politician suspected of corruption reappointed as telecommunications minister at the behest of her clients, and senior leaders of the Congress Party. (it appears that the sentence is a bit too long)

4.       MS. DUTT has been called the Oprah Winfrey of India, but that description both overstates and understates her influence and reach. Ms. Winfrey, best known as an empathetic talk show host, cemented her place in the American media firmament with her shared narrative of personal redemption. Ms. Dutt blends the hard-charging bravado of the young Christiane Amanpour with the feel-your-pain empathy of Anderson Cooper. (Way too over the board, having been a journalist in India, let me tell you this is like breaking news to me. It’s certainly not like this)

5.        Her florid style would be familiar to most cable television viewers in the United States, long accustomed to reporters who put themselves at the heart of the action. But in India, where for decades the government’s subdued broadcasts were the only option, her breathless, from-the-battlefront dispatches were a revelation. (Agreed that her style has followers, but the bit about striking a relationship between state broadcasting and her style is again over the board. In my opinion what got her prominence was the mere fact that she was the first female reporter in a war zone)

Why I felt down by this for the simple reason that when you look at publications like NYT you look for information which is new and makes you take notice and say is that so. Even the writing is a thing to watch out for when NYT does a profile.

But this just looked like something picked from here and there. Also there were more quotes by others and very few from Dutt herself.

Wonder how it will work for an American audience, but for someone who is familiar with Indian media scene and even has seen bit of Dutt’s work this piece isn’t worth it.

Barkha’s date with NYT a let down

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Still reading Assange

The name Julian Assange evokes extreme reactions. Love him or hate him, but it’s hard to ignore him.

In the last few days this elusive yet omnipresent founder of whistleblower website WikiLeaks has managed to take over sizable media space across the globe and some mind space as well for sure.

I have been following the developments around US Cable leaks and developments around Assange.

The second half has really got me glued, for the cables don’t have anything major or direct consequence so far.

The Thread

Reading an opinion piece The Hunt for Julian Assange in The Thread section of New York Times which takes an in-depth look at how major news and controversies are being debated across the online spectrum.

I was amazed by the commentary which for me showed emotions of US journos at large towards this one man.

From a spy, to someone with blood on his hands to being an infoterroist, emotions flew left right and center making me wonder is this how journalists should react.

Some went to extent of assuming how Abhram Lincoln would have reacted to this. Bizzare.

In one of my earlier post I had mentioned how this guy with a computer has managed to irk US authorities and piss them off that some have compared him to Taliban or Osama Bin Laden.

These thoughts were echoed here in this one but with a different treatment.

The investors.com said : “The Bible assures us “there is not anything secret that shall not be made manifest, nor hid that shall not be known and come abroad.” In this vein, former computer hacker and self-styled “journalist” Julian Assange is again playing God, using his WikiLeaks cyberterrorism organization to reveal the military and diplomatic secrets of the Free World as it fights radical Islam and other threats.”

How justified is use of word cyber terrorism I wonder?

Kill bill

Another one Ezra Levant of The Ottawa Sun raises the ante: Why isn’t Julian Assange dead yet?  His obsession is to embarrass the world’s freest countries — the U.S. and U.K.

Well if the countries are really freest than this guy has a right to express himself. There could be other ways of dealing with him other than killing him.

The writer goes on to say…And U.S. President Barack Obama could do what he’s doing to the Taliban throughout the world. He doesn’t sue them or catch them. He kills them. Because it’s war. Obama has even ordered the assassination of an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki. How does Obama see Assange any differently.

What Obama or rather the US led forces are doing is another matter of debate, but in no ways gives Obama or anyone right to kill someone.

Some question him being called editor of Wikileaks, while others say everyone should calm down and give Assange a time out. Well could do that but will a good story be suppressed so easily?

Legally speaking

At last what drew me all the way down through the long page was the question on could the US  prosecute Assange?

Legal scholar Stephen L. Carter at The Daily Beast said: “I think we could. Most of the conversation has centered on the Espionage Act of 1917. Assange’s violation seems fairly clear. The statute bars the ‘unauthorized’ possessor of a document who ‘has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation’ to communicate or transmit the document ‘to any person not entitled to receive it.’ ”

Well that is a legitimate reasoning of all what I read, but in the end commentator Tobin Harshaw concluded. Still unknown: Whether Julian Assange is on the right side of it or not.

I say the fascination continues.

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Tech takes to studies

Growing up in a digital world is a thrilling as well as challenging experience for students.

Going through a grilling six web pages of a New York Times article Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction, I will confess that at the end of page three I plugged into a 7.45 minute multimedia video to get the thought in place.

Having watched the video I went on to finish reading the entire report.

As a student myself I can understand the urge to get instant gratification without the strenuous exercise of flipping through the pages and applying my mind to the text.

Recently in a class when asked to get copy of a magazine article I liked I could not produce a magazine for nearly a year I have been doing all my reading almost entirely on the computer.

Striking the balance is the key say experts on most of the forums, easy said than done.

In the era of information overload the game is all about setting the priorities right, planning your work and working out the plan.

Though efforts are being made by institutes to strike the balance, I feel future lies with technology.

Those niche students willing to learn using technology will develop into a large unit. The argument might be that it will develop dependency on machines and deprive normal growth of human mind, but it will be a tough call to keep technology out of their lives.

One way could be to test the true calling of a student and build on it. If the ward takes keen interest in technology and performs wide range of work using it, stopping him/her from using technology might prove dangerous and curb the talent.

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