Tag Archives: the guardian

Kate weds Williams and the world goes crazy

Kate and William are now man and wife.

Add Duchess of Cambridge and Prince to the above mentioned names and the world goes into frenzy over what is termed as the Royal Wedding. Or at least the media makes one believe so.

The Royal Wedding showed the world in the modern era of democracy monarchy still has many takers when it comes to celebrations.

To everyone its own, interpretations of the wedding and the significance of hosting a lavish gala was debated by some, but for most in Britain and elsewhere the well marketed wedding was a get away from the daily dose of gloom.

Marketed to the hilt and planned to perfection, the event made into an extravaganza even in times of austerity.

The Guardian stressed how the Duchess of Cambridge was denied the title of Princess.

It reports:

“The Queen’s conferring of the ancient title of Duke of Cambridge on her grandson just hours before the ceremony deprived his wife of the title Princess Catherine. But she is a duchess, which is several rungs up the social ladder than her standing before entering the 1,000-year-old abbey this morning.”

A hint enough that class still matters in Quality press as in Zone 1-2 circles of London.

Its counterparts in Britain treaded similar lines and speculations depending on their inclinations and those some 7000kms away (read Indian media) though not much aware of the customs, traditions of the British royals were busy debating about the dress of Kate middloeton..err the Duchess of Cambridge, or whether or not she will make it on time and the best was saved for the guest list.

After flipping through some five Indian channels all I could understand that the only call it elite/celebrity guests invited were Sir Elton John and David Beckham with his wife Posh. Rest they and their overseas correspondents were clueless on the guest list.

Barring the report in TOI which talked about austerity and tries to put things in perspective no body in Indian media seems to have any clue, but were busy dishing out the Royal wedding in one of the most trash formats.

The best part of the coverage was when an English news channel anchor asked the guests on air to rest their voices for a while and let people see the Live images. That silence for me was golden, it shoed me what was happening on ground sans trash commentary.

Thankfully unlike the weddings of Indian celebs which last a couple of days, in a matter of couple of hours the Royalty wrapped the show and invited 650 of the 1900 guests for the reception, leaving the rest to devote the rest of airtime, fill reams of newsprint and people like me to blog.

Best wishes to the newly married couple, wake up in the morning and relive the frenzy this time courtesy scribes.


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Assange antics booked

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is back in news.

The Guardian on Monday released Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy, bringing the man in confined to Norfolk country house back among headlines despite the Egypt crisis.

The newspaper has been making the most out of Wikileaks story courtesy reports and streams of tweets by Editor Alan Rusbridger.

Observing the events in the last few days on the Wikileaks front, it’s the not so friendly relationship between the whistleblower and its partners which has been making the news, barring few cables on Tunisia and Egypt.

Is this a case of overdose of leaks by the guardian? Who seems to have caught hold of a golden goose which they are not willing to let go.

Even in the heights of Egyptian protests, they didn’t let Assange fade in public memory. In fact they came out with the book wasting no time way before Assange’s 1.5 million dollar biography could hit the stands.

As the Guardian blows its trumpet, a text from a senior editor in India asking “Is he still hot?” set me thinking if he was or wasn’t?

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Coalition loses people’s support,MP’s packs punches

Politics and People of UK are yet to come in terms with the coalition government.

Seven months into the Tories and Lib Dem governance and verbal volleys, difference duets, sting stung comments are flying all over the place as people’s perception of coalition plummets.

Despite both the prime minister and deputy prime minister making earnest efforts to put up a united front, the split is evident.

Managing to see the tuition fee vote through with a reduced margin, the coalition was stung with Cablegate of its own kind. Business secretary Vince Cable opened floodgate of emotions against coalition and media czar Rupert Murdoch to undercover reporters from The Daily Telegraph and survived his cabinet berth to the surprise of many Tories.

Barely did Clegg covered up the Cablegate fiasco, there was more embarrassment for Lib Dems as four more MP’s showed their displeasure in coalition and voiced  lack of faith in David Cameron, only to reassure it hours after it was aired.

These supposed to be private surgery talks with constituents did a post-mortem of the seven month coalition.

It not only brought forth the Lib Dem’s dislike for the Tories, the few Tories on boxing day packed few punches as former Conservative Cabinet minister, John Redwood, accused Lib Dems of taking credit of the nice  things the government did.

Well aren’t both partners in coalition supposed to work in tandem?

To make matters worse an opinion poll by the guardian showed that people’s faith in coalition has fallen by 16%. From 59% in May 2010 it has come down to 43%.

This is not a healthy sign, by any yardstick.

With VAT rising to 20% in January 2011 and CUTS biting in from 2012, it’s going to be a tough ride for the Cameron, Clegg and Co.

Will the coalition complete a full tenure? Will this lead Britain back to dual party politics? Will Cameron and Clegg fight next elections united against Labour?

Interesting political times for Britain as it witnesses its first coalition in 70 years.


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Dishing out Wikileaks

Wikileaks US diplomatic Cables dossier is indeed one of the biggest scoops of the recent times along with previous two Wikileak exposes.

Over 250,00o cables of raw data being dished out all containing potentially secret information translates into voluminous data house.

How do you manage the dump? What you do and how you dish it to sustain the interest in the information.

It’s been a week and only around 700 cables have been made public and the interest seems to be fading.

Though five media houses the guardian in the UK, The New York Times in the US, Sipigel in Germany, el paise in Spain and L Mode in France got the shared information from the whistleblower website, it’s interesting to see how they have worked out their distinctive ways to dish out the humongous information.

Information overdose

The way in which both the English language publications the Guardian and NYT have gone about it on web is to bombard users with information. In a way that becomes a bit too much for an average reader.

They without doubt have all the refined info and have developed separate sections. The Guardian website has been opening with WIkileaks and so is NYT for the last one week.

But it is very static in layout, at times a bit too heavy.

Be selective

Interestingly the Time magazine, which is not a part of the famous five publications, has been very innovative and dynamic in their approach.

They came later but devised a good strategy of using multimedia tools and videos to maximum effect. Two days after the leak they managed to get an Skype interview with Julian Assange all for 36 minutes.

They ran a story with a teaser the conversation will follow later.

A couple of days later they came with an edition on wikileaks and gave all the related elements though not the exact leaks in a fairly engaging manner.

Juice it up

There were video bytes of the skype conversation with Assange used the hilt.

Though the guardian did host the live chat but the skype video in parts makes sense. They have kept stories sharp with elements of colour to keep the reader engaged.

Though the issue is subjective, but a call need to be taken to make the information more engaging.

As I mentioned earlier that new age media is the tool to develop a story, these examples show how it can add to  the longevity and effectiveness of the story.


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Propaganda War versus Human stories, take a call

Bringing forth the plight of Afghan women to the world at large- ploy to justify the occupation of Afghanistan?

Afghanistan’s propaganda war takes a new twist; the headline caught my attention as I remember reading the issue of TIME magazine with the picture of Bibi Aisha, an Afghan Women without nose on the cover.

It was the compelling cover picture that made me pick the issue and is almost the same that made me read through the Guardian. I was intrigued as to read how the two are linked.

After a rather long and at places interesting introduction comes the critiques view.

Priyamvada Gopal, who teaches English at Cambridge University writing on the Guardian’s website, viewed the Time cover in terms of a “cynical ploy” to justify the occupation. Gopal wrote : “Misogynist violence is unacceptable,” argued Gopal, “but we must also be concerned by the continued insistence that the complexities of war, occupation and reality itself can be reduced to bedtime stories.”

Well it took me a while to digest this one.

Hatred and violence is unacceptable. Agreed, but how one explains the complexities of war being reduced to bedtime stories.

For me on a personal account the stories of Bibi Aisha and other women in the TIME magazine at least managed to bring the plight to masses at large. Is war justified as a mean or not is another debate. But to an audience at large the story managed to capture people’s imagination and more than that got the women her nose back and is an attempt to get her life back to normal.

What I liked in the article was the way it brought Sharbat Gula, another Afghan women who caught the attention of the world as it made to the iconic cover of National Geographic in 1985, which to date remains one of the most recognisable cover pictures of all times.

Gula who was later traced back in 2002 by NGC to be living in Tora Bora Gula said that “life under the Taliban was better. At least there was peace and order.”

A statement which turns the argument of occupation of Afghanistan on its head, here was a woman who had lived all her life battered by war saying Taliban was better…

Well there can be no simple answers to this complex scenario, it’s all about perspectives and there will be grey areas.

What sounds like propaganda to one can be mission for other?

But in this all propaganda even if the life of one in this case Bibi Aisha changed for better, which by no means is a less achievement.

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Curious case of Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is on the wanted list of Interpol.

Couple of days after Assange managed to leak 250,000 state secrets much to the disliking of the US government, the Australian born former computer hacker is at some undisclosed location to escape the Interpol red notice.

What amazes me is the fact that despite offending the world superpower USA not once but thrice Assange has managed to stay away from the gunning claws.

The day Cablegate was released by WikiLeaks I posted a tweet and penned a blog seeking reply to how does this guy manage to do so with an enviable precision and consistency.

No replies were expected to this question for no one but Asange knows this.But the question of how he has managed not to come in hands of the US government stayed with me.

I was thinking about the same on my way to the University today and I read in the Metro, US Republican leader Sarah Palin demanded Assange be hunted like Osama Bin laden.

A testimony that he has managed to do to US politicians I believe with a computer what Laden has over the last decade using his militants.

Though there is no established link to the US involvement in the Interpol hunt of Assange, it will be more than willing to find him behind bars in any part of the world.

Assange is wanted for charges of “rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion” in Sweden.

What surprises me is the fact with the kind of technology available with the intelligence agencies around the world Assange has managed to deceive them all and stay connected with the world media.

TIME magazine managing editor Richard Stengel spoke with Assange for 36 minutes over Skype after the leaks were made public. The Guardian, according to New York Times website Assange along with fellow hackers and WikiLeaks enthusiasts was at a secret location outside London.

Confident of Assange’s abilities his aides according to NYT are reported to have fixed an interview with a NY based freelancer in Britain next January.

The curious case of Julian Assange becomes interesting with each passing day as he prepares for the next big leak.


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