Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Today’s Hindu has a rather elaborate coverage of Alan Rusbridger’s (Editor,guardian)visit to India( Link 1 Link 2 Link 3). Appearing alongside these articles is the announcement by N.Ram that The Hindu will have a Reader’s Editor, pretty soon (from Jan13?). So.. who is this Reader’s Editor??.. what is his role ?? The details would be probably be out in a short while… but I thought looking at other examples would help in making a reasonable guess.

As explained by Ian Mayes( Reader’s Editor. Guardian) in this article,he is expected to

“[..]collect, consider, investigate, respond to, and where appropriate come to a conclusion about readers’ comments, concerns, and complaints in a prompt and timely manner, from a position of independence within the paper”.

That is the ‘principles’ part. How does all this work in practice?? To start with, A daily report of Corrections/Clarifications (compiled by the R-Editor) looks like an inevitable feature in such a setup. Here is a sample from the guardian. This is truly great! The usual Erratum/Corrigendum in some corner of the paper is an useless attempt. Also, Meyes has a weekly column for himself. Most of his articles are devoted to the job of debating the kind of coverage that The Guardian presented (Link 1 Link 2 Link 3)and clarifying on reader responses(Link 1, Link 2). In some of these articles, he ends up quoting various comments from the readers without passing any opinion on it. But occasionally, he does offer a complete apology. A recent heavy-duty row has been with Noam Chomsky! Chomsky had objected to a particular interview that was published in The Guardian. The Reader’s Editor looked into Chomsky’s complaints and finally conceded that The Guardian had indeed been faulty on three counts. The issue is not closed. The actual interview has been withdrawn from the website. Also, look at this curious case for yet another apology. Some of the other newspapers in UK have followed the Guardian Example and have Reader’s Editors in place.

As reg the US, NYT and WP do have such “Editors”. The current Internal- Ombudsman in the Washington Post has her own column and here is her description of the job. The New York Times Public Editor too has a separate column in the Opinion Section. The content of these columns is similar to the Guardian one. Amongst the NYT articles, I found this article on New Orleans particularly heartening.

Now, I do not know of how the readers have reacted to the these editors. But, from the content of their articles, my guess is that any such feature in India would be a huge step towards newspapers gaining more respect amongst their readers. In the Hindu’s case, this will greatly enhance the quality of this wonderful newspaper. I hope the other major publications in India follow suit and establish such self-correcting mechanisms.

ps: Ofcourse, the first case for the Hindu’s R-Editor is ready,courtesy bloggers!

pdate : The R-Editor has been appointed. It is Mr. Narayanan, an old hand at The Hindu.
Samanth and Nina have their doubts about the new appointment.

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There has been a lot of media space devoted to the recent remarks by Kushboo and Suhasini…
The level of intolerance exhibited by the few unruly demonstrators is appalling. Mr. Ramodoss and the PMK(and DPI etc etc) seem to have the gift of generating controversies out of nothing. The violent behavior on the streets is beyond limits even if you allow for the conservative chennai attitude. After all, these are their personal views. If you don’t like them, great!.. make ur case. Personality attacks aren’t the way to go about it.
Thankfully, most of the media is on Kushboo’s side in this regard. (except ofcourse.. some ever-callous Tamil Newspapers/TV channels) Here are some recent articles on the issue from the Hindu:

Freedom At Stake

[..]But the civil society responded, slowly but surely. Journalists’ associations were quick to sense a threat to freedom of expression, and opposed the moral policing. Among the political parties, the Left organisations recognised the seriousness of the issue and condemned the protests. Eventually, it became clear that the protestors enjoyed no public sympathy despite the wide coverage they got in a partisan section of the media[..]

Conspiring to silence Unconventional Voices

The crux of the whole debate…

[..] one is not called upon to concede that all contrary viewpoints are as valid as one’s own. All that the tolerance required in a democracy entails is the recognition that perfectly reasonable fellow citizens could hold a different viewpoint. It does not in any way diminish the strength of one’s own conviction that a particular viewpoint is the correct one. On the other hand, it is a recognition that only if varying viewpoints are aired freely, with the society itself not afraid of any idea, can democratic debate be promoted[..]

Another obvious trait is the silencing of any bold (or even perfectly normal) statements by women celebrities.. Here is a hard-hitting article by Kalpana Sharma :

Women Speak Out

[..]The other issue that our hypocritical society will not touch is the question of women’s sexuality, their right to choose and their right to express their choice. In the name of protecting “culture” or “tradition”, women are constantly told what they can or cannot say, what they can or cannot do, what they can or cannot wear and ultimately what they can or cannot think. We are willing to elevate women to the status of goddesses and worship them. But they must remain obedient and silent[..]

The good thing is that the debate is now out in the open!.. In the Final analysis, I hope that these self-appointed guardians of “Tamil Culture” see their moral sand dunes washed away .

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[via RSS@HarvardLaw]

We have seen NDTV’s follow the leader. But, there is an interesting version from China’s official Newspaper “People’s Daily” : RSS feeds for the top communist leaders… 🙂 Get the feeds from here.
From Wikipedia entry for People’s Daily:

The People’s Daily is the chief mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party. In addition, editorials in the People’s Daily are also still regarded as fairly authoritative statements of government policy

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Sid Varad-1984

There is a new blog by Sid Varad and he calls it “November 1984”. The first post is a copy of the report of the citizens group that went into the details of the riots. It is longish and certainly worth a read.(A shorter version appeared here) Make sure that you keep tabs on this blog! Sid seems to have the practice of posting with the actual dates. And this post is dated “Aug 15 1990”..but the Outlook extract does not have any date on it.

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A tailpiece

Inder Malhotra says,(in the hindu, as a tailpiece)

The most widespread comment on Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee’s latest tantrum in the Lok Sabha is, “Mamatadi behaved exactly like herself.


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I came across this wonderful magazine based in Nepal, thro google. Kanak Dixit runs this. It had apparently been down for about an year, due to financial troubles. (I got this info from here . It is re-starting operations and I hope it fares well. The mag is here .
Amongst the archives,I found this , a very good panel discussion on the Indo-Pak Nuclear Risks. Many eminent media personalities from both the countries do some plain-talking. I hope such talk goes on in the diplomatic circles too! I don’t support India’s decision to go nuclear and feel that the urgent need is to promote mutual confidence amongst the two countries so that we stop spending millions on these things and instead focus more on the burning needs of the sub-continent..Poverty, illiteracy and health.
Himalmag seems to have a penchant for group discussions.. look here for a very nice discussion of how the Indo-Pak problems are portrayed in the Media. Again, the frank assessments from each of the participating editors/journos make it a lively debate. This is in stark contrast to the usual(and often mindless) bashing that goes on between the two countries.
Yet another discussion is here. The style here is different with contributors making “speeches” instead of actually arguing point-by-point.
The reports in himalmag are certainly different from what the usuals dish-out.. So BOL Himalmag..may ur good work continue!

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Bombay and TOI

While doing my “Why I like The Hindu ” post, I had made an assumption that Bombay is in love with TOI. But, That does seem to be entirely true. Recently, I came across quite a huge number of blogs blasting TOI for this front-page (link to a image posted by Uma) story it carried after the recent Cloudburst in Bombay. Her original post and the numerous comments that followed can be found here. She also has links to other posts on the same topic.

Actually, I wonder why TOI has changed(many people on those blogs thought TOI has changed for the worse,of late). For ex, this collection of articles that P.Sainath wrote for TOI is a stunning portrayal of the reality in our villages and how it continues to be neglected in India. Hats off to TOI for carrying such articles. And sure, TOI still carries such articles.. but it is totally in contradiction with the image it projects with this article covering the cloudburst. Confusing times, I guess, for the Editorial Board.

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