9 lessons in Journalism from Tweets

Peter Griffin is Editor, Special Features, at Forbes India and ForbesLife India. He always considers himself as a student. He also handle social media for both publications. Last week the magazine carried a cover story on Flipkart and created a “HO HO” !! Based on the last week’s brouhaha on the cover story and that Peter being a late convert from advertising into journalism, he has listed nine lessons he learnt about Journalism practiced today. He writes in his column in Forbes India magazine :

Being a late convert from advertising, I’m probably the least experienced journalist in the Forbes India team aside from our interns. So I’m always grateful for the lessons the world can teach me.

• It is possible to pronounce judgement on an article based purely on a headline and/or tweets about it.

• A critical cover story must be a marketing gimmick by the subject of the article in collusion with its “critics,” because, after all, as Mr Barnum said, bad publicity is still publicity.

Read the full piece by Peter in Forbes 10 lessons on #journalism from Twitter

Note from Jeetu Shah: Yesterday the full text of the post was published here, but the author objected to that terming it as unethical and directed me to just include part of it and give the link to read the remaining post, which I did. However, I think how grave the crime was it, if the full piece was posted? So, I wrote back to Peter and tried getting some education from him.  ” Lesson # 10 in Journalism”.

Below is, what I wrote back to an Editor, Special Features of a globally acclaimed publication:

Peter, It depends on how we interpret ethics in a certain profession. However, since you are the author and I have committed a sin of letting know the readers of my blog about the 10 lessons you learnt, I shall honor your wish.
I still do not understand though, what difference will it make if I go back to the post, edit it, just include a short excerpt and a link and tax the readers to click the link and visit your whole post? If blogging was my profession (money making) it would be 100 % unethical to earn my livelihood on somebody labour (here writings). And is it really unethical that on a non-money making blog even after I have extended all due credits (authors name/fame, picture, magazine’s name, its link, etc) to the related post, even tendering an unconditional apology, for the “sin” I have committed, instead of just taking it lightly, you are so insistent on making me edit the post and update it again? What will one achieve out of it? Can’t we, as a fellow journalists, just be cool about it? Forbes & you are now globally acclaimed identity and people already know you and admire your work.
Even though you are an Editor, you are so down-to-earth & modest to write that you are ‘always a student’, I was inspired to include the full text of your post (instead of making the readers travel on the net), so that people who know & do not know you, can also admire you (especially after the brouhaha about your Flipkart cover story). In many of my other postings, I normally do what you ordered me to do with your post. But this was a relatively small piece, so I thought an honorable journalist of your stature won’t mind.
But, now I know it’s not you, the designation after your name who is hurt. Thanks for teaching me lesson # 10th.
But, my dear friend remember, it’s always good to get respect by one name and work, as the “belt”(designation) doesn’t remain permanent. Though, I am also a journalist (25+ years), I am also from the trader community being a Gujarati. We usually have a signboard in our shop which says,” These days will also Pass” (whether good or bad). I wish you well, Peter. ~ Jeetu

Advertisements

India’s first Newspaper Collector Shashanka Dash

Shashanka Shekhar Dash, who have collected 1,577 newspapers, has already been placed in the Indian Book of Records.

Newspaper collector Shashanka Shekhar Dash says his recent collection is an Afghani paper brought out by a 14-year-old boy.

Browsing through a newspaper while sipping a cup of tea is a morning ritual in almost every household. But not too many would think of collecting newspapers found across the world. Shashanka Shekhar Dash, who claims to have collected 1,577 newspapers, has already been placed in the Indian Book of Records. This 33-year-old from Arangabad village in Odisha, is now aiming to set up a paper museum soon.

Ask him how he developed this habit and Dash says, “I started collecting newspapers in 2001 when I was associated with a media in Rourkela. Right now, I have 1,577 newspapers from 37 countries in 33 languages. I have 150 newspapers from abroad, 391 single day Indian dailies and one handwritten newspaper called Din Dalit that is published from Dumka in Jharkhand. I also have 13 newspapers with Orissa in the title, 12 newspapers with Odisha in the masthead and 14 newspapers with the name Utkala.”

Though Dash has never been abroad, he has still managed to collect publications from abroad. “Sometimes my friends have got the papers for me. On other cases, I’ve written directly to the newspaper offices. Most of them have obliged. It was most difficult to source a newspaper called Voice of the Children that is published from Afghanistan by 14-year-boy Hamid,” he says.

Isn’t preservation a problem? “I keep all the newspapers in separate polythene bags. I am also a keen collector of souvenirs, books and magazines. My dream is to set up a newspaper library and museum in my village. This, I’m sure, will be of great help to the researchers and scholars,” he signs off.

New Editor takes charge of The Herald, oldest English Catholic weekly in India

 C.M. Paul, KOLKATA

Fr Julian Das

The archbishop of Calcutta, Rev Thomas D’Souza has appointed the director of Chitrabani Jesuit Communication centre in Kolkata, Fr Julian Das as editor of The Herald from 1st July 2012. Besides continuing his present office, Fr Das will also edit the oldest English language Catholic weekly in India established in 1839.

“I am soon planning to send soft copies of The Herald in PDF file version soon, so that you do not need to wait so long for the post version. Besides I am starting this week The Herald Blog to post important articles and reports. The blog link is: http://calcuttaherald.wordpress.com. I am yet to populate the blog. Will do it tomorrow (3rd July) the solemnity of St Thomas the apostle, patron of India.

Fr Das succeeds Fr. B. L. Mathai, a priest of the archdiocese of Calcutta who proceeds for higher studies in media at the National Institute of Social Communication, Research and Training in the National Capital Region, Delhi. NISCORT is a national venture of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India.

The Herald is owned by the archdiocese of Calcutta and is a published under the banner of Catholic Publications West Bengal. (courtesy: NewsGrab & C M Paul)

Write a letter to any Editor in the world

 

WRITE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR OF YOUR CHOICE. PUBLISH IT HERE AS WELL. FREE.

PublishaLetter allows you to Write & Send Letters to the Editors of thousands of Newspapers and Magazines across the world. In case your Letter to the Editor is not printed, it is published right there on publishaletter, for everyone to Read and Comment on. Free. So, start writing your Letters to any Editor in the world  now.

Often you have opinions on articles or editorials that you read in newspapers and magazines and want to write to the editors to express them. Perhaps you do not know where to send those letters. Maybe you know how to send them to the editors but are discouraged knowing that the majority of letters aren’t published; so you do nothing!

This is where PublishaLetter  come in. Your letters to the editors are just as important and as interesting as the articles and editorials that inspired them. This site provide you the platform to pick the publication, compose the letter on-line and send it to the editor exactly as you have written it (without inserting the name of this site anywhere). They also provide you the platform to publish your letter on their site, almost immediately or after a time delay (in case you want to wait to see if it gets printed in the paper first). You want to comment on someone’s letter? You can do it there. You want to comment on someone’s comment? Why not do that too? You want to email your letter to your friends and family? PublishaLetter make that easy too.

So this is truly your site. With that comes some responsibility. Unlike newspapers or magazines we do not edit your submissions. With few exceptions (see our terms of service) we publish all your letters and comments here. You are responsible for the language, accuracy and originality of your submission. This is not a forum for slander, propaganda, commercial offerings, gratuitous self-promotion, mass mailings, personal correspondence or things of that nature. This is a forum for you to share your thoughtful opinion in an articulate manner with the world!

Indian Media has lost their conscience: No talk about Indian Emergency of 1975

On 25 the June 1975  was the unfortunate day when President Fakhrudin Ali Ahmed  declared a state of emergency under article 352 of constitution of India upon the advise of prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Election’s and Civil liberties were suspended and suspension of article 352 effectively bestowed on President to rule by decree. In the history of Indian Independence Indian democracy was derailed for the first time.In 1977 democracy was restored and since then we are fortunate enough that our democracy has evolved and following the right path so that it could evolve.

 

I am not writing this post to glorify the resistance against government in emergency and they established democracy again in 1977. I am writing this article to convey the current status of one of the most important pillar of Democracy of the present era. This pillar is know as “MEDIA”. After visiting almost all the websites of Major Digital Channel and print newspaper in English and Hindi one point has astonished me no one is talking about Emergency of 1975.

One of my observation about Media is one part of their content strategy depends on what is trending on Twitter. All the English and Hindi website of Print media will write when Google will honor any one through a Google Doodle but their editorial framework don’t think that they should talk about “DARKEST PERIOD OF INDIAN DEMOCRACY” today as a significance to tell the story of history to the current generation. Why Indian Media don’t think that the current generation need to know the importance of the hard earned democracy in which they are living? Media is avoiding looking towards history and asking many question’s which is needed to answer is a dangerous trend for India and Indian democracy.

There is a Saying  when we start avoiding or telling lies about history history never forgives us. We are not telling lies but we are seriously avoiding our history. Since morning Emergency 75 is trending on Twitter India but not a single conventional media has come up with a story. On Twitter all the famous Editor of major digital news channel always present their views but today no one showed up with their enlightening views.

Two important characters of Indian emergency which is Emergency itself and Indira Gandhi were trending on Twitter for a long time. #Emergency75 is still trending on twitter India.

Rajdeep Sardesai who tweeted in defense . This is the sate in which Indian Media has reached when Editor in chief of a national news channel has to defend themselves. I have no right and knowledge to say anything about Rajdeep Sardesai and I prefer to believe what ever he is saying is true. on a personal level I believe people. There is one question I want to personally put in-front of him and all the editor in chief why people perspective towards media is not right.

 

What I have observed on Twitter is general public of India is surprised as emergency in 1975 didn’t get any importance or coverage from conventional media. I think the main reason behind this issue can be central Government which belongs to Congress didn’t want people to remember emergency which was imposed by Congress Party only. The story ahead you can easily guess. (This post was published by Rai, in http://videathink.com on June 25, 2012)

Maya “Bush”: Goa Sting Operator Who Gave Up Anonymity

The multiple exploits of Mayabhushan Nagvenkar, the journalist who exposed Goa’s paid news racket, pulled off a prank by planting a fake Nazi story in several well-read dailies, and has held up a mirror to the media in other ways. He is known in Goan media circles as Bhushan, or The Bush. He has written an hilarious article titled  ‘Pimples on Paradise’ about the various corrupt activities of media in Goa in newslaundry.com:

“Bhushan gives the home minister too much tension. He gives the chief of police too much tension as well. He is too straightforward.”

Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

I live in Goa. In a small corner in that paradise.In that corner, where I live, there aren’t any dancing virgins. There’s only journalists. And crimson trails of torn professional hymens.

And the story I have to tell is not new. It isn’t even a big story.Like the one which spilled out with the Nira Radia tapes. There’s no Barkha Dutt. There’s no Vir Sanghvi. Not even a relatively low-brow, shrill Prabhu Chawla.

The story is about a small place. The heroes here are a lot smaller in scale. So are the villains. But the stories from this small place are as interesting as the ones which come from the big cities. Trust me. The sweet, warm smell of purification reeks the same everywhere.

As the author of this piece, I will reserve stories involving me for later.

The first story’s a comparison between two opposite journalistic poles.

This is the story of Ash. And the story of Pats.

Ash has been a journalist for nigh two decades. He’s conscientiously worked on the newsdesk and reported extensively in Goa. He’s anchored newspaper editions for all three local newspapers in Goa.

Ash has been a journalist for nigh two decades. He’s conscientiously worked on the newsdesk and reported extensively in Goa. He’s anchored newspaper editions for all three local newspapers in Goa. But then he went on and did three things over the last few years – not necessarily in the order listed. He became a founding member of a newspaper employees union seeking fair working conditions. Later, he contested civic elections after putting in a legit leave of absence. Third, he befriended me.

Result: He has been virtually unemployed for the last four of the eight years. There are four daily English newspapers in Goa. One monthly news magazine. And several other news, feature and lifestyle magazines. But no jobs to be had for him. In my honest opinion, he has the professional wherewithal to fit into any newspaper set up across the country.

The one reason which editors and newspaper managements in Goa give him for rejecting his job application, is his ‘voluble’ support and perceived involvement in an anonymous media critiquing blog I ran by the name of Penpricks. And he wasn’t even part of it.

Directorate of Official language organized a book release function on 31st May 2010 at Maquinize Palace, Panaji at the hands of Shri Digambar Kamat, Hon’ble C. M./Minister of Official Language in the distinguished presence of renowned music director Shri Ashok Patki, following three books were released in the function, one of which was “Vikas Khara Khota” written by Goa’s most prominent, resourceful, respectful and seniormost journalist, editor Shri Raju Nayak (extreme right) in Marathi
(note: This picture is not suggestive of any imaginative character in the article. It is only published here to show how Goa governments has been encouraging prominent literary personalities from all walks of life to promote art & culture.

Now, Pats has also been around a bit. He’s on the vernacular end of things. His honest cherry popped early and was perhaps replaced by a big red plum. He was caught using a ruling Congress politician’s credit card for wardrobe shopping. Took paid-news suparis regularly. Bought a few mining trucks. Started real estate projects. Until one fine day he was asked to leave by his newspaper management, when they discovered that he hadn’t withdrawn from his salary account for several years. Within a month he was snapped up by another vernacular newspaper and his cycle of corruption renewed once again.

The second story has no central characters. There were just too many of them during the run-up to the assembly elections in March this year, for any one in particular to take centre stage. Early during the campaign, both the Congress and the BJP came in with war chests to cultivate the media. Well, there’s still no confirmation of the exact monies doled out to the media here. But then there’re things you see for yourself. While one political party offered journalists covering the polls tablet phones along with money, another party simply offered cash on the barrel. So if you see media folk in Goa who suddenly flaunt a tablet phone and tell-tale signs of a sudden flush of cash, chances are you may have just spotted a bad egg.

The deal struck between journalists and newspaper managements and poll contestants these last elections was relatively uncomplicated, but also had a sheen of innovation.

Conventionally, the concept of paid news involves payment of money for publishing of favourable content. During the March elections however, the paid-news deals involved not just writing favourably about one candidate, but also blanking out news involving his opponents. Paid-news emerged as an evolved and a matured entity this time round.

Those interested in looking up lop-sided reportage, could scan the poll coverage in the Herald for a comparative analysis of assembly constituencies like Fatorda, Curchorem, Quepem, etc, where the coverage has been extremely ‘unusual’ to say the least. There were other newspapers who did it too, but none with the élan of the above-mentioned newspaper.

And then there’s this little story about me.

I’ve been a working journalist since 1997. I have worked for The Asian Age in Mumbai, Herald in Goa, Tehelka in New Delhi and have also been part of a band of journalists who produced investigative news software for television channels. And then I’ve done some writing on and critiquing of the media in Goa over the years. There’s the story about editorials for sale. Then there was the fake story about a holocaust varmint Nazi being arrested by a fictitious secret German police unit floated by me which was published in several newspapers across India and the globe. Then there was another story about newspapers publishing sex advertisements promoting prostitution, where instead of listing the pimp’s number, I inserted phone numbers of the same editors whose newspapers published these lewd and solicitous adverts. There was also the story of how the Goa Editor’s Guild (GEG) set out to gag the media critique blog, by listing the item on the agenda of an official Guild meeting. And then another one establishing paid news in these assembly elections in Goa.

Result: I’ve had to do my bit of scrounging. I have been at the bottom of the barrel for a spell. In the course of exposing the above-mentioned stories, I’ve been out of a job for a long while. There was no money coming in so I resorted to all sorts of odd writing jobs, since writing is the only paying skill I possess. I did some cheap sweatshop commercial-writing by pitching to postings on craigslist. I’ve written and rewritten about yoga mats. About turd-cleaning devices, which help you clear dog poo off the floor, without leaving stains. I’ve even written tasty little descriptors for websites hosting porn films and sleazeclips, sometimes making $2 for 500 words.

All this, until a friend and fellow journalist Fredrick Noronha voluntarily and graciously gave up his job writing for a news agency from Goa, so that I could pitch for it.

So now every story told through the ages has had its morals. And I am still looking for the morals in mine.

But like I said earlier. The story is the same everywhere. Journalistic corruption is not special to Goa. Dammit, it’s not even as big as the big metros. So why did I do the things I did and say the things I have over here?

Things come across a lot clearer in smaller places. There’re fewer people. Fewer buffers. Fewer layers of camouflage. There’s lesser intrigue. The smaller journalistic microcosm of Goa is representative of the profession’s ills and helps one understand the depravity of the broader journalistic setup in India in an easy way.

A shot of Goan feni in a Goan tavern works as well as the finest scotch in Delhi’s tony, well-heeled clubs. But what would cost you ten bucks here could cost you a few hundred quid in Delhi, with perhaps a Bangkok junket thrown in for good measure.

What is Arundhati Roy’s problem, “truth”?

Colin Todhunter writes in column titled ” Looking In The Mirror, Living In Denial: The Arundhati Roy Effect” in Countercurrents.org about problems with Arundhati Roy, that her critics acknowledges the fact that what she says and writes the true motives and intent underlying official policies. That, she is a Malayali/Bengali and it has always been fashionable to take an opposing view and that she is merely playing to a western media that are always looking to paint the India in a poor light.

Arundhati Roy holds up the mirror and forces people to look. Picture by Richard Avedon

Arundhati Roy’s recent 6,000 word article in India’s Outlook magazine in March contained a wide ranging critique of US foreign policy, capitalism, imperialism, globalisation, India’s industrialisation and the nation’s various internal conflicts and numerous other matters. All the things she has become noted for. Predictably, it provoked the kind of personal attacks that Roy has become accustomed to.

You either agree with Roy’s overall analysis, or at least parts of it, or you do not, and it’s always interesting to read critiques of Roy’s stance based on logical argument. Those who try to counter Roy in this way at least respect her views enough to spend time critiquing them. There are many, however, who like to leave logic aside and concentrate on Roy the person, stridently attacking her motives, psychology and personality.

What is it about Roy that elicits such bitter reactions, especially from within India and particularly in upper middle class circles? Such responses confuse personal prejudice, character assassination and sniping with critical analysis. Notwithstanding that no one can ever be right all of the time, it could well be that there is nevertheless a good deal of truth in what Roy says on various matters, and perhaps that’s the problem.

If her arguments are too black and white then show it. If she leaves little room for nuance then discuss it. If she is playing fast and loose with facts, challenge her. Instead, what we too often have are outbursts that have little to do with the issues themselves, but with Roy and what some consider her to be.

There are the accusations that say she merely plays to a western audience that buys her books, she is a self publicist or that her writings display some sort of personality deficit in terms of her constant attention seeking. While it may well be the case that there is a certain underlying misogyny inherent in some of the personal attacks, the question remains as to why do so many ordinary people in middle class households get so fired up over her.

Anti-establishment figures in all countries have always been vilified by newspapers, TV channels, politicians and opinion leaders. And ordinary folk often follow suit. Noam Chomsky experiences it in the US and journalist John Pilger has also had to bear similar establishment backed wrath in the UK. Roy is as terribly anti-India as Chomsky is as single-mindedly anti-US, so the warped line of reasoning from officialdom and its cheer leaders goes.

Most of the time, the writings of such figures delve beneath the rhetoric and propaganda to highlight the true motives and intent underlying official policies. Their arguments, however, too often become buried beneath personal criticisms and smear campaigns which set out to undermine them as people and by proxy their analyses. Why deal with uncomplicated truths that challenge officialdom when they can be brushed aside or attention can be diverted from them with abuse?

As far as Roy is concerned, the smears against her take many forms. She has writer’s block, so she seeks the limelight by jumping on the latest cause celebre. She’s not an expert – others in a given field have been working for a cause for decades and never get the column inches she gets. She is Malayali/Bengali and it has always been fashionable to take an opposing view. She is merely playing to a western media that are always looking to paint the India in a poor light.

And don’t forget that she doesn’t really understand the plight of the poor or oppressed. How could she choke on the stench of poverty or oppression with such a big silver spoon filling her mouth?

India doesn’t need Roy to tell us what we already know, does it? We don’t need such a celebrity activist with prosaic writing to tell us how to put things right? India has thousands of hands on community activists and workers who are making a real difference every day.

Such is logic of the anti-Roy brigade.

Looking at onself in the mirror can be a painful process, especially when the mirror is, like India, not as shiny as you were led to believe. Roy holds up the mirror and forces people to look. It is then that the gap between the poor and violently oppressed and the self congratulatory ‘new’ India of AC shopping malls, gated communities and all manner of conspicuous displays of luxury which the Indian upper middle classes cherish so much becomes too unbearable to accept. So what better response than denial? What better reaction than to vilify the messenger?

Could it be that Roy makes many feel too insecure? Could it possibly be that living in denial helps suppress the guilt that would gush forth if people were to acknowledge that a terrible price is being paid for an urban-chic lifestyle built on squeezing the life out of much of India via population displacement, land grabs, highly exploited labour, environmental degradation and state backed violence?

You don’t have to be living in the gutter before you are allowed to express a valid opinion on poverty or oppression. And if you have a message, it would be foolish not to use your talent to reach out to as wide an audience as possible. But maybe that’s part of the problem. For some, holding up a mirror to Indian society is bad enough, but Roy has the ability to project a realistic yet unpalatable image of India across the globe. With all their new found wealth, that’s what seems to annoy her critics most. When you strike at a raw nerve, unthinking, knee jerk reactions usually follow.

Colin Todhunter : Originally from the northwest of England, writer Colin Todhunter has spent many years in India. He has written extensively for the Deccan Herald (the Bangalore-based broadsheet), New Indian Express and Morning Star (Britain). His articles have on occasion also appeared in the Kathmandu Post, Rising Nepal, Gulf News, North East Times (India), State Times (India), Meghalaya Guardian, Indian Express and Southern Times (Africa). Various other publications have carried his work too, including the London Progressive Journal and Kisan Ki Awaaz (India’s national farmers’ magazine). A former social policy researcher, Colin has been published in the peer-reviewed journals Disability and Society and Social Research Update, and one of his articles appears in the book The A-Z of Social Research (Sage, 2003).