Indian Media: Why journalists hate trolls

Pagal Patrakar (in his blog – writes without any screaming and shouting in plain English and without any intellectual nonsense or any stern voice and constipated faces either, about how journalists thinks that it is their duty, as a journalist, to show “mirror to the society” and not let anyone show the the mirror:

..For them(journalists) , a troll is anyone who is not following the rules and decorum of a civilized communication, and who argues without showing much respect to logic.

At this point of time, some of the top journalists leading the crusade against trolls would claim that their objection is only to the abusive and hateful trolls. I have reasons to believe that this is just an excuse.

The thought process (no lateral thinking involved here) behind creating such a list is rooted in a journalist’s arrogated right to frame rules and decorum for a public debate…..However, more than the anarchic nature of Twitter (and much of the virtual world) and a public display of love towards civilized discourse, a journalist’s problem with Twitter arises from the fact that traditional journalism is ill-conceived to allow and incorporate feedback and criticism.

……..I’ve been a (television) journalist myself (in pre-Facebook and pre-Twitter era) and don’t remember a single editorial meeting that was called in to discuss feedback. In fact, there was no mechanism to collect public feedback at all.

The only ‘feedback’ that we were responding to was weekly TRPs. There were weekly meetings to analyze what type of program gathered the highest TRP and how to repeat the “success”. And I guess things haven’t changed much since then.

Most of what is being dismissed as trolling by journalists (not all of them, I must admit; many of them are doing really good on Twitter) are actually instant and angry feedback by their ‘consumers’.

Traditional journalism, as an institution, has always seen itself as ‘giving feedback’ to the society and hasn’t thought it necessary to ‘take feedback’.

I remember Indian Express editor Shekhar Gupta’s interview with Star News (now ABP News) after the coup-story controversy where he claimed that a member of Team Anna (most probably Arvind Kejriwal) had asked him whether Indian Express took feedback from the readers on what it publishes (Express had published a string of stories ‘exposing’ Team Anna before).

Shekhar Gupta thought that the suggestion (about taking feedback) was irrelevant as it was his duty, as a journalist, to show “mirror to the society” (his words) and not let anyone show him the mirror (my words).

A bulk of the problems of journalists with Twitter is rooted in this nature of journalism, where feedback is not deemed necessary, in fact, it’s seen as an unpleasant development, something they happily dismiss as trolling.

Read the full post : Why journalists hate trolls

“Financial Times” belongs to nobody !!!

NO one has registration for the mark “Financial Times”.

The recent decision of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) over the Financial Times (FT) trademark, is probably one of the most important judgements in the recent past. The distinction drawn by the IPAB between ‘use’ and ‘reputation’ will probably have an effect on several similar cases pending before different forums.
Arun Mohan, an IP lawyer practising before the Madras High Court has sent us this guest post providing a different perspective on the matter. 
A recent order of the IPAB in rectification petitions for the mark “Financial Times” has thrown forth several interesting propositions. The dispute is between the Financial Times UK(FTUK), which runs the well known publication Financial Times globally, and Times Publishing House Ltd which runs the well known Indian publication Economic Times within which it also runs a supplement called Financial Times. FTUK claims user from the 1948, and Times claims user from the 1980s. Given them being in the same market with considerable success, a dispute was but inevitable. There are also injunction proceedings pending before the Courts. The injunction proceedings however, are not relied nor referred in the conclusions of the IPAB.
There were cross-rectifications which are as follows:
1. Times filed rectifications against FTUK’s registration of the marks “Financial Times” and “FT” in classes 9 and 16.
2. FTUK filed rectification against Time’s registration of “Financial Times” under class 16.
The order at its outset clarifies that it is decided under the 1958 Act. The Order opens with an interpretation of the Hon’ble Madras High Court’s order in the Rhizome matter. FTUK had raised an objection that Time’s rectification cannot be entertained as it was under secs 9&11 of the Act, which runs contra to the Rhizome order. The Board found that given the wide statutory discretion vested in it under secs 46 and 56 of the 1958 Act (comparable to sec 57 of the 1999 Act) it had authority to consider Time’s application inspite of the Rhizome order. However, despite such specific preclusion of sec 9 & 11 of the Act, and its conspicuous absence in recent IPAB orders, it must be admitted that the spirit, purpose and language of the sections prevail across all recent IPAB orders including the present one.
Subsequently, the Board in deciding FTUKs registrations for the mark “Financial Times” observed that FTUK has proved its trans-border reputation, intention to enter India and that the mark “Financial Times” has become distinctive of FTUK. The Order then detracts to say there is a ‘hitch’. It finds that FTUK claims user since 1948, and was in fact referred to in various articles in the Indian Express in 1948. However, it finds that such ‘mention’ is not ‘use’ and only shows ‘reputation’. It then goes on to find that a mention of a 1981 conference titled “Financial Times Conference” tantamounts to use. The Board concludes that since FTUK cannot prove its exact user date of 1948, the mark stands to be cancelled. This appears to me to be a rather unique distinction between reputation and use. It is possible to have reputation without use? It also creates a rather dicey position for holders of marks of yore. To go back in time of several decades to establish exact user date in the event of a challenge is rather daunting. A probable midway solution could have been to order amendment of the user date rather than cancel the mark itself, when there are such clear cut findings on reputation and distinction. In respect of FTUK’s registration for the mark “FT”, the Board found that since FTUK did not claim use prior to application, there was no reason to cancel the same. This causes us to consider that if the Board accepts the validity of “FT” from its application date, then “Financial Times” must have been “used” atleast since such application date of “FT”, and could have considered directing the registry to amend FTUK’s user detail for the mark “Financial Time”. When there is no finding of fraud, and there seems to be reputation in and around the claimed user date, it appears perplexing why such an old mark stands cancelled on a technicality, more so when it’s concurrent acronym is allowed to stand.
The Board in deciding Time’s registration of “Financial Times” stated that Times was aware of FTUKs existence and had entered into syndication agreements with FTUK for articles from the Financial Times. Further, the Board makes an observation that in businesses such as automobiles and newspapers, one cannot claim to ignorant of a rival’s business. In any event, the circulation and sales figures provided would be applicable only to the Economic Times, and would not support Financial Times. Therefore, it also cancelled Times registration.
The position today therefore, is that no one has registration for the mark “Financial Times”. The Boards findings on FTUK not establishing its user date would again be tested in the Courts, and we will have to wait and see if the Courts arrive at a different conclusion in the injunction proceedings. (courtesy: via

Shekhar Gupta should be “more tolerant about what was written and drawn about them”

Aakar Patel, a director of Hill Road Media & a former newspaper editor, having worked with the Bhaskar Group and Mid Day Multimedia Ltd. writes in his column titled ‘Why Shekhar Gupta is right to be angry, but wrong to sue’ in Firstpost:

My friend Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of Indian Express wants Rs 100 crore from another editor-in-chief, Outlook’s Vinod Mehta.

Gupta claims he was defamed by Mehta, who said in an interview to Open magazine that an Express report published earlier this year was “the mother of all mistakes” and specifically written to damage India’s army chief VK Singh. This is the background to Vinod Mehta’s comments.

The report carried Gupta’s own byline, which was unusual. It claimed the Indian government was “spooked” when it learnt on 16 January that certain army units were moving towards Delhi on the same night as the Supreme Court was hearing a petition by the army chief on his age.

….But this was brushed off and the Indian Express was attacked as being irresponsible. I don’t think that charge is true, and I rate the Express under Gupta as one of India’s three best newspapers.

….What puzzles me is why he is also suing the magazine which carried Vinod Mehta’s interview. There a reporter and editor did their job fairly and accurately. The reporter Hartosh Singh Bal doesn’t egg Mehta on, he is balanced and questions whether it’s fair to say what he does.

Also, quite funnily, Gupta sent his legal notice in the same week his newspaper lectured parliamentarians on being more tolerant about what was written and drawn about them.

I think Gupta was hurt by the collective accusation against him and his paper and reacted angrily to Mehta’s comments, which I accept were unfair and extreme.

I hope Gupta takes no further action on the notice and does what he excels at: editing India’s only reporter-run newspaper.

Read the full column: ‘Why Shekhar Gupta is right to be angry, but wrong to sue’ in Firstpost

Why so many former pinups in the Indian parliament?

Jason Overdorf writes in his column On India in the globalpost:

Doordarshan, kept showing Jaya Bachchan’s face during the induction of fellow former Bollywood starlet Rekha. Rekha was always rumored to have a thing going with Jaya’s husband Amitabh back when they were all stars.

India has the world’s worst famous people. They want all the adulation (and perks like unmerited posts in the government), but none of the “baseless” rumors, malicious gossip and catty remarks. But this has been a particularly good spring for schadenfreude.  

First, there was a long-running bit of journalistic comedy (yes!) after the Indian Express devoted the entire front page to a non-existent coup.  (I know, I know: “We never used the C word!”… tell it to your lawyer).  

Then everybody piled on to attack a rather clever, 60-year-old political cartoon in a stunning show of solidarity with India’s otherwise-mostly-still-despised erstwhile untouchables, the Dalits. (It shows B.R. Ambedkar, the Dalit politician who wrote India’s constitution, riding on a snail labeled “Constitution” while then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru urges the beast onward with a whip.  The trouble is now it’s in the school textbooks, and people have decided it looks like Nehru is whipping Ambedkar, even though the Dalit leader is also holding a whip).

And, finally, today Bollywood queen bee and member of parliament Jaya Bachchan (wife of Amitabh Bachchan, mother of Abhishek Bachchan, mother-in-law of Aishwarya Rai, and an actress in her own right) reportedly blew a gasket because the state-run television channel, Doordarshan, kept showing her face during the induction of fellow former Bollywood starlet Rekha into the Rajya Sabha as well.  (The honorable members of India’s version of the House of Lords later denied that Jaya made a fuss).

….The subtext here was that Rekha was always rumored to have a thing going with Jaya’s husband back when they were all stars. In all likelihood there was nothing to it, since Bollywood’s idea of PR is to leak rumors of such “link-ups” between the stars of upcoming releases.  

Tell it to Shekhar Gupta, the once respected editor-in-chief of the Indian Express, who also seems determined to trash his own reputation. … For awhile some folks tried valiantly ….. But in the end it all turned into a big joke, which long-time Outlook magazine editor Vinod Mehta described as “the mother of all mistakes”…

Are Indians oversensitive? Was Nehru really that skinny? Why are there so many former pinups in the Indian parliament? Why are Bollywood rumors always “baseless”? ..And, of course, should newspaper editors really be fighting against free speech?

Read the full column in globalpost: Oversensitive Indians: From Jaya Bachchan to Shekhar Gupta, everybody is aggrieved

India’s 1st 500 crore defamation case to/fro Media: Will it be free-for-all now ??

In MXM India, Pradyuman Maheshwari and Shruti Pushkarna takes quotes from some senior journalists of India about the first every defamation case filed by a Media against another Media in India.

 On April 4, The Indian Express carried a story by editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta with Ritu Sarin and Pranab Dhal Samanta on two key army units moving towards New Delhi without informing the government. Ajmer Singh contributed to the report.There was outrage and denials issued by all and sundry in the government and armed forces. However, save the outbursts, it wasn’t proven that the Express story was incorrect.

…..Those in print may have been a lot more gentle, but a few television discussions were indeed scathing. And then came this interview with Outlook’s editorial President (and former editor-in-chief) Vinod Mehta in newsmag Open on the issue. The headline of the interview said it all: The Mother of All Mistakes (issue dated April 21, 2012). In his inimitable style, Mr Mehta suggested that Mr Gupta was taken in by a story that was planted on the Express.

…The notice asks for an apology and pulling the story off Open’s internet edition At the time of filing this report, Open hasn’t done either and two senior staffers told MxMIndia that the magazine does not intend to do either.

The notice also demands damages of Rs 100 crore each to the lawyer’s clients. That’s five of them – the Indian Express, Shekhar Gupta, Ritu Sarin, Pranab Dhal Samanta and Ajmer Singh. The Rs 500 crore damages have to be paid regardless of the apology.

MxMIndia asked a few senior editors for their views on the issue. While many of them did not want to be drawn into the controversy, there were a few who told us that they didn’t know enough of the matter to be able to comment.

Our questions were: Is the media too sensitive to criticism? Just as the Express, Shekhar Gupta & Co sent a legal notice to Open and Vinod Mehta, can governments, politicians, businesspersons and even film-makers who are critiqued by the media also send notices and ask for crores as damages?

Here are reactions from four veteran commentators:

Dileep Padgaonkar, former editor-in-chief, The Times of India:

…As it is, the censorship of cartoons was a dismal warning of the sensitivity of the political establishment. Now if media is going to go at another section of media, there is going to be a free-for-all and the big casualty out here would be good, decent, honest journalism.


Sevanti Ninan, editor, The Hoot, columnist and media-watcher:

….You are saying the chief editor and his colleague are susceptible to plants, thereby seriously questioning their credibility. So I guess the Express could hardly ignore it. IE did come in for a lot of criticism on the import of the story and the display given, including a critical editorial in the Hindu but nothing quite as damning as Mehta’s statements.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, independent journalist and commentator:

I think The Indian Express has over reacted. I think it’s gone a little over the top. … my personal view is that it’s a point of view which obviously the Express doesn’t agree with but I don’t think that what Mr Mehta has said can be construed to be criminally defamatory. …I mean these are ridiculous sums of money. I think we’ve become an extremely intolerant society. ….I think even sections of the media are becoming extremely intolerant of criticism. If you are in a democracy, you have to give the right to everybody to disagree with you.

Sucheta Dalal, senior journalist and commentator, consulting editor, Moneylife:

… It’s the first time that somebody in the media is suing another person in the media, we need to look at how it goes… Otherwise the notice is also a way of making a point, it’s a way of putting pressure. It’s not just Vinod Mehta, if he looks at what was said about that story on the social media, then there are a lot more people that they would probably need to sue. So maybe he is making a case out of Vinod Mehta and Open magazine, we need to see whether they follow through. I would say that the test is not in the legal notice, the test is in seeing whether they are actually going to follow through, stand in court and argue it out.

Read the full feature in MXM India: Apology + Rs 500cr: Is Indian Express right in sending Open a legal notice?

Poli(tics)wood, like Bollywood

Shombit Sengupta an international creative business strategy consultant writes in The Indian Express

Electronic media has made Indian politics more and more entertaining. It’s beating Bollywood’s clichéd storylines of love, hate, fight, prison, poor man becomes rich man. Indian politics has more or less the same storylines except the love affair bit, making it Poliwood. Wonder why our political journalists are avoiding love affair diagnostics?

We’ve got enough titillating stories where politicians invoke celestial powers to get jobs done. Even Indira Gandhi had visited Ma Anandamayi with daughter-in-law Maneka. A few months ago, instead of inviting investors, a yagna was held in Bengal for getting business into the state. Did it work? A believer pointed out, “Didn’t Hillary Clinton come to Kolkata last week to promise American economic partnership?”

On issues of governance, we seem to witness Bollywood-style histrionics or banana skin slips, where the banana skin can be clandestinely put in front of a politician by anyone with a vested interest. In a one-party majority Presidential system of government where the whole nation elects the leader, there’s less of a chance for Poliwood drama. 

In India, from being colonised by a gun-toting monarchical British political system, we chose our current Parliamentary politics. This democratic government process seems to match the diversity of our Hindu-dominated, multiple God culture where all politicians are perforce wary of banana skins, from voters and opposition alike. In trying to escape banana skins, how much attention are elected politicians paying to keeping their electoral promises? Only when the quality of politics is at a higher ground can there be better governance. Instead of giving us Poliwood stories of corruption, divisive politics, managing caste equations and allies, can we have our elected representatives resolve our many economic problems, and provide employment, education and health for the masses?

Read the full column : Poliwood

Gupta’s Humor Express: After the full-page report, the full-page ad

Mail Today‘s outstanding political cartoonistR. Prasad, on the irony of newspapers running advertisements from the controversial truck maker, Tatra, when it is at the heart of a major corruption scandal involving the Indian Army.

Among the newspapers which received the full-page ads is The Indian Express, whose controversial full-page report on the coup that wasn’t was vital ammunition in the battle between the outgoing Army chief, General V.K. Singh, and the Congress-led UPA government.

Cartoon: courtesy R. PrasadMail Today & sans serif