Daily routine of foreign journalist in India: A guideline

Dateline India: (top) Vanessa Dougnac of Le Point at her office-in-residence. Priyanka Parashar / Mint; and veteran Mark Tully, who worked with BBC in India for 30 years. Ramesh Pathania / Mint

A foreign correspondent is a journalist who covers news for a newspaper/ radio/ TV channel/ magazine/ website/ wire service in another country. He could be stationed in a foreign country working for a media outlet in his homeland or based in the latter, working for a media outlet of another nation. One must be well qualified to become a foreign correspondent. But your growth and success depends primarily on your performance. Your qualification only helps you find the first job. Later, what matters is your work and performance. Reporting as a foreign correspondent not only involves international affairs, but it also entails local stories covered from an international perspective or with a human interest.

The appetite for news from India is expected to constantly increase in the West which will increase the number of foreign correspondents in India. Vishal Arora a journalist who writes on politics, religion and foreign affairs in south and south-east Asia lists down some guidelines to be followed and the practical schedule being followed by the foreign media correspondents in India in his article titled Faraway messenger in Hindustan Times HT Education:

Clockwork
9am: Watch/read news at the log-in service (to access the newsroom) provided by the organisation 

10am: Follow the local media  
10.30am: Talk to contacts
11am: Explore the day’s development
Noon to 5 pm: Cover the day’s news
6pm: Discuss the coverage with the editor and discuss the modalities of publication
One also goes for media briefings, mainly by the government/army authorities. Often, travel to other cities, towns or villages for stories

The payoff
You can earn Rs. 1,00,000 per month as a foreign correspondent (for which you have to spend atleast five to 10 years in the industry). After that, compensation would rise depending on your experience

Skills/TRAITS
* Curiosity – the essence of any form of journalism

* Open-minded approach where you don’t dismiss anything as futile

Getting there
After working as a journalist, for a few years, you can work your way up. There are few journalists who become foreign correspondents quite early in their careers, especially in news agencies. For that, one has to be extremely focused in one’s approach

Institutes and URLs
* Asian College of Journalism,Chennai, 

 www.asianmedia.org
* IIMC, Delhi/ Dhenkanal, 
 www.iimc.nic.in
Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi 
 www.ajkmcrc.org
   
Pros and cons 
* Relatively better paying as compared to other areas of journalism
* RYou get to explore the world
* Though it’s not a thumb rule, usually you don’t stay in one country for a long time 
* Risky job. You may be sent to areas embroiled in civil, military or political unrest

Intelligentsia has let India down: Doyen of Kannada journalism Puttappa

"Gandhiji was a great person who made humans out of Indian soil; it is regrettable that his name did not find a place in the anthem."

Gandhiji was a great person who made humans out of Indian soil; it is regrettable that his name did not find a place in the anthem.”

The doyen of Kannada journalism Veteran journalist Patil Puttappa regrets:

The silence maintained by the intelligentsia over vital issues like inequality and atrocities in the society has let the country down. A sense of insecurity prevailed in the society even as 75% of the population was educated, compared to the sense of security that prevailed when only 3% of the population were educated in the pre-independence period. There are no teachers in many (Journalism) colleges and existing teachers do not equip students for practical journalism…more focus should be given on practical journalism than theory in education and that journalism schools have working

 journalists as their faculty in order to improve the skills of students as neither a classroom nor a newsroom makes a journalist and they should be self-made with passion.

News should not hold importance because of the involvement of celebrities, instead importance should be given to people who make good news. Many journalists are lobbying for awards in journalism these days. Awards in journalism sho-uld be given to only deserving journalists who make significant contribution to journalism and should not be based on criteria like caste and religion. A journalist should have a clean character, credibility and uphold the ethics of journalism.

Veteran journalist Patil Puttappa was being felicitated during the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Dept. of Mass Communication & Journalism, Maharaja’s College yesterday. 

The Hoot & News Laundry : Media Reformists

Media is like a weapon, which if used strategically, can prove to be an asset but, if it falls into the wrong hands, can, in no time turn itself into a cause of mass destruction. In India, media has become one of the most powerful sectors of an industry operating in every possible available stream. Be it politics, economy, Bollywood, a small village or a metropolitan city, media is everywhere. When a common man watches a news channel or reads a newspaper, he is more likely to believe what he sees and reads instead of brooding on the very minute possibility that he may not trust the news. With such a power to influence people of a country, in a way which no other office or authority can do, comes the responsibility of handling such power sensibly by being unbiased while reporting and being exact and truthful. But today, with the commercialisation of media, anchors or journalists behave like judges of Supreme Court and adjudicate debates between famous personalities, putting words into their mouth and creating sensational news, running after the TRPs, not to forget the paid news, and the worst, their behaviour like loyal pets to political parties.

Indian democracy stands on the principle of checks and balances, thus no system or branch should be left untouched. When such immense power is given to media, there has to be proper scrutiny on their activities. With these challenges coming up, some of the responsible journalists and media persons have taken the broom in their hands to clean up the mess before it worsens to an extent that is irreparable. They call themselves media reformists. Following is the insight into two of the most prominent media reformist sites in India.

The Hoot

This website was created in March 2001, with an aim of scrutinising the working of all the possible branches of media. Be it print or electronic media, none is spared from the grilling. This website was launched by the Media Foundation, whose origin can be traced back to 1979. The sole objective of this media foundation was to protect, promote, and encourage all kinds of media. The belief, that by encouraging media, they can protect the freedom of speech and improve the quality of life motivated them to work with dedication for the betterment of media. The Hoot believes that the media in the subcontinent criticises everyone except themselves. This website has evolved out of the concerns of few practicing rational journalists about the recent alarming trends of media. Its structure has been formulated in a way to inspect the issues of precision, censorship, fairness, rights and responsibilities of the media. It was set up under the cost of Rs 2, 00,000 with a business plan to employ 200 journalists paying them Rs 100 per month. The Hoot had its share of ups and down, and in its second year, despite a strong readership, it faced problem in raising funds, since most media or business houses would be reluctant in associating themselves with something which criticises the mainstream media. The Hoot even went off air for two weeks. But now it has come a long way and generates its funds mainly from advertisements.

This website has a structure with different sections ranging from “media watch” (which watches all the actions of every existing news channels and newspapers in the country and criticises them for any misdeed), to media and conflict, ethics, etc. It has a separate section for film, tv and radio. Basically it is designed in a way such that no section of media is left untouched.

courtesy: Nupur Dogra & Youth Ki Awaaz

News Laundry

This website is different from “The Hoot” in a way that it is a bit satirical in nature and more fun to read, while the soul reason for its existence remains the same “turning mirror on one self”. The admins of this site are Madhu Trehan, Abhinandan Sekhri, Prashant Sareen, all of whom are experienced journalists and Roopak Kumar acts as the business head. Their tag line “sabki dhulai hogi” is self defining in nature. They work to ensure that none will be spared. They want to make a difference to the media while having fun along the way. This approach has been appreciated by many as it is not at all monotonous. Innovative names for various columns such as the working desk being called the “dhobi ghaat”, makes reading fun. Articles, cartoons etc are very attractive and at the same time does the job accurately. They not only criticise but also appreciate good work by journalists. This website is still fresh and new and has a long way to go.

In the times when journalism has turned into a business, such organisations are an asset to our country. Such sites are perfect personification of the thought “charity begins at home”; like others in the field, these people also could have given in to the demons of the industry, but they didn’t. They knew and owned the responsibility they had towards the society as journalists.

Peepli live reporter left scooped out by wily editors?

NDTV‘s anchor and one of the outspoken &  dare devil journalists Sunetra Choudhary had been chasing a UPA minister for some time. He’s never been part of a TV discussion, he rarely gives interviews and yet, he’s often the newsmaker himself. His lack of media savvy perhaps worked in Sunetra’s favour as after the millionth call to his people and haranguing them with her questionnaires, she  finally got them to convey her message. When they called her to confirm a half-hour interview slot, Sunetra couldn’t believe her luck.

At the appointed hour, she arrived with her tiny battalion of producer, camera people and assistants to claim her date with breaking news. The Minister had just arrived, and they were setting up, when she was called in for ‘a word.’

“Let me give you the interview like this only, why the camera?” said the minister.

Surprised Sunetra told him, “Excuse me, sir, you know I’m from a TV channel?”
Finally, the minister decided to level with her. “Actually some other journalists got to know about this and they cornered me in the Central Hall,” he said, referring to the area in Parliament where senior journalists can mingle with MPs and ministers over tea. “They said you can’t talk to her. They made me promise that I won’t be seen talking to you on TV or I would have to speak to everyone which I don’t want to do.”

Astonished Sunetra again pleaded, “But, Sir, you promised me?”

“I know but what can I do? They weren’t just any old reporters, they are well-known editors,” he said apologetically, naming the heads of two other channels. He looked helpless, and the NDTV anchor heartbroken.

Now with her headline-hunting dream shattered,  She returned to office telling her colleagues this unbelievable tale of

“how big-time editors were going around ruining opportunities for small fry like me.”

“But why are you surprised?” they said. Apparently, this happens every day in pursuit of the ‘exclusive story.’

Read her full column in DNA: http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column_sunetra-choudhury-scribe-vs-scribe_1681672

Kudos,Pulitzer awardee Michael & Ken gave prize money ($10000) to train fellow journalists !!!

Mark Horvit, for the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization, published a blog post on Monday about two Pulitzer Prize winners doing something rare and positive for the journalism industry.

Besides writing an award-winning piece that gained national recognition and awards, Michael Berens and Ken Armstrong decided to give back.  They took their $10,000 prize money and paid for IRE training for their colleagues at The Seattle Times.

Horvit quotes Manny Garcia, the IRE Board President, “Mike and Ken have always been unselfish with their time and talent,” Garcia said. “They both exemplify what IRE is all about: equipping and training journalists world-wide to produce important investigative work. It speaks to their character and the quality news organization that is The Seattle Times.”

According to Horvit’s article, these two men are the second major award winners to do this sort of philanthropic work in the last few years.

This is important news to include these days. Why?  The news about the news doesn’t always have to be critical, or negative or controversial.  Gestures like this will keep journalism moving forward, steadily toward improvement.  Reporting, writing and investigating are skills that canalways be improved upon.  I’ve re-discovered that just by keeping this blog.   These two men, decided to invest in the important work that investigative journalists do every day.  Honing their skills, and now making that practice available to others in the business through this training, is invaluable to the industry.

Journalism is not only learning about what we report, but how and why we report.

There is a quote by Thomas Griffith, a former editor for Time, Inc., “Journalism is in fact history on the run.”   That would be something difficult to chase without the necessary skills.  Berens and Armstrong are setting a good example in this industry and they are providing those skills to their fellow staffers.  Kudos to them. (courtesy: WatchingTheWatchdog)

New Book Announcement: “Privacy Injunctions and the Media – by Iain Goldrein QC”

Our attention has been drawn to a new book, “Privacy Injunctions and the Media: A Practice Manual” by Iain Goldrein QC.  This is intended to be a practical manual that details how to argue a case and contains check-lists and quality control protocols.  It aims to sets out the law relating to privacy injunctions, and best practice in relation to seeking or opposing this form of relief.

In the foreword by Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, MR he writes

In this welcome new book on Privacy Injunctions and the Media: A Practice Manual, Iain Goldrein QC provides a clear, insightful and, perhaps most importantly, practical guide to the way in which the courts have developed the law of privacy in the past decade or so. The book provides a readily accessible and properly comprehensive route through the substantive law of privacy as it now stands, its relationship with freedom of expression, and the balance to be struck between them. On its own, and given the ways in which the law has developed, this would be a significant achievement and should, deservedly, see this work become an essential reference work for lawyers, litigants and those generally interested in the law … I commend it to all those who are interested in the development of the law in this important area, and particularly to those who want practical guidance.

The publishers of the book, Hart Publishing say:

A string of high profile law suits has drawn attention to a rapidly developing and controversial branch of media law – the use of privacy injunctions to restrain publication of information relating to the private lives of individuals. The purpose of this book is to set out the law relating to privacy injunctions, and best practice in relation to seeking or opposing this form of relief. Such best practice is targeted not just at litigators.  This book is aimed also at journalists who are the watchdogs of the freedoms of our society, and other organs of the media”.

The book reflects the agenda (included in the foreword to the book) set by Lord Neuberger’s Report of 2011 and the subsequent Practice Guidance.

The book’s Table of Contents can be read here and the Preface here.

The published price is £125 but there is a special discount for readers of Inforrm of 20%. To receive the discount order online and mention ref: ‘INFORRM’ in the special instructions field (or when contacting Hart Publishing). Please note that the discount will not be shown on your order but will be applied when the order is processed.

For any queries please contact the publisher Hart Publishing:

Hart Publishing Ltd, 16C Worcester Place, Oxford, OX1 2JW, UK 
Telephone Number: 01865 517530; Fax Number: 01865 510710; Website:www.hartpub.co.uk

(courtesy: Inforrm’s Blog)

Pak media constantly under threats & mental stress !

Expressing concerns over the killing of journalists in the country, media practitioners in Pakistan recently called for better security measures for their colleagues.

“(Pakistani) Journalists were working in an environment of rising intolerance and growing ethnic and sectarian extremism. Staff and leaders of the city`s newsrooms receive all kinds of threats by SMS, email and telephone calls, putting them under serious mental stress.”,

says a Media Commission Pakistan`s report entitled “Attacks on Journalists and Media Freedom” released recently at the Karachi Press Club. The 96-page report has been prepared in collaboration with the South Asia Free Media Association (Safma), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ), ATJ and the KPC.

The report noted that journalists were not provided adequate security by their corporate managers, especially when operating in the conflict zone. It said that journalists should be provided risk and life insurance coverage by the government and the media employers besides ensuring training in conflict reporting.

Urging the state actors to follow a code of conduct that ensures respect for freedom of expression and the right to know in their relations with the media, it also stressed upon the media to observe a code of ethics in reporting conflict.

While calling for a “balance between secrecy and accountability” in the conduct of intelligence gathering, the commission emphasises that “important agencies (ISI and IB) be made more law-abiding, through a statutory framework carefully outlining their respective mandates and roles.” It also recommends that “all agencies be made more accountable through effective and suitably tailored mechanism of internal administrative review, parliamentary oversight, and judicial redressal of citizen`s grievances against them”.

The speakers supported the commission in its call to parliament and the armed forces for implementing remedial measures by intelligence agencies and parliament to help improve relations between the media persons, citizens and security agencies.

About reports of multiple threats to journalists` security in Sindh, particularly in Karachi, the report chronicled the murder of Wali Babar, Altaf Chandio and several other incidents.

It has noted that a TV anchor hosting a programme on extortion was axed by his employer, and sadly enough, the journalist is not prepared to disclose the political party which robbed him of his job and access to information to the general public, because of fear. It has noted that gunmen open fire on media vehicles while reporters and cameramen are attacked and beaten up in the city.

 

Changing Face of Indian Media: And here we have the fourth estate sans toilets !!

The many challenges for the Indian media. India needs a journalism curriculum and professional norms suited to India’s unique power context. 

Attending the seminar last week on the “Changing Face of Indian Media: What needs to be done?” at the Centre for Economic and Social Studies in Hyderabad gave me many insights. In many ways the issues and problems in this area are reflective of the issues and problems across areas in India.

Bella Mody of the University of Colorado argued that India needs a journalism curriculum and professional norms suited to India’s unique power context and the need for research to arrive at what needs to be done locally and that domestic authors need to step up to the plate and write textbooks for ourselves.

Apparently 1960s US textbooks are being used to teach journalism in India. The publishers of these outdated books are happy to have developing countries print these on the cheap and sell them. Cut-copy-paste culture sadly exists in this area too.

Journalism is a different ball game post internet. As it is, having a journalism degree pre-internet is like having a degree in under water basket weaving. While the ethics are constant, it’s just a different world now and it seems criminal to use these outdated textbooks. Indian journalism students deserve better.

It was mentioned that journalists were trained on the job in India in the old days by sitting on the bench at a newspaper while getting hands on training. Now, this training has been converted into a business. Most media houses have now set up their own media schools. This kind of profit driven training is along the lines of the grab money and push them out model that is the trend with most training programs today. With no uniform curriculum this method too fails the Indian journalism student.

Ethical issues came up in many ways. Most starkly in the English versus local language media. It appears that more masala in news is encouraged in the local language media. Infotainmentitus plagues the local language media more than the English media. Very few working journalists in local language media appear to have formal university-type training. There are many stringers whose sole qualification is location. Many also serve as advertising agents for the publication. Salary disparities exist between the English and local language media staff. Advertising revenue, too, is higher for English papers as opposed to local language papers despite greater readership.

All this highlights the greater issue of English elitism and the associated prestige at the cost of our local languages and the many who speak them.

Gender issues surfaced too in a number of ways. A hilarious point was made by Volga, the pseudonym of P. Lalitha Kumari, a highly regarded Telugu writer who introduced a feminist perspective into literary and political discourse in Andhra Pradesh and who is executive chairperson of Asmita Resource Centre for Women, an NGO in Hyderabad. In response to the fact that some TV serials have female characters playing “strong” roles like those of mafia dons. She said that this is no big triumph for feminism and that it is merely because TV can’t afford heroes and the graphics to fight villains. Men are expensive, women are not being the take home point here.

And finally, it was said that many daily newspapers do not have separate toilets for women. Toilets have been making the news lately in all the wrong ways. And here we have the fourth estate sans toilets.

As I said, the problems discussed at the seminar reflect the problems of today’s India.

Genuine News Coverage Media: Print (60%), Electronic (33%) !!!

News TV, it’s time to watch your back ..

There’s a lot that editors of news channels in India need to chew on.

“Who does more genuine news coverage: newspapers or television?”, was the question The Hoot asked readers in a poll. Sixty percent of the respondents to the poll believed that it was the newspapers and 33 percent chose television (the rest were undecided).

From a poll to some scathing remarks by chief justice Vikramajit Sen, heading a high court division bench hearing petitions relating to the violence at the Bengaluru City Civil Court on 2 March. “The bench took the government to task for not initiating any action against TV channels which had spread wrong news about some policemen being killed in the 2 March violence.

“In three weeks, nothing has been done. It only shows lack of administration,” the bench observed. As regards the media, especially electronic media, thebench was of the view that they were only interested in pulling down the rival channel and about viewership.

Sevanti Ninan, editor of The Hoot, confirmed to Firstpostthat 526 readers had participated in the poll – and that’s a significant number, considering the profile of readers of the website. The Hoot is not a ‘consumer’ destination; it’s more a platform for serious and informed discussion and debate on news media in all forms. “The subcontinent has plenty of media, it does not have enough scrutiny of the media. This portal is the outcome of the concern felt by a group of practicing journalists at some recent trends in journalism in this part of the world,” The Hoot says about itself – and that’s why news TV editors should be concerned about the poll.

Justice Vikramjit Sen should not have needed to make the comments he did. News channels created a body to look into issues such as the one that Justice Sen is concerned about – theBroadcast Editors Association. The BEA, which has fiercely protested against Press Council of India chairman Justice Katju’s move to bring TV under the ambit of the council, has done little to look into issues that Justice Sen is worried about. The last announcement by the BEAwas when they issued guidelines for the coverage of the Aishwarya-Abhishek baby.

The Hoot poll and Justice Sen’s remarks should be seen by the BEA as a wake-up call. Ignore the signs at your peril; more incidents similar to the Bengaluru one will see courts demanding action. Not on a case by case basis, but from a long-term perspective.

And Justice Katju might win – only because the BEA doesn’t do what it was created to do

(courtesy: Anant Rangaswami  & Firstpost)