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Fat Steve's Archives

| Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Read More Experiment

So, does it work?



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Exhibit One
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Stop this bak-bak about reader rules, Bachi. Times prostitutes content!

The blood boils when you have a seasoned and senior journalist like Bachi Karkaria talking about how the reader rules at Times. While Mediaah! went to town yesterday congratulating the newspaper and praising the good work done by its people and the vision of vc Samir Jain, we don't think the paper should be allowed to get away with all the bakbakaria doled out.

First, a bit of background. Bachi Karkaria, resident editor of The Times of India Delhi, was until recently editorial director of Mid Day Multimedia. She had a three-year stint there, and while at Mid Day, her weekly column would appear in Hindustan Times, New Delhi. Nothing wrong with all of that, except that it helps put things in perspective. Agreed, Bachi's track record in Times has been terrific, and even earlier at The Statesman, but all of that is too much in the past. Right now, she's RE of Times Delhi, and presiding over a newspaper that's the toast of the country.

However, while we concede that the newspaper was the first mainline national daily that befriended froth and features in a big way, it has also consistently not cared a damn about ethics. Other than near-rampant junketeering and no practised policy on accepting freebies, Medianet is a classic case of prostitution of journalism, and content that is sold at a price is being dished out as editorial as if it were produced by its editorial team.

We aren't acclaimed wordsmiths like Bachi, so we leave her to decide on how to explain Medianet to Times readers. Rather crudely, we'd call it prostitution of journalism. Hey, so what does this make the editor of the newspaper?

# posted by mediaha @ 9:47 AM

Exhibit Two
November 21 2003

Is Bachi also leaving The Times of India?

Time House in the capital has been buzzing with rumours that resident editor and one of India's best known journalists, Bachi Karkaria, has put in her papers. Bachi had joined the Times earlier this year from Mid Day where she was editorial director. Thanks to Bachi, there is said to have been a marked change in the Times Delhi edition with the desired soft treatment of hard news and word play in headlines.

If she has indeed quit, will she also move to Hindustan Times like editor Shekhar Bhatia? Well, for three years (when she was with Mid Day), her column would appear in HT, so there's obviously an old relationship with that paper.

Watch this space for more.

# posted by mediaha @ 9:54 AM 0 comments

Exhibit Three
Thursday, January 01, 2004

Shocker! Times to allow advertising on edit page and sell Medianet

Buoyed by the response the main edit page article on Aventis that The Times of India carried earlier this year, the newspaper has taken a dramatic decision of allowing advertising on its edit page as well as allowing Medianet to get active with some of the content on the page.

According to the draft of a circular that we received in the wee hours of today, the decision will be effected. It took a few days of persuasion preceded by a presentation done by the corporate team of the newspaper, before vice chairman Samir Jain asked for the circular to be sent. Chairperson Indu Jain was also reportedly consulted, and so were all the Sankaracharyas and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Meanwhile, Mediaah! was privy to the entire discussion that was held in the boardroom of The Times of India in Delhi late on December 30. A senior executive present had carried a mini digital recorder that looks like a pen, but can record conversations up to two hours, and can be saved in .wav files and even transcribed through special software.

Read on till the end, because there's a lot that can be read between the lines, and especially in the final paragraphs. We have edited the conversation and will carry only relevant portions.

(present at the meeting. Clockwise from the head of the table: Samir Jain (SJ), Vineet Jain (VJ), Pradeep Guha (PG), Rahul Kansal (RK), Ravi Dhariwal (RD), Jug Suraiya (Jug), Dina Vakil (Dina), Bachi Karkaria (Bachi), Arun Arora (AA) and Vijay Jindal (Jindal).

The meeting started with the Gayatri Mantra CD being played. Samir Jain started chanting loudly, and the others followed. He then signalled to Arun Arora that the music volume can be lowered, and asked for some other devotional music from the Times Music stable to be played in the background.

SJ: So Jindalsaab, what's the agenda?

Jindal then pulled out a patti folder and gives to the Jain brothers and passed on the rest to AA with a request to circulate.

RD took over.

RD: We had this study conducted across 27 focus groups across all our editions on the editorial page of the newspaper and had some interesting findings

Bachi: But that's alright Ravi, the edit page is the conscience of the paper. Right, Jug?

Dina: Yes, and how many people read the ads, one can argue. I remember a United Nations study conducted in Geneva that said that the media in third world countries must carry the editorial page

Sensing some discord, Rahul Kansal looks at Dina and says:

RK: You have a point, Dina. The editorial page does indeed play a vital role. But in the markets where Jug has consented to not carry the editorial page, the reader hasn't missed anything. In fact our readership growth curve on Page 14c of the dossier will show how time spent on the paper has actually gone up in editions with no edit page

Jug: Not consented, Rahul, relented

Bachi gesticulates at Pradeep Guha, and ask him to speak:

PG: The objective is to keep innovating, and not assume too much. We will not effect anything drastic, but it is important to note that the reader has changed

RD: Change is the word, Pradeep. And as your Ad Asia theme was Break the Rules


Vineet Jain is visibly amused, he looks towards Jindal and asks:

VJ: Do we really know the reader?

Jindal: Yes, if you look at some of what my team has come up with.

He asks for the TV to be switched on and lights be dimmed to see the film

Jindal: Please everyone please see these are real readers

Jug (under his breath): How do we know it is not staged?

Bachi and Dina were seen trying to control their laughter.

All along, Samir Jain looked at the ceiling. More than the ceiling, he observed one of the light bulbs in the centre. And quietly pencilled some notes on a piece of paper. He asked for the music volume to be raised a bit.

I was looking at that lamp and wondering if any of us knew whether it was really needed.

Every one nodded in agreement. He then ask the peon to switch off the centrepiece. Three people go to do the same thing.

PG and RK look at each other and smile. Jindal does a thumbs up sign to VJ.

SJ: The issue is that we don't even question its utility.

At this Ravi Dhariwal said a team from IIT Delhi had done a study on the light intensity before and after a particular bulb was switched off. And they said there was no difference to the light levels in the entire room.

Jug (under his breath): I know what the conclusion is... I know it! I know it!

Bachi: Yes, of course, that's unfortunate, but I'm sure I can get a reporter to do a story on this, and how vital electricity can be saved if one light bulb in each Indian household is switched off.

Samir Jain got up at this point. The others also wanted to do that, but he asked them to stay seated.

SJ: You've made a valid point (looking at Bachi). One bulb going can save a lot of electricity. Similarly one page reduced can save us a lot of money.

Ravi Dhariwal pulls out his calculator at this point, and mouths a number to Vineet Jain

VJ: But why can't we accept advertising on this page? Why can't we ask our friends at Medianet to chip in?

RD: Oh, yes, they can do it

VJ: We will retain the page, generate some revenues and get some purposeful content

Jug: But, Mr Jain, you can't have any Karol Bagh shopkeeper or party-type being interviewed?

RD: They are your readers, aren't they?

Jug: Of course they are, but we have to have some standards

Samir Jain then asked everyone to be quiet.

Jindal: VC has spoken to Mataji, she is okay with it. We also met the Sankaracharyas recently, and they think the brand is not diluted. Sri Sri Ravishankar loved the idea, especially when he was told the emphasis is on concentrating on real issues of the nation.

Jug: So you will now have an interview with all those Medianet types?

RD: I think we should be open to new ideas

Samir Jain: So is this final? By when do you want to introduce this, Jug?

Jug: It's all up to Ravi (looking at Ravi Dhariwal)

RD: How about January 14, it's an auspicious day - Sankranti and Pongal

Jug (under his breath): Oh, yes, it's appropriate that from Sankranti we get into kite-flying

Samir Jain got up and said Namaste to all. Everyone walked out with their filofaxes and spiral pads. Jindal then muttered in Jug's ear:
"Everything you said under your breath was recorded, my friend."

Jug: Bugged?

Jindal: No, just taking minutes of the meeting. Also, on flying kites, what do you think you'll are doing now?

He then rushed ahead and walked with Samir Jain to his car.

Thankfully, hic, this meeting didn't happen and the decision to allow advertising and/or Medianet hasn't taken place though one often wonders whether the interviews on the edit page are part of an orchestrated campaign like the Karisma Kapoor one at the time the serial Karishma took off on Sahara with a huge blitz in the paper.

What you read above was an April Fool's Joke fast forwarded to January 1 to get you off your hangover and 'morning after' grogginess. Enjoy! Have a great 2004!

# posted by mediaha @ 9:55 AM 0 comments

Exhibit Four
Saturday, January 10, 2004

Last evening @ TV Today: 3 biggies quit Aaj Tak, 2 leave Headlines Today. Uday Shankar "definitely going". Elsewhere: Vineet J and Bachi walk the ramp

We had announced that we won't be producing an update on Saturdays, but this is a mini-edition to update you on two happenings.

One, about Uday Shankar. News director at Aaj Tak, going to Star News at the same position. The buzz is right, we were told by a senior producer... he is "definitely going".

Uday, btw, is part of the senior management at TV Today Network, and his name figures in the prospectus (the draft at least) of the company when it went in for an IPO last month. For the record, he's a little over 40, has worked at Sahara, SAB TV, Zee News and The Times of India. He holds a master's in economic history has done a PG diploma in journalism.and a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism (info sourced from the TV Today offer document).

Prasar Bharati CEO K S Sarma publicly announced on Thursday that a few people from Aaj Tak were joining Doordardarshan News. Last evening, three senior staffers in the channel are said to have put in their papers. Two have left Headlines Today, reportedly so "disgusted" that one of them has quit without even having a job in hand.

We asked a few Aaj Tak hands, specifically in Delhi, if Uday's going will make a difference to the channel? The reply we got was a firm "no", but an equally firm "yes". Yes, because being the boss, he held the channel together and was a good guide to the freshers in the organisation. And no, because the show will go on nevertheless, and a successor has been indentified.

The other bit that we heard of is about a party held last evening to celebrate The Times of India Delhi's numero uno status. Guess who walked the ramp? Managing Director Vineet Jain and Resident Editor Bachi Karkaria. There was also an excellent display of fireworks.

# posted by mediaha @ 9:57 AM 0 comments

Exhibit Five
Thursday, January 15, 2004

Is Jojo going to be the new Times editor?

The grapevine has it that Jaideep 'Jojo' Bose, editor of The Economic Times, is tipped to be the new executive editor of The Times of India.

Although a section of the ET crowd we spoke to said that Jojo vehemently denied the possibility, the corridors of power at the premier pinky have been speaking about this in more than hushed voices. While his name has been thrown up several times in the past, Jaideep is known to be opposed to moving to Delhi.

One insider we spoke to joked that if Jojo accepts the offer, it could mean difficult times for the suits. The reason? "He's got spine." If the move does happen, Mediaah! would welcome it, and the site can fade away resting assured that the paper is in safe(r) hands.

What The Times of India needs is an editor who is worldly wise (and not a prude), appreciates the needs of a brand and packaging of a newspaper, backs his staff and has the confidence of both the editorial, marketing and spaceselling team without compromising on the core editorial values. With due respect to Messrs Girilal Jain, Dileep Padgaonkar and Shekhar Bhatia, they failed to do the above, and as a result, the Times editor got majorly devalued in his own office. If an editor like Jaideep Bose takes over, you can be certain that there will be much happiness in newsrooms.

# posted by mediaha @ 9:58 AM 0 comments

Exhibit Six
Friday, January 21, 2005

Rapid Fire a la K Jo:
Times for reading edit or ads? Prannoy Roy or Prem Tarneja?

It’s one of our favourite programmes on telly. We wouldn’t like his sing-song demeanour earlier, but the show’s super. Especially the one which had Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukherjee… top class!

We’re referring to Koffee With Karan on Star World, and what we are presenting you now is a take-off on the Rapid Fire round with special ref to our business. While reading this, ‘hear’ Karan Johar asking the questions… it’ll give you the right feel.

Times of India for reading editorial content or the ads?
Ads. They want us to read them… the edit exists to make the ads seen and acted upon.

India Today or Outlook?
Outlook. India Today is a magazine that everyone buys, but few read.

BusinessWorld or Business Today?
Both. BusinessWorld because it comes every week, but we like some of the features in BT

Shekhar Bhatia as editor of Hindustan Times or Times of India?
HT

Vir Sanghvi as editor, writer or anchor?
Writer, esp Rude Food. He’s a decent anchor, but a far, far better writer.

NDTV Profit or CNBC-TV 18?
So far: CNBC-TV18

Business Standard or Financial Express?
BS

Times Delhi or HT Delhi
HT Delhi

Rediff or Indiatimes?
Rediff for news, Indiatimes for everything else

NDTV 24x7 v/s Headlines Today?
NDTV 24x7 of course.

Headlines Today or Doordarshan News?
DD News

Headlines Today or your cable news channel?
Cable channel

Headlines Today or switch off TV?
Switch off of course… don’t waste electricity

Tehelka print or Tehelka internet?
Economic & Political Weekly

Bachi Karkaria or Jug Suraiya?
Bachi

Most irritating anchor: Karan Thapar or Barkha Dutt?
Barkha Dutt

Best newsreader: Prannoy Roy or Prem Tarneja?
Prem Tarneja

Prem Tarneja is a cartoon character…you know that?
Yes, he’s better

Medianet or Advertorials?
Neither. Advertorials which say they are advertorials

Most boring read: India Today or Business India?
Both

Star News or Zee News?
Star News

Aaj Tak or Star News?
Aaj Tak

Aaj Tak or NDTV India?
Aaj Tak

NDTV India or NDTV 24x7?
24x7

Femina or Savvy?
Femina

Femina or Cosmopolitan?
Cosmo

Femina or Elle?
Elle

Femina or Seventeen India?
Seventeen

Femina or Headlines Today?
Neither, can you puhleez move on?

Night Out or Boomtown Rap?
Night Out (on 24x7)

Harsha Bhogle or Charu Sharma?
Harsha Bhogle

Charu Sharma or Lalu Prasad Yadav?
Lalu Prasad Yadav

Charu Sharma or K Srikkanth?
Charu Sharma

Charu Sharma or Item Songs on TV?
Item Songs on TV

Charu Sharma isn’t that bad!
Next question?

Well, that’s what we have for today… we’ll be back again soon with another round of Rapid Fire.

# posted by mediaha @ 10:00 AM

Exhibit Seven
Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Don’t allow Filmfare Awards to happen, Shiv Sena tells Mah govt. Deputy CM Patil agrees, says Manikchand should not be associated with awards

All these years of sucking up to Bhabhiji Smita Thackeray have been for naught.

According to a report on Rediff.com, the Shiv Sena yesterday asked the Maharashtra government to “withhold permission” to the holding of the Filmfare Awards sponsored by the Manikchand group in view of the “alleged links” of the latter’s chief with the underworld.

“The owner of Manikchand group, Rasiklal Dhariwal, is accused of having connections with the underworld and he is a traitor who has fled the country," leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly and former Chief Minister Narayan Rane told reporters in Mumbai, Rediff reports..

What’s more important is that Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister, R R Patil, who btw has a Surf Excel-clean image in the State, has backed the Sena claim. "We are of the opinion that name of Manikchand should not be associated with Filmfare awards."


What next now?


1. Filmfare uses the Bhabhiji card. Having invited her to present at least one big award every year, she can take the bosses to Saheb, Bal T. He may just give in.

2. The chief organiser of the show, A N Parigi, is the ‘samdhi’ of Suresh Kalmadi, Pune MP and head of the Indian Olympic Committee (Parigi’s son is married to Kalmadi’s brother’s daughter). So Mr P can get Mr K to put in a good word with Madame Sonia and do the needful

3. The BBC is part-owner of the Filmfare brand. Mr Vineet Jain could speak to the BBC who in turn could get Tony Blair and George Bush as well as their friends in the United Nations to influence India to not cancel the awards. Mr Narayan Rane and Mr R R Patil will get a fellowship to study the working of local governments in 10 cities of the United States and United Kingdom – including miscellaneous tourist spots like Disney, Universal Studios, Niagra Falls, Buckingham Palace and Las Vegas. A special screening of Shwaas, the movie which is the Pride of Maharashtra, will also be organised for the White House and House of Commons.

4. Think of a 360 degree idea for this year’s Filmfare Awards. Conduct it in Bhutan. No one will crib there, and the King will only to be happy given the tourism potential.

Okay, enuff of creative writing. We think the Filmfare Awards organisers are in a spot. It should be interesting to see how Messrs Jain, Parigi and Co draw up the screenplay for this rather slippery soap opera.

# posted by mediaha @ 10:02 AM

Exhibit Eight
This was the item om the rumor about the TOI's tie up with Reuters for news, which also mentioned Sunil Lulla. Unfortunately this had already been deleted from Mediaah before we could get our hands on it. Anybody who has a copy, please feel free to post it in the comments.

# posted by mediaha @ 10:05 AM



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