December 2008 Newspaper Watch



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Sarcajc Research in Journalism Advertisement & Cartoon 

Newspaper Watch (India) for the month of December 2008. For latest newspaper watch, view homepage

28 December 2008

Cartoon of Day

End of the year is usually a treat for cartoon lovers as many newspapers devote full one page to cartoons of the outgoing year. Likewise, Tribune’s supplement ‘traverse the high and lows of 2008’ with six toons. Aaj Samaj has devoted one full page to toons to ongoing stand-off between Indian & Pakistan.

These toons reflect distrust between the two neighbours. Take a clue from the large sized Manmohan & Zardari, both carrying swords in their hands, and their gestures look anything than friendly. What’s up?

Idea Exchange of Day

The television channels have been criticized by various quarters for their ‘irresponsible’ live telecast of 26/11. Indian Express has invited Rajdeep Sardesai and Bharkha Dutt on page Six. Women journalists including Coomi Kapoor, Seema Chishti and Shilaja Bajpai grilled both the ‘media bigshots’ for the readers to decide how responsible our news channels are! And yes, there is a problem! “…One of the problems is that you make a small story into a very big story, or you sensationalize, exaggerate or magnify…It’s not enough for us just to say we are self-regulating…question is of implementation…:Sardesai” A must to read. And for more about ‘five-star hacks‘, read Krishna Prasad’s straight views “ A peeve” on last page of New Year Double Issue of Outlook! He ends- “…establishing diplomatic relations with the rest of India could be a nice new year resolution for five-star hacks”.


27 December 2008

Greed of Day

Despite the fact that sales of cars have been encouraging after the bail out package, Hindustan Times reports under ‘mustread’ that leading car manufactures have approached the Heavy Industries Minister for help. Interestingly, it is reported that the Minister will soon meet the Prime Minister to press for a package to stimulate demand in the automobile sector, which has “seen a sharp decline in vehicle sales in the face of credit crunch”. But where is the decline & the credit crunch? Merry Xmas!

Editorial of Day

A surge in passenger car sales in December and a double-digit volume growth for consumer durables companies provide a welcome break from an otherwise bleak economic scenario. It has important lessons for business as well..Though the slowdown may have a telling impact on macro numbers, when it comes to people, a sizeable number of them , as of now, are unaffected. Companies would do well to look at them instead of crying over what is lost (Economic Times).

Change of Day

The founding editor of Mint, Raju Narisetti, is set to step down from his post….While the reason for his departure is not known, an executive at HT Media indicated that Narisetti may continue in an advisory role till June/July next year when his contract runs out. It may be recalled that Narisetti’s appointment as Mint editor earlier this year had raised many eyebrows because he is an Overseas Citizen of India.….(Business Standard)

Decision of Day

Not so long ago, CII President, Mr K V Kamath had sought a bailout package for mutual funds and NBFCs with debt exposures of Rs 6,30,000 crore. Economic Times reports that government has now allowed well-run public sector companies to invest up to 30% of their surplus cash in stock markets via state run mutual funds, providing a welcome relief for these funds that have been hit hard by redemption pressure…Home minister P Chidambaram told reporters in the past these state-run companies could not take any risks with their investments and only allowed to invest in financial instruments with maximum safety, which denied them a profitable investment opportunity. This was considered restrictive. But hang on, this raises a few pertinent questions. First, is any investment in mutual fund without any risk? And second, what is the role of public sector anyway? Stock market & safe!

Take a clue form United States. "how to sum up a year that has been plagued with financial crisis in every form and fashion that you could see and, at the same time, we have an economy that's just imploding on itself," said Jocelyn Drake, market analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio. "If 2008 proved to be anything, I think it was a reality check for a lot of people." It would be worth to note that Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked the state governments’ tendency to park their large cash-surplus balances in market instruments like 14-day treasury bills reflects imprudent fund management strategy that earn less return. Instead, they should use this money to reduce fiscal deficit. (Business Standard). Why public sector for the bail-out of mutual funds?

26 December 2008

Statistics of Day

The high economic growth witnessed in recent times has come with a heavy price cap- Debt. Gaurav Chaudary reports in Hindustan Times that every Indian owes about $194 to the world and the amount goes higher if the interest component is added here. There per capital external debt has nearly doubled from $104.2 in the last five years. This is not all, the outstanding internal debt increased whopping 74 per cent during 2003-04 to June 2008. Does this really matter to the common man? Hang on, Pioneer has carried a report with headlines- ‘Every person turns economic expert in 2008’. Yeap, leaving behind the main street to wonder its own status in growth euphoria and subsequent claims for corporate bailout of so called recession? But there is no recession in India. This is further proved by the front page of Economic Times- “X mas Cheer”. The double digit high sales figures of consumer durables including of cars is no indication of any slow down, forget recession. “As if to makes amends for their no-show in Diwali, consumers have returned to droves to shops, spreading the Xmas cheer and lifting the spirits of companies”. Still the auto dealers are demanding benefit of excise cut on inventories (Times of India).

In contrast the Americans have curbed their spending as their income has declined. “household finances are still tight and consumers are attempting to repair their balance sheets by saving more. The saving rate will trend higher ,at the expense of spending”, remarked Sweet, a senior economist with Moody’s (Hindu). Take a stroll in any flashy mall in India and witness the quest of the Indian consumer to spend, spend & spend, like there is no tomorrow. No zeal to save or to donate for the poor. ‘Is there any poor here?’, asked a few NRIs in government owned swanky shopping emporium located at Janpath in Delhi.

A pointer- Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), a public sector giant, splurged on beauty treatment and massages for oil honchos and their spouses during meetings in the tourist report in the Himalayas! Must to read - “ONGC’s lavish meets” (Mail Today). The growth story continues, but whose growth?


25 December 2008

Lure of Day

The advertisement on the front page of Economic Times is definitely eye-catching. Take a look at its punch line- “The food of the Gods and other top management”. What is being featured here? A Chocolate of a reputed brand! “the cocoa plant’s botanical name….means ‘food of the gods and when this cocoa tuens to Bournville, the divine connotations go up significantly…You break it like it were bad news-gently….get lost in the aroma…Lastly ask yourself “Have I earned it?’ If the answer is yes, welcome….” But what if the answer is no? The ad gives no clues for this one! This would be crucial for sacked workers who will not earn and for whom the government is thinking of doling out dole for a year, instead of six months. Incidently, this news report is just next to this chocoa ad! What if this chocolate does not taste like - “ food of Gods”? Hey, do you know what is the food of the Gods anyway? Wait, can’t blame the newspaper for the claim of “ food of the Gods”! Nevertheless, it would be important to mention that according to recent decision of the Delhi High court newspapers and periodicals cannot be held responsible if there is a defect in a consumer product whose advertisements are printed on their pages (Hindustan Times).

Know it all

Aditi Tandon cautions - you now have better reasons to think twice before writing or saying anything as the government has assumed the power to intercept computer communications for investigation of offences. It can also access our phone records and letters “in the interest of national sovereignty”. Cool, what’s the worry if one is clean? Aditi points out the issue of ‘breach of privacy’ has not been quite addressed.

Further the Information Technology (IT) Amendment Bill 2008 is silent on the issue of how personal information may be collected, processed,shared and used. And there are many other concerns, for which, must to read -”If you get a mail,trust the gov to know it” (front page. Tribune).


24 December 2008

Media Bashing

The Minorities Affairs Minister has accused the media of “twisting his comments”. Answering a question on whether he felt he regretted what he had said and whether he should apologise, the minister said-” The media should apologise for having distorted and twisted and created a scene which did not exist. I never said what was attributed to me and now they day that it helped Pakistan…It is the media that helped Pakistan” (Asian Age).

Advertisement watch

Is recession around the corner? Nope, if you consider the appearance of ads of luxury goods in most leading newspapers- Diamonds, Gold, Hublot Geneva, Louise Vuitton, TagHeuer, Skoda,Honda, General Motors…On an another note, what’s the connection between a train on the move and a leading industrial group? Check out an advertisement which has come out with a punchline- “Tonight, 35 young men and women will step on a train. 18 days and 13 stops later, 350 budding social entrepreneurs will step off it”. The ad claims that the train will travel across the nation on an “inspirational journey”. What? “Culminating in the creation of a whole breed of young, driven social entrepreneurs”.(Hindustan Times). Point to ponder- how will a train journey invoke entrepreneurial spirit? And not to forget, credit support?  


23 December 2008

Ad War

The two multinationals, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare and Heinz are engaged in war in the Indian courts over advertisements. Reason- GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare had questioned the ad by Heinz that claimed that its health drink was priced above other competitors because of its high nutritional value. Incidentally the ad by Heinz was a response to ad by GlaxoSmithKline which claimed its health drink had more nutritional content but was easier on the wallet than the competition. Heinz had also earlier challenged the ad GlaxoSmithKline in the Bombay high court but had failed to get a stay order (Economic Times). Point to ponder- magnitude of remuneration to corporate lawyers, while the malnourished poor children are no way in the picture, as usual.

Cartoon of Day

The front page cartoon in Hindi daily, Hindustan literally shows fighting between two television channels. Guess what, one is from India and another one is from Pakistan. But both Indian & Pakistani guy are wearing gray suits and red tie. What does this signify? Hopefully, the two nations will not be involved in yet another war and will be able to settle all burning issues amicably. Hey, watch out for the headline of the editorial of Tribune- “ Call off the peace dialogue - to begin with”. Without peace, where are we heading?

Coincidence of Day

Words like hunger, poverty, health seldom make to the headlines in most leading newspapers, unless printing findings of yet another survey. Page five of Hindu has featured a news report with headline- ‘Rahul for an India without hunger, fear’. According to this report, Rahul Gandhi, the general secretary of Congress dreams of an India where there was no hunger and people lived without fear. Turn to page 9, and headline scream- “Indian Rising and the hunger index”. Brinda Karat argues -‘elimination of hunger should be a top national priority. Boasts of high economic growth matter little when such a pattern of growth is accompanied by an alarming growth in hunger”. Point to ponder- is the general election round the corner?


22 December 2008

Court order of Day

The Delhi High court has ordered Center for Science and Environment, an Non Government Organisation that it should not feature articles published in the Newspapers owned by HT Media without permission on its website (Mint)

Cartoon of Day

The front page cartoon in Hindi daily, Hindustan features George Bush thinking -“from weapons of mass destruction to shoes- Iraq has progressed!!”


21 December 2008

Sunday Views

Many have expressed their views on the role of media during the Mumbai terror attacks. Today, Nissim Mannathukkaren has not minced words about the role of media during the terror attack in Mumbai. A must to read. This piece forces the reader to seriously ponder over the role of media. Why? Take a look - “…The coverage of the terror attacks showed that when the media becomes a purely business enterprise, news becomes a commodity, serving the interests of the few. It creases to be the guardian of democracy or the protector of public interest….The recent politician- bashing undertaken by the media hides the deep need for one another…It is almost laughable that the media, after 60 hours of shameless voyeurism, chose to call Ramgopal Verma’s (a director of Bollywood) visit to the Taj as “disaster tourism”…suffering and tragedies of a few elites who lost their lives in the terror attack become more important that that of the other victim. That is why the media spectacle of terror has the habit of ignoring the systematic horrors and tragedies undergone by million of Indians on a day-to-day basis….But ultimately, it hides the fact that commercial media is just another partner in the State -corporate alliance. Otherwise, how can you explain the lopsided coverage in English media about poverty, hunger…(Whose media? Which people?. Hindu).

Cartoon Watch

Series of cartoons have appeared in Hindustan Times entitled -” Celebrating in the time of recession 2008”. It’s all about how people across the world might celebrate during the time of recession. Places include- Wall street, Europe, Japan, Jerusalem, North pole etc. But hang on, the cartoonist has also included Mumbai & Delhi! But there is no recession in India, only a slow down! Point to ponder- Is Delhi & Mumbai not in India?!


20 December 2008

Advertisement of Day

Only a handful of ads appear in newspapers that don’t aim to sell one product or another. DNA has featured ad with a punch line- “I saw the crime, I stopped the crime”. The ad urges the reader to sms or log on to website to report a crime. Point to ponder- why no such initiative by the leading newspapers in Delhi?

Editorial of Day

The news broadcasters association has now conceded that there might be some room for improvement in such coverage and has come out with guidelines for self-regulation that all its members are supposed to adhere to….However, welcome though this code is, this covers just one side of the problem. Sure, the channels may have overstepped in what they showed, but did they always have a choice?….This is a chance for the channels to improve the state of affairs without compromising their main job, which is to bring the news, quickly and accurately and without fear or favour, to the viewing public. (DNA)


19 December 2008

Self Restraint

At last, the television channels have woken up and have drawn up code for self restraint. The National Broadcasters Association, a regulatory body, has announced an emergency protocol of self- regulatory guidelines that includes deferred telecast on live phone ins with attackers or hostages, not showing blood and not revealing security force tactics on the event of a repeat of 26/11 type terrorist attack in the country. Close to the guidelines issued by the Union Information & Broadcasting Ministry. Point to Ponder: Self regulation makes sense, but why so late?


18 December 2008

Ad Responsibility

A glance through ads and one comes across an overdose of celebrities nagging us to buy such-a-such product with misleading claims. And in turn these celebrities earn obscene amount of money. But will this be a thing a the past? The New Companies Bill 2008 proposes to throw the celebrity in jail if they use misleading claims to induce consumers to buy a product. The proposed clause says that any person, who may be only an endorser, can be held for knowingly making misleading statement or making false declaration. But there is a catch- prosecution will have to prove that the celebrity was making a false or misleading statement or representation or he made the statement without ascertaining. (Economic Times). And no prizes for guessing the effectiveness of proposed new clause on the ground level of misleading claims!


17 December 2008

Recession- in or not?

There is a definite slow down in the Indian economy but nothing like the global meltdown (read recession) faced by the developed world. However, industrialists like Rahul Bajaj, who incidentally is also member of parliament, continued to push the government for calling the slow down as ‘recession’. In a supplementary question on inflation, he remarked that his firm was not able to sell vehicles despite claims of India not being in recession (Business Standard). But hang on, he is retired from his top post and is not heading any firm that manufactures vehicles! During the days Rahul Bajaj headed two wheeler manufacturer company, how much did he invest in R & D (read - kept pace with times)? Not much, scooters manufactured by his company did not see any significant change for decades altogether. True, but why target only Bajaj, most Indian companies benefited from the closed economy and kept innovation out of their agenda. Hey, did you say, talk about the present not past! Well, when the economy was booming, what was the growth of reserve capital and how much of it was reinvested? Compare this with growth of emoluments of their higher ups and the answer will appear! Needless to underline the facination for capital intensive growth. And job creation was never a priority for pampered organised sector.

Not only industrialist, even Indian States are terming slow down as recession. The Chairman of State Finance Minister has also mentioned the word-recession. Take a look- “ States are rightfully worried, they need to protect their planned expenditure and create stimulus to overcome the prevailing recession”. If Financial Express is to be believed, the States will be seeking Rs. 200 billion in central grants from the Centre and relaxation of fiscal responsibility & Budget Management (FRBM) Act. In recent times, one has not witnessed this kind of combined effort for tackling areas of development like poverty,hunger,health care. In other words, problems of main street, right? True, but the topic is recession, right? Wait, is the recession really 'in' Indian? Take a clue from half a page advertisement on the front page of the same paper, which comes with punch line- “Let us surprise you, come experience France….know more about its Art de Vivre…”.


15 December 2008

Ad Watch

According to Pioneer - “Babus of the Rajya Sabha apparently believe in discriminating among martyrs of terror”. Proof? The paper cites the advertisement which featured only two policemen who were killed during attack on December 13. According to the paper- “ ..With public money going into the release of the advertisement, the people have a right to know why the Rajya Sabha bureaucrats behaved, well…like petty bureaucrats”. But why blame bureaucrats, what about the no show political leaders? reported yesterday that hardly 10 MPs turned up at a function here to pay homage to martyrs who saved parliament from the terrorist attack seven years ago..” Point to Ponder- Is this the ‘ideal’ way to express gratitude to martyrs of terror?

Incredible India

The editorial of the Economic Times is spot on unreliable economic statistics in India. “..utterly shoddy and unreliable system of economic data collection might seem to further exaggerate the already heightened fears of India getting engulfed by the deepening recession…..The negative growth shown by the index of industrial production (IIP) is not borne out by ET’s inquiry with big consumer good companies that have well over 10% production and sales growth in October…It does not help at all if faulty data ends up exaggerating the gloom in the economy.” . However the editorials of Hindustan Times, Asian Age have not bothered to look into depth about reliability of recently released statistics and have taken the data on its face value.“ The totally negative industrial production figures for October - down to 0.4 per cent, the lowest in 15 years- should not have come as a surprise…” (Asian Age). “ Industry has just sent our policy makers the loudest wake up call in the ongoing economic crisis, A quarter of the economic wobbled in October, with manufacturing output shrinking by 1.2%…consumer goods declined by 2.3%…” (Hindustan Times). Surprisingly, the editorial ends by advocating for “corporate India and ordinary households are a better bet than the government. Recovery lies in enhancing their spending power, principally through tax cut and cheaper credit. ASAP”. Not a word about government investment in infrastructure- a key to stimulate economic recovery. What is rationale of maintaining artificial high growth rates of non-core sectors at the cost of the tax payer’s money? What about the state of the unorganised sector which employs the majority of Indians? Not a word about encouraging this labour intensive, low capital based unorganised sector in any newspaper. Now is the show time for small but poweful organised sector and here comes the goodie bag! Take a clue from the news report that has appeared in Times of India. Himanshi Dhawan reports that the government is considering sops for the hospitality and travel sector which includes free air travel and accommodation. Is this a hint of more freebies to come - free food, free taxis, free gifts, free jewels, free cloths, free house...? All free to generate demand and attain unsustainable economic recovery! Did you ask, why this special treatment only for international travelers, why not for domestic ones also? The whole country will love to travel! Hey, hold on, where are opponents of subsidies & unplanned expenditure? God save the Government Finances and the ‘Incredible India”!


14 December 2008

A New launch

At the time when the newspapers in America are in dark times, DNA, Mumbai's second largest English daily has launched its sixth edition in Bangalore today. “The new edition helps DNA to extend its editorial strengths geographically while opening up a range of options for national and regional advertisers. Printed at a state-of-the-art press in Jigni, DNA's Bangalore edition was conceptualized, manned, and produced in less than four months….This is the fastest rollout of new editions in the history of the English newspaper industry in India. DNA's Bangalore press is unique not only because it can print high-quality images at high speeds, but because it can print gatefolds — something only magazines have been able to do so far. Advertisers can print 32-column ads, giving them a wider array of options….” (DNA. Mumbai edition). The Bangalore edition of DNA has printed its pledge to city of Bangalore on its first page, which begins- “ It is with great sense of anticipation and commitment that DNA dedicated itself to Bangalore, gateway to south India and the silicon valley…”

Media Coverage ‘attacked’

Is the word ‘attack’ becoming yet another word that frequently appears now-a -days? Venkatesan reports that “CJI (Chief Justice of India) attacks the media coverage of terror attacks”. According to the Chief Justice- Bal Krishnan -" The symbolic impact of terrorists attacks on the minds of ordinary citizens has also been considerably amplified by the role o pervasive media coverage. In India the proliferation of 24-hour news channels and the digital media has ensured that quite often some disturbing images and statements reach a very wide audience”.


13 December 2008

Concern of Day

When the leading economists are head over heals over the effect of global meltdown, not many have spared a minute about ‘hunger’. You mean ‘Hunger’ caused by global meltdown or in other words downsizing? Nope, take a clue- “Hunger is keeping pace with economic growth. At a time when economy is growing at an average of 7 to 8 per cent, hunger too is growing. The 2006-07 report of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) brings out the stark truth. The correlation between hunger and economic growth is robustly positive — the more the economic growth, the more people go to bed hungry. This challenges the widely held view that economic growth pulls the poor out of poverty and hunger. …The disturbing report, which should have shocked the nation and has lessons for the global economic community, has been largely ignored. While all efforts are aimed at minimising the impact of the financial meltdown, the damning indictment of the state's failure in feeding its population receives scant attention. It appears that the definition of a welfare state is now being interpreted to mean only corporate welfare.” (Devinder Sharma.DNA).


12 December 2008

Full Reporting

The Indian Parliament condemned Mumbai terror attack and declared “war on terror”. Most of the newspapers have carried this news on their front page:

“ Parliament today stood out as a symbol of national unity in the fight against terrorism. It was an exceptional day when emotions reigned supreme in the house normally used to chaos…By the end of the day, the message from the house was loud and clear..” (Tribune)

“ The entire parliament condemned with one voice the Mumbai terror attack …” (Hindu)

“Outrage over the November 26 terror attack in Mumbai that left at least 164 people dead and over 300 injured, brought India’s feuding political class together in parliament on Thursday” (Hindustan Times)

“ It was a show of solidarity between the opposition and the government in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks…” (Asian Age)

“ Parliament on Thursday displayed a rare sense of maturity and unanimity in discussing the issue of terror and adopting a resolution condemning the November 26 Mumbai attack”(Pioneer)

“It was the rarest of rare days in Parliament….” (Times of India)

“ Parliament has spoken in one voice against terrorism…” (Mail Today)

The above is not the full report. Kay Benedict reports that only a few Member of Parliament were present in the session which was debating the Mumbai attacks. In fact-” Union home minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday spoke to a near empty House that had convened to condemn the terror attack in Mumbai…..A random check at 3:30 pm showed that just 78 out of 545 MPS were present in the House…How serious they took the issue was evident fro their behaviour during the debate. While the speaker waxed eloquent on the need for political will and muscle to combat terrorism, the indifferent Mps were seen sauntering in and out of the House…” (Mail Today).


11 December 2008

FM News

The government may soon allow private FM radio channels to broadcast news and current affairs programmes. But this permission may come with a rider-the channels will not be allowed to generate news content and will have to borrow from the All India radio, Doordarshan and authorize television channels and news agencies. (Telegraph. Kolkota Edition)


10 December 2008


According to National Human Rights Commission, the media has an important role in acting as a watchdog to protect the human rights of citizens and maintain a vigil on the government machinery. The Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Rajendra Babu said that the Commission didn’t favour imposition of any regulation on the media & that self restraint instead should be exercised by the fourth estate - “ Though there was some criticism of media coverage of the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, I still think that self-regulation is the better way of control” (Asian Age).

Surely, self regulation miserably failed during live telecast of terror attack on Mumbai. Anita Joshua reports in Hindu that Union Information & Broadcasting Ministry is planning to amend Cable Television Networks Rules to prohibit live coverage of such crisis. Do remember that earlier attempts to regulated the electronic media through the Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill had to be withdrawn due to opposition by the media.


9 December 2008

Advertisement of Day

Christmas is round the corner and the good old Santa is seen with bag of goodies in a colorful ad placed by the Director of the Punjab State Lotteries. Chandigarh. And not surprisingly, the goodies in Santa’s bag are lottery tickets! The punch line of this ad is - “ Santa too, has agreed, that if you want to become Lakhpati then, gotta to test luck in Lottery!”. Poor Santa had no choice but to agree, right copywriter? Point to ponder- why should the State be issuing and selling Lottery tickets in the land of Mahatma Gandhi?

In contrast, the Advertisement by Taj Hotel. Mumbai has stood apart from the crowd with a emotional punch line- “ I have held my ground as human history has unfolded in its timeless procession of laughter and tears. Courage and cowardice, good and evil. I will prevail”.

Whose victory?

The headline of Times of India shouts -“Cong wins semis 3-2” . Rightly so as the Congress party has managed to win Assembly elections in Delhi, Rajasthan, Mizoram while opposition party has managed only two States. Hang on the same page an advertisement has appeared with related punch line- “ Voted Unanimously”. Is this ad related to the election results? Nope, the featured product is a can of Flavoured Pan Masala as “ World’s largest selling premium Pan Masala!”


8 December 2008

Editorial of Day

“ The reported decision of the Indian navy to sue specific newspapers as a consequence of the acrid debate on the coverage of the Mumbai attack is regrettable. Admiral Sureesh Mehta has more than a point when he called for a code to regulate live coverage of security operations….Certainly a code for conduct, a list of dos and don’ts for news channels in times of war ….is a priority. However this will not be achieved if the Navy chief shoots his mouth, blames particular reporters and particular media outlets…lectures journalists at Press conferences, threatens to ‘chop off their heads’ and then asks his legal officers to sue…Media is a symptom of this cavalier attitude towards terrorism. Is it the disease?” (Pioneer). Point to ponder- what on the earth happened to the concept of “Self Regulation” during live coverage of Mumbai attacks?

BBC & Sorry

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has expressed apology over its wrong reporting that six people were killed in a shootout at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport The head of BBC’s newsroom -“…Clearly, we shouldn’t have given the reports the weight that we did, and I regret that we did so….At the time we believed them to be correct on the basis of information received by a BBC reporter on the ground, but we should have continued with further checks before going as far as we did”.

7 December 2008

Benefactor of Day

Shahnaz Hussain is a true queen of Beauty as well Generosity. Mail Today carries a photograph which shows her giving a cheque of 2.5 lakh to Kuldeep Singh. She has also offered to give beautician’s training to his wife- free of cost, so that after completion of this training she can be employed in any of her franchise. This is not all- “I will try my best to get him the best medical treatment possible so that he gets his eyesight back and is able to see his son Deepak”. Remember, Kuldeep had lost his vision and fingers in bomb blast when he threw a bag containing bomb outside bus to save passengers. That was 29 October 2005. Since then he has been running from pillar to post to get his medical bills reimbursed but in vain. Hats off to Shahnaz Hussain for coming forward for Kuldeep’s help. But apathy towards ‘heroes’ still continues. Times of India reports that no help is coming for a NSG commando battling acute disorder. His brother questions- “What is the government doing for those who are fighting for the nation?”.

Comment of Day

A BBC Journalist and author Mohammed Hanif plays both the Indian and Pakistani television media and has penned down- “Love from India-Pakistan” . It begins- “Last week, as the television news channels on both sides of the border turned the Bombay tragedy first into ’patriot games’ and then into ’rating games, I ended up contributing to the hysteria in two TV studios…”. A must to read. (Hindustan Times)

6 December 2008

Undecided & opposed?

The television news channels are still undecided on now to go about dealing with the recent advisory issued to them by the government on coverage. The channel’s industry body- News Broadcaster Association has refused to comment on this issue. While on the other hand, there Editors Guild of India is not silent and has severely criticized the proposal of the Union Cabinet to ban the publication /telecast of opinion and exit polls during phrases of elections to the Lok Sabha and the State assemblies. (Tribune).

Editorial of Day

“...If this is how we treat our heroes then we don‘t them…When parliament or a five star hotel is attacked by terrorists, it causes far more outrage and corrective action than when ordinary men lose their lives in a bomb in a downfallen bazaar…when a humble bus driver is the victim there is no one to heed his call”. (Editorial. A national Shame. Mail Today)


The large size cartoon in Times of India shows three chiefs of armed forces sitting and in front are two men from intelligence units- IB & RAW. The chiefs are shown listening to the guy from RAW- “… and the general public- why do you think we’re called the secret services?” Thanks to the layout, the first line of RAW’s golden words are not fully visible, which we guess are “ Of course, we keep secrets from..”! Why blackout this first line- now this is not secret!


5 December 2008

Directions - No re-runs

The government has directed TV channels not to broadcast scenes of the Mumbai terror attack as it may evoke strong sentiments among those affected by it. The government sent an advisory, including certain guidelines regarding coverage of the Mumbai terror attacks. This advisory sought an assurance that channels would avoid running stories pertaining to recent attacks, which might make the terrorist feel that their operation was successful. The advisory by ministry of information & Broadcasting had more words of wisdom- “ ….News coverage should project that India is a global power which has full support of the international community..”

Report of Day

The front page of Mail Today shouts- “ This is how we treat our heroes”. Amitabh Shankar reports that “heroic DTC bus driver Kuldeep Singh, who saved many lives in a deadly terrorist strike three years ago, is pleading with the government to save his own small world from crumbling….government promised to pay for his treatment, but still hasn’t….” A must to read and act to help him. Anyone listening?

4 December 2008

Advertisement of Day

An advertisement addressed to “fellow citizens” has appeared in DNA. From? The Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Take a clue- “ At this moment, I do not come to you as a chief minister, but as a fellow citizen who is as anguished ….these moments are not the right ones to point fingers and play the blame game…Each one of us can undertake to be caretakers of our city….Jai Hind! Jai Maharashtra!” Is this ad an image building exercise ? Eyebrows were raised after a Bollywood film director and actor-son of the Chief Minister, accompanied the CM as he visited the terror hot Taj hotel. The chief minister has also faced criticism from a section of the media, which said he had gone on a 'picnic' along with son and a Bollywood Director.


3 December 2008

Electronic Media blasted

The Indian naval chief has criticised the electronic media’s coverage of the Mumbai terror attack. The competition among TV news channels to score brownie points reminded of him the ‘famous shot’ during the Kargil war that led to the destruction of an ultra powerful artillery gun of the army. In addition, three soldiers dies and the Colonel who succumbed to Women reporter’s (read Barkha Dutt) to fire the gun for the camera’s benefit was also suspended from service”.

NDTV Group Editor Barkha Dutt, who covered Kargil for the channel as tried to defend- "I would urge Admiral Mehta to read General VP Malik's book on the Kargil conflict wherein General Malik refers to some malicious rumours that implied that media coverage could have been responsible for fatalities. General Malik clearly clarifies that given that the army was using satellite phones, more than sixty of them, and that the rocket launchers used by the army were emitting more light than what 100s of cameras manage together, this was nothing but ill-informed rumour-mongering. Admiral Mehta should at least get his facts right." (DNA).

Now, this calls for a in-depth enquiry- whose assertion is correct- Barkha Dutt’s or the Navel Chief‘s? But hang on, before investigation, DNA has given Barkha a clean chit -“…Admiral Sureesh Mehta, on Tuesday called the national media a "disabling instrument" of the country, and incorrectly held NDTV coverage responsible for the death of three soldiers during the Kargil conflict”.

Unfortunately, Barkha Dutt and her colleagues have continued to air the live coverage of military operations against Mumbai terror attackers. The Indian naval chief had also elaborated on the ill-effects of this live coverage-“…when operations are taking place, you are reporting that two commandos are going inside. They (terrorist) were in live contact with their masters, who were telling them what the channels were reporting…Media is an enabling instument. Today it is a disenabling instrument” (Hindu).

The editor-in-chief of CNN-IBN, Rajdeep Sardesai, said, "Let us not shoot the messenger. This was a huge story that demanded this kind of intensive coverage. There may have been instances where the due regard and restraint was not shown. However you can't tar the entire media with the same brush. The government should get its information system in order and create a proper protocol for dissemination of information." (DNA).

Harini Clamour has not minced words- “A human tragedy became a TRP race” (DNA). Take a clue- “On the first night, there was CNN IBN giving a blow by blow account of the movement of the Rapid Action Force commandos. I shouted, impotently at the TV screen, "They get TV reception at the Taj." The coverage progressively got worse. …Barkha Dutt asked a relative waiting outside the Taj if they considered the possibility of their dear one being dead…Hindi channel journalist…. asked the commander of the NSG "dead bodies ki condition kya hai (What is the condition of dead bodies)"…There is a move to take out a PIL against news broadcasters. I am going to be a part of it. But, as a citizen I have to do something constructive, beyond lighting candles and putting up FB status messages. Finally, how many people died at the CST station? Do they not matter because they are the 'masses'?..Broadcast Regulations anyone? If news broadcasters are going to act like this then maybe we need to look at new laws to govern them.”

Advertisement of Day

The Group Commander & All ranks of the 51 Special Action Group, NSG (National Security Guard) have placed two obituary advertisements in Times of India for Hav Gajendra Singh & Maj Sandeep Unnikrishnan- “ The group salutes…who made supreme sacrifice in the highest tradition of Black Cat Cammando and archived martyrdom on 28 November while combating terrorists during Op Black Tornado….We pray to Almighty God …grant strength to the family to bear this irreparable loss with fortitude.”.

But the Chief Minister of Kerala has refused to apologize over his derogatory remarks at family of slain Maj Sandeep Unnikrishnan- “ If not for Sandeep, not even a dog would have gone there”. Is this the way to honour the memory of martyr and share sorrow with his family?


2 December 2008

News of Day

"If it had not been (major) Sandeep's house, not even a dog would have glanced that way."This is how Kerala chief minister VS Achuthanandan heaped scorn on Monday on the family of NSG Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, slain in the Mumbai terror attack (DNA).”. Is this the way to honour the memory of a martyr?

1 December 2008

Who was ahead?

It seems the most Indians who had access to cable television were glued to news channels to witness the first anti-terror operation of this scale in India. Not surprisingly, the viewership almost quadrupled during the attack. When terror attack on Mumbai was on, which news channel was viewed the most? Economic Times has reportted that Times Now and Aaj Tak were the forerunners in category of English and Hindi channels (Economic Times).

Great, but what were the fallouts? Take a clue from cop, who was the founding officer of ATS in Mumbai- “…Misinformed news channels gave dramatic stories to a credulous audience. One example of unverified reporting which angered me was the versions of the killing of the brave policemen which depicted them as bumbling amaetures, instead of conscientious and daring officers…”(AA Khan. Times of India). More - “Barring a few credible news channels, the electronic media began acquiring perspectives on the terror strike from the usual ‘Page 3’ suspects who know nothing about intelligence or policing. The stereotypical questions from such panelists included, “Why can’t India secure her borders like the US?”, “Why do Western countries have better intelligence than us?”, “Why wasn’t a hostage negotiator used at the Taj and Oberoi hotels?”(Milind Deora. Hindustan Times). Milind Deora is a member of Indian Parilment and represents Mumbai South.

Blame of Day

Yesterday, DNA placed an unique advertisement-“ Enough of tolerence. Speak up”. Perhaps the first time in India, politicians have received severe critisim from all corners. Take a clue from the self explanatory heading of the editorial of Hindustan Times- “ Politicians, shut up and listen”. It ends by rather strong description- “…..Over the last few days, we’ve had the cocker-spaniel look on the faces of many politicians who insist that it’s wrong — and “too easy” — to blame the political class for the mess we’re in today. This has always been construed as a cynical, lazy response from a panic-stricken citizenry against ‘easy targets’. The fact of the matter is that cynicism and laziness have been the hallmarks of our politicians. Politicians should today stare at, confront and act against the real enemy. And please, stop playing the same cacophonous broken record again and again and again”.

Point to ponder- instead of just criticizing politicians, why not strengthen democracy and fight next elections?

Dec09-Newspaper Watch
Newspaper Watch (India) for the month of December 2009. For latest newspaper watch, view homepage


31 December 2009

Media Watch

The last day of this year. The editorial of Dainik Bhaskar points out that leaving behind last prediction of best recession, this year is ending with new hopes.“…Today, all around us is environment of hope and enthusiasm….”. Yeah, hope for the better future is always good, but not by ignoring crucial areas shouting for help. Is the bye-bye to recession (read slow-down) the ultimate end or means to achieve development and growth of a healthy democracy. The human development indicators are not in best of health, fake currency is on the rise and so is the pitch battle of the main street with corruption. Forget the long term plans for reforms in these areas, in the short run, one step that must be taken immediately is reviving the non responsive public grievance redresssal system of all public departments/ undertakings/ enterprises/ universities/ colleges/schools etc and to protect the whistleblower. And least not to forget giving more punitive powers to Directorate of Public Grievance (DPG) and CAG. Yes, bringing the small fishes to book should be the priority for the health of the democracy.

The year has ended with newspapers focusing on one small fish who had managed to get away for nineteen long years. It is shocking that the wife (and lawyer) of this small fish has accused the media for taking up this issue. Nevertheless, editorial of Tribune has stressed that Rathore must get the worst punishment. It gives several reasons for it and ends- “Ferreting out all facts and acting on them with an iron hand is the only way to ensure that no other girl suffers at the hands of a power-drunk fiend”. Yet again, editorial of Indian Express has focused on Ruchika case fiasco. Take a clue-“The Ruchika Girhotra case has already shown us some of the worst of India….reveals how difficult it is, sometimes, to envision an India in which the powerful are held to account. Each of us, at some point, has kept silent, or accepted injustice, for fear that the awful machinery of an intrusive state be turned against us by some insider. So it is that when a case like this is exposed, bottled-up frustration explode in righteous anger…”. Hang on, not correct that each of us, at some point, has kept silent, or accepted injustice, for fear that the awful machinery of an intrusive state be turned against us by some insider. Yes, not all give in to injustice. It is rather strange that one does not view leading newspapers carrying reports on how the common man is still fighting injustice and has not kept silent to injustice. None of the newspapers have initiated anti-corruption campaign. Any guess on the number of small corrupt fishes fishing around?


30 December 2009

Editorial of Day

First Home Minister P. Chidambaram and now the ministry that he heads have joined a chorus -- other members of which include judges of the Supreme Court -- that complaints submitted to a police station should always be registered as FIRs...It is a sobering thought that what is being asked for is that the FIR -which is, in the end, a potent instrument, the unleashing of the might of the law -- be handed over to absolutely anyone with a complaint against the world. Can an effort to ensure the police do their duty merely legislate that their duty be done?…. But dealing with excessive discretion by taking away all discretion will clearly have severe repercussions. Enforcing accountability by statute is, as our columnist pointed out on these pages recently, a problematic idea. Getting more legitimate complaints registered is an unquestioned necessity. But recording all complaints might not be the way to get there (Indian Express)


29 December 2009

Follow-up of Day

The cartoon in Financial Chronicle shows a dangerous looking wolf like creature in a cage. On top of the age is written- “Beware of wolves distinguished as watchdogs”. Ruchika case fiasco made it to the front page of almost all leading newspapers scanned today (Mail Today, Dainik Jagran, Asian Age, Amar Ujala, Rashtriya Sahara, Times of India, Indian Express, Navbharat Times, Tribune, Punjab Kesai, Hindustan Times). The editorial of Indian Express highlights- “Ruchika’s school yielded to pressure - since Nehru’s utopia is actually a babu’s paradise”. Seven letter to editors have appeared in Tribune, all are extremely critical of the manner Ruchika’s case has been handled- “…the law rules over the poor whereas the mighty rule over the law…system of law and order has crumpled…Indian investigating agencies have made a mockery of justice by delaying the case & complaining the investigation and evidence favoring the offender…is this not a mockery of our system?”. This is serious reflection on the manner justice is delivered in the largest democracy of the world. How many Ruchikas will end their lives before this ‘system’ is revamped and faith of the main street is restored?

Concern of Day

The President of India has expressed concern over the ‘rampant’ rise of alcoholism in the State of Kerala and that women are the worst suffers. This news has been carried by Hindustan Times on page nine.


28th December 2009

Advertisement Watch

An advertisement by advertising Standards council of India (ASCI) comes will punch line is bold- “If you think an advertisement is misleading, dishonest or indecent, contact ASCI…“ This ad has been “issues in public interest by Hindustan Times. Financial Chronicle has carried news item procured from agency that advertising ASCI has pulled up 15 firms for running misleading ads campaigns during July to October this year (Financial Chronicle). Why wait for someone to complaint, no self regulation? Take a clue -surrogate liquor ads continue to make appearance in leading newspapers.


27 December 2009

The Telugu newspaper Andhra Jyothy in its Friday edition carried an advertisement requesting the public to watch the channel for an exclusive visuals allegedly portraying Tiwari, the former Union Minister and Uttrakhand chief minister in a compromising position. Today, it has made it to front page of all newspapers. Take a look at headlines of a few-

Tainted Tiwari bows to Sonia’s dikat, resigns (DNA)

End Tiwari (New Indian Express)

Tiwari resigns after Cong prod (Hindustan Times)

Sexgate claims Andhra Governor (Asian Age)

After sex sting, Tiwari ejects prematurely (Times of India)

Tiwari stripped - of this job (Indian Express)

Tiwari quits in the wake of TV exposé (Hindu)


26 December 2009

Concern of Day

Siddarth Varadarajan has pointed ten reasons why criminal in khaki gets away and the last but not the least related to media- “Media and the higher judiciary must also turn the light inwards and ask themselves whether they were also derelict in their duty. The Rathore case did not attract the kind of constant media attention it deserved, nor do other cases involving serving police officials accused to crimes against women, workers, peasants and minorities. As for the upper courts their record is too patchy to inspire confidence…”(Hindu). But why only blame criminal cops? The larger issue related per se to the safety of women and girls. Why do women feel unsafe in capital of India- Delhi? Why do they feel unsafe using public transport in National capital region? Is this not a clear reflection of the state of affairs?


25 December 2009

The cartoon in Hindustan Times shows Santa echoing the woes faced by the main street- “I’m hit by austerity drive and price rise, sorry kids!”. But austerity, price rise does not seem visible in report by Sukanto Mukherjee & Sreeradha Basu in Economic Times. They report- “across the country personalized gifting companies …are cashing on the Christmas frenzy with customised gifts”. Sachin Mampattan informs that the real stimulus to the economy is the big fat Indian weddings and that 400 million Indians will marry in next 10-15 years- will spur economic boom (DNA). Spending so much money for one day! There have been many ads trying to cash in Christmas but best ad of the day is by Aircel which features a X’mas tree with punch line- “This festive season let’s fill those lonely with love. Donate your old mobiles to old age homes”. This seems to be close to the editorial of Financial Chronicle which points to the true spirit of Christmas- “The spirit of Christmas lies undoubtedly in giving. Not accumulating, Hoarding does not make a man rich but improvises and enslaves him…Small wonder, Mahatma Gandhi who was so influenced by Christ’s life…he trod the path of giving the self in service”.


24 December 2009

Special of Day

The Christmas effect is showing on cartoon and advertisement in leading newspapers. The supplement of DNA (Mumbai) informs that X’mas spirit has gripped B town. Most hospitality advertisements highlight Christmas- “Christmas carnival, Christmas special”. while others focus on Christmas shopping! Yes, there is no sight of any slow down, take a clue of the festive spirit at one of the leading shopping mall in the Delhi region. SARCAJC exclusive.

Concern of Day

The front page of Indian Express informs that the Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge, who ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the Ruchika Girhotra molestation and suicide case, said that Ruchika hasn't got justice yet but not much can be done against ex-Haryana DGP S P S Rathore at so late a stage. More to come- Indian Express informs that from the school that dismissed Ruchika -- after she complained that ex-Haryana DGP S P S Rathore had molested her -to politicians and officers who scripted her and her family's nightmare that followed, all fumbled for answers when the newspaper asked them to explain their stand on the verdict. Editor-in-chief of Indian Express, Shekhar Gupta has asked in National Interest- “If Ruchika was your daughter”. Page nine of the newspaper is devoted to Ruchika verdict. Many editorial of newspapers have come down heavily. Take a look at a few:

If ever there was a travesty of justice this was it. Former Haryana inspector-general of police, S P S Rathore, has got away with a six-month sentence and a fine of Rs 1,000 for molesting a teenager, Ruchika Girhotra, who was driven to commit suicide three years later. Whats more the sentence by the special court was handed 19 years after the molestation incident took place…The story of people in powerful places trying to suppress evidence or abort justice is sickeningly familiar. How often have we seen politicians or senior government officials using their clout to subvert justice…This case yet again highlights the need for speedy dispensation of justice and protection for the victim and key witnesses. More importantly it highlights the urgency of drafting legal provisions to treat abuse of children as a special category and to penalise it stringently. Until that happens we might continue to see tragedies of the sort that forced a teenager to take her life, and for monsters who molest children to roam free (Times of India)

It is shame that crime against young girl is taken so lighted and instead harasses the Victim (14 year old girl) & her family so much that she is forced to commit suicide, Our society is no stranger to criminality emanating from high places. Indeed, those who yeild power & influence are known to crack the networks to break the law and then again to shield themselves…This is a good moment to think of overhauling the laws that deal with the most vulnerable sections of our society at the social or economic level, especially children and women. No less necessary is to break the binds that make justice the slowest moving machine in the country. A democracy in which speedy justice is not available will one day sow the seed of its own throw…” (Asian Age)

One of the most nauseating pictures on television these days is that of a retired Haryana director-general of police, SPS Rathore, who is seen coming out smiling out of a court complex after being convicted in a case of molestation of a teenaged girl..Indeed, one could be mistaken in believing that Rathore was actually mocking at the criminal justice system which, after 19 long years, had let him off with an equivalent of a rap on his knuckles for the heinous crime of child molestation. After all, six months and a fine of Rs one thousand is no punishment for a criminal-cop whose act drove his victim, fourteen years old when he molested her, to commit suicide three years later due to her and her family's constant harassment and vilification…The society must find ways to teach criminals like Rathore a salutary lesson. (Free Press Journal)

Point to ponder- why safety of women and young girls are not a priority for the largest democracy of the world? Why is there no speedy justice for the main street and why corruption that amounts to blatant abuse of power allowed to prosper? This brings into light dysfunctional public grievance redressal system. Yes, there is an urgent need to make it responsive and efficient for the welfare of the main street. Let the corrupt be exposed and shamed. Is anyone listening?

Media Watch

The front page of Tribune informs that editors guild of India has expressed shock and serious concern at increasing number of reports of publication or broadcasting of ‘paid news’ by some newspapers and television channels especially during recent elections. The statement issued by the guild called on publishers, editors and journalist to fight the menace of commercialization and bartering of self-respect of the media. But did not educate - ‘how’! Can a poor journalist alone stop this trend which is been run through a number of players? According to P. Sainth- “well known PR firms, professional designers and ad agencies served the richer parties and candidates. They made up “news” items in the standard font and sizes of the desired newspaper and even “customized” the items to make them seem exclusive in different publications..”(Hindu). Today, the Gurgaon supplement of Hindustan Times carries on page four three write-ups on educational institutions that are a must to read to know their direction! Read on top corner of this page- “Hindustan Times Live Media Marketing Initiative”!


23 December 2009

Editorial of Day

Given our colonial past, it is perhaps not surprising that we react quite badly to criticism from the West. However, it is not necessary, even wise, to constantly take umbrage. The recent survey by the Pew Research Centre, an American think tank, has found that India is next only to Iraq when it comes to social hostility and religious discrimination…Are there any lessons to be learnt? It is not necessary to point out that American society has its own problems: of course it does…When Mahatma dismissed Katherine Mayo's Mother India as a "drain inspector's report", he was outraged that she had reduced India to its parts rather than look at the sum. Yet, he had to acknowledge that the faults she pointed out also bothered him. We need to look at international assessments of ourselves with the maturity and good sense of a civilised society (DNA).


22 December 2009

Concern of Day

The Indian economy seem to be on the rise and booming. Most financial newspapers inform that payment of advance tax by leading corporates has increased by 44 percent in Q3, portending higher corporate earnings. However, that apart from quest for growth, is there any other consideration in light? The prevailing high food prices are beyond economic theory. Badarinath informs on the front page of Financial Chronicle that intelligence agencies have warned that food prices may play havoc by March in the country. But yesterday, Mandakini Raina had informed on the front page of Financial Chronicle that worst may be over on food price front. The cartoon on the front page of the same newspaper says it all. It shows two people holding place cards. One is holding - “economy to grow 7.75 pc” while other holds- “food inflation”. The latter asks the obvious- “Our gross domestic woes don’t get counted?”


21 December 2009

Advertisement Watch

The punch line of advertisement by Times Now (television channel) questions- “What does it take to be the most watched English news channel week after week?”. While punch line of the advertisement by Famina (magazine) features a marriage Analysis report! Read on - “Traces of the man I though you’d be -73%. Traces of the woman I thought I’d be -68%. But we’re working on it, aren’t we, love?”. Then it comes to centre-point of the ad - “You ought to know that Famina is now there for you, round the clock, round the year, online at …”. Point to ponder- Is Famina meant only for married women?


20 December 2009

Climate Watch

Take a look at the front page headlines of Indian newspapers on the Copenhagen deal:

After the heat, a face saver (Tribune)

Copenhagen Accord an important ‘beginning’(Hindu)

Finally that happened, which was suspected (Aaj Samaj)

Face saving gets paper agreement (Hindustan)

Climate summit gets finished without conclusion (Dainik Bhaskar)

Before success got spoilt (Loksatta)

Climate summit: saved only reputation (Punjab Kesari)

How Chindia stopped Obama (DNA)

No big deal, only a face-saver in the end (Indian Express)

A facesaver in Copenhagen, scripted by US and friends (Times of India)

Climate accord in place, but falls short (Hindustan Times)


19 December 2009

Advertisement Watch

Timing of roll back of stimulus measures is a guess? The finance minister has told the Parliament that the Indian economy may grow by over 7.75 per cent this fiscal on the back of higher than expected growth in the first and second quarters of 2009-2010. The year was also marked by the revival of net FII inflows with the BSE SENSEX rising by 73.6 per cent between end-March 2009 and November 11, 2009, which is another indication of growth. To meet its expenditure the government embarked on a heavy borrowing programme without crowding out the private sector. It completed a large part (84.68 percent) of the budgeted gross market borrowing programme during April to November 2009 (Indian Express). Advertisements are raining in supplements of Hindustan Times and Times of India. Yes, there is no recession or slow down in Indian economy. Liquor brands are still making an appearance in advertisements in leading newspapers. Page 25 of Times of India contains an ad with “Black Dog easy evening CDs”. Turn to page 27 of the same newspaper, and one comes across Seagram’s Blenders Pride! The fine prints reads- “Experience Seagram’s Blenders pride magical nights events”. While half a page ad in Hindustan Times on page 11 comes with punch line - “Fuel asks: do designers clothes make you look better?” What is this fuel? Not a normal fuel but the ad goes on to tell- “All you need Seagram’s fuel”. The fine print read- “Music CDs”. If these not surrogate liquor ads, what are they then?


18 December 2009

Advertisement Watch

An ad on page three in Hindustan Times comes with a punch line- “Chivalry is a moment worth capturing”. The accompanying photograph appears of be of a photo shoot of a well dressed handsome man wearing a hat! Is this ad selling a camera? Nope, it’s another surrogate liquor ad! Read on the large font- “The Chivas Studio: 18th -20th Dec 09”. The fine prints reveal- “Music CDs. For more details log on to www.chivas…”. The same ad has also appeared in Delhi Times (supplement of Times of India) on page 19, here only the accompanying picture has changed. On page 11 an ad invites- “Bacardi presents the longest new year bash begins at blue…“. The ad also carries a black bottle carrying log of Bacardi”. Next to this, is an ad-“Kingfisher Blue…presents Global groove…“Look at very very fine print at the centre left of this ad- “Adventure Holiday”! It’s not all, more surrogate liquor ads on page 11! Here an ad features a photograph of young people dancing with a punch line- “Fuel asks: are parties in night clubs more fun?”. Read on- All you need Seagram’s Fuel”. Again look at the fine print at the bottom left of this ad- “Music CDs”. The large headline on page 18 of Hindu reads- “Industry captains congregate at the CII’s 17th quality summit to chalk out strategy and notch up emerging global opportunities”. The whole page is about Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). But hang on, look at fine print at the bottom right of the page- “Advt”. Advertisement looking like of a news feature! While page 13 of Times of India carries three write-ups about mobile phone and ad of Nokia mobile phone . The three write-ups look like regular news reports- “VAS: Adding value to the service”, “Mobile broadband to drive inclusive growth for India” and “The third revolution has begun”. But hang on, look at the very fine prints on the top right of the page- “Northern Business Review”.


17 December 2009

Advertisement watch

Can an advertisement, sitting on boundary of blatant apartheid, ensure a successful launch of its first outlet in India? Reshmi Dasgupta informs on the front page of Economic Times that a day before Haagen Dazs opened its first outlet in Delhi, it advertised around its arena- ‘preview for international travellers’ with a rider- “Entry restricted only to holders of international Passports”. Now what does this rider mean? Take a clue from Rashmi- “ was apparent that international’ was used was used as anther word for foreigner..clear implication was that only ‘foreigners would be allowed for the preview. It was not, however not intended to be a case of reworking the old British sign, ‘Dogs and Indians not allowed’. Nevertheless, this controversial ad campaign has resulted free front page coverage on Economic Times, which was not possible otherwise! But how far will Indian consumers forgive and forget this preview ad- is still to be seen!


16 December 2009

Report of Day

There is no iota of doubt that ever rising food inflation is cutting the pockets of the main street. Most leading economists and policy makers blame the supply constraints the most, which has resulted from drought in the country. Neha Lalchandani informs on the front page of Times of India -’Veggie vendors making a killing”. She asks- “Did you know that there is a 400% mark-up on vegetables in the last mile when it travels from the wholesale market - the mandi- to the vegetable vendor?…There is no shortage of food items in the wholesale market….The government’s inaction has encouraged profiteering by retailers…”. Wonder what will be the take of lead economists on this one? Should one now expect some hard hitting measures coming down on food hoarders, speculators and middlemen?


15 December 2009

Report of Day

Puneet Nicholas Yadav questions the low total election expenses of leading politicians The Election Commission (EC) guidelines allow a candidate to spend up to Rs25 lakh as election expenditure during Lok Sabha polls. According to an analysis of election expenditure filed by different candidates, the average election expenditure incurred by 6,753 of the 8,028 candidates (details for the remaining wasn't available) was less than 50% of the prescribed limit. Election observers slammed politicians in Andhra Pradesh for doling out crores to voters during their campaign, but according to what they declared to the Central Election Commission (CEC), the average expense incurred per candidate in the state was just Rs3,63, 053! The corresponding figure in Maharashtra was Rs 3,84, 474, Uttar Pradesh Rs 5,76, 989, Tamil Nadu Rs 2,76, 395 and Bihar Rs 4,90, 490! (DNA). Any external sharp auditors around?


14 December 2009

Concern of Day

Pranab Dhal Samanta informs that the PMO has decided to implement the concept of service level agreements. This will mandate penalties to be deducted from salaries of dealing officials if there are delays in providing citizen services like issuing ration cards and driving licences. The PMO is targeting Delhi and then the Union Territories, and hopes other states begin taking the initiative on their own as many of the services fall under state subjects (Indian Express). Now that’s a positive step but much more desired to be done. Yes, this would somehow tackle rampant corruption prevailing in getting basic services. Why not give sharp teeth to Directorate of Public Grievance (DPG) to impose penalties for any delay? And above all, why not include retirement benefits as a top most priority? But how to tackle the ever rising food inflation which is eating out the pockets of the main street? The editorial of Free Press Journal does not mince words- “..For sure, the blame for the relentless price-rise lies squarely with the Government. In its obsessive concern with the growth rate and Sensex, the policy-makers seem to the increases in the have forgotten the existence of the common man. How else can one explain the triple digit rise in the prices of everyday food items? Even the middle class seems to have become irrelevant in the official scheme of things, for, otherwise, there would be moderation in electricity and water tariffs. Electricity users in Mumbai are among the worst affected in this regard, though in Delhi the greed of the private power distributor has so far been curbed by angry consumers and an alert media. Admittedly, the central and state governments seem unconcerned since the next round of elections is some four years away. However should prices continue to rise as relentlessly as they have in recent months, consumer anger will be difficult to contain”. Point to ponder- why excess money supply has not been controlled by RBI? Why is the apex bank waiting so very patiently for the bubbles to burst on its own? Remember - all this tamasha is on at the cost of the main street. Point to ponder- no lessons learnt from Alan Greenspan?

Media Watch

The front page of Times of India informs- “Times bid for Free: A win-win deal”. Now, what’s that? Read on- “Reading your newspapers has always been a rewarding experience. Now, it also help you to win exciting prizes…Times Bid for free allows you to bid for a whole range of goodies. And the best part is , you don’t have to spend a single paisa!..”. Point to ponder- will this marketing gimmick attract more readers to this paper and then sustain the hiked interest? How long? This brings back the fundamental issue - why people read newspapers?


13 December 2009

Advertisement Watch

The front page of DNA contains a self ad with punch line - “Money cannot buy our integrity”. Read on- “Journalism isn’t about integrity anymore. News is fabricated, not reported. Newspapers aren’t what they used to be. They aren’t reams of paper crammed with truth. Instead they are crammed with advts….They disguise themselves as headlines. As news reports. At times even as editorials. Because each of them comes with a price tag…”. Hang on, why not specifically name the newspapers that indulge in these practice, instead of blatant generalization?


12 December 2009

Advertisement Watch

An advertisement by NCP (political party) greets agriculture Minister (who also belongs to NCP) on his birthday. The punch line reads- “Global warming is global warning from nature”. It goes on- “Together let’s take a pledge to protect the environment & save the mother earth”. The clock is showing time 10:10 & accompanying text is - “An NCP initiative….beyond politics”! (Hindu). Whatever that means! Hindustan Remix Bollywood is 12 page supplement of Hindustan. A half page ad of a retail store has appeared. But hang on, above this ad, a write-up about this store has made an appearance which calls this particular retail store - “A important event”. Three colour photographs of store are also present here! But take a closer look on fine prints on the right- “HT media marketing sponsored supplement”. Now, what does this mean?! Liquor ads are no-no in India? Who say? An advertisement has made an appearance in Times of India with punch line - “Just across from office. But an entire universe away. LET THE WORLD WAIT…relax at Black Dog easy evenings….”.Big font reads- “Black Dog”.. Where-
at a bar! Now you know the meaning of Black Dog? The ad does not forget to mention below Black Dog- “easy evening CDs” (in smaller font). Point to ponder- another surrogate ad in leading newspaper, self regulation (why a lost word)?


11 December 2009

Media Watch

An advertisement in Times of India informs that tomorrow the newspaper will complete 171 years. Read on- “..On this occasion The Times of India pays homage to the very anvil on which it was shaped- power”. Mind you, not a word about role of newspaper as a watchdog! Turn over to page 23, where another ad has appeared with punch line- “How to fly a magic carpet”. Literally speaking, accompanying illustration shows a person on flying carpet, while three persons are watching from below! The advertisement narrates how Times private treaties helped a company- “…unparalleled advertising muscle to build the brand via print, TV, radio, internet…”. What is it private? It seems placing of advertisement is gaining importance over editorial discretion in newspaper. On the front page of Hindustan an advertisement has appeared right in the middle of news reports, without any demarcation border! Its punch line reads- “life without power cut in only Rs. 3705/”. Look left and read on- “Order to cancel passport of Raj Khora”. While on the left hand side read on-”Since 38 years bullet of enemy is in body”. Relax! These are news reports, making it difficult to figure out where the ad ends!

Concern of Day

According to expert group headed by Suresh Tendulkar, former chairman of PM’s economic Advisory Council- “every third Indian below poverty line”. 42 percent of rural population survived on monthly per capita expenditure of Rs. 447, spending much on food, fuel, light, clothing and footware. The front page of same newspaper informs the obvious- “Burning food rates turn heat on economy”. (Economic Times). The high inflation rate of food products is having adversarial affect on main street. And this could get worst. Take a clue from the front page of Nai Duniya which informs that State government of Maharashtra has given green signal to usage of pearl millet, barley and maize (poor man’s food, which is already in short supply) to manufacture liquor. These upcoming factories of liquor belong to people related to politicians- spread across parties! This is not all, they will get subsidy from government to produce this liquor! But what will the main street eat? Don’t eat, only drink?! Recently. the Unicef representative in India had pointed that child under nutrition in India is a human Rights issue. Is setting these liquor factories which will eat food of main street not a human right abuse? Two days ago HT correspondent reported that while political parties have been raising issue of price rise but when it came to question government in parliament, only 25 out of 235 members were present in the Rajya Sabha. Take a clue from cartoon on the front page of Financial Chronicle which shows a well-off man, holding paper- “Poverty line redefined”. A poor man asks him- “could I cross the line this time around”. You know the answer don’t you!



10 December 2009

Cartoon Watch

It seems some environmentalist has taken fancy of cartoon that appeared yesterday in Times of India, therefore it has appeared again today in the same newspaper. This cartoon features politician who looks like Indian Environment Minister - “India’s pledged to cut emissions by 20% to stop global warming, I too, shall contribute to this.” When asked- “ Really”. He elaborates- “by cutting down my speech on global warming here at Copenhagen summit by 20%”. Point to ponder- Is there an underlying message in this cartoon for it to appear twice? Keep guessing!


9 December 2009

Birthday Watch

Advertisements celebrating birthday of their favourite leaders, make frequent appearance in newspapers. The front page of Hindu carries an advertisement with punch line- “Warm wishes Smt Sonia Gandhi on her birthday”. The ad praises her contribution- “Having taken the Congress through difficult period to its present strength. she handles the mantel of leadership with assurance”. Take a look who has issues this ad- “From the President’s men”. What does this mean? Look at the fine print on the right hand side- “ Issued by Hotel President, Chandigarh”. Another ad wishes Sonia Gandhi on her birthday and also remember Mahatma Gandhi -”We were not fortunate to serve under MAHATMA GANDHIJI. We are fortunate to serve under ANNAI SONIA GANDHIJI”.


8 December 2009

Advertisement Watch

Full page advertisement in DNA by BD Corp Ltd comes with a punch line- “Our readership has growth from 32 lacs to 1.55 crore in just 14 years”. The image in the background is of a Big Red apple placed in front of a tree full of red apples, amidst greenery. The ad also educates via statistics- “grown from 5 editions in one state to 48 editions in 11 states in just over 10 years….”. But why? Look at the very fine print at the bottom of the ad - IPO issue in in the wings! Point to ponder- who says print media was not profitable and people don’t read newspapers anymore?


7 December 2009

Concern of Day

Today, the much awaited United Nations climate change conference begins in Copenhagen. Many Editorials have focused on it. Take a look-

“Today 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency. Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation….At the deal’s heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing world covering how the burden of fighting climate change will be divided — and how we will share a newly precious resource: the trillion or so tonnes of carbon that we can emit before the mercury rises to dangerous levels….Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pockets and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and clean technologies to enable them to grow economically without growing their emissions….The transformation will be costly, but many times less than the bill for bailing out global finance- and far less costly than the consequences of doing nothing. Many of us, particularly in the developed world, will have to change our lifestyles….Overcoming climate change will take a triumph of optimism over pessimism, of vision over shortsightedness, of what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” It is in that spirit that 56 newspapers from around the world have united behind this editorial. If we, with such different national and political perspectives, can agree on what must be done then surely our leaders can too…..” (Hindu editorial, front page).

“December 7 is no festival, no special day, no holiday marked on any calendar, much less Indian. But that's the day fixed for a small meeting in a little country called Denmark. A meeting in its capital Copenhagen that will see every country that matters, send its best arguers and bargainers -- each one trying to negotiate over who has how much right to pollute in today's warmed world.…The superpowers that wrangle over numbers in carbon emissions this week in Copenhagen may not discuss Lobzang or his Ladakhi apples, but what's a climate debate if it's not about people? (DNA).

…Copenhagen -- or more precisely, COP15 (the 15th Conference of Parties), attended by 193 nations -- is likely to be a long and arduous haul.. Unlike trade talks, much more stagey, and where one dramatic exit doesn't really scupper global economic integration, the Copenhagen climate summit is a much more sensitive, delicate affair. It tests the very possibility of international collaboration around a contentious and difficult set of measures that are nonetheless imperative to our security and survival. So while walking out in a huff might be emotionally satisfying, India must be extremely careful in how it deploys that threat….Our negotiators must translate all that parliamentary support offered to the government into a meaningful agreement that we can all live with. (Indian Express).

The quirkiness of governments holding Cabinet meetings at the base camp of Mount Everest or under the sea is obvious. Even then, these efforts to draw attention to the danger of climate change should not be dismissed as either gimmicks or forays into an exotic unfamiliar terrain by jaded politicians looking for a bit of change from their dull quotidian routine… From Rio de Janeiro in 1992 to Kyoto in 1997 to Copenhagen now, the focus has been more on passing the buck than on a fervent desire to find a solution. The only progress that has been made is to admit that there is a problem which wasn't even acknowledged a decade or so earlier on the plea that scientists had not yet produced conclusive evidence….Nepal and the Maldives should be congratulated, therefore, for their innovative method of underlining the threat of climate change. (New Indian Express).

…At Copenhagen, it’s the hares who will obviously grab the headlines. That’s been certain for some time. That’s the nature of global power play. What’s remained uncertain is exactly who’s in the lead, although the picture has become clearer over the past couple of months….If Copenhagen fails to yield an agreement, more blame is likely to rest with the US than with us (Financial Express).

 ….Given India’s record and its commitment to environmentalism, it is unfortunate that New Delhi was seen as a defensive player in the run up to Copenhagen. This was partly because of poor public relations and partly because of a deliberate distortion of the Indian record and position by the western media…. No nation is an island unto itself in our increasingly inter-dependent world. The prime minister has to perhaps do more to sell his vision to his own party, to Parliament and to India’s conservative diplomatic and strategic community. (Business Standard).

India’s long road to Copenhagen has taken so many twists and turns that it is now hard to figure out which direction the government is facing….The government seems to have broken ranks with the rest of the developing nations by saying that it will voluntarily curb carbon emissions per unit of national output. There is immense confusion here. It is not clear what India is exactly trying to do… The change in India’s basic negotiating position also seems to have the country’s climate change negotiators up in arms….Manmohan Singh and Jairam Ramesh are well within their rights to alter policy: Politicians do often take high-risk gambles. But they should explain how their climate change flip-flops meet the key goal of protecting national interest (Mint). Surprisingly, no editorial on climate change conference has appeared in leading Hindi newspapers like Dainik Bhaskar, Dainik Jagran, Rajsathan Patrika, Navbharat Times.


6 December 2009

Media watch

Most newspapers report that Indian cricketer team stand close to being number one in terms of test ranking. However Hindustan Times correspondent points out the other side- “whimsical broadcast”. Why- “…broadcast barely gives fans a chance to take in the action. The channels rushes into ad breaks as soon as the final ball is delivered and sometimes returns as the bowler is halfway through his run-up. When a wicket falls, the channel first cuts to an ad, only coming back to show replays when the action is already resumed..”. Point to ponder- self regulation, a lost word?

5 December 2009

Cartoon Watch




Cartoons have appeared on variety of topics today. Global warming (Pudhari, Loksatta Marathi), Water protest (Mid-Day), Obama & Terror (Mumbai Mirror), Dubai crisis (Mid-Day), Inflation & PM (DNA), how to escape lathi-charge in morcha (Samana), politician not service of people but for post (Loksatta). Sandesh (Gujarati. Surat edition) has carried maximum number of cartoons- three on different topics. The cartoon on the editorial page shows Dubai begging Obama for help. The thrust lies in the man at the background. Must Read the fine prints for satire! The second toon has appeared in the supplement for Children, here a school kid is asking policemen to drop him to school. Read why! And the third toon features veiled lovers riding two-wheeler scooter, the two-wheeler scooter is being driven by female. Read what onlookers have to say! The cartoon of the day has been carried by Times of India. Here an officer is telling his junior (who is relaxing with his legs on the table containing a lot of files)- “Look! I am again making a surprise visit here in 2o’clock. If I catch you wasting your time like this I will punish you!”. However, no cartoon has appeared in Navakal, Janmabhommi, Pudhari, Lokmat, Vyapar, Mumbai Samachar, Afternoon Dispatch & Courier, Gujarat Mitra.

Advertisement Watch

One rarely finds matrimonial advertisements on the front page of prominent newspapers in Delhi. Samana (Mumbai Edition) has carried on its front page an advertisement that conveys best wishes to newly wed couple. It also contains their photograph. Matrimonial Advertisements have made an appearance on the front page of Mumbai Samachar. An advertisement informing that Swine Flue is treatable has made appearance in Samana (Marathi) in English language on page 5 while a similar ad has appeared in Hindi language in the Hindi edition of Samana.


4 December 2009

Concern of Day

The front page of Business Standard carries a photograph of Union Carbide. Subodh Verma informs that government has turned blind eye as carbide toxins from Bhopal Carbide factory and are poisoning water. He has not minced words- “Government at centre and state seem unfazed by the unfolding disaster that had hit Bhopal as thousands of tonnes of poisons continue to seep into the soil and water from closed Union Carbide factory…Over 30,000 people in the surrounding low income colonies…depend on this water for daily use. They are slowly being poisoned or a life or disability…”(Times of India. Mumbai Edition). Environment Activist Sunita Narain informs -”we have no protocol for handling chemical accidents, managing medical relief or fixing of polluters” (Business Standard). Not surprising, five days ago, the lead news in Times of India informed of radiation mishap at Kaiga N-power, 45 employees sick. Point to ponder- Why protocol for handling chemical accidents, managing medical relief or fixing of polluters have not been put in place even today? Why no hectic lobbying by the civil society organisations and not to forget the media?

3 December 2009

Concern of Day

Subodh Verma reports Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims have received only one-fifth of the compensation that was promised under 1989 agreement. And on the eve of 25th anniversary of Bhopal Gas tragedy, the Madhya Pradesh High court has turned plea for more compensation. Now poor victims have to approach Apex Court. A cartoon has appeared in DNA, where two politicians are standing in front of Union Carbide Bhopal, one telling the other- “It’s a myth that we need inquiry commission to let culprits off”. Page 11 of the same newspaper shouts- “Black Box of Bhopal” Reasons- 25 years later, stronger enotions tinger on”. Point to ponder- Why the public memory is so short, only revives on landmark anniversaries?

Advertisement Watch

The front page of Navbharat (Mumbai) contains an advertisement by Gitanjali Group on International Day for disabled people. It ends- “..Let us jointly endeavor to employ at least 5% of the total workforce of gems and jewellery through this initiative.…”. Point to ponder- an indirect way of asking readers to buy gems and jewellery?

2 December 2009

Media watch
A Hindi daily from Delhi, Aaj Samaj, is comparatively a new kid on the block. It is known for carrying interesting cartoons and at times devoting full page to them. However today, the newspaper taken a beating in terms of poor printing. Page two is blackened while majority of its four page supplement- “Gurgaon Samaj” is blank!

The Editorial of Day

…The latest evidence of good intentions gone awry is the way politicians in Maharashtra in recent Assembly elections had co-opted large sections of media in deploying black money for enhancing their electoral appeal….Accepting ‘benami’ ads, and passing sheer propaganda and paid advertisements as news to hoodwink readers, revealed the crass commercialization of the media. That the lead in this regard was taken by a major newspaper group should have caused little surprise since its owners have equated journalism with selling soaps, and its editors’ faith in a free press has not extended beyond the size of their pay packets….As for the media, well, given the so-called biggie appears determined to run his media empire on the lines of a soap manufacturing unit, with an obsessive concern only on the bottom-line, it is for its readers to realize how their continued support has led to the decline and fall of the Fourth Estate despite its numerical growth” (Free Press Journal).

1 December 2009

Cartoon Watch

Mulayam Singh’s tailor talk with Amar Singh (Hamara Mahanagar), public support of BJP: a worry (Hamara Mahanagar), reason behind opposition, inflation (Navbharat), improving image of Mumbai Police (Punnaya Nagri), traffic problem in Mumbai (Samana, Hindi Edition), welcome & good bye (Sagar), seven star hotel (Nepal News). Dubai begging (Mid-Day) The cartoon of the day has been carried by Tarun Bharat which shows a young boy being bought to police station. The sad boy with folded hands tells seated policeman that he has not been given money by any party. All he wanted was to show his face in television so he shouted Kasab Zindabad!! A toon in Mumbai Mirror shows two people (seem Indian negotiators) passing by the room of Copenhagen Climate Change Conference Coordination Committee (CCCCCC) . One tells another- “Rich nations never cut emissions. That’s why so much of Ç’- Carbon”. The toon in Sakaal shows a minister returning from foreign country. However no cartoon has appeared in Vritmanas, Jagrook Times, Khabare Aaj Tak, Pratahkal, Navshakti, Navakaal, Mumbai Lakshdweep, Ratnagiri Times, Sandhyakaal, Jancheta Mahanayak, Bhahujanratna Loknayak, Mumbai Mitra, Prahaar.

Jan 09-Newspaper Watch
 Newspaper Watch (India) for the month of January 2009. For latest newspaper watch, view homepage

30 January 2009

Decision of Day

So far India has escaped monetary instability that many countries have experienced due to the global meltdown. Back at home, the recent news reports suggests that non-performing assets of every major bank is showing a upward trend, corporate performace and stock maket are not looking very promising. More to come- according to front page report on Business Standard, public sector banks will soon joined the mad race of profits clubbed with high risk. According to Abhineet Kumar, the Reserve Bank of India is formulating guidelines that will allow government owned banks to get into private equity business. At present the banks can invest up to 40 per cent of their net worth in the capital market. The government owned banks getting into private equity, will this increase or decrease monetary stability in the country? Looking at the Satyam sage, the answer does not invite any surprise. Just to recap, the preamble of the Reserve Bank of India describes the basic functions of the Reserve Bank as: “ regulate the issue of Bank Notes and keeping of reserves with a view to securing monetary stability in India and generally to operate the currency and credit system of the country to its advantage.” A preamble to revisit again?