September 28, 2006

Manipulated media

A 22 year old Oxford graduate and aspiring journalist, Willem Marx, had a stint in Baghdad as an intern in a US PR firm. Which resulted in a lengthy, but engaging, account of how the US forces make/fake news for media consumption. Willem interned with a PR-firm that processed military-fed material into news reports and features and flogged them, as reports sourced from ‘independent’ agencies, to Iraqi media - print, TV and radio.

The media was paid for their publication. A newspaper charges anything from $50 to $1.500 a piece. TV and radio commanded a much higher fee.

The PR company made millions. Its total earnings during the two months of Willem's internship was $19 mill. The company got $ 20,000 for every news story it placed in the Iraqi media. Placement of 32-op-ed articles and 80 half-page advertisement fetched $400,000. Plastering Baghdad with 140,000 posters meant another $400,000. The company also designed nine Internet news sites (for $2,500 each) and produced five DVDs ($ 580,000).

Willem Marx article, a must-read for reporters and other media-related folk, appears in AlterNet

Back to

September 23, 2006

Celebration of dancers

My friend Vibuti Jain of Wonderweb sends me loads of photos on a wide range of subjects. the one on the left is from the set of 12 pictures he sent me under the heading - Celebration of dancers.

September 21, 2006

Coping with your in-laws situation

I don’t watch saas-bahu serials on TV. Presumably, they typecast saas as the devil-in-residence; and a bahu as the tormented underdog. Pa-in-law (sasur) is usually painted as a well-intentioned, but good-for-nothing, guy, and the prime ‘yes-man’ in the household.

Richa Pant in a feature articulates here thoughts on how a woman could handle in-laws, for maxing domestic harmony. Maybe there is nothing in the piece that you don’t know about already. But then it is the kind of theme that you would want to read about, if only to self-rate yourself in Richa’s 9-pont scale. The article is mainly for women who can’t ‘escape’ in-laws trouble, by staying away from saas.

Part II of Richa’s article deals with the husband’s perspective on marriage and in-laws.

How about a piece on the in-laws perspective, Ms Pant ?

September 19, 2006

Lalu at IIM-A

My thought on seeing the newspaper headline was: ‘What was he doing in a place like that?’. I could not quite place our top entertainer-politician in a sober setting of a management class-room . Besides, my perception (I stand corrected) of our rail minister was that he probably knew about cows, rather than issues of high management of railways.

I was mistaken. In his interaction with management students at Ahmedabad Mr Lalu Prasad impressed the gathering with his plans for the railways. What’s more, the rail minister told the IIM students a thing or two about cows as well. A Jersey cow, he says, falls sick, if she is not milked fully. So would the railways, if their full potential for development is not tapped.

The minister spoke of his dreams of developing our railway stations to global standards - with shopping malls, large parking lot, transit hotel and all. He makes sense with his suggestion that access to platforms should be restricted only to passengers. Apart form security concerns, the ban on visitor entry to platforms would make them far less congested.

As a security measure, the move for passengers-only platform would have merit, only if the ban on visitors is backed by proper arrangement, at the platform entry, for security check of both passengers and their baggage (x-ray screening). However, provision can be made for allowing in visitors who come to see off elderly passengers, needing help in boarding a train.
Railway stations in future would look more like airports. Hopefully, with no entry fee, for access of visitors. to the lobby, the mall and areas other than the security-cordoned railway platforms. Airports would also so well to scrap entry fee to arrival/departure lounges. Aviation minister, Mr Praful Patel, should take a leaf from the rail minister.

September 17, 2006

Damned by Debt Relief

In June 2005 the finance ministers of the G8 industrialised nations struck a deal worth a seemingly whopping US$72billion that cancelled the debt of 18 of the poorest countries in the world, 14 of them in Africa.

So how’s that working out for those on the receiving end, for those who live in the poor African countries that have been liberated from debt? ‘It is rubbish. It stinks. This debt relief is making things worse.’ says DeRoy Kwesi Andrew, a science teacher and BA student in his twenties who lives in Accra, Over the past year he has been working on the film Damned by Debt Relief, a scathing critique of the economic and political straitjacket imposed on the poor countries that signed up for debt relief.

‘Debt relief has taken away very much: our independence, our ability to develop, our self-respect

it has meant the country being forced to submit to more stringent international regulation of its spending habits and priorities, Says Andrew. ‘It does not deliver development and it also denies us the freedom to pursue development.

The post-G8 debt relief programme ties poor countries into a relationship of child-like dependency with international institutions.

They tell Third World countries how to run their affairs, prioritise their investments and they insist on regular check-ups to make sure these countries are adhering to ‘good policy performance’
In order to win debt repayment or relief Third World countries must agree to mould their political and economic life – the very lifeblood of sovereign states – around the diktats of Western governments and banks.

From Spiked interview with Ghanaian teacher and film maker.

Toxic childhood

A letter in London's Daily Telegraph, signed by 100 experts evoked a Spiked reaction, saying that experts, while raising critical questions about how we mollycoddle chldren, are suseptible to childish prejudices.

Spiked essayist Helene Guldberg writes: The best thing experts can do for children is to argue for them to be given more freedom – not to do whatever they want, of course; they need clear boundaries set by parents. But unsupervised play isn’t just some kind of childhood luxury that kids can do without. It is vital for children’s healthy emotional and social development. Study after study has shown that it helps to develop children’s ability to negotiate social rules and to create their own rules. Children need to learn to deal with risks and develop the capacity to assess challenges. They also need to be given the opportunity to develop resilience to life’s inevitable blows. In short, taking risks in childhood goes hand-in-hand with developing new skills. Click here.. to read on.

Back to

September 14, 2006

If only MS could’ve blogged….

The Hindu photo - MS with T Sadasivam

M S Subbulakshmi had this habit of jotting down minute details about all her performances. So says an article in The Hindu Friday Review. Her jottings contained details of concert organizers, venue, accompanists, the song list, the dignitaries in the audience, and even the colour of the sari MS wore for the occasion.

If only they had invented the blog when she was at her prime MS would have been a great blogger. Sulochana Pattibhiraman’s article is full of tidbits on the daily routine of MS - an early riser (well before 5 a m), she started her day with piping hot coffee before a brisk walk-around in her garden. At times she preferred ‘sukku’ coffee.

MS had always discussed with husband T Sadasivam programme details prior to every concert. He chose the songs and listed them out and she scrupulously followed the list of numbers.

Back to

September 6, 2006

Anne Frank’s Diary

We all know of the book; many of us may have read it. Translated into 67 languages, The Diary of Anne Frank reportedly sold over 31 million copies. I didn’t know that the book had problem finding a publisher in Britain and the US till I read about it in a letter to the editors in The New York Review of Books. The death of the book’s editor at Doubleday, Barbara Zimmerman Epstein, (in June) occasioned the letter.

The Diary of Anne Frank was published in America in 1952, five years after the book first appeared in the Netherlands. The author of the NYRB letter, Kem Knapp Sawyer, points out that Anne’s father, Otto Rank, received numerous rejections from publishers before Doubleday acquired the manuscript (1951). Following its publication he got over 30,000 letters from readers.

In the introduction to the US edition Eleanor Roosevelt wrote:
Anne Frank's account of the changes wrought upon eight people hiding out from the Nazis for two years during the occupation of Holland, living in constant fear and isolation, imprisoned not only by the terrible outward circumstances of war but inwardly by themselves, made me intimately and shockingly aware of war's greatest evil—the degradation of the human spirit.

Anne Frank died at Bergen Belson concentration camp

Back to MyMysore site

September 5, 2006

TTK Group’s First Lady

A Tehelka interview with wife of TTK group chairman makes a racy read. Mrs Latha Jagannathan emerges as a plain-talking person with a sharp mind that appears refreshingly free from hang-ups one might associate with corporate social environment.

Her response to some rapid-fire questions:
If you met Bush, what would you ask him to do?
To resign.

What about Mother Teresa, if she were alive?
I’d ask her to do things differently. She gave away freely to people. I’d say give them something that makes them responsible and independent

An issue you feel strongly about?
Corruption. An issue that is dragging down the country badly.

Narayana Murthy or Anna Hazare?
Neither. Azim Premji.

Coping with 'hate' mail

No newspaper, or website, worth its image can claim to be free from hate mail. None can be expected to entertain them in the name of freedom of expression. Spreading hatred towards something or someone can get to be some people's obsession. The Hindu readers editor, Mr K Narayanan makes a reference to this media virus in his latest op-ed column. As he put it,

Newspaper ombudsmen are familiar with what is called "campaign" or "hate" mail. In such instances, there is an organised flow of messages all containing the same idea, only slightly differently worded. From the pattern, it becomes obvious that these motivated missives need no consideration. As a rule, the Readers' Editor of The Guardian does not read them and indeed has them filtered out of his inbox

September 4, 2006

Film Critics, Endangered Species

No matter what film critics say about his flicks - plot-less, pointless, silly, goofy - Karan Johar seems to be laughing all the way to the bank with his latest, Khabie Alvida Na Kehna’ (Kank). Gone are the days when producers looked upon film critics as mai-baap, who made or mucked up a film’s chances at the box-office. Film-goers those days relied on newspaper reviews to set their minds for them. They now have sneak-previews, studio generated puff-shows on TV, fan sites and entertainment blogs. A film critic can no longer play god- Read more, click on Dateline Mysore.