Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Star Attraction, Orr not?

An IIM-Calcutta alumnus who "currently works for Business Standard in Mumbai" wrote an unsigned - and extremely funny - article on the poaching of journalists. A phenomenon which has been making news for a while now...

Pre-DNA: Jan 3, 2005: Terrible day. I was rudely woken up by a phone call from Boss complaining loudly that I had missed several stories. Boss warned me that I wouldn't get an increment this year. I decided to send my family to our native village because I can't afford to pay the rent.

Post-DNA: July 3, 2005: Great day. I was woken up by a call from DNA offering me a job as Principal Correspondent with a 100 per cent rise in salary. I immediately told my Boss about the offer. He made a counter-offer on the spot, making me Special Correspondent with a 120 per cent rise in salary!

May a hundred DNAs bloom is a fun read, especially if you happen to work in the media. Or plan to. My only question is: why describe yourself in a manner which makes it obvious who you are... May as well have claimed authorship!

The Bigger Story

Poaching journalists is fine but does what they write really 'sell' the paper? To be on the safe side, DNA has gone and kidnapped Marjorie Orr.

There is this theory that she is half the reason for Mid-day's popularity. The other half being the 'page 3' mate.

Well, DNA at least is hoping that's true. Marjorie ben's 'bhavishyavaani' takes up a whole HALF page (of a broadsheet newspaper!). Every zodiac sign is accompanied by a Bollywood star born under it. And Marjorie gets a colour photograph too.

Maybe that's what convinced her to switch loyalties :)

Wonder if this was DNA's 'big idea'? Or was it the choice of purple and yellow for the masthead?? Because it's 4 days since the paper has been out. I've seen two issues and like the rest of Mumbai, I am less than impressed.

Take today's page 1 DNA headline:
Banks flooded, Husains saved, city acts

I really thought the Husain reference could have been avoided. It gives the whole headline a frivolous feeling. He can paint a few more canvasses! 420 people have DIED in Mumbai alone.

The police commissioner in a boat is a picture we've seen on every TV channel yesterday - so it didn't make much impact either.

The Times of India's "Still in Deep Water" was a far better front page. It captured the seriousness of the situation.

Mumbai Mirror put the Hussain story on page 1 (looks like Mirror and TOI at least check with each other to ensure there is no repetition coz I could not see a Hussain mention in TOI at all)

I don't know what the HT headline reads like coz the vendor in Vashi did not have a copy. But the best coverage of 'July 26 and after' - day after day - has been the Indian Express.

Why you should support Express
Yesterday their front page story was on how the chief of the high powered relief committee set up by the CM is actually holidaying in Spain.

Today, they have done a follow-up on the government's relief efforts: On Day 1, state’s food-relief drive falters

The state government’s plan was simple: Transport foodgrains from the four Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns at Bhiwandi, Panvel, Reay Road and Borivali to the 40 ration centres across Mumbai.

But even as thousands waited inside flooded bylanes for the promised relief, the drive faltered—leading to an 18-hour delay—mainly due to last-minute coordination between unreasonable transporters, the FCI and the Rationing Department.

This is what is known as 'reporting'. You go and physically get information instead of asking for it on the phone or compiling TV reports.

IE readers would also be the first to know that what happened on July 26 was a very unusual meteorological phenomenon called Offshore Vortex.

Today's edition also featured an op-ed by Milind Deora 'City as Hero no 1' where the young MP writes about structural changes required. Coming from a person who may be in a position to effect change at some point in time - it was a valuable 900 words.

I for one am going to continue my Express subscription, despite the fact that it's a bit thin and raggedy in appearance, compared to the new kids on the block. And suggest you do too.

Mid-day fights back
Meanwhile, Midday has got itself a new astrologer - Ofer Cohen - who I think should be able to fill Orr's shoes. The brand is always bigger than any one individual or columnist. Mid-day still has a pick-me-up quality about it. Check today's page 1 story: Mumbai's missing,

It features pictures and details of 28 Mumbaikars 'missing' since last Tuesday. A few appear to be unrelated to the rain, but many are definitely "26th July" cases.

I sincerely hope they are in a hospital somewhere, but both you and I know that some of these people are probably dead, their bodies washed away by the sea.

Reading this story is a chilling reminder of just how bad 26/7 was. Maybe Hussain will be inspired and paint a whole new series of Rs 100 crore paintings.


  1. the indian express is one newspaper which may lack in the presentation dept. but it contains stories worth reading.As a member of my college mag time,had the opportunity to visit its delhi office and interview their EIC-this is the kind of paper that ppl should be reading.agreed that editorials are impt,but when it comes to breaking news and uncovering stories,IE is far ahead of its competitors.

  2. Am extremely pleased that you are an ardent IE reader. Thats the only paper i had subscribed to while in pune for more than 8 years starting from 7th std inspite of pressure from my college buddy who was freelancin for TOI.
    It feels sad that IE doesnt have much of an aura here in Bangalore.

  3. ... continue my Express subscription, despite the fact that it's a bit thin...

    Thin, as in they can't boast "over 100 pages everyday?" Fine with me! After waking up to titillating pics on front page for years, I decided to switch to IE. And I am not disappointed. I've seen their content quality consistently improving in last two years. Columns by Shailaja Bajpayee, Sucheta Dalal, Harsha Bhogale and, of course, Shekhar Gupta always make interesting reading. (Friedman/ Zakaria are good once in a while.) Now, they have started a good supplement on personal finance on Mondays - first of its kind. I won't be surprised if The Leader copies the idea. All these goodies come without compromising journalistic integrity!

  4. The story by the IIM-Calcutta alumnus made for a good read

  5. First of all, I will take a moment to celebrate my anonymousity.


    After that, I would say that I noticed this trend a few weeks ago when Zee News stole half of the NDTV guys. Rajdeep Sardesai. Offered one crore or something like that, and now he no longer reads news.

  6. On an unrelated note, would be good to read your views on Should Newspapers Sponsor
    Blogs Written by Reporters?

    Don't quite know how many Indian newspaper reports maintain blogs (or know what such "computer" things are), but I know for sure about an ex-rediff.com reporter who interviewed me does.

  7. Indian express does really stand by its dictum of "journalism of courage". It is the newspaper I read online each morning without fail. In Bangalore, its hardcopy edition,is a little difficult to get though. Their breaking stories have been amazing in the past few months. Indias heritage, Kashmir inflitration (which ends with "if journalists can track them, why cant Prez Mush?"), Punjab terrorism regroup and so on. Yup. a good paper.

  8. Good show!!
    Mom and me have been ardent IE fans over the last decade or so. And even though I can not confess to lapping up every page diligently, I thoroughly love the fearless style of reporting. They always end up showing their competitors the middle finger when it comes to incisive reporting.

  9. Indian Express does really stands for Journalism of Courage. Their Sunday Supplement is still the Best in Town. Thankfully they haven't discovered the likes of Queenies, Chayyas and Aartis. BTW, the leader drew a lot of flak for its narcissistic reporting


    It looks that TOI has finally got its bearing right.

  10. Oww... you other anon, copycat kahinka! Anyway, doing that is too much trouble... so I have decided to give up my anonymousity.

  11. Great post - IE Rocks and TOI sucks

  12. Well much as I like Express it is not a stand alone paper. Depth of coverage is great but breadth of coverage is poor. So I wouldn still buy one other paper.

    Which one is the big question which is hard to answer right now! The dilemma has been pretty well described on rediff in this article A News Junkie's nightmare.

  13. Rashmi, Really funny things happening in media ever-since DNA and HT announced their launch dates. Anybody and Everybody in media was wondering about the other persons current employer.. " Still there?"-thats how they(or should I say WE) greeted eachother.
    Media Sellers, journalists, circulation guys.. everyone was just getting picked up. DEMAND AND YOU SHALL GET IT was the motto.
    I too had faced the similar situation as in PRE and POST DNA, the difference is that here I was hiring someone for my own organisation.

    With regards to The Indian Express, guess they are the true guardians of journalism. I have been an avid reader and had always been wondering why is it that Times rules while IE inspite the best of the coverage still lags behind. I was also thinking about its fate now that there are three papers trying to reach my hand apart from IE (earlier it was just TOI coz am ignoring Mumbai Mirror as it is just no comp to IE and the mid-day has always had a different audiance.)

    For sure the revenues will drop, for sure a very minor(but still..)drop in circulation will happen, how will it survive?

    The answer to all of this is there to be unfurled... For once its in the hands of time and not TIMES now ;)

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