30 December, 2005

Blogsmsmblogsmsmblogsmsm...forget it

Don't newspapers have blogs? It seems like the easiest thing to have. It seems like something people will enjoy having. It seems like something newspapers that have an online focus ought to have. And that explains why newspapers do not have their own blogs; well, at least, most newspapers. Will the Indian newspapers ever become powerful online entities? Newspapers abroad are losing audiences offline and finding more audiences online. Will the Indian media go the same way? A lot of intelligent people don't think so. These intelligent people believe the Indian newspaper audiences are not destined to go the way newspaper audiences in the West have. Or are they? If not, why? The way we see it blogs are going to become the next newspapers. In which case, what's the big difference between the two? Even more so, considering what blogs seem to aspire for is pretty much the same thing any media aspires for: more eyeballs. Confusing and muddle-headed, eh? For sure. Kinda like the media scene, we think.

26 December, 2005

The Importance of Numbers

The power of the media lies in its reach; it's a power derived from the belief that if a large number of people know about an issue, someone's conscience (or shame) will force its way through the rubble of accountability and lead to action. Repeated questioning and efforts by the media to keep an issue alive are important tools to this end. But while we know conscience and shame don't always find a way through (politics is a convenient example), numbers are everything.

Of course, if you don't have the numbers and are a small, little-known website, or if your GRP's are declining, then you need to do something drastic that forces the other (often bigger) players to take notice and jump on to the bandwagon while you take the credit, albeit deservedly. But, but, but - numbers are everything.

My first reaction to this post by H.R. Venkatesh on the IBN Blogs was to feel sorry for Sepoy Shukla, not as much because of what was done to him, but of what Venkatesh did/didn't do. The sepoy's story:

Shukla, frustrated at not being alloted living quarters, had dared to question his superiors, who were allegedly sub-letting their own quarters to civilians to make that extra buck. For his troubles, Shukla was beaten up and charge-sheeted. He was also given temporary transfer orders to Jammu & Kashmir.

Shukla said he wasn't even allowed to complain to his superiors' superiors and had been ordered not to leave the company HQ.

The sepoy wanted the story to be aired on TV, but unfortunately CNN-IBN was not on air yet. It seems that he mistook Venkatesh's suggestion to seek an Aaj Tak/NDTV reporter as being brushed off. Eventually, Ventakesh took the sepoy's sound bite and with the sepoy's best interests in mind, informed the army spokesperson. Venkatesh ends the post by saying:

Shukla may have received justice. But just as easily, he may have lost his job. If only we'd been on air then...

I'm going to be a cynic and say that I think the sepoy may have lost his job, since what his superiors were allegedly doing was illegal. The spokesperson might not have taken the news seriously because at that time, the story wasn't backed up by numbers, which denied his conscience the necessary fillip; Sepoy Shukla probably suffered even more.


While on CNN-IBN - I love the idea of reporters blogging on the CNN-IBN site. For long, there has been a cold war between the MSM and the Indian Bloggers, and this is a step in the right direction. Truly - if you can't beat them, join them. Better still, make them join you. It almost seems as if an MSM rule is being broken here by bridging this gap, but this is a positive and healthy move, and seems pathbreaking. Also, I sincerely hope the idea doesn't die out, because the story behind the story often doesn't get told, and blogs give issues a sense of permanence that 24x7 TV can't provide. TV, however, has its advantages because (Indian) blogs still lack numbers.

Crossposted at Mixed Bag

24 December, 2005

Isn't all media marketing?

If media is a means to disseminate a particular point of view, all media is marketing. Right? Yes. In which case, what makes some media 'good marketing' and others 'bad'? Or is the problem with MSM not the fact that it is, like other media, a marketing channel more than much else but the fact that...umm, I'm not sure. We militate against MSM because it is a marketing channel or because it is a 'bad marketing' channel? Weird question, eh? Stupid question, eh? Non-question, eh? Feel free to ignore it. We're just trying to understand what the problem with MSM exactly is. Thank you for indulging us.

Is MSM just a marketing channel?

After all, if nobody writes or talks about the things they write and talk about will the people still care and buy into what they write and talk about? Example: A sports channel. And that's wht makes bloggers better -- nobody pays them to do what they do. The question is would this change if and when bloggers start getting paid for what they do? Would a blogger who gets paid for what he/she does become a spokesman for the people who are paying him/her? In which case, is it just about the money? Agreed, agreed that there are tons of gaps in what we are postulating. Still, is there a grain of thinking in what we are trying to get at but failing miserably? Hmm.

23 December, 2005

Geographically Challenged

The Business Standard ran a story today about Country Club India Ltd buying some property in Sri Lanka. It says:

"Country Club India Ltd (CCIL) has acquired a seafront property in Kandy,
Sri Lanka's most popular tourist destination.

Please note that this property was bought in Kandy and that it was seafront property.

Here's a map of Sri Lanka:

Can everyone spot Kandy? Does anyone realise why it's a little tough to have seafront property in Kandy? I don't know anything about this deal, but I would guess that it's in Galle, which you can see is on the Southern coast. (even if it's not in Galle the seafront property bought by CCIL is most probably on the South coast)

My question is who messed up? Did the reporter Rajendra Palande substitute Galle with Kandy when he was writing his report? Or did CCIL actually mess up on the press release they sent out? Or does CCIL Chairman Rajeev Reddy have no clue?

Let's look at another line from the same report:
[CCIL Chairman] Reddy said Kandy and Colombo are accessible by air from Chennai and Bangalore in an hour and from Mumbai in a couple of hours, making it an attractive destination for Indian tourists at reasonable cost.

Sri Lanka has one international airport and that is situated one hour out of Colombo. Kandy does not have an international airport. All the people who fly into the country have to come to Colombo first and then figure out transport to Kandy, unless of course your travel agents have made plans to have directly transported to Kandy, which is still a 3 hours(upto 5 if there's traffic) journey.

So who's Geographically Challenged?


Is this for real?

Apprently, yes. If you are familiar with this software forgive me for not knowing of it's existence. It's been around for about a year and it's supposed to quite a hit. The 'Pro' is supposed to be an improvement on an earlier version (Version 5) that I had not heard of at all.

Pinnacle Wedding Pro "from Pinnacle Systems India is the latest version of Pinnacle's video editing solution for wedding video professionals." says

Raju in Jodhpur, the only Indian I've worked with who also covers weddings (We rented his suite for 2 days for some editing) used Edius, a Canopus thing. Good for video, but shit when it comes to working on the audio. I guess it's a budget editor. Smaller editors do the job when it comes to editing something as basic as a wedding. And the average wedding video does not require any serious color corrections or multi format exports or anything so it's a pretty much problem free edit. When the better editors like Avid and Premier and FCP are all too damn expensive (unless you approve of piracy), smaller cutters work.

So, I can understand people who spend their lives covering wedding getting used a cheaper, more user friendly editor like Edius or any one of the million other little video editors that are out there. The work they do most certainly does not justify the use of something a little high-end like an Avid or a Premier or FCP. But why on earth would someone go through the trouble of making a seperate wedding editor software? That is what I find hard to understand. Does Pinnacle believe there is a market for this? And are they right?

It's about 60,000 INR a pop. You can buy a working (pirated) copy of Primier Pro 1.5 anywhere in India for about 50 INR. You get Acrobat, Photoshop, Aftereffects and Encore thrown in for free. And I don't know how to say this without sounding judgemental and holier-than-thou, but the average wedding cameraman can't really be too concerned about protecting intellectual property.

But what do you get for 60,000 INR? What would make something like this attractive to the small time wedding filmmaker? The only thing I can think of is the breakout box and the USB compatibility Pinnacle throws in. The hardware comes with the software. So you don't need to buy a fancy video card (which costs a helluva lot), and the interface is supposed to be uniform, from capture to DVD authoring. You don't have to switch from this to that for different tasks. And the fancy titling, P-in-P, and the effects are all a part of the same package so it's a lot easier for someone to do all that bling on a wedding video.

If you read this article on Channel Times you'll find out exactly how much demand there is for an editor like this. Just read the comments left below the article.

But really, it's still wierd. I know it's perfectly normal for something like this to evolve when the market for it is clearly there, but it's still wierd. NewsCutter and other editors designed for specific useage is understandable, but a wedding editor?

Oh my god there's a Chinese version too (it looks Chinese to me). Help!

And Digital Juice makes one as well!

Crossposted on timecode.

The Doggies

Norman Solomon writing in FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) (also in Outlook) , announces the 2005 P.U.-litzer Prizes.

They include:
“FIRST DO SOME HARM” AWARD -- Radio reporter Michael Linder
SELF-PRAISE STEALTH PRIZE -- William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer
MICKEY MOUSE JOURNALISM PRIZE -- Correspondent Mike Barz and ABC
OUTSOURCED TO THE PENTAGON AWARD -- New York Times reporter Judith Miller
PRIME SLIME NEWS AWARD -- Nancy Grace and CNN Headline News
(Read the article for the citations. And here are the previous years' winners: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004)

Now, fellow canines and readers, your nominees, please, for the first Doggies awards, brought to you by your very own CSF-II. What media acts, media organisations and media persons would you say deserve to have our mascot (over there, on the right) slipped off her chain?

Your nominees, please!

The comments section is open. Nominations close on the 31st December.

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