Saturday, 21 March 2015

Virendra Pandit is President of Gujarat Media Club

Virendra Pandit
The new team of Gujarat Media Club for 2015-16 was announced today. The team was selected by the new President Virendra Pandit of Hindu Business line as there was no nomination for any post of the GMC.
It is not strange that there was no candidate in the fray for elections to various posts and executive committee. Except last year where three candidates had filed nominations, people are not interested in the elections of the Club which has corpus of around Rs 75 lakh and membership base of 250 plus.
Even Virendra Pandit has been appointed as President on the basis of recommendation of the outgoing President Pradeep Mallik .It was seconded by Neha Amin.
Pandit has chosen the following members in his team:

President                                  Virendra Pandit (Hindu Businessline)
Sr. Vice President                    Uday Mahurkar (India Today)
Vice President                         Leena Misra (Indian Express)
Vice President                          Naresh Dave (Veteran Journalist)
Treasurer                                 Ram Mani Pandey (ABP News)
Secretary General                    Sunil Raghu (Deccan Herald)
Secretary Organization             Viren Vyas (Gujarat Samachar-UK)
Joint Secretary                         Thakur Bhupendra Singh (News 24)
Joint Secretary                         Manish Desai (CNBC Awaz)
Exe. Com. Member                 Dakshesh Pathak (Guj. Samachar)
Exe. Com. Member                 Dhaval Bharwad (Divya Bhaskar)
Exe. Com. Member                 Vinay Umarji (Business Standard)
Exe. Com. Member                 Shatrughna Sharma (Dainik Jagran)
Exe. Com. Member                 Neha Amin ( Gujarat Global)
Exe. Com. Member                 Nayan Dave (The Pioneer)

All past Presidents & Secretary General will be Special Invitees, an official release issued by the Club said.

Monday, 16 March 2015

GMC invites entries for Media Awards

Gujarat Media Club today invited entries for Awards. However, the last date for submitting entries has not been declared. 
When contacted , Secretary General of GMC, Nayan Dave, said that the last date would be announced soon. He further said that 10 to 15 days will be given for submission of entries.
Here is the mail the GMC sent today:

Gujarat Media Club is announcing GMC Awards 2014 for best performances in journalism in the following categories:

1. Print News report of the Year in Gujarati
2. Print News report of the Year in English/Hindi
3. Television News Report of the year in Gujarati/Hindi/English
4. News Photograph of the year
5. Life Time Contribution to Journalism

First four awards will carry a cash prize of Rs 25,000 while the fifth award will have Rs 50,000 and citation.

Nominations can be from Gujarati, Hindi and English languages. Journalists should be Gujarat based at the time of filing the story while all stories and photographs should have been published/broadcast between 1 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014

All submissions shall be related to Gujarat only and strictly be bylined. For non-bylined articles applicants have to submit verification from the editor of mass circulated dailies. Publication should be a registered entity with RNI with at least 10,000 copies in certified circulation audit. 

For Life Time Contribution to Journalism award, the nominee should have served at least 30 years in journalism. Any person can nominate a candidate for Lifetime Achievement Award accompanied by introduction of the journalist, profile, work and special contribution in advancing/benchmarking the profession.

Broadcast submissions should be straight reporting or documentary style and at least 90 to 180 seconds in duration, and print articles should be at least 500 words in length.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Gandhinagar Samachar with the spirit of motivational journalism

Gandhinagar Samachar state capital’s daily newspaper today entered 30th year. If one takes into account its initial four years as a weekly and bi weekly it has completed 33 years.
It is a great achievement considering the fact that it was started by a government employee quitting his job at the young age of 32 without any formal training in journalism.
Krishnakant Jha in his office
Krishnakant Jha the Managing Editor of the newspaper has a very interesting and inspiring story about his entrepreneurial venture. A mega cultural event based on Ramayana had hardly any coverage in the newspapers. On the other hand, he says, ordinary incidents like accidents and statements of allegations and accusations were prominently displayed by the media. This, he says, is in the root of the launch of Gandhinagar Samachar.
He is a commerce graduate.
Though he has no formal training in journalism, he was not a stranger to media. He was an avid reader and as leader of Sachivalaya employees union he knew what clicked in media pretty well. In a way, he was part of the media game.
Armed with this exposure to media and a deep urge for what he says motivational, Cultural social positive journalism, he started his journey into the uncharted path of media in 1982. Though Gandhinagar was still capital of Gujarat, it hardly had any social life at that time.
It was a city created to serve as capital of Gujarat and had no local population. Much of the staff used to come here from Ahmedabad only to return in the evening. One can imagine news flow and target readership of 80s.
Today almost every leading newspaper has Gandhinagar in its marketing plans. Obviously this change in the media scene has affected Krishnakant’s one man enterprise most. But like a successful entrepreneur, he is there with his broadsheet Gujarati newspaper Gandhinagar samachar.

He says that he is still committed to his idea of motivational, Cultural social positive journalism and gives plenty of space to such news. He feels that there is lot of space for such positive journalism.
He agrees that other news, the hard news, is integral part of a newspaper and cannot be ignored. It is only an issue of creating a healthy balance of news content.
He has learnt almost every aspect of print journalism right from gathering news to page layout and setting up a distribution network besides the most important aspect, the ad resource mobilization.

He is sharing his hands on experience of media with the students of journalism for the last five years. 64 year young Krishnakant Jha heads the media unit of the Sarva Kadi education group which runs several educational institutions in Gandhinagar.
His spirit of positive journalism is very much reflected in the annual issue of his newspaper. He has been bringing out an annual issue for the last five year. Like other publications, even for him it is an additional tool of resource mobilization. But he has woven it around his theme of positive journalism. Every year it is about a historical personality.

This year the the issue is dedicated to great saint Narsinh Mehta, the creator of Gandhi’s famous bhajan Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiye.
It’s a compilation of useful content on glossy art paper. I went through it. It’s a collector’s item worth preserving as a resource guide on Narsinh Mehta covering all aspects of the life of the great saint.

If I say that Krishnakant Jha is an epitome of motivational spirit it would not neither be inappropriate nor exaggeration. The most striking fact is that he is a handicapped and his mobility is through his wheel chair. But nothing has daunted him that is his moving motivational spirit.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Great exit of most sacked editor

Vinod Mehta is no more. Most of English newspapers and the virtual world of netizens is full of accounts of greatness of the Editor who had visible presence in both print and electronic medium.
This is a rare phenomenon in the media world driven by tall egos where everyone thinks that other one is a kind of scoundrel and generally have contempt for most of peers and superiors all alike.

I do not know this lucknow boy nor do I have any kind of indirect experience of interaction with him. Like most of others, I saw and heard him in TV debates. But of late I developed a great liking for his tweets written with handle drunken Vinod Mehta.

No doubt, he must be having someone to tweet. But the fact remains that the tweets of drunken Vinod Mehta had sober and quite witty mind of Vinod Mehta. His straightforward views without mincing any word gave his views in 140 chracters. It represented free, frank and fearless Vinod Mehta.
In his obit Arnab Goswami has frankly admitted that he and Vinod disagreed on most of issue, still Arnab liked him for his natural response. He says that his idol is Vinod Mehta and says he was the editor, he never had.
Those who have seen shouting and barking Arnab, find an emotional but rational Arnab when he writes about him.
M J Akbar says, He began as an editor and died as an editor more than four decades later. He never took a demotion which is saying something.
What was so great about this editor? Today when editors are succumbing to all kind of management trick, Vinod Mehta was the editor who preferred sacking and in the process changed more than half a dozen publication. Most of them were launched by him and after some time Mehta was out.

Today Indian media needs such editors who very closely guard precious editorial freedom. Probably because most of the editors lack these guts, they found in Vinod Mehta an icon to adulate in his death. Naturally hardly anyone could afford free and fearless Editor.

Vinod Mehta knew this truth very well. That’s why he had named his dog Editor.

This is how Smita Gupta described his career graph in brief in obituary in The Hindu , Vinod Mehta came to journalism from the world of advertising. In his early years in Mumbai, when he launched Debonair, everyone was fair game. But when he moved to newspaper journalism with The Indian Post first and then to The Independent and finally The Pioneer, he gradually learnt over the years, to his cost, that newspaper proprietors were not always willing to risk hurting the fragile egos of politicians. But till the end, he never quite lost his irreverence.
His stints in all three newspapers were short, but despite the brevity of the tenures — a few years each — he left the stamp of his personality on them. He attracted some of the most talented journalists, created great teams, and then gave them the freedom to work. It was only at the Outlook, the last organisation he launched in Delhi, that he lasted 17 years, creating a rival to India Today.
One can get idea of Vinod Mehta in his own words in the two books he wrote, Lucknow boy and its sequel Editor unplugged.

Mehta did not have any gurus but admitted that two journalists influenced him: Nikhil Chakravarty for his honesty and fairness, and Khushwant Singh for his mischief and malice. “To deny that I shall miss being an editor would be a towering lie,” he wrote in his book. “If the fairy godmother granted me the luxury of choosing a profession for my next janam (life), I would say without hesitation, editor.”

Friday, 6 March 2015

Kirti Khatri, national editor of a district newspaper

Kirti Khatri
Kirti Khatri, Kutch and Kutchmitra have become synonyms. Any journalist who has been to Kutch on a journalistic assignment will agree with this introduction of Kirti.
He is a kind of moving encyclopedia of Kutch with a clear vision for better Kutch.
Though Kirti retired as editor of the leading newspaper of Kutch, Kutchmitra two years ago, he is still associated with this newspaper as its consulting editor. This is just a technical shift in his position in the newspaper, for people of Kutch and the staff of the newspaper it is the same Kirti Khatri.
Recently he had been to North-East on what he calls a personal study tour and has penned his views in five weekly articles in his newspaper Kutchmitra for his readers. Not many have the idea that Pakistan first attacked India on April 9, 1965 in Kutch as a kind of trial for full fledged attack on India later that year.
Earlier this year, Kirti visited Bangalore to interview 81 year old S J Coelho who was Collector of Kutch at that time. He had literally seen the attack as he was in the target border area on that day. Kirti remembered that story and like a great journalist traced Coelho and interviewed him for the 50 years of the attack in which CRPF had a huge causality.
Kirti is Kutchi, son of famous short story writer of Kutch, Jayant Khatri. But his journalistic career began with Janshakti in Mumbai and later he moved to Jansatta in Ahmedabad. It is here that I met him first.
However, it is his career as Deputy Editor in 1980 and Chief Editor since 1982 for ‘Kutchmitra’ which makes him a noted journalist of the best cadre. His insightful Editorship for ‘Kutchmitra’ has taken the Newspaper to a new height.  
He has been honored with several awards starting from ‘Kutch Shakti Award’ in1990 to ‘Harindra Dave SmritiParitoshik’ in 2011. He has also been awarded by Life Time Achievement in Journalism Award by Gujarat Media Club.He is the second recipient of Tushar Bhatt Journalism Award.
Kirti Khatri has come out with a nine volume of his writings. It is basically a compilation of his writings spanned over 32 years. This is the period when he has remained with Kutchmitra.
The compilation is missing the young Kirti, the man who started his career in Mumbai and later shifted to Jansatta in Ahmedabad. He belongs to old school of journalisms where journalists rarely thought of having records of their writings to create profile. Even the writings in these books could become possible because of the well organized library of Kutchmitra.
The first of the nine books “Manas Vali Kutchimadu” tells what Kirti means to his friends in media, leaders in society whether they are businessmen or bureaucrats.
One of his books
The title of the first article in this book aptly describes what Kirti Khatri is. The title is “national editor of a district newspaper”. Probably nothing can describe journalist in Kirti better than this title.
Like me many journalist friends feel that he would have a star journalist if he were in Mumbai or Delhi. But, he is Kutchi Madu-man of Kutch- and always remained kutchi. As son of famous Kutch based short story writer Jayant Khatri, spirit of Kutch is in his blood and since he was brought up in Kutch and his growth was mainly in Kutch, he breaths Kutch in all aspects of his life.
And if he were not there, who could have told national media about what Kutch is what are its problems and the fascinating kutch. Like me there are scores of journalists for whom Kirti was the main source of stories about Kutch. Stories of border issues hit headlines in national media with journalists accumulating by-lines, all courtesy Kirti Khatri, a name unknown to the readers of these stories.
Writings in the eight volumes take reader to Kutch when scarcity and Kutch were common as struggle of Kutchi men and arduous terrain of the second biggest district of India.

March 12 is the birthday of Kirti born in 1946.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

S&T communication Award to Gujarat journalist

For Ahmedabad based journalist, Sarasvatichandra Acharya, science has been a subject beyond his school and college text book. Though he writes on variety of subjects, science and scientists figure in his writings and films prominently.

This profile of the Physics graduate Acharya has won him coveted award of National Council for Science and Technology Communication. He has been given award for communication in the electronic medium category which carries award of Rs 1,00,000,  a memento and a citation at a function in Delhi.
These awards are given on National Science Day, Feb 28. The day marks the discovery of Raman Effect by Physicist Dr. C V Raman who got Nobel Prize for this.
He has produced more than dozen films about science, mainly about institutions working in the field of science communication. Almost equal number of films he has on health awareness.
Besides this he frequently contributes news and features in print and electronic media. He is a regular contributor of science content to Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha TV.
He feels that much of science communication in the country is limited to English and Hindi. In the process regional languages which are main channels of communication to much of the population is left out from the main stream science communication. There is lot of scope for this. There is no shortage of funds for such an activity, but it is to be targeted and prioritized.

Armed with a B.Sc and LLB degree he started his career with Ahmedabad doordarshan in 1996 as news reader. Later he joined Gujarati Financial Express and Sambhav group. In 2004, he joined Deergha media, an audio visual media launched by his wife Manisha Sharma. He runs a content generation agency.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Mind your language- Five Rules of George Orwell

Language is a tool of communication. But most of us tend to flaunt our vocabulary as a prized possession. In many cases we go for clumsy sentences, cliché and jargon which make our writings and other content expressions weak. This may sound simple, but this is probably the most difficult task we journalists face. We work against time. We have daily challenge of meeting deadlines. Competition stress drives us to short cuts like cut-paste. 

If you want to be understood, if you want your ideas to spread, using effective language must be your top priority.
In the modern world this is hardly ever the case. In many instances, imprecise language is used intentionally to avoid taking a position and offending various demographics. No wonder it's hard to make sense of anything!
This is not a recent problem, and as George Orwell wrote in his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language, the condition is curable. Try these 5 Rules of Orwell.
1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
This sounds easy, but in practice is incredibly difficult. Phrases such as toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, an axe to grind, Achilles' heel, swan song, and hotbed come to mind quickly and feel comforting and melodic.
For this exact reason they must be avoided. Common phrases have become so comfortable that they create no emotional response. Take the time to invent fresh, powerful images.
What does expressions like inclusive growth or HDI mean. They just mean benefit of development to all. It's so simple.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
Long words don't make you sound intelligent unless used skillfully. In the wrong situation they'll have the opposite effect, making you sound pretentious and arrogant. They're also less likely to be understood and more awkward to read. Faulkner criticised Hemingway for his limited word choice. Hemingway said, Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don't know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree. Accordingly, any words that don't contribute meaning to a passage dilute its power. Less is always better. Always.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
This one is frequently broken, probably because many people don't know the difference between active and passive .  Here is an example that makes it clear:
The man was bitten by the dog. (passive) The dog bit the man. (active).
The active is better because it's shorter and more forceful.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon if you can think of its equivalent in your language.
This is tricky because writing now a days can be highly technical. If possible, remain accessible to the average reader. If your audience is highly specialized this is a judgment call. You don't want to drag on with unnecessary explanation, but try to help people understand what you're writing about. You want your ideas to spread right?
6. Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous.
This bonus rule is a catch all. Above all, be sure to use common sense.
These rules are easy to memorize but difficult to apply. The key is effort. Good writing matters, probably more than we think.
I hope you find these rules helpful including my bonus rule and through their application we're able to understand each other a little bit better. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to read Orwells original essay. It contains many helpful examples and is, of course, a pleasure to read.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Budget, Media and Common Men

I spent much of the last two days trying to understand the Union Budget 2015 surfing through channels and turning pages of major newspapers. Let me admit that I could not make out anything. Like me there must be many.

I wonder for whom we write. I feel our news stories must be able to communicate a clear and concise message, the crux of the thing.

Budget is a complex exercise touching almost all aspect of our economy. For this purpose, major newspapers particularly English newspapers engage a battery of “experts” to explain it for the readers. Still it leaves one major task for the newspaper to give overall picture. Most of newspapers have conveniently used all page make up tricks, like blurbs and subheading to avoid this basic task.
It may surprise, regional and language newspapers have reports that have kept their reader in mind while presenting budget on Page 1. English newspapers indulged in rhetoric talking about the budget in terms like road map and terms like never before and for the first time.
I am not here to give sermons on journalism. I am just talking about communication. Despite all talk about revitalizing economy, attracting investment and providing social security to underprivileged our friends missed the most visible fine print of the budget- it is inflationary. This is something which is most striking fact and yet most ignored aspect of the budget in media.
This may get space in coming days, but was missing on day 1. Only “Local” newspapers reported it.
Tax is the most tangible aspect of the budget. Rest is road map or something that will pay off when it is implemented. And in this budget increase in the Service Tax is the aspect that will touch all. Whether there is non Income Tax paying poor or a super rich all are affected by this.
Now with this increase in price of services, one will face what we call inflation in jargon of economics.
However, income level of all will remain same as there is no change in Income Tax. Theoretically super rich will have lesser money because of 2 percent tax introduced for this category in the budget.
And so what will be the net effect of this inflationary measure. It will pinch people more.
The problem with budget reporting is that we engage experts who are basically industry leaders. We must admit that there thinking is focused more on their issues and thus bound to miss many finer points.
Even in this, if we take newspapers and debate reports of previous years we will find that in number of cases same faces appear every year. Are we not getting same old odour instead of fresh air.

The purpose of this write is not to show off anything but to pose a question. Can’t we think in terms of our reader who is the focus of communication of our content?

And you know from where I got the direct message of inflationary budget. From common men on the street who was thinking of more difficult daily life in coming days.

I think 500 words are enough to drive home the point .

Monday, 2 March 2015

S B Rawal takes over as Information Commissioner

S B Rawal new Information Commissioner
With the retirement of Bhagyesh Jha, Information Department of Gujarat has new Commissioner- S B Rawal. He took over the new assignment today.
Before this assignment, Rawal was Collector of Morbi district. He was appointed as first collector of the newly formed Morbi district.
Rawal joined Gujarat Administrative Service in 1986 and served as Deputy Collector of Bhavnagar and Rajkot. He was also Director of District Rural Development Agency in Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Gujarat Media Club is facing identity crisis

Gujarat Media Club is entering 10th year this year. Started with much fanfare in 2006, the Club is facing identity crisis. Except some annual activities like Navratri festival and IOC-GMC cricket tournament which are sponsored there is hardly anything it can boast of.
Even in these events, lack of interest of members is evident and team of office bearers has to make efforts to save its face and thus have sponsorship live. These two activities were started in the initial phase.
Though the Club started Media Awards with ONGC funds two years ago, it has failed to attract good number of entries. It has Hindi and Gujarati categories also and the amount of the award is quite handsome. In this case, more than members apathy, it is the routine bureaucratic approach of the team GMC that has led to award on ventilator situation.
I have been associated with the Club from its formation days. I have seen the initial enthusiasm of its members fading away in the years that have witnessed both internal and external politics involving other journalists (non-members, more powerful than the might of a club which got 100 members in its first year).
No doubt there were bright patches also. But it is a fact that knocking the door of the tenth year, the Club with deposits of lakhs of rupees to its credit is an organisation in search of its soul.
The problem with the Club is of the identity crisis. For media in Ahmedabad it is a club of English journalists (I do not want to use the phrase generally used to express this) Within the Club no one knows what Club stands for, whom it represents and what it should do.
This month club is going to have its elections. A formal announcement of election was made today. Till now, elections have been a formal exercise as only last year two or three had come out to contest. They were ultimately declared elected uncontested.
I am producing an article which I had written on its launch.
A lot has changed since then.

Here is an article Gujarat Global had on the launch of the Club last year.
Gujarat Media Club, a club of journalists associated with all forms of media has been launched. Moving spirit behind the idea R K Misra of Pioneer( he is very much in profession, but not with Pioneer) said that the club on the lines of press clubs elsewhere in the country has been registered under section 25 of the Companies Act to make the organization accountable and transparent.

Several attempts have been made in the past to run a press club, but all failed in initial stages. In this sense, the media club can be called a successful innovation that is all set to click with its novel approach. Besides Misra, the promoters of the club are Brajesh kumar Singh of STAR News and Sunil Raghu of CNBC( he is now with other banner)

Highlighting its various unique features its promoters said that as the word media reflects that the club represents journalists associated with the entire media, not just print media. The idea is to have a club to provide journalists better resources for their professional work, aspirant journalists to have a place to get better idea of the profession and to help veteran journalists since there is no social security concept in the media, Brajesh Kumar Singh said.

It has regular members, life members and associate members and has enough scope for others associated with media like PR and advertising professionals, government media and corporate members. There is an elaborate fee structure for different categories. The Club will undertake research and training activities besides content generation to make itself an independent income generating organization, according to Sunil Raghu.

Sanjay Pandey of Crisil Marketwire who is the secretary of the Club finds response of journalists to the club very encouraging. He said that to really do groundwork to create an edifice of working journalists in the state as many as 11 committees will be formed to take care of different jobs ranging from membership drive to disciplinary committee. Sanjay has been doing one of the most challenging job of coordinating different people.

He said that the concept of committees is quite innovative in the sense that people are being asked to volunteer for the post of convener of the committee and these conveners will be free to choose their team. The idea is to provide committees an environment to deliver result. We should have a team of dedicated office bearers who are willing to slog for two years to create strong foundation of the Club so that it can withstand all kind of pressures.

The treasurer of the Club, Rammani Pandey of Star, said that before the formal announcement of the launch on Saturday, the club had 14 life members who paid money. On the day of the launch 15 more life and regular members bought forms. He said that there were many queries from several journalists and their interest reflected their enthusiasm to join.

President of the club R K Misra clarified that initially the activities of the Club will be limited to Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar and later gradually it will have a state level network. He also made it clear that the present body has been nominated for two years in the interest of the growth of the organization and after that regular election will be held.

The club has also launched its website which will be developed as a full fledged channel for different activities. Members will have access to its database.

Lets wish that the 10th year of the Club proves a milestone and give it right identity.