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With Delhi's AAP government facing criticism over huge spending on advertisements, Information & Broadcasting Minister
Cutting across political lines, members in Rajya Sabha today voiced concern over the growing menace of paid news that can
The Election Commission today warned of stern action against 'paid news' during the coming Assembly elections in West Beng
A Parliamentary Panel has asked the Information and Broadcasting ministry to expeditiously formulate an appropriate policy
The Information and Broadcasting ministry is planning a comprehensive mechanism to check the menace of paid news and has s
Stating that publication of paid news should be considered a "punishable" offence, Press Council of India (PCI)
Two suspected cases of paid news in the run-up to January 31 local civic polls have come to the light and are being invest
The Press Council of India (PCI) has formed a three-member committee to monitor the menace of 'Paid News' during the upcom
The Election Commission has proposed making paid news an electoral offence to provide a strong deterrent in a bid to stamp
In addition to our cover story For Sale Journalism the following articles may be of interest
A two-part article by Archna Shukla in the Indian Express
In addition to all this, of course, is the pre-cursor, the murky matter of private treaties:
Pratap Bhanu Mehta:
The following have been blogged about before, but would be useful for a one-stop place for links:
All links to useful articles on the subject welcome.
“Young dynamic leadership: Ashokrao Chavan,” read the headline of a prominent news item in the Marathi daily Lokmat (October 10). That was 72 hours before the people of Maharashtra went to vote in the State Assembly polls. The item was attributed to the newspaper’s "Special Correspondent," making it clear this was a news story. The story showered praise on the Chief Minister of Maharashtra for having achieved so much for so many in so few months. The same story also appeared word for word the same day in the Maharashtra Times, a leading and rival Marathi daily. Two minds with but a single thought? Two hearts that beat as one?
A cute and comforting thought. Except that the very same story (again word for word, only with a different headline) had appeared three days earlier in the Marathi daily Pudhari (October 7). In that case, with a reporter’s name at the bottom of the item.
More at the Hindu
On a somewhat related note, the NYT article blogged about by A.Sanzgiri in an earlier post in the day, quotes Raju Narisetti, the founder editor of Mint, promoted by the Hindustan Times group (whose vice-chairman Shobhana Bharatiya -- daughter of KK Birla, and granddaughter of GD Birla -- is a Rajya Sabha member nominated by the Congress):
“Some very simple practices that you often take for granted, such as being ethical in day to day situations, or believing in the rule of law in everyday behavior, are surprisingly absent in many situations,” said Raju Narisetti, who was born in Hyderabad and returned to India in 2006 to found a business newspaper called Mint, which is now the country’s second-biggest business paper by readership.
He said he left earlier than he expected because of a “troubling nexus” of business, politics and publishing that he called “draining on body and soul.” He returned to the United States this year to join The Washington Post.
In the financial orgy that marked the Maharashtra elections, the media were never far behind the moneybags. Not all sections of the media were in this mode, but quite a few. Not just small local outlets, but powerful newspapers and television channels, too. Many candidates complained of “extortion” but were not willing to make an issue of it for fear of drawing media fire. Some senior journalists and editors found themselves profoundly embarrassed by their managements. “The media have been the biggest winners in these polls,” says one ruefully. “In this period alone,” says another, “they’ve more than bounced back from the blows of the ‘slowdown’ and done so in style.” Their poll-period take is estimated to be in hundreds of millions of rupees. Quite a bit of this did not come as direct advertising but in packaging a candidate’s propaganda as “news.”
Mrinal Pande returns with a two-part series in the Hindu itself to ask why" hugely successful Hindi print media that have always been in private hands and quite free professionally, begun to trivialise their own base and con their readership":
...soon one heard that the marketing and media marketing managers at several media houses were getting ‘creatives’ prepared about what was on offer, in time for the general elections. Several party functionaries who manned party ‘war rooms’ during the period, when quizzed, confessed to having been shown ‘impressive’ PowerPoint presentations by major newspapers, and in turn professing an interest in the offerings.
The hard copy version of one such offering made on behalf of one Hindi daily published from a rich western Indian State blatantly delineates the phenomenon. The script claims that some 36 Lok Sabha seats in two major cities in the State, including the State capital and the surrounding areas, were ‘feeded’ by the daily. The proposal then lays down a clear sequential map of activities it can spearhead to promote the party or individual candidates, quoting prices. At the local level it addresses the candidate, his or her supporters and well-wishers, the district-level party office, the local MLA or MLC or corporator, other local political leaders, the local advertising agency and the guardian Minister of the ruling party. At the State level it is the State political party office, Cabinet Minister and State-level political leaders, businessmen and industrialists and a State-level advertising agency. At the national level it addresses the central offices of political parties (media cells), national-level political leaders and Central Ministers from the State.
The working modalities include putting in place dedicated teams each day, comprising political or city reporters and correspondents, sub-editors, area advertisement managers and area sales managers, to do the needful. Fifteen days’ general coverage is priced at Rs.20 lakh, while seven days of exclusive coverage is pegged at Rs.25 lakh...
Read the two part series at the Hindu for a reminder on why perhaps there are so many crorepatis in the Lok Sabha:
Or as P. Sainath reminded us in his earlier piece:
Your chances of winning an election to the Maharashtra Assembly, if you are worth over Rs.100 million, are 48 times greater than if you were worth just Rs.1 million or less. Far greater still, if that other person is worth only half-a-million rupees or less. Just six out of 288 MLAs in Maharashtra who won their seats declared assets of less than half-a-million rupees. Nor should challenges from garden variety multi-millionaires (those worth between Rs.1 million-10 million) worry you much. Your chances of winning are six times greater than theirs, says the National Election Watch (NEW).
B.G. Verghese in the Indian Express mourns the passing of Prabhash Joshi:
Over the past many months he had been greatly exercised over the grievous fall in ethical standards, even among some of the best known brands in the Indian media. He was particularly concerned about the graded “packages” being sold by media houses for electoral coverage with different price tags to favour a candidate or damn his or her opponent. He took me with him to Indore, his home town, some time back to attend and address a seminar and public meeting called to discuss this matter by the Madhya Pradesh Union of Journalists. He had done his homework and was armed with clippings and other hard evidence of such malpractice. Returning to Delhi, he got me to join him in filing a complaint with the Press Council of India, which is currently seized of the matter. One of his last public assignments in Delhi was a seminar to discuss and denounce this most undemocratic practice.
Paul Beckett, the WSJ's bureau chief in New Delhi:
Ajay Goyal, an independent candidate contesting for a Lok Sabha seat in Chandigarh ...[has] been approached by about 10 people – some brokers and public relations managers acting on behalf of newspaper owners, some reporters and editors – with the message that he'll only get written about in the news pages for a fee. We're not talking advertising; we're talking news.
...The best-known English-language dailies typically don't do it so blatantly, candidates and others involved in the elections say. Rather, those papers are more likely to hue closely to one major party or the other, making it tough for candidates who don't fit the papers' view of the world to be heard. But in the Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati media, to name a few, the practice is widespread, candidates say.