Published on January 21, 2016
1. FACEBOOKFREEBASICS VIEWSONNEWSFEBRUARY 07, 2016 `50 THE CRITICAL EYE www.viewsonnewsonline.com THE HOOT REPORT A violent year for press freedom28 TACKLING TOXIC DELHI By Papia Samajdar 46 EDIT Death of a Dalit 04 INDO-PAK Media’s Track-II role 38 SHEELA RAVAL The story of Abu Salem’s moll 32 RobotJournos 12 SUNIL SAXENA Tick-tock internet 22 With artificial intelligence taking over journalism, will reporters and anchors become redundant? AjithPillai’sspecialreport SWATI PRASAD Earth on the boil 50
2. JUDGING BY THE viral attention which a tragic incident has attracted in both mainline and social media, the suicide of Dalit PhD student Rohith Vemula has shocked the conscience of the entire world. The outpouring of grief and outrage over the death by hanging of the 26-year-old has been overwhel- ming. Once again, whether the issue relates directly or indi- rectly to the simmering issue of intolerance which has been smearing India’s “modern” face internationally, the debate has been reignited at a time when the Modi government least wants incidents like this to begin surfacing in the world media and on the Indian political stage. Whether or not this is a discrimination controversy involv- ing miscarriage of justice to Dalits, the community is bound to raise the heat on it, especially in the run-up to the UP elec- tions in which the support of this vote-bank is crucial to the victor. The hapless Rohith, in his heart-rending suicide note, blames nobody but himself. He singles out no enemy. He wants no revenge, no vindictiveness. All he asks is that the scholarship money which he is owed, and which was held up by the government following his expulsion from the hostel and common areas of the campus, be paid to his family so they can meet his burden of debt from which he was financing his education. The matter has become another big political millstone around the Modi government’s neck. Why is this so? Nobody can directly ac- cuse the prime minister for the occurrence of this tragedy. He prob- ably did not even know about the events which transpired before the story hit the headlines. What is in- escapable is that the atmosphere has been so vitiated by the govern- ment’s meddling in educational in- stitutions that such tragedies will inevitably come back to haunt the government. Ever since the Sangh Parivar brought Modi to power, there has been an attempt by pow- erful elements supporting him to spread the RSS’s thinking into institutions of learning in order to wean the country away from Nehruvian principles and Lohia’s doctrines. These at- tempts remained unhidden, thanks to the controversies in appointments to the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), the Censor Board and school textbook overseers and questioning the minority status of universities like Aligarh Muslim University. W hat this entails is the stirring up of student politics. As a result, the ABVP (the student arm of the BJP and RSS) has become exceptionally active and looks to support from the center. Vemula’s problems arose from a scuffle the Dalit students union had with some mem- bers of the ABVP. Even by the admission of the ABVP student involved, it was a minor scuffle. Student spats occur on every campus and they are usually handled by the university authorities or through counseling. But in this case, the matter was referred by friends of the ABVP to BJP Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya, who, in turn, referred it to Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani. Had the ABVP not been involved in the fracas, would a local student scuffle have been reported to one of the sen- ior-most ministers in the Union cabinet? And would the sus- pension orders against which Vemula protested with his own life have been issued without a nod from the center? Sadly, these are the questions being asked by everybody. The lesson from this tragedy is that a government elected to push economic and social progress should concentrate on getting on with the process of governing the nation rather than being side-tracked into involving itself with appoint- ments to educational institutions and paying needless heed to student politics. Not heeding this will lay it increasingly vulnerable to attacks and accusations when Modi least needs them. THE DEATH OF A DALIT EDITOR’SNOTE 4 VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
3. FACEBOOKFREEBASICS VIEWSONNEWSJANUARY 22, 2016 `50 THE CRITICAL EYE www.viewsonnewsonline.com A MATTER OF DEGREES By Bikram Vohra 50 TAKE IDIOCY OUT OF THE IDIOT BOX By Ajith Pillai 40 RAKESH DIXIT Ad windfall for MP websites 22 HowFreeIsIt? MANTOSH SHARMA The Republican Trump Card 28 MAMA SH Th Re Tr 28 ChrisDaniels,V-P,Internet.org,onhowtheprojectwill maketheworldmoreconnected12 AnopenlettertoMarkZuckerberg onwhyhisplanisflawed16 Anchor Review Governance ABHAY VAIDYA Indian media’s terror coverage 20 ` ` SUBSCRIBE TO VIEWS ON NEWS GET FABULOUS DISCOUNTS For advertising & subscription queries email@example.com VIEWSONNEWSTHE CRITICAL EYE S SAVE UP TO 60% SUBSCRIBE NOW Views On News (VON) is India’s premier fortnightly magazine that covers the wide spectrum of modern communication loosely known as “the media”. Its racy, news and analysis oriented story-telling encompasses current global and Indian developments, trends, future projections encompassing policy and business drifts, the latest from inside the print and electronic newsrooms, the exciting developments in ever-expanding digital space, trending matters in the social media, advertising, entertainment and books. EVERY FORTNIGHT VIEWS ON NEWS WILL BRING YOU TELL-ALL NEWS, ANALYSES AND OPINION FROM THE SHARPEST INVESTI- GATIVE REPORTERS AND MOST INCISIVE MINDS IN THE NATION An ENC Publication If the media is leaving you behind, stay ahead of it by picking up yester- day’s Views On News! VIEWS ON NEWS Don’t miss a single issue of this stimulating, unbiased, entertaining new fortnightly magazine and get special discounts for yourself and your friends ` ` `
4. C O NLEDE Robot the Reporter A TV channel in China recently used a robot to present the weather. It sparked speculation about whether artificial intelligence would eventually replace TV anchors and desk editors. AJITH PILLAI reports Editor Rajshri Rai Managing Editor Ramesh Menon Deputy Managing Editor Shobha John Executive Editor Ajith Pillai Associate Editors Meha Mathur, Sucheta Dasgupta Deputy Editor Prabir Biswas Art Director Anthony Lawrence Deputy Art Editor Amitava Sen Graphic Designers Ram Lagan, Lalit Khitoliya Photographer Anil Shakya Photo Researcher/News Coordinator Kh Manglembi Devi Production Pawan Kumar Head Convergence Initiatives Prasoon Parijat Convergence Manager Mohul Ghosh Technical Executive (Social Media) Sonu Kumar Sharma Technical Executive Anubhav Tyagi OWNEDBYE.N.COMMUNICATIONSPVT.LTD. NOIDAHEADOFFICE: A-9,Sector-68,GautamBuddhNagar,NOIDA(U.P.) -201309 Phone:+91-0120-2471400-6127900;FFax:+91-0120-2471411 e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org,wwebsite:www.viewsonnewsonline.com MUMBAI:ArshieComplex,B-3&B4,YariRoad,Versova,Andheri,Mumbai-400058 RANCHI:HouseNo.130/C,VidyalayaMarg,Ashoknagar,Ranchi-834002. LUCKNOW:Firstfloor,21/32,A,WestView,TilakMarg,Hazratganj,Lucknow-226001. ALLAHABAD:LeaderPress,9-A, EdmonstonRoad,CivilLines,Allahabad-211001. For advertising & subscription queries email@example.com VOLUME. IX ISSUE. 09 PublishedbyProfBaldevRajGuptaonbehalfofENCommunicationsPvtLtd andprintedatAmarUjalaPublicationsLtd.,C-21&22,Sector-59,Noida.All rightsreserved.Reproductionortranslationinanylanguageinwholeorin partwithoutpermissionisprohibited.Requestsfor permissionshouldbedirectedtoENCommunicationsPvtLtd.Opinionsof writersinthemagazinearenotnecessarilyendorsedbyENCommunica- tionsPvtLtd.ThePublisherassumesnoresponsibilityforthereturnof unsolicitedmaterialorformateriallostordamagedintransit.All correspondenceshouldbeaddressedtoENCommunicationsPvtLtd. Chief Editorial Advisor Inderjit Badhwar CFO Anand Raj Singh VP (HR & General Administration) Lokesh C Sharma Circulation Manager RS Tiwari 18 22 News websites have broken the rules of newspaper headline writing and grabbed the reader’s attention. It’s time newspapers’ online teams followed suit. SUNIL SAXENA 12 SOCIAL MEDIA ClickbaitHeadlines In the virtual world, a lot happens in one minute as immense data is shared on FB, Twitter, YouTube and Skype. SUNIL SAXENA JustaMinute! 6 VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
5. Governance T E N T S R E G U L A R S Edit..................................................04 Grapevine.......................................08 Quotes...........................10 Media-Go-Round...........................11 As the World Turns.........................17 Design Review................................42 Breaking News...............................44 Web-Crawler....................................53 Vonderful English............................54 Press Freedom under Fire 28 32 2015 was not good for free speech in India as journalists and writers faced fatal attacks, threats and sedition cases. Excerpts from a report by TheHoot Management programs are rendering young graduates unemployable and renting the social fabric of our country. HARISH CHAUDHRY EDITORS’ PICK TV REVIEW 3624 Visuals by a photographer who obviously has an eye for it. JAIDEEP SAMARTH Frame by Frame SHUTTERBUG SPOTLIGHT BOOK EXCERPT The Education Business 41 No Number Game,This 46 Cover design and photo imaging: Anthony Lawrence 50PlanetonEdge Besides greenhouse gases, scientists believe that global warming is also caused by microwaves from satellites, cell towers and antennas. SWATI PRASAD 38Media Moves An Indian and a Pakistani channel have staged a parallel dialogue initiative, showing that Track II peace efforts can work. MEHA MATHUR The Story of Salem’s Girl In this extract of GodfathersofCrime, journalist SHEELA RAVAL recounts her interactions with Monica Bedi, former partner of gangster Abu Salem Don’t Opt for That MBA FILM REVIEW Chalk N Duster is about schools putting profits over learning. It makes the viewer introspect and is worth a watch. RAMESH MENON The Delhi government’s odd-even project worked as an emergency measure. But will it lead to a long term policy to curb air pollution? PAPIA SAMAJDAR 7VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
6. 8 VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016 Grapevine MovieBuffs Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam is in trouble. The party was red-faced when Congress Darshan, edited by Nirupam, carried articles that criticized Nehru’s policies and labeled Sonia Gandhi’s father as a “fascist soldier”. The Congress Disciplinary Committee, headed by AK Antony, slapped a showcause notice on Nirupam for the “grave lapse”. But the buzz is that the former Shiv Sainik is leaning towards the BJP. So the love lost is mutual. CongressEditorinaSoup After the announcement by an Italian senator that one of the two Italian marines, accused of killing two Kerala fishermen, would not be sent to India to face trial, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get him over. People are now worried that the PM will take the CM’s request lit- erally and put Italy as part of his next itinerary. However, he has the option of deputing someone more familiar with the terrain and language, like RaGa, for instance? ItalyCalling BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has taken upon him- self to speak on behalf of Hindus. He proposes that Hindus offer “Lord Krishna’s package” to Mus- lims, whereby in return for “three temples”, they keep “39,997 mosques”. Of course, he has ben “politically correct” and has in- cluded the Ram temple in Ayod- hya in the list. He has asserted that the Ram temple is, after all, a legal and an archaeological issue. While Delhi was under the odd-even scheme, Chief Minister Arvind Kejri- wal and his deputy Manish Sisodia took time off to watch the special screening of the recently-released Hindi filmWazir, along with the director and the star cast at a Vasant Kunj cineplex. Must have been another car pool experience for the VIPs! Swamy’sProposal
7. 9VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016 Rani Mukherjee, busy with her new-born daughter, had to issue a clarification after a Pak- istani news website wrote about how she had tweeted her support for a referendum in Kashmir. She clarified that she has no social media platform. However, the twitter handle @_rani_mukherji has been expressing quite a few controversial views on the Kash- mir issue. Seems like the woes of not being on social media too are many! Twitter TroubleBesetsRani —Illustrations: UdayShankar —Compiled by Roshni Seth MissingMP? Recently, the Supreme Court held that “temples cannot prohibit the entry (of women), except on the basis of religion.” Though the court is going to examine the issue on Febru- ary 8, a section of people are asking why only minorities should have the right to their practices in India. Or is this a case of religious apartheid? Last heard, many Hindu women had decided to sign petitions to “restrict” themselves to save the sanctity of the temples! ReligiousApartheid? Firebrand MP from Nawada, Giriraj Singh, who is a union minister as well, has been declared “missing” by the people of his con- stituency. Posters were put up all over Nawada with his photograph and his “achievements” that include “missing” from his con- stituency. The posters mentioned that ever since winning the Lok Sabha seat, he “has been missing from Barbigha; whenever called, his PA says he is busy and puts down the phone; even after be- coming MP he has not been able to do any work under his MPLAD fund in Barbigha, and he is occa- sionally seen on TV”. The posters further added that if anyone sees him next time “please inform im- mediately”. However, Bihar police later pulled down the posters. MunnabhaiFoxed ByBaba’sAdvice Yoga guru Baba Ramdev recently visited Yerwada jail, where “Munnabhai” San- jay Dutt has been jailed, to teach asanas in return for the promise to give up tobacco in- take as “dakshina”. He is re- ported to have told the inmates that some UP gang- sters had come for treatment in his yoga camp and had offered to take care of those against him. “Jinhone aapka nuksaan kiya hain, hum un logon ko patka denge (Those who have hurt you, we shall pin them down)”. Munnabhai is now wondering whether the goons would be after him if he does not heed Baba’s advice. So he has wisely asked Baba to pray for him. ComedyofErrors The valedictory session of the Indian Science Congress in Mysore was a laughter riot. Karnataka Education Minister TB Jayachandra addressed the late former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam as “Alm” while the president- elect of ISC, Prof DN Rao, addressed former prime minister Deve Gowda as the “PM of India”. Deve Gowda men- tioned the Prime Minister as “Dr Modi”. What’s more, Gowda reached the podium for his speech before his turn arrived. The announcer was so fast that the dignitaries, unable to keep pace, issued wrong certificates to the winners!
8. U O T E S Rajdeep Sardesai, print and TV journalist Can I have @bhogleharsha job for a season? Or trade places? Talking cricket in Australia nicer than talking politics in India?! Amitabh Bachchan, Bollywood actor Most valuable, reliable, authen- tic REVIEWERS ARE the audi- ence. NEVER EVER DISREGARD THEM!!WAZIR badumba Tavleen Singh, journalist Deeply saddened by the suicide note of the Dalit student. Hyder- abad University’s vice chancellor should be publicly shamed. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, vice president, BJP No“destructive agenda”will be allowed to dominate "develop- ment agenda", we will have to maintain atmosphere of pros- perity and harmony. Shekhar Gupta, print and TV journalist Hope those outraged by politics on #RohitVemula suicide also debated morality of exploiting a jawan’s beheading, harassing grieving family. Vir Sanghvi, print and TV journalist One of the greatest failures of Indian secularism: Kashmiri Pandits, refugees in their own country, victims of ethnic cleansing. Shame! Why is it that a teacher who shaped many lives has no road or ‘chowk’ named after him or her whereas a corporator does? —Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the Times NOW Amazing Indians Awards 2016 ceremony What can a country expect of a person who does not fulfill his responsibility towards his family? —HRD minister Smriti Irani, accusing Rahul Gandhi of cheating the people of Amethi, whom he had described as his extended family, on NDTV Leave her. She is referring to some scam… Whenever something good is attempted in the country or in Delhi, some forces create all sorts of hurdles —Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, after a young woman threw ink at him at a thanksgiving function on the odd-even scheme in Delhi Half a dozen people cannot determine what is right for society or what is not for society...What business do you have to be a schoolmaster? —Filmmaker Shyam Benegal, referring to the role of the Censor Board, at the Pune International Film Festival 10 VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
9. EDIA-GO-ROUND Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley has said that film certification guidelines need contemporary in- terpretation and should be “non-discretionary”. “In most coun- tries, there is a mechanism for certifying films and documentaries, but it has to be ensured that in doing so, artistic creativity and freedom do not get curtailed,” Jaitley said. He was meeting the government-appointed Shyam Benegal panel to look into the revamp of the Censor Board of Film Certification. Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore said that the committee would provide a holistic framework for interpretation of the provisions of Cine- matograph Act and Rules. Meanwhile, Benegal said that there is a need to move towards a new system of grading films in terms of age, maturity, sensibility and sensitivity instead of censorship. “Film certification needs re-interpretation” Shekhar Gupta, former editor-in-chief of The Indian Express, and Barkha Dutt, con- sulting editor of the NDTV, have joined hands to launch a digital media startup called The Print. The announcement was first made on Twitter. Senior journalist Ruhi Tewari, who has previously worked with The Indian Ex- press and the financial portal Livemint, has joined as associate editor of The Print. The first offering from the newly-formed venture is titled Off The Cuff, and its first edi- tion began with Gupta interacting with Nikesh Arora, president and chief operating officer of SoftBank Corp. Barkha Dutt also said: “NDTV’s relation- ship with the television remains as-is, as The Print builds multi-media platforms in the digi- tal and events space." Shekhar,Barkha launch The Print Nambath heads The Hindu Suresh Nambath, National Editor, The Hindu, will be managing the news and editorial operations of the newspaper until a new editor is appointed. This is following the resignation of Malini Parthasarathy, who tendered her resignation to The Hindu board less than a year since taking over the reins from N Ravi in February 2015. According to media reports, the resignation was accepted by the board with immediate effect. The Hindu on January 4 frontpaged Parthasarathy’s decision to resign, while stating that she would continue as Wholetime Director of Kasturi and Sons Ltd. Areference to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s rule as “worse than British rule in India” on the Bihar government’s official website was removed following strong objections from the state Congress. The paragraph in question read: “It was he (Jayaprakash Narayan) who steadfastly and staunchly opposed the auto- cratic rule of Indira Gandhi and her younger son, Sanjay Gandhi. Fearing people’s re- action to his opposition, In- dira Gandhi had him arrested on the eve of declaring Na- tional Emergency beginning June 26, 1975... Thus, in Free India, this septuagenar- ian, who had fought for India’s freedom alongside In- dira Gandhi’s father, Jawahar- lal Nehru, received a treatment that was worse than what the British meted out to Gandhiji in Champaran in 1917, for his speaking out against oppression.” Indira mentionremoved from website —Compiled by Ankur Mehta Suresh Nambath 11VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
10. I am Robot the Reporter! The day has come when robots act as journalists, churning out neat, error-free copy or as anchors speaking with a sweet voice.Will automation eat away more jobs and do the work of desk-bound journalists? BY AJITH PILLAI Lede Artificial Intelligence Journalism OURNALISTS in India do not need to set the alarm bells ring- ing. At least for the next few decades, reporters are not going to be replaced by robots attend- ing press briefings at the BJP headquarters on Ashoka Road. Neither will the editor be supplanted by a new mechanical device which can be programmed at will by the management at the behest of vested interests. But run-of-the-mill tasks like process- ing news and data—currently tasked by staffers—could well be left to a computer in the days to come. Last month, Chinese news agency Xinhua re- ported that Dragon TV in Shanghai had, for the J “I will not go so far as to say that the algorithms developed today can replace all journalists. And I do not expect software to write an editorial about the lack of human rights in China any time soon. But remember, to disrupt an industry you do not need to replace all jobs within it, just a significant fraction.” —Federico Pistoni, in “Robots Will Steal Your Job, But That’s OK”, his best-selling book in 2012 12 VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
11. gaming giant Tencent released a 916-word busi- ness report on its portal QQ.com on China’s con- sumer price index for August. The article penned by a robot created a sensation. It was by many ac- counts, an impressive economic analysis which examined the prospects of the Chinese economy during the ongoing slowdown. The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted business journalist Lie Wie as saying “...The piece is very readable. I can't even tell it wasn't written by a person. I've heard about robot reporters for a long time, but thought they only operated in the United States and Europe. I'm not ready to compete with them yet.” The robot journalist, christened Dreamwriter, churned out the report in a minute at the inhuman speed first time, used a “female” robot to present the weather report live on its morning show. “I'm happy to start my new work on the winter sol- stice," robot XiaoIce said during her debut. She had a “sweet” voice, reportedly more human than what one associates with a mechanical device. The news, widely reported in local and inter- national media, caused concern among the jour- nalist community in China as a section feared that robots could threaten their jobs. Would the day not be far when news anchors would all be XiaoIce clones, many wondered. Were their fears unfounded? SENSATIONAL REPORT Earlier in September 2015, Chinese social and WHATYOU CAN DO, WE CAN DO BETTER Smart robots can do the work of desk-bound journalists and news anchors more efficiently and with fewer errors Photo Imaging: Anthony Lawrence 13VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
12. NEW FRONTIERS Sun Microsystems’ Vinod Khosla thinks computers will replace 80 percent of doctors Security beefed up across city ahead of Republic Day: Securityinthecityhasbeenbeefeduptopre- ventanyuntowardincidentsonRepublicDay. Policemenhavealreadybeendeployedatall theentryandexitpointstocheckvehicles.Ac- cordingtoseniorpoliceofficials,theforcehas beenfullygearedupforanyemergency... (ThistemplatecanbeusedforRepublic Day/IndependenceDay/Diwali/Holi/New Year’sEveandwhathaveyou.Amentionabout apossiblebombthreatorterroristattackcould beavalueaddition.Thisisaremarkablysafe storyasnopoliceforcewilldenythatitisnot onhighalert!) Showers bring relief from scorching heat: JoywaswritonthefacesofmanyDelhiites asthefirstmonsoon(orpre-monsoon showers)broughtrelieffromthescorching summerheat... (ThestoryholdstrueforMumbai,Kolkata, Hyderabad,Kochioranywhereelseexceptthe higherreachesoftheHimalayas.Weathersto- riescanalsoplayaroundwithstatistics— “Highesttemperaturerecordedona Wednesdaymorningin64years”or“Coldest summersince1942”.) Lede Artificial Intelligence Journalism of 15 words per second! It is not in China alone that robot journalists have been making news. In 2014, Associated Press (AP) in the US partnered with artificial in- telligence company Automated Insights (AI) to use the latter’s Wordsmith platform to compute and analyze quarterly earnings of companies. The result: In January last year, CNBC and others carried a story—“Apple tops Street 1Q (first quarter) forecasts”—which was written by a computer with no human intervention. It faith- fully followed the AP stylebook and went unno- ticed by readers as machine-made. Philana Patterson at AP, who implemented the robot journalist program, has been quoted saying that the Wordsmith has improved effi- ciency although it has not caused any loss of jobs. The news agency, which used to process 300 quarterly reports, now handles 3,000 of these with ease, thanks to automation. However, human intervention, she admits, was required for updates and analysis even as the basic work was done efficiently and with fewer errors than when done by desk-bound journalists. ROBOTIC NEWS But something equally remarkable happened on Predictable Stuff? One often comes across routine reports in newspapers that do not quite qualify as sensational news but nevertheless find display on the front pages. Such stories, referred to jocularly by some in the profession as examples of “churnalism”, involve formulaic writing and little else. It could well have been written by a robot reporter programmed to spin out copy within a template fed to it. Here are some typical stories which a machine could have churned out in a jiffy: 14 VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
13. miles from Beverly Hills, California, seven miles from Universal City, California, seven miles from Santa Monica, California and 348 miles from Sacramento, California. In the past ten days, there have been no earthquakes magnitude 3.0 and greater centered nearby.” The basic news flash was updated 71 times during the course of the day by LA Times staffers and a detailed version even made it to the follow- ing day’s newspaper. Quickbot had done its bit by spotting the story and putting it out on the website in virtually real time. Schwencke and his team of programmers have other robots which keep track of crime in the LA area. The news that it puts can be used or ignored by those manning the desk of the paper. With several companies specializing in artificial intelligence moving into the business of provid- ing programs for news agencies and papers, the role of robots in news gathering is only going to increase in the days to come. March 17, 2014, when Westwood in California, experienced a shallow earthquake of 4.7 magni- tude early morning. The Los Angeles Times posted the occurrence within three minutes on its website. It was the first to break the news. The story appeared under the byline of Ken Schwencke, a journalist and programmer with the paper, but it was written by an algorithm called Quakebot that he had devel- oped. In fact, Schwencke was in bed when the quake happened! The robot had used data from the US Geo- graphical Survey to put together this rather im- pressive news flash which did not have any stylistic flourish but was adequate enough: “A shallow magnitude 4.7 earthquake was reported Monday morning five miles from Westwood, California, according to the US Geological Sur- vey. The temblor occurred at 6:25 a.m. Pacific time at a depth of 5.0 miles. “According to the USGS, the epicenter was six A GREATER ROLE Companies specializing in AI have started focusing on developing programs for news agencies and papers Team India ready for ODI Challenge Down Under: TheMeninBluearekeyedupforthecoming Australianchallenge.TheODIserieswillputthe bowlingandbattingtotestasTeamIndiatakes onthemightyAussiesontheirhometurf... (Don’t we read such curtain-raisers all the time?Well, similar reports can be devised for hockey, football or any other sport. In fact, in the US templates have been fed to computers by artificial intelligence companies to cover baseball. Our geeks could surely do the honors for desi robots and program them to be cricket-crazy.) PMO promises big push for economy: The government has promised major reforms to bolster the Indian economy in the coming months. According to the PMO, providing im- petus to growth is one of its priority areas... (Again,avery safestoryonarainy dayasnogovern- mentwilldenythatit isstrivingforbetter growth.Similarly reportsonthe oppositiontraining itsgunsontheruling partyinparliamentorspeculativestoriesona possiblecabinetreshuffle,RahulGandhitaking overasCongresspresidentandDawoodbeing broughtbacktoIndiaarestoriesthathave stoodthetestoftime.)Allpredictablestuff, somemightsay.Robotic,nodoubt... —AjithPillai 15VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
14. Lede Artificial Intelligence Journalism According to Kristian Hammond, co-founder of Narrative Science, a Chicago-based robot-writ- ing firm, 90 percent of basic journalism could well be written by computers. And by this he means collating of data and framing them into easily read formulaic copy. This entails connect- ing information through the use of journalistic clichés employed by journalists while reporting events, be it natural disasters, crime or sports. ARE THEY A THREAT? But can robot-journos be a threat to the flesh and blood variety of the hack in India? At the mo- ment it looks unreal—almost like a sequence from a 21st century version of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. But routine stories like “City police on high alert”, “Court adjourned till next hearing” or “PMO promises growth” can well be churned out by robots without any human inter- vention other than switching the device on (See box overleaf). Those who love to paint alarmist pictures of the future will hold that there is cause for con- cern. Automation, they will say, has already in- flicted damage. In the last 40 years, several jobs have been rendered redundant in news organi- zations. Today, telex operators are unheard of and manual typesetters live only in the memories of those who worked in another era. Modern communication and production systems have created paperless offices which produce newspapers. Their apprehensions may sound far-fetched at the moment. But there are also genuine con- cerns of the computer outwitting humans. On December 10, 2015, a one-day meet in Montreal attended by big names in artificial in- telligence discussed how to prevent smart com- puters from robbing people of work and even harming society. FACING HURDLES As for journalism, there is also the added prob- lem of computers tasked with disseminating in- formation providing misinformation leading to panic situations unless closely supervised by hu- mans. This is the reason why a robot journalist cannot be left on its own. A few years ago, Vinod Khosla, Indo-Ameri- can venture capitalist and co-founder of Sun Mi- crosystems, shocked the medical world when he wrote a piece titled, “Do we need doctors or al- gorithms?” Khosla predicted that computers which can offer more accurate diagnosis will one day replace 80 percent of doctors. Many in the medical profession may not have completely agreed with Khosla’s prognosis but admitted that the future doctor will be more machine depend- ent than his present-day counterpart. So it is with journalists. Patterson of AP said in an interview about the introduction of the robot journalist in the news agency: “One of the things we really wanted reporters to be able to do when earnings came out was not to have to focus on the initial numbers. That was the goal, to (help them) write smarter pieces and more inter- esting stories." So better stories it will be—with perhaps a lit- tle help from our robot friends. But, ideally, nothing more than that. GROWING MARKET A robotics expert delivers a lecture at IIT Guwahati during its annual robot show Can robot-journos be a threat to the flesh and blood variety of the hack in India? At the moment it looks unreal, almost like a sequence from a 21st century version of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. 16 VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
15. S THE WORLD TURNS —Compiled by Shailaja Paramathma Charlie Hebdo cartoon stirs controversy Color complex in Thailand Tributes pour for Rickman British actor Alan Rickman’s death led to a huge outpouring of grief and glowing tributes from his friends, co-stars and the acting fraternity, reported BBC. Rickman passed away in London on Jan- uary 14. He was 69, and was suffering from cancer. Rickman carved a niche for himself on stage, television as well as films. He will remain immortal for films, such as Harry Potter, Die Hard and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. According to BBC, a galaxy of celebri- ties bemoaned Rickman's death, includ- ing Harry Potter author JK Rowling, Rickman’s co-star in Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, who played the role of Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and so on. French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon of the drowned Syrian toddler, Aylan Kurdi, was the subject of a fierce debate on social media. The cartoon shows Kurdi with the message: “What would have happened to little Aylan if he grew up?” The answer: “A groper of women in Germany.” It draws a reference to the recent incident in Cologne, Germany, where mass sexual assaults were reported on New Year’s eve, al- legedly by refugees. Many believe that the magazine has gone “too far” with humor this time but another argument being made is that it takes a dig on the perception of migrants. An advertisement for a skin-whiten- ing product in Thailand has drawn criticism on social media and sparked a debate over beauty ideals and advertising standards by claiming you “need to be white to win”. A pale complexion is hugely valued in Thailand and is associated with a high social status. Darker, tanned skin is associated with lower class people who work in the fields. The advertisement is for a skin-whitening pill called “Snowz”, made by the Thai brand Seoul Secret, and posted on YouTube. Wattanapak Jinsirivanich, manag- ing director of the company that produces Seoul Secret beauty products, apologized and said the advert was not meant to stir a controversy. Anew law brought in by the Polish government triggered widespread protests. It threatened to mar Poland’s ties with the European Union, which took objection to the legislation. According to Fox News, the law will bring the state radio and television under the control of the government. It was being seen by the Polish people as “democratic dictator- ship”. The ruling Law and Justice Party got it cleared by the Polish parliament and appointees of the ruling party had taken over key positions. Mein Kampf, written in the 1920s by Adolf Hitler in prison, hit German bookshelves after 70 years, following the expiry of Bavaria’s exclusive copyright. The new edition is replete with copious footnotes. Prior to the end of World War II, some 12.4 million copies were published in Germany. However, in 1945, Bavaria was handed the rights to the work and it held off publishing the anti-Semitic manifesto in deference to the victims of Nazi atrocities. Despite the ban, the book was widely available online. Protests over Polish govt’s media move Mein Kampf hits German bookstores 17VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
16. Clickable HeadlinesAttention-grabbing stories on the web have a lot to do with their headings, which follow none of the rules of newspaper writing BY SUNIL SAXENA EWSPAPER headlines tra- ditionally have been staid, sober and short. They have been built around action verbs and have primarily captured the news point in a few, simple words. This has been true of both English and Indian language newspapers pub- lished as broadsheets. Tabloids have preferred loud headlines, but these were never approved by main- stream editors. These mindsets have not changed even today. Internet desks of mainstream newspapers continue to follow the same tradition. They may be working in a different medium but headline writing styles remain the same. This is where they have been overtaken by bloggers and new-age websites such as The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and Upworthy, where a new style of headline writing has spawned. EMOTIONAL APPEAL These hugely clickable headlines are descriptive; they use more words; they appeal to emotions; they freely insert adjectives to inject color and, at times, seek to influence readers with souped-up PLAYING ON EMOTIONS (Left) The direct, hard-hitting headline in the video conveys the message in no uncertain terms N Social Media Headlines 18 VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
17. #RULE 3 Use adjectives and adverbs freely Newspaper editors have frowned upon adjectives and adverbs. They have believed that both gobble up headline space, and should, therefore, be used sparingly. In contrast, web editors revel in using ad- jectives. Almost, every second headline sags with adjectives. Take these two headings: “21 Haunting Photos Of The Day After The Bloody Clashes In Kiev” and “16 Things Only People With Unique Names Will Understand”. Critics accuse web edi- tors of baiting readers with an over-kill of adjec- tives. But the clicks on such headlines are high. #RULE 4 Create headline moulds Newspaper editors may be guilty of headlinese information. And they work. It was bloggers who first realized the impor- tance of clickable headlines. They found that the clicks soared when they used descriptive headlines with an emotional twist. Soon, these started flood- ing the net. Every second story that went viral had a clickable headline. Research conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group further substantiated the importance of headlines as it found that only two out of ten headlines get clicked on an average. These headlines proved that there is no place for boring headlines on the web, be it for text or videos. Headlines must pack a punch. Here are seven ways in which web editors are rewriting headline-writing rules: # RULE 1 Appeal to raw emotions Web headlines go for the jugular. They strike a raw chord. There’s a strong stress on emotions. A clas- sic headline was written for a video created to raise awareness for Syrian refugee children by SOS Chil- dren’s Villages in Oslo. It said: “Watch How These People React When They See A Child Alone In The Cold Without A Jacket”. There could not have been a more direct and hard-hitting headline. The headline had three emotional hooks. One, it asked readers to watch the reaction of people in the video. This, in itself, was a powerful hook. Two, it tried to make readers visualize the state of a child who is alone in the cold. Three, it made readers empathize with the child by pointing out that he was without a jacket. # RULE 2 Words are not a limit Web editors, unlike newspaper ones, are not lim- ited by space. They are not cramped by the width of columns. Web headlines often are long. At times, they may look ungainly, but they are effec- tive. The Huffington Post used 16 words to headline a Dubai selfie that had a couple posing before an apartment complex in flames. It said: “This Couple Is Getting Internet Hate For Clicking A Selfie While Flames Engulfed A Dubai Skyscraper”. Web headlines often are long, they may look ungainly, but are effective. The Huffington Post used 16 words (above) to headline a Dubai selfie that had a couple posing before an apartment complex in flames. 19VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
18. uses a full stop. Here is a web heading using full stops—“France figured out how to make its gro- cery stores feed even more people.” This is some- thing newspaper editors cannot contemplate. To them, full stops are a waste of space; also, they look ugly. That is why you will never see such headlines in a newspaper. # RULE 7 Use auxiliary verbs in the headline Another headline rule that has taken a tumble is the use of auxiliary verbs in headlines. Print edi- tors have consciously avoided using is/are and their past tense in headlines. But web editors use them freely. Take this: “Warm Winter Weather Is Bad News For Retailers, Great News For Your Wallet”. BACKLASH FROM READERS As more and more websites and bloggers adopt the Buzzfeed and Upworthy model of headline writing, their excessive use has also triggered a backlash. Many web readers find them pre- dictable. The shine and novelty has worn off. but they do not use headline moulds. They are re- quired to come up with original ideas to earn their living. But then Buzzfeed has found a formula that works and uses it constantly. So far, it is delivering and is even being copied by others. Here are two samples: “58 Romantic Comedies you Need To See Before You Die” and “19 Truly Charming Places To See Before You Die”. #RULE 5 Use question headlines freely Newspaper editors frown when it comes to ques- tions in headlines. They consider this lazy subbing. Newspapers need to provide complete informa- tion, not half-baked stories. But curiosity is what kills the cat. Question marks populate the web. For example, take this one—“What Happens If You Text Your Parents Pretending To Be A Drug Dealer?” And more—“What Kind Of Tattoo Should You Get?” #RULE 6 Write full sentences as headlines This is hard to believe. Upworthy is a pioneer in using full sentences in headlines. The website even Upworthy is a pioneer in using full sentences in headlines (right). The website even uses a full stop. For newspaper editors full stops are a waste of space and look ugly. Social Media Headlines 20 VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
19. The second method that Facebook adopted was “to look at the ratio of people clicking on the content compared to people discussing and shar- ing it with their friends. If a lot of people click on the link, but relatively few people click “Like” or comment on the story when they return to Face- book, this also suggests that people didn’t click through to something that was valuable to them”. It is, therefore, important for bloggers and new-age websites to use the clickable headlines that they have pioneered sparingly. They must also ensure that the headlines reflect the story ac- curately. The reader should not end up feeling cheated. If this is done, then clickable headlines will thrive even more in the coming years. Also, it is time that internet desks of main- stream newspapers start writing clickable head- lines. This is the only way they can make more web visitors visit their newspaper stories. Some have even been uncharitable enough to com- pare these clickable headlines with what the web derisively refers to as clickbaits. It is important here to differentiate between clickable and clickbait headlines. Clickbait head- lines are written primarily to mislead. They are not honest and do not reflect the content accurately. They are used by those websites whose content is skimpy and whose intentions are questionable. According to Wikipedia: “Clickbait is a pejora- tive term describing web content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue, especially at the expense of quality or accuracy, relying on sensationalist headlines to attract click-throughs and to encourage forwarding of the material over online social networks.” The Merriam-Webster dic- tionary is equally harsh and describes Clickbaits as “something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest”. Facebook was so upset with Clickbait headlines that in 2014, it decided to penalize them. Facebook wrote: “Posts like these (that is with Clickbait headlines) tend to get a lot of clicks, which means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed.” It, therefore, de- cided to show less of such stories and explained how it would identify such stories that promise so much but deliver too little. FACEBOOK ACTION The first way, Facebook said “is to look at how long people spend reading an article away from Face- book. If people click on an article and spend time reading it, it suggests they clicked through to something valuable. If they click through to a link and then come straight back to Facebook, it sug- gests that they didn’t find something that they wanted.” Quite clearly, Facebook reasoned that these people were victims of Clickbait headlines. Face- book decided to downgrade such articles. TEMPTEDTO CLICK? (Above) The web headlines are descriptive, inject color and try to influence readers 21VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
20. Social Media Time Spent Wait a Minute for Me! 2.78 million video download requests even as its servers would have received 300 hours of fresh video. Even more stunning is the way Facebookers would have consumed YouTube video. Together, they would have watched an equivalent of 323 days of it. Facebook: Users would have updated 2,93,000 sta- tuses and uploaded 1,36,000 photographs. They would have sent 31.5 million messages. Googlesearches:Google would have processed 3.1 million searches worldwide in one minute. Twitter: The 288 million active Twitter users would have posted as many as 3,47,222 tweets. LinkedIn:A total of 120 new accounts would have been created. Instagram: The photo-sharing site would have re- ceived 48,611 new photographs. Vine: As many as 1.04 million video loops would have been watched; another 8,333 shared. Skype: People would have used Skype apps to make 1,18,200 calls using the web as the backbone. E-mails: Spammers and genuine email senders would have sent a staggering 864 million e-mails Wordpress: Bloggers using the Wordpress plat- form would have uploaded 986 posts. Pinterest:Pinners would have pinned 1,388 prod- uct rich pins and 9,722 article pins. This is only a snapshot of what is happening in the internet space every minute. If you consider that the number of active websites crossed the one bil- lion mark in September 2014, you can well imagine how much time an individual is spending online. The virtual world is sucking the real world into its fold. The internet minute is getting longer. S we enter 2016, it is time to stop, and ponder. The internet is hijack- ing our life, and how. The Cisco Virtual Networking Index report released in May 2015 forecast: “It would take an individual more than 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month in 2019. Every second, nearly a million minutes of video content will cross the network by 2019.” Don’t be surprised. Just marvel. Till 2013, the world had created four zettabytes of data. In 2016, the global internet traffic will cross the threshold of one zettabytes per year. (To get a sense of one zettabyte, add 12 zeroes to a gigabyte). If you are wondering where this traffic will come from, you don’t have to look far. It is not govern- ments or large corporate houses but you—the users of social media—who will drive this spurt. In the next one minute that you will take to read this article, this is what will happen: YouTube: YouTube would have served A A minute can pass in a jiffy, but on social media it sees immense activity, be it on FB, YouTube or Skype. Has the virtual world taken over the real? BY SUNIL SAXENA 22 VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016 Lalit Khitoliya
21. 293,000 3.1 3,47,222 17,361 LinkedIn Instagram VineSkype E-mails Wordpress Pinterest Tinder You Tube TwitterGoogle statuses updated 31.5 million msg sent profilesbrowsed 120 newaccounts created photographs uploaded 1.73million photographs liked million videoloops downloaded calls made shared 48,611 1.04 8,333 1,18,200 million genuineand spame-mails transmitted productrich pinspinned love swipes made articlepinspinned 864 posts uploaded 986 1,388 9,722 6,94,444 1,36,000 photographs uploaded 2.78 300hoursoffreshvideouploaded millionvideodownloads million searches tweetsposted Facebook 60seconds@action A staggering minute on the information highway Graphic: Lalit Khitoliya 23VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
22. Touch the Sky with Color Shutterbug Trigger Happy This varied collection of photos by JAIDEEP SAMARTH, the brother of actresses Nutan and Tanuja, range from people, nature and animals to architecture. His interest in photography began while he was studying at Mayo College in Ajmer. While he never formally learnt photography, it is obvious he has an eye for it. In a compilation of photos aptly called Trigger Happy, Jaideep says: “When I saw something I found interesting I’d just go ahead and shoot. If it didn’t work I’d just not print it.” Jaideep hopes that these photos being exhibited at the India Habitat Centre will attract the attention of ace photographers like Raghu Rai. 24 VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
23. LEADERLY DISPOSITION A villager from Narlai in Rajasthan who looks like a sarpanch ROOMWITH AVIEW A priest at a temple in Gujarat takes a breather from his work PEACE & SOLITUDE People meditating at the Everest base camp on the Tibetan side 25VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
24. LITTLE BOXER A playful kid entertains his caregiver TECHWONDER The Bandra-Worli Sea Link, shot from atop an open crane Shutterbug Trigger Happy
25. A RIVER SUTRA Farmers crossing the Ganga in Ujhani, UP TRIGGER HAPPY JaideepSamarth PICTURE PERFECT Kumaon’s Abbott Mount Village early in the morning 27VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
26. 2015: Journos under Attack 2015 was a hugely eventful year for free speech in India. There were legal, political and technologi- cal developments that set the tone for these issues to be debated all year round. And journalists were at their most vulnerable, with deaths, attacks, threats, sedition and defamation cases against them at an all-time high. We begin by listing those politicians and gov- ernment organizations who deserve recognition for the challenge they posed to media freedom in this country. The top ranks go to these four: Chief minister J. Jayalalithaa and the Tamil Nadu government The Government and the Ministry of Informa- tion and Broadcasting The Central Board of Film Certification The Chhattisgarh state government CM Jayalalithaa and the Tamil Nadu Government When the Chennai floods brought journalists from other parts of the country to Tamil Nadu, they noticed that questions about fixing blame 28 VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016 Extracts from a report by The Hoot, a media website, on Free Speech in India in 2015 and how journalists were at the receiving end of all kinds of violence and threats Spotlight Free Speech in Media ALL-INDIA SOLIDARITY Journalists stage a dharna at the Chennai Press Club to condemn the killing of UP journalist Jagendra Singh
27. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister because an article had asked what Jayalalithaa had done so far. In this report’s total count of 48 defamation cases in 2015, the Tamil Nadu government ac- counts for 11 of them and for two of the 14 sedi- tion cases filed in the country. In December 2015 the Telegraph reported that the Jayalalithaa gov- ernment has filed a total of 190 defamation cases during its tenure. The Government of India and the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting The I&B ministry under the Bharatiya Janata Party government has become an image manager for its leaders and a censor rather than a provider of information. Its brief now is to safeguard the PM’s image. Very recently, the Hindu were neither asked by the press in Tamil Nadu, nor answered by officials at press conferences. It was an indicator of the defamation capital that this city has become. In 2015 the chief minister, her ministers, and her government filed a large number of criminal defamation cases against a range of magazines and individuals, prompting the Supreme Court to take note by the year end. The apex court said that the bulk of defamation cases against political leaders have been filed in Tamil Nadu, and slammed the state government for granting sanc- tion for prosecution in these cases. In May the Supreme Court gave omnibus re- lief to the magazine Nakkeeran in connection with a set of 15 criminal defamation procee- dings initiated against it by the chief minister, ministers and senior IAS officers in Tamil Nadu. These 15 complaints cited all its 20 reporters as respondents. In November, criticism of government inac- tion led the City Public Prosecutor M.L. Jegan to file a criminal defamation case against the weekly magazine Ananda Vikatan for ‘maligning’ the 29VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016 Astatisticalsummationof freespeechviolations,2015 Number of Cases 10 8 (Journalists) 2 (Intellectuals) 35 (people charged with sedition) 30 3 27 Category Deaths Attacks Arrests Threats 14Sedition 48Defamation 21Censorshipoffilm 4Censorshipof broadcastmedia 3Censorshipof printmedia 2CensorshipofMusic 13Censorshipof CyberMedia 13Hatespeech These figures are based on incidents reported in the press and should be treated as conservative estimates. The figures on attacks against journalists collected by the National Crime Records Bureau are not available yet for 2015. The figures for deaths include those cases in which investiga- tions are not complete The Hoot In the course of the year, the government… focused its energies on preventing information leaks to the media and defended its curbs on journalists. IMAGE MANAGEMENT (Left) The I&B Ministry dropped the student film section at the International Film Festival of India following students’ strike at FTII
28. SHOOTINGTHE MESSENGER BBC logo being burnt in Lucknow during a protest against India’s Daughter, based on the Nirbhaya case reported that the Ministry will also monitor footage showing the I&B minister and the minister for I&B (state), in what is an unprece- dented move. In 2015 Sathiyam TV, a Chennai-based Tamil language news and current affairs channel, re- ceived a show cause notice alleging that two of their broadcasts had portrayed Narendra Modi in a poor light. In the course of the year, the govern- ment issued an advisory to news channels not to telecast the Nirbhaya documentary and served a legal notice to the BBC for airing the Nirbhaya film ‘India’s Daughter’. It also focused its energies on preventing information leaks to the media and defended its curbs on journalists. January Jan 14: TamilwriterPe- rumalMurugan(above) announceshis ‘death’asa writeronhisFBpage,after beinghoundedbycaste- basedgroupsandHindutva forcesinTiruchengode, TN,forhisnovel Madhorubhagan Jan 28:ShirinDalvi, editorofMumbai-based newspaperAvadhnama, arrestedforreproducing thecoverofCharlieHebdo February Feb 11: PenguinIndia agreestowithdrawand pulpallunsoldcopiesof AmericanscholarWendy Doniger’s‘TheHindus:An AlternativeHistory’aftera protractedlegalbattle withaHindutva organizationendsina settlement Feb 21: SeniorCom- munistleaderand rationalistGovindPansare shotbytwopersonson February16 March March 5: Blanketban onscreeningofacontro- versialdocumentary ‘India’sDaughter’onthe Delhigangrapeincident asitcarriedaninterview ofoneoftheconvicted persons March 24: Inaland- markjudgment,the SupremeCourtstrikes downSec66Aofthe amendedInformation TechnologyAct,2000as ‘unconstitutional’ Calender of Attacks April April 13: Morethan onelakhpeoplesendin theirrecommendationsto savetheprincipleofnet neutrality May May 14: TheSupreme Courtupholdstheframing ofobscenitycharges againstpoetVasantDatta- treyaGurjar(below)forhis poemonGandhi June June 6: BilalBahadur, photoeditorofKashmir Life,isattackedand severelybeatenby amobinSrinagar, incensedatcoverageof theirFridayprotestsin theNowhattaarea June 8: Shajahanpur- basedjournalistJagendra Singh(above)diesofburnin- juries,eightdaysafterheal- legedinavideothathewas setonfirebyagroupofpolice andsupportersofUttarPra- deshMinisterforDairyDevel- opment,RamMurtiVerma July5 July 5: AkshaySingh (below),areporterwithAaj Takchannel,whowascover- ingtheVyapamscaminMad- hyaPradesh,diesin mysteriouscircumstancesin MeghnagarnearJhabua Spotlight Free Speech in Media 30 VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
29. in the year, Pahlaj Nihalani, who remained in the news all year round. The body he headed cen- sored some 21 films in the course of the year, one of which came in for 218 cuts. The CBFC made the most news at the end of the year for shorten- ing the duration of a James Bond kiss. Conse- quently, on the first day of 2016 the government announced a 6-member panel to review the func- tioning of the CBFC. The Chhattisgarh Government It jailed two journalists and presided over the state harassment of journalists in the Bastar re- gion, which led them to hold a protest in Jag- dalpur at the end of the year. In the course of the year, three channels were issued show cause notices on why they should not face action for Yakub Memon’s execution cover- age. Among other actions, the I&B ministry banned a documentary on beef and issued a no- tice to a Gujarat channel for “sullying” the image of the prime minister. Following the extended re- sistance of the students of the Film and Television Institute of India to the appointment of a director at the International Film Festival of India later in the year, the Ministry decided to drop the student film section at the festival. The Central Board of Film Certification This government body acquired a new head early August Aug 27: A`250-crore defamationcaseisfiledby EssarSteelagainstCaravan magazine Aug 30:FormerVice ChancellorofHampi University,rationalistand wellknownKannada writerMMKalburgi,shot dead September Sept 4: Hindugroups forceliterarycriticMM Basheer(above) tostop writingaregular columnontheRamayana fortheMalayalamdaily Mathrubhumi Sept 30: Freelance journalistAjayVidrohiis shotdeadinSitamarhi, daysbeforetheBihar stateelections October Oct 10: SudheendraKulkarni (below),whoheadsthe ObserverResearchFoun- dation,isattackedbyShiv Senapartymembersand hisfaceblackenedwithink fororganizingabook launchofformerPakistan foreignministerKhurshid MahmudKasuri Oct 7:Twoconcertsof Pakistanighazalsinger GhulamAliinMumbaiand PuneinMaharashtraare cancelledfollowing protestsbytheShivSena whichisopposedtoall ‘culturalties’withPakistan November Nov 20: TheCBFCcuts fourscenesfrom ‘Spectre’, theJamesBondfilm,two forallegedprofanityand twofor‘excessivekissing’ December Dec 1:Severaloffices oftheMarathidaily Lokmatattacked forpublishingan allegedlyblasphemous cartoondepictingISIS fundinginanarticle titled'ISISchaPaisa' (ISIS'money) Dec 16: Ravi ShankarPrasad,Minister ofCommunications, Dec 31: DesiyaMurpokkuDravida Kazhagam(DMDK)chief andTamilfilmactor Vijayakanth(below)spitsat journalistsanddaresthem toaskChiefMinister J.Jayalalithaasimilarques- tionsabouttheupcoming assemblyelections informsParliamentthatthe Governmenthasblocked 844socialmediapages tillNovemberunderthe ITAct 31VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
30. Book Excerpt ROM a small village in Punjab to a jail in faraway Portugal, Bollywood star- let and Abu Salem’s para- mor Monica Bedi has tra- velled a long way. A pro- verbial small-town girl with stars in her eyes, Bedi never rose to be a star to reckon with even in her prime. She gained fame only after her romance with gangster Salem became public knowledge and she became known for being an internationally wanted criminal. In September 2002, Bedi was arrested along with Salem by the Lisbon Police for entering Por- tugal with forged documents. They served two years in jail before being deported to India on No- vember 11, 2005, after India promised Portugal that Salem would not get a death sentence. The CBI had filed a case against Bedi under F STAIRWAYTO FAME? Monica Bedi’s relationship with gangster Abu Salem had become the talk of the town Sheela Raval has been a hard-nosed print and TV journalist who extensively covered the Mumbai underworld in a career spanning three decades. She is now editor investigations with ABP News. Sheela has traversed the globe to track down notorious criminals and has managed rare interviews with some of them. In this excerpt from Godfathers Of Crime: Face to Face With India’s Most Wanted, she recounts her interaction with Monica Bedi, the Bollywood starlet, who courted controversy for her romantic links with gangster Abu Salem. Bedi was arrested with her lover in Lisbon in 2002 for entering Portugal with forged travel documents. The two were deported to India in 2005. The Gangster’s Moll Godfathers Of Crime: Face to Face With India’s Most Wanted 32 VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
31. case was pending against her in the Bhopal court, for which she had not got bail, and so would have to be taken to Bhopal to be tried the following month. She knew that this judgment would influ- ence the Bhopal case trial as well. A lso present in the court was Pallavi Ashar, Abu Salem’s legal counsel. After the judg- ment had been pronounced, while Mon- ica was waiting for the paperwork formalities to be done with, I went along with Pallavi to meet her. My conversation with Monica started with a re- quest to clarify the criminal charges that had led to her conviction. She accused the media of being Section 420 (cheating), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and Section 12 of the Passport Act for procuring a passport on a fictitious name, and on September 29, 2006, a special CBI court convicted her on charges of passport forgery. Just before the CBI Court announced its judg- ment on her, I had travelled to Hyderabad with the brief to find out who Monica Bedi really was. I was to meet her on the day the judgment was delivered and had spoken to her advocate about meeting her privately for 15 minutes on the premises of the court. That day, the special court at the Namapally Court Complex was packed with journalists. Mon- ica finally came in wearing a cotton salwar-kameez. Her hair was neatly clipped. She sat on a bench, her eyes lowered to the ground. I found that jail had mellowed her. I had heard that while imprisoned she had turned to yoga and spirituality for solace. When the judgment was pronounced by Judge CV Subrahmanyam and she was sentenced to five years’ rigorous imprisonment, she looked sad but remained composed. Another passport forgery “I was never married to Abu Salem, I only lived with him for a year,” Monica clarified. She didn’t deny her relationship, but said she had not been in touch with him after their arrest. CHASING STORIES Dawood Ibrahim in Sharjah, UAE. Raval, the author, has a wide experience in reporting on criminals and the underworld Getty Images 33VIEWS ON NEWS February 7, 2016
32. biased in portraying only the dark side of her life. I told her that it might be because she had shunned the media and there had been no access to her for anyone to clarify or portray her side of the story. I tried to convince her that she could use the channel I worked for to clear her stand that she “was an am- bitious but not a bad girl”. She said she was some- one who took time to open up, and it was not possible to do so in 15-20 minutes. But she asserted that she really needed people to know that the real Monica Bedi was not a “bad girl”, and certainly not a criminal. I asked her if she felt she had paid a heavy price for a few mistakes. Did she marry the wrong man? “I was never married to Abu Salem, I only lived with him for a year,” she clarified. She didn’t deny her relationship with Salem, but said she had not TIME FOR POLITICS Monika Bedi campaigning for Congress during elections 2014 in Sambhal been in touch with him since they were arrested. “I loved him but it isn’t the same anymore. I last spoke to him on September 18, 2002, the day we were arrested. I haven’t been in touch with him since then. I am not with him anymore and have got nothing to do with him at all.” M onica said she was not aware of Salem’s identity when she met him first, but conceded that his feelings for her were genuine. “He tried really hard to change and made a lot of effort for my sake. I should get credit for it. He tried his best but his past kept catching up with him.” When I asked her why she had introduced Salem as Sanjay to her family in Lisbon and said that he was a businessman, and what had com- pelled her to travel under false names on forged passports, she stared at the floor before saying that she had been forced to flee India out of fear that the police would trap Salem through her. “He feared that the cops would catch me and torture me to find out his whereabouts,” she said. “He told me he wanted time to change, so I went with him.” Monica said her relationship with Salem had started falling apart once they left India and that she tried to escape at least three times. “When we used to meet for two or three days, he
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