Friday, 21 September 2007

PENPRICKS ON TECHGOSS

Hi guys... a bit of bad news... Penpricks won't be regular next few days... till the 25th perhaps cause of a few issues one of us pricks needs to redress on a personal front... We should be back on the 25th for sure...
In the meantime we will try and upload stuff as and when we can... pls bear with us... And don't tear your hair out ;o)
This is the article which we wrote for http://www.techgoss.com. We are reproducing it here, just in case.

Indian Blog Stings Newspaper
By Dj Varma
At many levels, this was a first in India. A blog (penpricks.blogspot.com) run by professional journalists does a sting operation to expose unethical practices in mainstream media. At a more subtle level, it exposes the ‘cash for favorable’ stories being done by a few journalists. While respected media like Tehelka are doing a number of stings in public interest, no one had ever turned the spotlight on the journalists themselves. More long term, this will strengthen the trend of blogs breaking big stories. At a more pressing level, this is another manifestation of the ideas and energy of the new media and young India pressing for positive change in the old media and establishment which are often a clique of cozy equations. Techgoss.com contacted the journalist who writes under the pseudonym penpricks for his views on how blogs are empowering the average Indian, and playing an important role in the public’s right to know.In the spirit of the blog itself, techgoss has not edited a single word of the email interview. Many mainstream journalists writing for techgoss prefer to use pseudonyms and we have no problems with anonymity. After all, the right of the Indian public to be informed about the machinations of the rich and powerful overrides many rules and regulations set by same establishment.Check out the blog itself to see how it masterminded the sting on a leading newspaper in Goa.


A PRICK, THAT'S ALL

By Penpricks
By and large, the media in Goa is like a bowl of set jelly.

Firm and glossy in appearance, but the slightest tremors can make it quiver. Until recently, six out of the eight newspapers in the state were owned by mining magnates, who control the iron and manganese ore mines is Goa. For almost half a century now, the miners-politician-media (and now realtors) nexus has led Goa around its coarse ore orbit. Journalists have only been incidental, anaemic and underweight meteors flitting about haplessly.
We started this blog on the eve of the state assembly elections.
Things looked bad.
A leading newspaper, the O Herald O had kick-started a trend, which virtually institutionalised the unethical practice of publishing advertising material as in-house reportage. Other mainstream newspapers like The Navhind Times and the Gomantak Times too had started following suit. Politicians had started slipping in currency notes along with press notes with a sort of nonchalance. Articles and news reports on prospective electoral candidates became tools of strategic investment for journalists covering respective political beats. We aren't saying that these trends began this year, what we are trying to say, is that during the 2007 polls, such practices had slipped around that no mans land, which isolates the exception from the norm.
But there were still some chaps slugging it out. It is to one such fellow, Goan journo Frederick Noronha that we owe the beginning of http://www.penpricks.blogspot.com. Put in very coarse terms, what we are trying to do, is navel gaze. Try it yourselves, gazing at your own navel is not as easy or pleasant as it may appear to be. Navel-gazing is exactly what the media has forgotten to do. Take this for example. Goa has a very financially viable media atmosphere. For a population of 13 lakh, Goa has nine mainstream newspapers and three news magazines, but none of these spare a single column reviewing the media. While there is talk of evolving a code of ethics amongst the mainstream national media, anyone making such a suggestion to the tight-knit circle of media bosses is likely to be ostracized and banished from the breed. Hence we prefer to function under this cloak of anonymity.
There is a real need for us to look at our mistakes and learn from them. We are trying to do just that. And where the dearth of capital and wherewithal has denied us, technology has come to our rescue. If the mainstream media does not allow space for self introspection in its pages, there is space to be had on the web. All it takes is a bit of time to earn your credibility pips. We would love to look forward to a scenario where more anonymous journos could step in and devote at least one blog reviewing one newspaper.
Over the last few months, we have managed to have our fair share of readers and we've had our critics too, who sledge at our being anonymous. That's fine with us, as long as we believe we have been doing the critiquing in the right spirit. Are we happy with what we are doing? Is it yielding results? Yes in a way... Our sustained campaign against plagiarism in local newspapers has resulted in putting the brakes on the sorry trend, where editorials picked up from remote newspapers like the Denver Post were being identically reproduced in the O Herald O. Although we must admit that plagiarism hasn't stopped fully. But these guys know, we are on their trail.
But we are not in a hurry. We are going to be around for a while.
Penpricks has managed in -- a very small way -- to develop a forum for critiquing. If a newspaper has erred, a surfer has a place to come to and figure out where and how. Now, newsprint is not the only white spread of holy grafitti that is more often than not guarded by self-consumed and vain journalistic zealots.
There is space to be had, if you have the time and gumption to write.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is brilliant. You should title it "Penpricks' Manifesto" and give it pride of place on your blog. Also do Goans a favour and post the entire piece you wrote for techgoss.com to goa oriented mailgroups like goanet, goa-research-net, etc.

With all the misrepresentation that's going on, you guys (and gals?) need to make your stand clear, and what better way to do that than through this piece.

21 September 2007 at 16:02  
Anonymous NowDepressed said...

Wow. That's really well-written, and extremely reasonable. Kudos, I just wish there was a strong, regular voice with even half of your capability and gumption in the Goan media.

The fact that there isn't - and that you have to bring your very evident skills to this anonymous outlet on the web - shows Goa in a very shabby light indeed.

21 September 2007 at 23:10  
Blogger Pen Pricks said...

Anon 1: thanks for the suggestion man... we'll do that
Anon 2: thanks for the appreciation... there is hope... there always is hope...

23 September 2007 at 12:29  

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