Tuesday, 22 July 2008

देखना है ज़ोर कितना बाजु-ऐ-कातिल में है... CRIMINAL ACTION AGAINST PENPRICKS? EXCHANGES ON GOA JOURNO

A bunch of farts, locally known as the Goa Editor's Guild, a body of editors representing Goan newspapers with a combined daily circulation of about a lakh and more, sat down for dinner, drinks at the Panjim Marriot and also to discuss ways to shut down http://penpricks.blogspot.com/.
Looks like Nazi-Gate has really, really hurt these fellas.
Penpricks is incidentally read by say about only 500 readers everyday (this, on days when there's no piano-carrying Johann Bach, or a cash-for-editorials scam or a post about editors offering massage services or one of our penpricks investigative story on blog).
One of the means put forth (and later discussed) by The Navhind Times Editor Arun Sinha was to file a complaint with the DGP Goa Police against penpricks so that 'the tirade against the journalist community is halted' [sic])
We think they should do it. We really think they should.
Look, the reasonings simple.
In 2005, the same Arun Sinha was booked for allegedly molesting his minor maid who he had 'brought' over from his native village in Bihar. After a complaint was lodged, Arun Sinha went underground for a while and the maid 'went' back to Bihar.
Then suddenly these anonymous letters found their way to the mailboxes of several journos. The sleazy anonymous mails claimed how activists -- who had to fight the system and the might of the Dempo's to file the molestation complaint, were imoptent. The series of mails described the women journalists who reported the incident as 'sexually frustrated' and had a lot of lurid details slipped in.
Three years down the line, the criminal case continues. By the looks of it, the case will continue for some time. And Arun Sinha continues to be the editor of The Navhind Times.
Dont see much of a harm there.
But Sinha sahab, first of all, we are not going to go run away from law. And Arun, we wont go into hiding like you did while on the dodge, once the molestation FIR was filed against you. FYI we are also not going to indulge in the sleazy mail routine too. Rest assured.
Go ahead file your complaint. If the Goa Police needs us to, then the pricks will come out of the closet (corny as that may sound). We'll identify ourselves.
Go ahead Arun...
Just do it man...

P.S. And dear editors, we need a small clarification. I know this is a trifle irritating, but thats a part of our brief. Who footed the liqour bill for this Goa Editor's Guild meeting at the Marriot? Did the Department of Information and Publicity pay up? Did the exchequer pay for your booze bills? Since the DI Director Nikhil Desai was present, we are inclined to believe that. It would be great if you guys could clarify this.

(Excerpts from the notoriously yellow weekly Goan Observer posted on the goa journo mailing list)
AND a few stray observations on the agitation and irritation and fury and rage of The Navhind Times editor, Arun Sinha, with the anonymous journalists who run the blog called Penpricks. Indeed, the principal item on the agenda for the meeting of the Editors' Guild convened by Arun Sinha last Friday was the Penpricks blog. Not just Arun Sinha, but editors of all newspapers in Goa are sore about being taken for a ride by Penpricks.
The blog, which is run by a group of disgruntled journalists, most of whom being former employees of Herald, issued a fabricated press note claiming that a notorious Nazi war criminal had taken sanctuary in Goa, who had then been arrested just across the Goa border in Karnataka.
The blog claimed that the Nazi had exposed his cover when he had sought to sell an expensive organ to some private party. The scam was planned meticulously with a neo-Nazi type symbol morphed into the letterhead, claimed to be issued by some German organization.
None of the local papers, or for that matter many of the national papers, bothered to check out the story with either the German embassy or the Karnataka and Goa Police, and carried it, some of them very prominently.
The editors were left red-faced when the blog Penpricks revealed that the whole story was a scam which it had fabricated to expose the incompetence of editors and senior editorial staff. The Nazi scam came on top of a succession of exposes; many of which were close to the truth over the working of the media in Goa.
In the past, the Penpricks blog had conducted a sting operation exposing how the former editor of the Herald, Robin Abreu, had expressed his willingness to sell not just editorial space but the Holy of Holies, the editorial itself to an advertiser. It also had partly established that the former editor of Herald, Robin Abreu, was in the habit of plagarizing from editorials from other newspapers.
Penpricks has been quite unfairly fair or fairly unfair in targetting all editors and publications though, relatively speaking.
The Navhind Times and Herald have been its principal targets. The Goan Observer has, of course, been one of the favourite whipping boys of Penpricks. To the extent of not only accusing me of being a yellow journalist but even declaring me dead. IN fact, some who saw only the heading declaring me dead and did not read further, really thought I was dead or at least seriously ill. I received several calls from close friends and several friends kept calling each other to find out if I was seriously ill and had been admitted to hospital.
Arun Sinha raved and ranted and was insistent that the Editors' Guild should file a criminal complaint against the Penpricks blog to the Director General of Police. I was present there entirely by accident, or maybe because Arun Sinha thought that as a victim of Penpricks I would endorse his campaign of vendetta against them.
I have nothing against the comments that the Penpricks blog makes, including the comments they keep making about me. I think they are revealing, sometimes a little irritating and very often hilarious. I must admit that they have tended to be very personal and malicious at times.
But unlike Arun Sinha, I have no objection whatsoever to media blogs that are critical of people in the media. But I do believe that those who wish to criticize others should have the courage to identify themselves. I believe that the cloak of anonymity with which they surround themselves is despicable. Those who run the Penpricks are behaving like whores -- a community who it has been famously said exercise power without responsibility. I fault the Penpricks for their cowardice and not for their comments, which in any case I treat with contempt.

(Comments on Goa journo)
With the Editor's guild going after penpricks, it is just a matter of time before penpricks will be nailed.
Penprick's IP address can be easily revelead by the ISP. If authorities subponea the ISP, they are bound to reveal penprick's ISP.
The only way out for penpricks is to use a proxy to do whatever he does, and that too he should use a proxy which is hosted and belongs to a company which is in a country where the privacy laws are much stronger than in India.
Are you talking about Editors' Guidl at national level? Is there any registered body clled Goa editors' Guild? will anybody let us know?-
Anonymity of the Newsdesk, Bureau or Wire Services is something journos use as a cover up their tracks from non-Journos. Penpricks is something that is getting back at the Journos and Editors with their own anonymity..... and they like it not!
The Nazi joke of Johann Bach revealed to what extent newspaper Editors [not just in Goa] are willing to do "Additions" to their "Editions" by way of "Sources" in the police, embassy or on the ground ...and how little they know about music, anagrams and honesty!
I have written to newspapers to expose the blatant lies they pass off as news in their pages, sometimes with malicious intent, sometimes out of ignorance ....... but often with lack of integrity. A case in point is a simple thing as the ACTUAL DATE on which Scarlet Keelings SECOND autopsy was done ....or since when the FERNANDINA mangoes are supposed to be EXTINCT. There have been no apologies or Corrigendum published to date that I know of ... and no acknowledgement of my emails, bearing my name, phone number and from my personal email ID.
So what are the newspaper Editors really worried about: the TRUTH that they have been shown to be supporting LIES being published as NEWS in their editions?
While I do not subscribe to anonymity, I cannot but salute Penpricks on their exposure!!
Mog asundi.
Can someone post this on goajourno also.
The point is what are the privacy laws in India. Today, ISPs routinely give IP addresses of people when police ask for them. I am not sure even if police follow any rules in what IP addresses to ask. Perhaps, an FIR is good enough.
Although I agree with Miguel about the good work of exposing media done by penpricks, the point is whether he has been violating any laws or not.

Saturday, 19 July 2008


Hi guys... the silence of the Goan media on Nazi-gate really does not shock us. These guys have always behaved like ostriches, who are only keen on hiding both, their eggs and their balls (for those who have an issue with the word 'balls', you could interpret it as a set of dummy eggs). So we were pleasantly surprised when GT features contacted us for an email interview. This was way back on July 4, when GT correspondent Arti Das wrote to us...

Hi Mr Penpricks (I got to know your gender through Orkut! J),
First of all, let me introduce myself to you. I am Arti Das, a reporter with Gomantak Times.
I'm writing regarding the latest sting that is making waves -- wherein you took the media fraternity for a merry ride by creating aheadline-grabbing fake news item about the arrest of an 88-year-old Johann Bach an absconding high-ranking Waffen SS (Schutzstaffel)colonel in the Germany's former Nazi party in the Khanapur jungle of Karnataka.
There are some questions, which have cropped up in all our minds and I would like to ask you some questions in connection with the same. Hoping that you will be kind enough to answer my queries, which are as follows:

She sent us a set of 14 questions, which we responded to on July 6. When there was no sign of the interview till July 14, we asked her whether Gomantak Times was carrying the interview at all... On July 15 GT wrote back to us saying they would publish the interview ASAP and sent us two additional questions (the ones right at the bottom). On July 18 we got Arti again on the chat. This is the conversation that transpired...

me: ma'am sorry to badger you like this, but any sign of the interview date?
arati05: not yet
2:28 PM
me: then ma'am i suggest you drop it
arati05: why??????????????
me: no issues two weeks after an event makes for no news
arati05: hmm ok will c
me: and I will run it on the blog
2:29 PM
arati05: when?
me: tomorrow maybe
2:30 PM
arati05: wait i will let u know dont put it on blog
me: gimme a time then
arati05: i cant tell u until my editor tells me when to take
2:31 PM
me: ok cool
arati05: c i am just a reporter
me: sure then its my request pls withdraw it i am running it on the blog tks
arati05: why u want to put it on the blog?
2:32 PM
me: cause its taking too long doesnt make sense
arati05: ok will ask my editor
2:33 PM
me: sure unless i get something concrete I am posting it on d blog tomorrow ma'am thanks again
arati05: ok
2:34 PM
me: see ya
arati05: please wait 4 my confirmation please, before putting it me: will wait till tomorow morn
2:35 PM
arati05: ok will let u know by today eveningh
me: sure
arati05: ok then
me: bye
arati05: bye

Now we have absolutely no idea, what has gone wrong... Suddenly GT appears to have developed cold feet... We have no cure for that. But we have this interview which you guys could read up. We waited as promised till the morning of July 19 and there has been no response from GT yet. Why no one knows. If you guys bump into someone from GT, pls do ask em...

1) What was the purpose behind a fake story of this sort?
1) Fake story? We only followed the 'to catch a thief, set a thief' principle. Very often the media (region, medium, language, irrespective) converts gossip, slag, unconfirmed and unverified reports into gospel. We wanted to bring this to the fore. And what better way to do it, than by paying them back in the language they understand best. The purpose of this story was to establish it as a fact that a large section of the media in Goa and India does not bother verify news that is packaged in an attractive, neatly written manner. There are no fact-checking mechanisms in place. Neither in newsrooms in Goa, nor in most media houses across the country.
2) Why did you think of this particular topic? Is it because it is a rather vague topic and most of us are totally clueless about it?
2) Arti, you call Jew genocide-WWII-Nuremberg trials- a vague topic. Then we regretfully say it reflects badly on you. A journalist is expected to know these things. If he/she doesn't, they are expected to ask, verify. Almost every newspaper office has an internet connection now? How far are you from information nowadays? And about the cluelessness bit, whatever happened to the WWW&H principle. That's the ABCD of journalism.
3) Were you expecting this sort of response? Are you surprised by the manner in which the national media covered it?

3) We expected the national media to cover it. They are only as dumb or as smart as the media in Goa. Perhaps they are only a bit more bloated. But what we were surprised by the amazing response which the story received, once we made it known that it was a hoax. We are also not surprised by the fact that not too many newspapers have apologised for feeding their readers unverified news.
4) Is this one incident enough to prove the 'credibility' of the press?
4) We do not know about the credibility bit. But yes, this one incident is enough to prove how 'in'credible our press actually is. (Not a joke)
5) Do you think this 'blind coverage' is the outcome of the cutthroat competition among newspapers in Goa?

5) Come on girl, don't blame it on competition alone. Ignorance or 'cluelessness ' (as you put it) is a major factor. Journalists in Goa simply do not read anything other than newspapers. This refusal to verify information, also stems from a kind of pomposity which journalists today are suffering from. Also like we said earlier, there is no stress on fact-checking in our news-producing systems.
6) Do you think that this competition is killing real journalism, which is dying a slow death?

6) You got it wrong here. Journalism is dead. It's as dead as a haunch of fresh mutton you see on a butchers hook. But there are still a few muscles trembling now and then. Most journalism now is glorified 'churnalism', a blog rightly puts it. But those small media outfits, individuals, who are still slugging it out some against all odds, deserve a pat.
7) What is your frank opinion about the local media and the national media as a whole?

7) I think the last answer should cover the national media as a whole. But the woes of the Goan media stem from the fact there are not too many pioneers in the profession you can look up to. These so-called pioneers were all beautiful people, with beautiful faces, fancy names, long side-locks, twirling moustaches, melodious speech, with a string of awards stacked in their cabinets. But they were mostly bad journalists who wore pants which had unusually bulging pockets, must have been the style of the times. While speaking about Sonia Gandhi, when Churchill Alemao once made that 'pallbearer of democracy' faux pas, he may have actually thinking about the state of journalism in the Goa.
8) Why now? Did you plan to do it at this point in time, or was there no particular reason for the choice of timing?

8) We'd felt the outrage after reading/watching the media's posthumus rape of Aarushi Talwar and Scarlett Keeling in the manner they covered the two stories. The coverage was spurious. We only waited till the outrage really welled up, I guess.
9) How long did it take you to whip up this joke of a news item?
9) Precisely 25 hours.
10) Did you have any apprehensions while planning this prank?

10) We were a bit nervous, but that's alright, isn't it?
11) Obviously you were trying to prove a point. Do you feel there is a solution to the problem? If so what is it?

11) Read. Stop hiring dumb stenographers as journalists. Get fact-checking systems in place. And do not lie to your readers.
12) Why do you feel the media has reached the current state?

12) It's a very, very long story. And its question number 12. A bit too late in the day.
13) Have you done something like this before?

13) You must read the blog more often then. There were several stories that we've broken on the blog, which includes a Cash-for-Editorials scam in the Herald, a Goan English Daily. We debunked (with documents) a CNN-IBN special investigative story on the Russian 'invasion' of Goa. One of the other more entertaining, but necessary story was one posted on National Press Day. It's called 'How to take a Goan Editor to bed'. That was widely read too.
14) What are your plans for the future? Any more pranks that we should watch out for?

14) If the story works out, perhaps next month we'll break another big story. It's likely to expose a rather suave editor. We are investigating the story right now, so we would not like to disclose more. But trust me, it's not a prank.
(second batch of questions)

1) Why Penpricks chose to be anonymous? Is there any specific reason?
1) There is a specific reason. We have acid scars on our faces... Come on.. thats a dumb question. The media here cannot stand scrutiny. If they know who it is, that's picking these holes, they'd blast a bazooka through our bellies.
2) Don't you think that by being anonymous you are portraying a picture of power without accountability?
2) Just because newspapers carry a printline, does it make them accountable? How many newspapers have apologised to their readers for feeding them the fake Nazi story, without any verification? As far as we know only the Herald has published a clarification on this issue. Has the Gomantak Times apologised yet? So where is the accountability on your end?


Hi... Here's a few links for some blogs and media sites which have critiqued Nazi-gate. You guys could run through some of these links if you wish to... The post after this one in all likelihood would be the last post on Nazi-gate, unless there's some significant development on that front... What would qualify as significant... Hmmm say if Telegraph files a story tomorrow claiming that one of its journos have actually trapped Johan Bach somewhere in the Sunderbans...
Until something else turns up guys, its back to the grind...

Indian media fall prey to Nazi war criminal hoax -- International Business Times
Baroque Nazi war criminal hoax — an update -- Reuters
Cutting Edge Lazy Journalism -- Tehelka
Asian (con)Fusion: Nazi war criminal found in Goa. Really? -- Independent
Goa: The 'Super Prank' story that wasn't -- NDTV
Stories that are too good to check -- Hindu
For Indian journos, April 1 comes 9 months early -- sans serif
गोव्यात नाज्ही-गेट व वृत्त पत्रांचे वस्त्रहरण -- Batmidar
With ‘Nazi news’, blog played super prank on media -- Thaindian
Goa Nazi hoax -- Indiamike
Indian media fall foul of Nazi war criminal hoax -- DPA
Bach’s piano & other stories -- Noosemedia
Stupid! -- presstalk

Saturday, 12 July 2008


It all tumbled out in Nazi-Gate, you saw that... right guys?
But we’ve reserved the best for the last.
You know there are times when newspapers ‘sex’ up news, but there are other rare occasions when editors, reporters, news editors all gang up and literally ‘sodomise’ news.
Hey, while sodomy per se qualifies for punishment in the Indian Penal Code, 'sodomizing news' does not attract any penalty.
The case in point is Dainik Gomantak editor Sanjay Dhavalikar’s treatment of the Nazi-Gate story.
Since you guys are aware of the Nazi-gate story, instead of going from head to toe, we’ll just run it through ass-up.
The day after the story broke, Gomantak ran a report, which was nothing but a bunch of lies. The report was credited to the staff reporter in the dateline.
And the story quoted sources. Repeat, the story quoted sources.
It informed the reader that ‘sources’ had informed Gomantak about Johann Bach’s hideout in Calangute. Now they did not need sources to inform them about this. Two reasons.
Reason 1: The whole goddamn incident was fake.
Reason 2: It was already mentioned in the press note.
But then what does the reader know. The story went on again about this source (you guys can read it yourself, check out the small scanned strip) who apparently told them that the identity of a fictitious ‘Bach’ (who does not goddamn exist) was being verified till late in the night. The ‘source’ also told Gomantak that ‘Bach’ was being interrogated all day. Phew. Lies. Lies. More Lies.
Now all this could have been featured in the prick award posts which have preceeded this one.
Why we wanted this post as a separate whammy was this article written by Dainik Gomantak editor Sanjay Dhavalikar. Don’t be so surprised fellas, in between all the photo-shoots that he and Unit manager Subhash Naik collectively pose for (If one does a headcount Sanjay and Subhash combined could beat the tally of photos of say the Paris Hilton and Britney Spears duo when it comes to their photos published in their own newspapers. And know what the raunch ratio of Paris's cleavage and Britney's butt, is far lesser than Sanjay's grin and Subhash's Sadhna-cut kinda hairdo) the former does write some.
In his article in the newspaper’s Sunday supplement Shabdsohla Sanjay hints that NAZI-GATE should be brought within the ambit of the IT law. Sanjay also claims that we pricks have committed illegal acts in 'forging' docyments and 'signatures' in executing this story. Thats fine with us guys. Thats really fine. After all its Sanjay and his team who've kissed rat's ass... Once you've done that, you're bound to have an opinion.
It was on the basis of the Dainik Gomantak's confirmation of the story, that the mother edition Pune Sakaal carried an eight column story on the poor-ole nobody 'Johann Bach'.
Our argument is this.
How can this guy call us 'forgers' when his newspaper fabircated photographs during the Margao fiasco some days ago. While the real swords were seized and sealed by the cops, Gomantak carried a fabricated photo which had drama prop swords right on the front page, instead of the real ones.
This is a grave grave issue.
Pics like these could have inflamed passions in Margao and other areas. An already on-the-edge populace could have tripped into violence after seeing these fabricated 'sword' photos on the front page of Gomantak.
Has Sanjay penalised the photographer who sent these pictures/ What action has he taken? Should the cops book Gomantak for incensing passion? Has Sanjay apologised to his readers for this very very grave misdemeaour? Why is he quiet on this one?
Has Sanjay apologised to his readers about feeding them a fake Johann bach story?
Sure he has talked on length about how journalists face deadlines, about how journalists are pressed for time. But that is no excuse for making mistakes on two successive days. And literally fibbing to its readers that the information was provided by 'sources', who probably are as fictitious as our Johann Bach.
But Sanjay, we must say does at great job pointing fingers. But what he must try and do now, is hold it stiff and shove it in. (first draft)

... कहीं ऐसा न हो यां भी वही काफिर सनम निकले*

Oh my my.... After a long long spell we get you a Joseph Deva special. This was a lead story on the Herald about the Sanguem double murder, where the husband suspecting infidelity had murdered his wife and ended up killing his sister in law's hubby by accident, before killing himself.
While the newspapers as a whole covered this tragic story poorly, Joseph did try to inject some excitement into the coverage. Now Joseph is a very devout Christian. And we really did expect him to know the difference between both 'infidel' and 'infidelity'. While infidel means a non believer (now how do we explain this... Hmm let me try and put this in a way guys at the Herald would understand. See, you guys work in the Herald right. How many times has the owner Raul Fernandes promised you guys things like an air conditioner, good infra structure, a bonus etc etc etc and not delivered. Arent you guys all non-believers in Raul now right), infidelity would mean lack of faith towards a partner.
We trust Joseph will peer into his dictionary now.
We know it.
We have faith in him...
That would make us 'fidels' na? hehehe

* Just in case

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


Herald -- The Humble Pricks
3 pricks out of 10
It w
as Herald which caught the bait hoot, line and s't'inker. They put this story on the front page, with a nice read duo-decked header and they put old gramps Bach pic on it… Was he grinning... hehe
And we were kicked.
That’s the paper we subscribe to at home.
But one thing yo
u’ve got to give these guys. These guys did not stray out of line. They behaved as admirably as a conservative Laxmibai Rudranath Tokre would when faced with an opportunity for promiscuity.
But frankly we did not really expect them to run the story.
Reason… Editor Ashwin Tombat.
Now, although Ashwin has authored a book on the nuances of menstrual cycles, we do consider him somewhat well read… We thought he’d know something about the country which birthed Communist icons Marx and Engels in the first place. We really, really thought he’d find something amiss with the story…
But he did not.
But what we can share with you guys, is this funny email conversation we shared with Ashwin on this issue. We begin with the first response sent to the perus.narkp@berlin.com by Ashwin after he published the story…

Dear Mr Smit,
We have carried the item in our newspaper today.
Pl see: http://oheraldo.in/pagedetails.asp?nid=6200&cid=2

To which we responded
Dear Sir
Thank you for your prominent coverage.
It was well reported. I wish to inform you however, that the press conference may be delayed by a few days due to visa issues for the German press team. The date is more likely to be Wednesday/Thursday. Hope to see you there.
The accused may also be paraded before the press teams from Goa, India.

Then came this reply… Ashwin by this time was perhaps a touch edgy. Can you feel it in this mail?

Dear Smit,
I look forward to seeing you. Are you likely to be in Goa soon? Where can I contact you? Ashwin

By this time, we were just about to put a teaser on the blog. So we thought why not let Ashwin know that this was a hoax, so we sent him a one line mail saying, if he wants to get in ‘touch’ he should write to penpricks@gmail.com
Poor chap… this must have been the second time in history that Ze Germans let the Communists down.
Hey BTW, they are also the only chaps to have categorically told their readers that the story they carried was prank.

Gomantak Times – The Page 2 pricks
3 pricks out of 10
We are confounded. Look, we don’t like this 'shades of gray' business. We love things in black or white. Either these guys should have carried the story on Page 1 or they should not have carried it at all.
They insulted our artistry by carrying this masterpiece on page 2. Whatever happened to the acute artistry of the editor Derek or the wizened dexterity of Ashley. They must have been back from a rather late lunch break at Ritz around 7 pm, were they. Just about the time when the stories are readied.
But what we really missed was a Thapa touch to this story. We can actually fantasize the header he would have chiseled out for this one… hmmm ‘BACH TO SQUARE ONE’ or ‘SAB 'BACH'WAS’… 'BACH' KE REHNA' and so on.
We aren’t so good at this. But this story in Thapa’s hands would have really made our day. Instead the story got carried on page two with the requisite ‘says a press note’ tags, appropriately slipped in and credited to the GT NEWS ROOM.

8 pricks out of 10
These pricks rose late, but what a whammy they carried. Trust Parrikar’s paper to go hammer and tongs on such an issue. If a fake naxal issue can cause Parrikar a few dozen hemorrhages, then this was a full fledged Nazi. The story filed by these guys had all the requisites of a fraud. The usual intelligence inputs, sources bullshit.

Guys, you must credit these fellas for not falling for this hoax. But we would still think twice before attributing this to rigor, chances are it must have been their lucky day.

NOTE: We are putting this small note out. We have reserved a special post for Dainik Gomantak on this issue. They way they have reacted to this story is really really disgusting. Now what we are going to do is whip these guys into shape in the next post.
Do look out for it.
Watch how we tear apart their story and Editor Sanjay Dhavalikar’s article published on Sunday on this issue sinew by sinew. Consistently Dainik Gomantak has been behaving quite like the Taliban in this liberal age.
Its time we tie them to their own stakes and…


2 p
ricks out of 10
If there was ever a police
officer who had to eat crow in Nazi-gate it was the additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) Karnataka Police Shankar Bidari. The Indian Express claims that it confirmed the story because of the nod given by Bidari.
It may hav
e been unintentional, but this story has also amply proved how inept our intelligence agencies really are.
These are the same guys, which are responsible for tackling anti-social elements, which are far more roguish than ant 88-year-old SS colonel. These are the same guys on whose intelligence inputs the security of a state or a nation hinges. All these cops were doing in this case was regurgitate media reports.
When IE contacted Bidari again, the bloody chap had the gall to blame his field agents and dismissed queries about his ineptitude. “It was an oral report that we received. The case did not happen within Karnataka’s jurisdiction, so we did not follow it. Lots of things happen on the Internet and we cannot authenticate everything,” Bidari said.
Even if we accept that Bidari merely rephrased the press note for IE’S T A Johnson. Bidari literally invented stuff like the Berlin airlift. Since he has spoken to the media about this, we can safely presume that Bidari also lied to his superiors about this. That’s serious business guys. There ought to be a departmental enquiry against the fella.
The IE did try guys… They tried calling more people than all the other papers put together…

9 pricks out of 10
Rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa has a great career in fiction before him. We, Penpricks are largely indebted to both Vicky and Anil Lulla of Telegraph for taking our humble Nazi-Gate story to a completely new imaginative level.
These guys have more of Leon Uris than Bob Woodward in them.

Vicky’s ‘Intelligence Bureau’ sources apparently told him that the fictitious Bach was flown to Berlin and that the latter was ‘tracked by Israeli agencies involved in finding war criminals’. He did not quote anyone.
Hmm… did the Perus Narkp press note state this? NO…

Vicky also lies when he says that ‘German Intelligence’ claims that ‘Bach’ was tracked down ‘after he had placed an advertisement in the local newspaper regarding the sale of an antique piano.’
Did the Perus Narkp press note state this? NO
Vicky’s lies continue as the story goes on.
Vicky now claims that even the Interpol had sounded an alert against Bach and that the German Intelligence had Bach on their most wanted list?
Where did Vicky source all this information from? How did Vicky confirm the Interpol alert? He simply lied. Lied to his bosses. Lied to the readers of rediff.com

Thursday, 3 July 2008


Hi guys, we thank all of you for dropping by and taking time to comment...
We've been running this blog as an underground forum for critiquing the media in Goa for more than a year now. Your comments will keep the fire going...
Starting now, we're running the first of the three part series on how the media manipulates news. How the media houses manipulated the information we had furnished in the Perus Narkp pressnote we provided, to pass it off as their own, attributing it to 'sources'.
This is a malaise in most investigations conducted by the media. While in a lot of cases hiding a source is necessary, this licence is often abused by the media to peddle spurious reports.
If you guys can, just think back, re-read/watch the media coverage of the Scarlett Keeling or Arushi murder over the last few weeks. Analyse what the media has said in the light of 'Nazi-gate'... Think back how the media regularly covers these police encounters stories or those 'terrorists apprehended on the eve of independence or republic day' stories. We've been there guys.
It never happens like the cops tell it.
Siddharth Vardharajan rightly calls it poppy cock. Over the next three parts we have decided to dish our pricks awards to the media houses which fell for this Johann Bach con. The harder they bit, the more prick points they get... So, here goes fellas...

3 pricks out of 10
To their credit, the Deccan Herald stuck to the press note. It did not deviate from the ‘facts’ mentioned in it. Looks like they approached this story the old school way... The kind of way journalism that used to be done in the times when the internet was non existent and phones were a luxury. There was no effort on part of the DH to even contact the local authorities to verify the details mentioned in the press note. This, inspite of the fact that DH is a paper headquartered in Karnataka, the state where ‘Bach’ was apprehended according to our Perus Narkp press note. The distance between Khanapur and Bangalore is not much. And yet no efforts were made by them to check up facts on this story. The newspaper is a household name in Karnataka did real bad no that front.

9 pricks out of 10
The Calcutta Telegraph appeared to go schizophrenic once we made the prank public. The newspaper almost bungee-jumped into the story with a striking graphic charting Bach’s journey across the globe, before he landed in Goa. This is the newspaper, which has lied the most. They added such fibs to the already fake press note, its not funny. Allow us to present a few examples.
1) The press note we had sent, never did mention that Bach escaped from Bardez, Goa to Khanapur, Karnataka in a taxi. Telegraph made this up.
2) We never said that the German Chancellor’s Core (the damn thing does not exist) had contacted the Intelligence Bureau saying that it wanted to trace an Argentinian passport holder. Telegraph made up this fact too.
3) Our press note did not mention that Bach -- an old German, had told an Israeli tourist couple at a rave party to having liquidated Jews. Telegraph made up this fact too.
4) Telegraph also claims that Bach was arrested at Anmod ghat, a fact not mentioned in the note we had circulated.They created this fact.
5) The world map graphic mentioned nations like Canada, Argentina, Bulgaria and Yemen as some of the places which Bach traveled in after his escape from Berlin. That’s fine, cause that’s we said in our Perus Narkp press note. Now alongside Yemen, Telegraph guys have put in the word ‘unconfirmed’ in brackets, to convey the impression to the readers that ‘phew… man we’ve confirmed Bach’s presence in all other countries except, Yemen… hope you guys don’t mind his yet-to-be-confirmed Yemen’s stint. We tried, but could not ascertain it'.
The bloody liars. Telegraph has without a doubt fibbed its readers the most. These guys have actually attributed this story to sources, another blatant lie. How can these sources explain a sequence of events with such graphic details, when the event itself hasn’t happened?
This isn’t a news story fellas, this reads like a ‘lulla’by filed by Telegraph’s Anil Budur Lulla. Kya Lulla bhai, itna imagination hai to script writer bano yaar, journalist nahin.
We have another bone to pick with the Telegraph over its follow-up.
After promising to apologise to its readers, if they got the facts in the case wrong, the newspapers follow up is very misleading. The follow up is another pack of lies. In a hasty cover-up, Telegraph lies through its teeth when it says that the press note carries a group photo of Johann Bach with other young SS officers. Guys, you’ve seen the copy of the press note in the last post right?
You’ve seen the picture we’ve sent. The one with the old gramp…
So what pic are these guys talking about? Telegraph claims that it had received information from sources in the Intelligence Bureau about the Bach operation, before they filed the story? So where were the quotes? Where were the details? They have blamed the Intelligence guys for not providing them with the right information.
But what’s important is that these guys have not admitted that it was a mistake. They have not apolologised to their readers for furnishing them with rubbish to read. Instead what Telegraph has done is source a long barreled gun and fire it all the way from Calcutta from the shoulders of one R Auradkar (Inspector General, Northern Range) who says this. “Auradkar, however, said he would not like to dismiss the news stories as the result of a rumour or a prank, as suggested in certain blogspots.”
The dumbasses at Telegraph.
Although they’ve been caught with their pants down, all they seem to be doing is covering their rear, when it’s their exposed nuts and bolt that they should be worried out. To be noted guys... although the newspaper maintains a ‘could-be-hoax-maybe-true’ line, they have deleted the page, which carried the original story from their archives. What’s that police investigation dictum guys, ‘A criminal always returns to the crime scene’. Telegraph did just that and tried to wipe out their prints off the cookie jar.

5 pricks out of 10
The two papers have carried this story on pretty identical lines and have attributed the information to 'sources'. In fact the writer Iftikhar Gilani has pre supposed that the German intelligence agencies had tied up with the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). In the press note we had only stated that it was the Ministry of Home Affairs folks from the Government of India, who were on the case. Guess it’s quite likely, that a Pakistani newspaperman would shout ‘RAW’, even when he scoops up a spoonful of uncooked rajma-chawal from a food stall behind the Raisini Road Press Club of India office. Another fake detail, which the writer Gilani mentions in his story, is that the ‘Bach’ would be flown to Mumbai, before being taken to Germany. We never said, but seems like his sources did ;)

7 pricks out of 10
The editorials staffers in this newspaper need a good thorough spanking. When their bluff was called by penpricks. These guys at the New Indian Express called us ‘mischief mongers’. But we’ve been called a lot of things, by a lot of people and institutions, we glad accept this brickbat, as a compliment to our expose. The NIE in its initial story claimed that after it received the information about ‘Bach’, it cross checked and verified the information from their sources. They also claim that us pricks had also sent the same press note to the authorities at the same time. We would like to clarify here that we had sent the press note only to journalists and media houses. There is no truth the comment made by NIE that we had also tipped off the cops about the ‘Bach’ capture. But heart of hearts, maybe NIE had wished we had done that. Now we have one question to ask the NIE chaps here. If these guys had taken to pains to verify and cross check facts. Why did they not quote anyone on this story. Not single guy has been quoted, who’s admitted to the incident. The only chappie they’ve quoted is Superintendent of Police Hemant Nimbalkar who categorically says, he does not know about any such incident. There are more questions to be asked about the NIE coverage? Where did they source the information about Bach being in the German government’s 'most wanted list'? Has this been said on the basis of an official document? Where is it? If some authority has told them this, then why haven’t they quoted the authority? What’s the need for being so secretive about a ‘most wanted list’? Aren’t such lists public information? India’s Central Bureau of Information has its most wanted list available online for all to see? So where did NIE source this information from? Tell us guys? Looks like its the NIE which is mischief mongering in this case… It is these guys who have virtually manufactured facts to suit their ends. Ok now for another loophole in the NIE story? How can these guys claim that ‘Bach’ announced his intentions to sell his piano through an AD? Its not in mentioned the press note? So where did this ad part come from? An ad in an English daily? Fertile boy… as fertile as the black soil of Khanapur. Another point to be made. These fibbers at NIE also claimed that their sources told them that Perus Narkp had passed on the Bach lead to the Interpol which in turn passed on the information to the MHA, government of India? Oh really? Sources again… NIE sources are like Frederick Forsythe, Colin Forbes, Leon Uris, Jack Higgins all rolled into one. Rich very, very rich imagination.

2 pricks out of 10
Frankly we expected worse from Times of India. But looks like they came off pretty well. Initially they must have been shell-shocked when they realized that they missed the story. Thankfully there was an element of restraint in the way they reported the affair, quoting the release consistently. These guys also got Karnataka home minister on record, who claimed he did not know about the incident.

5 and a half pricks out of 10
For The Asian Age, it took two bylines to churn out three paragraphs of pure fiction. And we have a problem with Messrs Bhaskar Hegde and Naushad Bijapur. Come on guys, you could have atleast credited our Perus Narkp press note. All these two chaps appear to have done is glean info from the press note and credit it to their sources in the intelligence... Damn you guys… Jis thali se khaoge usi mein chedd…. Apart from creating a chase drama, there’s another interesting element in the copy. Like the Calcutta Telegraph, The Asian Age too mentions that Bach was arrested at Anmod… Where the f…. does this Anmod come in from guys? Sure its on the way to Belgaum from Goa, but its not mentioned in the press note… Why are they obsessed with Anmod then?
(Coming up next, a close look at the coverage by Indian Express, rediff.com and other national media followed the stories which appeared in Goan newspapers)

Tuesday, 1 July 2008


We begin with this post with a premise, so that some of those readers who have any seditionist, trans-nation conspiracy notions about this blog, shed these ideas before we move forward.

Nowadays the charge of sedition is as commonplace as a tavern on a Goan street.
As journalists, we are ashamed at the way the Indian media reported the two most sensational murders in recent times. These tragedies virtually grabbed the attention of Western and Northern regions of India. Its the murders of Scarlett Keeling at Anjuna, Goa and Arushi Talwar in NOIDA, near Delhi we are talking about.
While initially, the media did play a role in bringing police incompetency to the fore in these two cases, they completely went hell-for-leather subsequently.
The media behaved like this stallion, which ran for almost two weeks till it collapsed dead… Why? Cause it had overheard that the stud farm owner tell the stable boy, “the moment those nuts bounce back into the barn, snip em off.”
Sure no one wants to be a gelding… But is being called an ass, any better?
Every tidbit, every rumour, every sliver of gossip, unconfirmed stories reported by the TV media and the print media on the Arushi-Scarlett murder, were projected as if they telling the viewer the gospel truth.
Dodgy, fishy theories floated by the police were often lassoed and then branded by the media as their own ‘investigative’ work.
Bob Dylan would have probably explained the credibility crisis in the media with a verse like this…
No confirming facts
No editorial rigor
No editorial tact
Just point a gun, jerk the trigger

Not only were these salacious, mischievous make-belief morsels just reported, they were amplified, till your ears ran shrill and you felt like scalping a journo or two yourself.
Perfectly respectable broadsheets had turned into yellow dossiers of journalistic verbiage. The media became an unfortunate catalyst which converted gossip to gospel.
We, Penpricks, saw a story in this.
NAZI-GATE is our effort to highlight the glaring deficiencies in the media, in a language the media knows best... NAZI-GATE is an attempt by Penpricks to pay the media back in its own unworthy coin.
We believe, this expose says it all about present day journalism. An age where FANTASTIC has an edge over whatever’s REAL.
Ask the editors of Deccan Herald, Asian Age, Deccan Chronicle, Daily Times, Indian Express, Times of India, Telegraph (Calcutta), New Indian Express, Gomantak Times, Dainik Gomantak, Herald, Goa Doot… By now they should acknowledge it… and in case they should disagree just whisper Perus Narkp in their ears… These are just some of the guys who carried the story.
These are the guys who actually went about ‘Bach’ing up the wrong tree… ;)
So what the f… is PERUS NARKP
The Anagrams
It’s an anagram for SUPER PRANK. Hartosh, Siddharth Vardharajan, Jonathan Allen, Rajesh Ramchandran, Krishna Prasad… you guys got this one right…
MARSHA TIKASH WAHNAAB: Its not Akshit, nor is it Bhawana Sharma… It’s scrambled for Shrama Shakti Bhawaan. It’s the name of the building complex in Panaji, Goa which houses the offices of the Goa Union of Journalists. Take our word on this, with Suhasini Prabhugaunkar as the union president, its no short of a concentration camp ;)
MALAK DULAB: Just one guy managed to crack this one… We’d said Malak Abdul heads the Perus Narkp, the intelligence wing of the German Chancellor’s Core. It’s scrambed for former president ABDUL KALAM. Since neither Perus Narkp nor German Chancellor's Core doesnt exist, the question of Malak Dulab's existence doesnt arise either.
EHT REA ENP CABK SKRIPC: That was a twirl of text fringing the Perus Narkp logo on the press note. We felt this should have been a give away, if there was any… But it fooled these ???? dumbkoffs ???? again for quite a while… Unscramble this and you get THE PEN PRICKS ARE BACK
We love Bach… We simple love Bach's music.
And such is our faith in him that we knew he’d see us through this story.
Next we scanned the internet for a suitable photograph of an old gramp from somewhere o
ut side India with obvious European features. We found one pic that suited our purpose. And attached it with the pressnote… Sorry gramps, whoever you are, wherever you are.
Then we picked up a predictable looking German logo with an Eagle on it, using google images. And then used Micrsoft Word Art to adorn it with our logo.
The address on the press note is a slight variation of the official address of Berlin
police. We then used Yahoo Babel software to slip a few German words in, to make the press note sound official.
The phone numbers mentioned do not lead to the Berlin police.
The signature we picked up from google images again.
Now the tricky part. The story.
The Goan media loves an easy feed. Give them an 800 word press note about a minister inaugurating a public toilet and chances are it should appear the next day, not a word changed. With the Indian media, we needed something idiotic and exotic.
The Bach story suited our bill.
In fabricating the story, we slipped in a lot of these anagrams PERUS NARKP, MALAK DULAB etc… (There’s nothing that conveys a message quicker and effectively than the fact
that you’ve been not only proven wrong, but stupid too)
Then a thought crossed our minds… Since we had included Bach in the story, why don’t we throw in a piano for good effect too? So we included a 18th century piano, the same century Bach was born in.
Then we turned the heat on a bit more.
We also stated in the press note that this fictitious SS Colonel Johann Bach too loved music and was a talented musician… And that our fictitious character was sired to Ambrosius Bach
in Eisenach. These were the real birth details of the 18th century Bach too. Check it up on wiki.
We mailed this press note to several newspaper houses in Goa. We called three newspapers too introducing ourselves as Hamman Smit, a press official working for the Perus Narkp. The thick German accent seemed to have passed muster. In fact Suhas Belekar who works for a Marathi publication in Goa, Dainik Gomantak appeared happy and grateful to have even spoken to a person of German origin on the other end of phone. Maybe its the Aryan thing...
Once the story was picked up by the local media, the national newspaper swooped in quite literally like vultures eager to pick prey.
The story seems to have really spread quickly over the weekend. That's fine, but we sincerely hope lessons have been learnt. Hope newspaper desks anywhere in India spend a bit more time fact-checking and running checks, before letting stories through. Sure mistakes can happen, but lets not manufacture facts, shall we guys like the way Deccan Herald, Telegraph or rediff.com have done.
Over the next few days, we'll run two other parts to this story. The first part will scrutinise how this story was covered by the national press. We'll also rank the newspapers by the quality of their fibbing on this story.
The slag they have added, the issues they have tweaked. The second will look at the role of the local Goan media in allowing NAZI-GATE to happen...
Till then...
Odog Culk (DAMN... thats good luck)
P.S. Here's a copy of the ATTN PRESS NOTE -- ARREST OF NAZI WAR CRIMINAL ON GOA - KARNATAKA BORDERATTN PRESS NOTE --...PERUS NARKP press note that started it all...