How blatant of you TOI

Shame on you TOI, how could you? This isn’t a rant about the Bangalore times supplement. Perhaps the market wants that supplement, even though I-dont-like-it is the public stance of many. I am not complaining about going overboard on sports (4-6 full pages when there is so much more to cover on city and local front) either.

I am talking about Saturday Feb 3 paper. Pages 8 to 11. Why such blatant praise for HDK and team in the guise of annual performance review? I first thought those 4 pages were pure advertising paid for by the state government. But it didn’t seem like that. All I could find was this phrase – “a response connect initiative”. Is that a media jargon for “pay me and I will up your image” initiative?

A huge report that includes only praises, how did you manage that TOI? “Metro on the right track”, without mentioning the time lines, expected date of completion and schedules even once. “International airport taxiing to take off” without touching upon the upcoming problem of accessibility of Devanahalli. “Educating girls gets a fillip” on the basis of a scheme (fund professional education of bright BPL girl students) that has so far touched only 121 girls in all of the state. “All tours lead to Karnataka” (report card on tourism) just because Rs 50 crore were sanctioned to the tourism department? Bangalore Airport Road flyover cost more than half of that amount.

Not to say that the government doesn’t have anything positive to show, but one can attack a few more things printed on those four pages. Regardless, attack or defense isn’t the point here. With absolutely no negative or even balancing observations at all, I wonder what sort of performance evaluation that was. Why pick the only positives you can and make a bigger-than-real deal of them? That too from a newspaper that was critical of HDK’s handling of infrastructure till a few months ago, from a newspaper that made a mountain of that mole-hill called Nikhil Gowda.

I am shocked! TOI, if those four pages were indeed paid-for material, I expect an apology later this week saying “sorry, we mislead you, all that wasn’t really news”. Or else, I am switching back to Deccan Herald or The Hindu and hoping that many more will do the same.

[Note: that image above is a print-screen from TOI epaper]

10 Comments so far

  1. Brij (unregistered) on February 4th, 2007 @ 11:24 pm

    Perhaps you need to take it easy a bit and once in a while appreciate the fact that there are some positive things happenning. Sure, the speed at which they are being delivered may not be fast enough for your IT types liking. If you really would like to fix, then contest election and do something.

    Walk the talk instead of constant negative posts you make in this blog.

  2. silkboard (unregistered) on February 4th, 2007 @ 11:41 pm

    Me and constantly negative, perhaps yes, going by last few posts on this particular blog. But the point here was about blatantly biased (as in unbalanced) report like that.

    “IT types”, I have heard that before. I expect to hear “outsider” next. Being bullish on Bangalore (which I am) doesn’t mean one can’t criticize this city’s newspapers.

  3. Roshan (unregistered) on February 4th, 2007 @ 11:50 pm

    I’m not a fan of TOI. And I agree with your assessment. Read that edition at a car showroom the other day and I was wondering whether so much has been done already. I recommend you guys move to the Indian Express. At least I get the news in that, not the sex life of Jennifer Aniston!

    On a slightly different note,I was just wondering, a year ago HDK’s father was creating all sort of trouble for the metro. As soon as his son is the CM, the trouble making seems to have suddenly stopped. Hate such turn coats, but then that’s politics I guess.

  4. Jagannath Moorthy (unregistered) on February 5th, 2007 @ 5:56 am

    I think that the Response Connect is nothing but an advertising feature disguised as reporting.

    What is stopping you from quitting and going back to DH or Hindu? I don’t know about Hindu but DH is a wholesome paper with something for every member of the family. Many readers of TOI are hypocrites, they’re always criticizing the paper and its contents, but still continue to read it. I wonder why?

  5. silkboard (unregistered) on February 5th, 2007 @ 7:18 am

    Jagannath, If you take the Bangalore Times out, it isn’t a bad paper. I felt it carries more local material (city/infrastructure) than DH. It has something for everyone (sensational news, Express types, as well as serious so-called boring matters, Hindu types). I try them all and eventually keep returning to TOI. Time to try again, I heard Hindu is worth it.

    Roshan, that isn’t a turn coat. HDK has definitely been more objective than his father. Gowda Sr can swallow rebuttals from his son, but let us see how he conducts himself when BJP gets its turn to lead!

  6. Chitra (unregistered) on February 5th, 2007 @ 9:16 am

    I totally understand your frustration. That is an ad , period. We got TOI for 2 days and we realized it was not for us. Now, we read both the Hindu and DH. Both are good in their own ways.

  7. Roshan (unregistered) on February 5th, 2007 @ 10:31 am

    I don’t believe BJP will get the turn to lead, even if does it’ll be for a short time. Gowda Sr has already started making noises about CMP, following it. It seems to be prelude to pulling out from the government.

    And I see there are very few Express fans here. Express has good editorials. I haven’t really read Hindu or Deccan so much to comment on them though.

  8. Mickey (unregistered) on February 7th, 2007 @ 6:32 pm

    Guys: Anytime you see ‘Response Connect’ in TOI or India Today, know for sure, it’s an advertorial… an advt disguised as editorial. I should know. I am a journalist.

  9. JG (unregistered) on February 7th, 2007 @ 9:02 pm

    Hi Silkboard,

    Relax!! These are cleverly disguised ‘supplements’ or ‘special reports’ that appear to be authentic reports. Even the venerable Hindu carried a 4 page ‘supplement’ about the ‘achievements’ of the coalition government on Feb 6. As Mickey has rightly pointed out these are typically ‘advertorials’. These are misleading as there are no prominent disclaimers.

    If you turn on some of the Kannada channels, you will see previews of the interviews with HDK and Yeddi et al. I am sure the interviewer will ask soft questions.

    For the record, ToI = Trash of India. The Hindu is the best followed by the Express. Deccan Herald and VT (part of times now) are mediocre.

    I will not call you an ‘IT type’ or an ‘outsider’. But too many IT types, non-IT types, long time ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’, local foreigners, top babus, top politicians, IT leaders, etc. seem to equate the growth of Byanglore with the growth of the entire state. Not many even realize that 190,000 sq kms of the state lies outside the outer ring road and there are equally important problems to be solved.

  10. silkboard (unregistered) on February 20th, 2007 @ 12:33 pm

    Thanks Mickey, yes, came to know that was an advertorial.

    Roshan, JD-S/Gowda Sr may let BJP run the show for a few days only to prove that they (HDK) were doing a better job than BJP managed.

    JG, Chitra, as I said, besides that supplement thing, I find ToI to be okay. They seem to cover the relevant issues too. Look at it this way – by mixing masala and news well enough, they probably push serious stuff to folks who may, otherwise, not be interested in looking beyond bikini shots and bollywood hollywod gossip!

    Express, Hindu, DH or ToI, hmmm – we may want to do a poll here to check which is the most popular English newsp of BLR.

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