Monday, May 20, 2013

Why you can't believe everything you read on Wikipedia

Who is "Qworty"? Why was he making revenge edits on Wikipedia? And how did he get away with it?

If you are a Wikipedia user, Andrew Leonard's exhaustively researched and brilliantly written piece in Salon will give you the shivers:

Qworty is just one of thousands of Wikipedia editors. He is surely not representative of the mainstream. But just as surely, there are others like him, working out their own agendas under cover of assumed identities. We just don’t know. Nobody knows. Nobody watches everything that happens on Wikipedia; nobody can watch everything that happens. But Qworty’s example tells us that even when people call attention to a rogue editor, even when that editor’s temper tantrums come to the attention of the founder of Wikipedia, it’s quite possible that no action will be taken.

Read Leonard's article in its entirety here: "Revenge, ego and the corruption of Wikipedia".

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How did the Op-Ed Page get its name? What is its purpose? And how are the Op-Ed articles different from the editorials?

Trust the New York Times, one of the world's great newspapers, to have all the answers, and more.

We learn from a column in the paper written by Ed Shipley, who was then the Op-Ed Page editor, that the inaugural Op-Ed Page appeared on September 21, 1970, and that it was named for its geography opposite the editorial page not because opinions would be expressed in its columns.

A page of clashing opinions, however, was the aim from the beginning. According to an editorial introducing the page, Op-Ed was created to provide a forum for writers with ''no institutional connection with The Times'' — writers whose views would ''very frequently be completely divergent from our own.'' 

Media students and aspiring journalists will discover some fascinating stuff about the newspaper production process if they read Shipley's column here: "And Now a Word from Op-Ed".


There's more. Some 18 months after he published the essay discussed above, Shipley wrote one more column, this time answering readers' questions about the editing process. (The earlier column, as noted, focused on the submission and selection process.) This is just as fascinating to read as the previous piece. Read it here: "What We Talk About When We Talk About Editing".
  • ALSO READ: How does the New York Times editorial board work? How are topics chosen for the editorials? What is the process by which the paper's editorial writers craft their editorials? Is it by committee? Do the reporters have any input? Who decides the final draft? Read the answer to all these questions in Editorial Page editor Andrew Rosenthal's Q&A column here (scroll down to "How the Editorial Board Works" on Page 5).
DNA does a U-turn and brings back the Edit Page

Why subs, or copy editors, are the lifeblood of a news organisation

What we can learn about editing from the Reader's Digest

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pearls of wisdom from a gem of a book

Is there a better book for today's information-rich but time-poor age?

Here are some thought-provoking excerpts from P.M. Forni's bestseller, The Thinking Life: How to Thrive in the Age of Distraction:

"Shallow readers are at risk of becoming shallow thinkers."

"We seek to spare ourselves the trouble of thinking as much as we can. We have literally made an art of it. The multi-billion-dollar entertainment industry of our time is essentially built upon humanity's addiction to thought avoidance."

" 'I have no time,' we say, but we do, we always do. What we lack is the will or wisdom to commit our time to goals that would be smart of us to pursue. If you are really motivated to do something, you will make time for it. I am not arguing that you are not busy. Most of us are. I am simply urging you to consider that you are only as busy as you let yourself be."

"An information-rich world is a time-poor world, and a time-poor world is an attention-poor world."

"When working on a project, imagine yourself protected by a bubble that protects you from distraction."

"According to what seems like a million websites, the great problem of our times is work/life balance. But to seek a balance between two things implies that they are different and separate. The more urgent problem is not how to balance work and life, but rather how to erase in our minds the line of demarcation that sets up the work/life dichotomy in the first place. Work is part of life, and it is precisely when we do not treat it as such that tension, disaffection, and alienation arise. As long as we neglect to claim work as part of life, as long as we regard it as a burden, it is going to feel like one. Every day, millions go to work predisposed to endure and leery to commit, which is just about the worst possible attitude to face work with."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What should you wear to a job interview? And then once you have a job, what should you wear to work?

Learn some dress sense from reading this no-nonsense post by Dave Kerpen, an American CEO who is also a New York Times best-selling author and keynote speaker.

Kerpen, whose blog has been featured before in this space, writes that, at a job interview, you should dress comfortably and (at most) a little more formally than the rest of the office.

At a job interview, you're trying to show the organisation that you'd fit in there. If you show up dressed casually and everyone else is dressed more formally, you won't fit in. That's the easy part that everyone gets. But equally true is the converse: If you show up as a man in a three-piece suit or as a woman in a formal pantsuit, and everyone else there is casual, you also won't be fitting it. If a job applicant to one of our companies comes in a suit and tie, it shows that he didn't research the culture of our office — and it counts as a strike against him. Why take that risk?

As for what you should wear at work, read the post in its entirety: "How to dress for success today".

A close look at the creative process responsible for good ideas

In a fascinating book extract published in Mint yesterday, we get to take a close look at the creative process responsible for good ideas.

The extract, from Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life And Work, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, deals with the work of a small company based in California that coins names for billion-dollar brands, such as "BlackBerry" and "Pentium".

In 2006, the company, Lexicon, was hired by Colgate to come up with a name for a soon-to-be-launched disposable mini-toothbrush. The centre of the brush held a dab of special toothpaste, which was designed to make rinsing unnecessary. So you could carry the toothbrush with you, use it in a cab or an airplane lavatory, and then toss it out.

The extract continues:

When Lexicon founder and CEO David Placek first saw the toothbrush, he said what stood out was its small size. So, if you were on the Lexicon team, with your mental spotlight pointed at the tiny toothbrush, you’d be tempted to start tossing out names that highlight its small size: Petite Brush, Mini-Brush, Brushlet, etc. Notice that, in brainstorming that way, you would have already locked yourself into a tight frame with two assumptions: (1) The name should connote smallness; and (2) “Brush” should be part of the name.  

What name did Lexicon ultimately come up with? Is "brush" part of the name? And what was the creative process involved? Read all about it here: "Don't lock yourself in".

Monday, May 13, 2013

Yes, career women should "lean in", but they should also learn when to lean back

Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg wants women to stop holding themselves back and to "lean in" to their careers, but another poster girl for success in the media world, Ariana Huffington (of The Huffington Post fame), has written, with respect to her own experience, that women also need to learn when to lean back:

If success continues to be defined as driving yourself into the ground and burning out, it will be disastrous for our families, our companies, and our world.

Huffington is the featured columnist in the "Hard Choices" section of a recent issue of Bloomberg Businessweek. Read her short but heart-felt and illuminating piece here.
  • Photo-illustration courtesy: Bloomberg Businessweek
  • ALSO READ: In today's Mint, "Women must find the strength to soar". Will Sheryl Sandberg's "lean-in" philosophy find takers here in India? Three women entrepreneurs Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Rashmi Bansal, and Meena Ganesh talk to Bhakti Bapat Mathew about what it will take to ensure genuine equal opportunity at work in our country.
  • ADDITIONAL READING: Legendary investment guru Warren Buffett explains why he is gung-ho about women in the workforce. He also expresses concern about too many women continuing to impose limitations on themselves, talking themselves out of achieving their potential. Read his wise and witty piece here.

In one year she succeeded in reading one book from every country in the world

Londoner Ann Morgan made it her mission to spend 2012 "reading the world".

Morgan, a freelance writer and sub-editor, writes on her blog:

In 2012, the world came to London for the Olympics and I went out to meet it. I read my way around all the globe’s 196 independent countries plus one extra territory chosen by blog visitors sampling one book from every nation.

I read a story from Swaziland, a novel from Nicaragua, a book from Brunei, a… well, you get the picture.

About four months into what every book-lover would consider a dream project, Morgan (pictured above) took stock in a piece she wrote for the Guardian, where she used to work:

With no idea how to go about [the mission] beyond a suspicion that I was unlikely to find a novel, short story collection or memoir from each of the 196 states in my local [bookshop], I decided to ask book-lovers around the world to tell me what I should be reading. The responses flooded in and soon the A Year of Reading the World list boasted hundreds of recommendations. Many people went further than simply suggesting titles, and volunteered to do research for the project, share contacts and go to bookshops in far-flung corners of the globe. One blog visitor even picked out and posted me two volumes from a bookshop in Kuala Lumpur.

In a recent interview with the Hindu (which is where I first read about this determined young woman), Morgan said her target was to read a book in 1.85 days, and blog about it, while she went about her normal routine. She also revealed that she is now working on a book about her project, Reading the World: Postcards from My Bookshelf, which will be published early next year.

Read Ann Morgan's fascinating blog posts to learn more about her "year in reading". Check out the list of books recommended to her from around the world. Read her Guardian article here. The Hindu interview can be accessed here.

Finally, stop by Ann Morgan's Facebook page for a quick scan of the books she read through the year. What an exhilarating journey this must have been!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Quotes from books, quotes by writers... to inspire, influence, and induce a new way of thinking-2

This was published in the April-May 2013 issue of Books & More magazine:


Quotes from books, quotes by writers... to inspire, influence, and induce a new way of thinking/RESEARCHED AND COMPILED BY RAMESH PRABHU

“Expect everything, I always say, and the unexpected never happens.”
— "The Whether Man" to "Milo", in The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster

“Faculties is different in different peoples, but cultivation of 'em goes a long way.”
— "Sam" to "Andy" on the importance of developing good habits such as "observation", in Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe

“It isn't the books you study in college but the friendships you make that counts.”
— "George F. Babbitt", in Babbitt, by Sinclair Lewis

“For a man to know what he has when he has it, that is what makes him a fortunate man.”
"Fyodorov" in Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett

“We are better than animals because we have kinsmen. An animal rubs its itching flank against a tree, a man asks his kinsman to scratch him.”
"Uchendu", the uncle of "Okonkwo", the protagonist of Nobel Prize-winning author Chinua Achebe's classic, Things Fall Apart

“Man's most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe.”
— Ancient Greek dramatist Euripides, quoted in the epigraph in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Cleopatra: A Life, by Stacy Schiff

“Women forget all those things they don't want to remember, and remember everything they don't want to forget.”
Zora Neale Hurston in Their Eyes Were Watching God, her novel about a woman's search for her authentic self and for real love, first published in 1937

“Forget for a moment how books should be read: Why should they be read? The first reason ... is that reading books can be intensely pleasurable. Reading is one of the great human delights.”
— Alan Jacobs in The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

“We fall in love with a person, or an idea, or a work of art not in spite of the risk of losing ourselves, but because it is a way to lose ourselves.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Media education: From course structure to quality of students, the challenges are immense

My article on the challenges of media education has just been published by Corporate Tycoons, a magazine published out of Pune:


How good are media schools in India?

By Ramesh Prabhu

In the early ’80s, when I first became a newspaper journalist, there were very few colleges offering post-graduate media courses.

That didn’t seem to matter at the time.

There was only one television channel and it did not offer much by way of news or even entertainment. There was no internet, and no mobile phones either. The opening up of the economy, and everything that liberalisation brought with it, was still many years away. With fewer distractions and longer attention spans, it was a more civilised time. And there seemed to be more time, too. More time to learn on the job. More time for your colleagues to teach you the ropes at work.

It did not matter if you didn’t have a master’s degree in mass communication, or in any other subject. Hardly anyone else in the newspaper could boast of that qualification either. What mattered was your attitude at work. And your ability to quickly pick up what mattered.

It’s all so different today.

More than a hundred television news channels and a few thousand newspapers and magazines are engaged in a race for both audiences and advertisers. The competition has become so fierce that new recruits at the entry level no longer have any breathing space. They are still expected to have the right attitude and they are still expected to learn many things on the job. But no one has the time now to hold their hand as they attempt to navigate the swiftly moving and often treacherous currents of the media ocean. There is no honeymoon period. There is no time for a honeymoon. Period.

That is why the industry today prefers to hire only those who have a master’s degree or those who at least have a post-graduate diploma from an institute that has a reputation for providing quality journalism education. (Disclosure: I teach journalism at a media college that offers a two-year master’s degree course in mass communication.)

What do students expect from a media course today? In brief, they want to learn everything that will enable them to gain a foothold in the industry.

So the more relevant question may be this: What does the industry expect of a media institute?

And therein lies the rub.

Today newspapers and television news channels expect a fresh recruit to deliver like a pro from Day One, so it stands to reason that, at a minimum, media courses should be in sync with industry requirements. The syllabus and curriculum should be such that proper weightage is given to teaching theory and assigning practical projects in journalism as it is practised today. Students should be required to work on, and publish, their own newspaper (not a “lab journal”), which is distributed to the public like the dailies, albeit on a smaller scale. They should produce their own television news bulletins — montage, graphics, piece-to-camera and all — which should then be judged by industry professionals. At every stage the students’ performance should be monitored on a CCE, or Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation, basis.

In addition, the media college should have excellent industry tie-ups and make arrangements for internships with the best media outlets in the country. It is these internships that will give the students a feel of the real world and give them an opportunity to apply everything they have been taught.

One would think this is the norm today in colleges that offer courses in mass communication or journalism. Alas, it’s not.

The problem lies mostly at the undergraduate level where out-of-date syllabi continue to rule the roost. Many young media aspirants who have studied journalism as a subject for three years as part of their B.A. or B.B.M. course may have been taught plenty about the history of Indian journalism but they remain shockingly unaware of the basics of newspaper production. For instance, they have no idea who does what in a newspaper. They come into a master’s course believing that the job of a newspaper editor, the top boss, is to “go through, select, and edit” every story. Or they think the editor’s only job is to write editorials.

Most undergrad students are also expected to find their own media internships, which only compounds their problems.

As for post-grad institutes, while there are indeed a few media schools in the country that offer outstanding diploma or degree courses, many others have lamentably low standards. It was not a surprise, therefore, when journalism schools came in for severe criticism recently from Justice Markandey Katju, the chairman of the Press Council of India, who has since set up a committee to determine minimum qualifications to become a journalist. What caused surprise, though, was that this move immediately drew fire from many senior journalists. This was a surprise because 20 years ago, or going even further back, it was perhaps enough to be literate and have an interest in reading and writing to become a journalist. But, as discussed above, that is not the case today.

Be that as it may, Justice Katju’s comments about the standards of journalism schools were spot on, as will be evident from reading the comments by veteran journalist and journalism teacher V. Gangadhar in a recent issue of The Hindu. Insisting that journalism schools must improve, Gangadhar gave the example of Mumbai University, which, he said, granted affiliation to dozens upon dozens of B.M.M. and B.M.S. departments without caring to examine whether they had any kind of infrastructure, like library facilities, classrooms, and qualified teachers. “After a couple of years, the university, in its wisdom, abolished entrance tests,” Gangadhar wrote, “and decided that applicants to these courses should be admitted on the strength of their standard 12 marks, completely ignoring the fact that the cramming habits of, and inflated marks awarded by, junior colleges are not enough to judge the different needs of a journalism course.”

Teaching was another farce, Gangadhar wrote. Since senior journalists were not available, “teachers with no background or interest in journalism were roped in. Of course, some of them took pains to study topics like regional journalism and managed. But others were disasters”.

So course structure and quality of faculty are serious issues.

But what about the quality of students seeking to enter journalism?

If youngsters who have no interest in reading, who cannot write two paragraphs in grammatically correct English, who refuse to understand that to be a good writer you first have to be a good reader, who cannot make intelligent conversation, who want to be on television “for the glamour”, who are unwilling to slog it out insist on becoming journalists, it is a serious problem.

It is also a serious problem when, despite the best efforts of their teachers, these students decline to apply themselves, either because they don’t want to or because they are unable to.

And the problem assumes near-insurmountable proportions when these youngsters, at the end of their course, go on to become full-fledged journalists.

When they fail to perform, who will be blamed? More often than not, the institute that trained them.

Let us go back, for a final time, to V. Gangadhar:

“At a TV Bachelor of Mass Media (B.M.M.) university examination, where students were asked to identify and comment on a recent war which had divided the United States of America, more than a dozen students, obviously from the same college, elaborated on the ‘Vitamin War’. Another TV B.M.M. class was learning the basics of book reviews. The teacher was shocked when the 40-plus students admitted that none of them had ever read a book outside their prescribed course of studies.”

The moral of the story here is that there are media institutes and there are media students. But we should not necessarily judge the quality of the media institute by the quality of the student.

One last question: Should we care about the quality of journalism education? The answer lies in the lucid assertion by Howard Finberg, an American journalist with more than 40 years’ experience who now works with The Poynter Institute, a world-class journalism school. “Without a robust future for journalism education,” Finberg wrote in an article on, “it is harder to see a robust future for journalism. And that’s bad for democracy and for citizens who depend on fair and accurate information.”


Which is the right
media college for you?

If you are a student looking to join a good media college, do extensive research before making up your mind. Study the course structure to assess the importance given to practical training. Find out as much as you can about the faculty: What are their qualifications to teach the course? How many years have they worked in the industry? Do they blog? Check out the internships the college provides. Ask about industry tie-ups. Request contact details of alumni — if the college is a reputed one, the staff will be glad to answer all your questions and help you get a better grip on the course it offers.

For your part, if you are keen on becoming a journalist, make sure your decision is not based on a whim. Spend time talking with journalists. Try to understand what it means to be a journalist. And once you are sure journalism is what you want and after you have taken a decision on the college, give some thought to the advice I give all media aspirants:
  • If you do not like reading you will be at a disadvantage, so make a huge effort to develop a reading habit. Read newspapers, magazines, books — fiction, non-fiction. Books on journalism. Books by journalists. Remember: In order to be a good writer, you first have to be a good reader.
  • Watch movies. Listen to music. Immerse yourself in popular culture. Be aware of what’s going on around you.
  • Talk to people. Understand their concerns. Develop empathy for your audience.
  • At all times, behave professionally.
  • Guard zealously your reputation for honesty, credibility, and integrity. Once it's lost, all is lost. — RP

POORVI KOTHARI (Class of 2014) commented via e-mail:
"With fewer distractions and longer attention spans, it was a more civilised time". I loved this line. The article is really good, Sir. I wish I had read something like this earlier. Especially to realise how important it is to read books. Sir, I liked your side bar more than the magazine write-up. 

ANANYA CHATTERJEE (Class of 2014) commented via e-mail:
Just read your article. So true. I've heard my father [a senior sports journalist with The Times of India in Kolkata] say the same things so many times. He did Chemistry Hons. and now this! You have actually seen the entire industry transform. For most of us... Well, all of us in fact... we cannot even think of landing at a decent place without a degree! The competition is too much, which is what we are already witnessing during this internship. One wrong move and you're out. Thank you, Sir, for this article. The reiteration of these things actually can direct us and it can also keep us away from making the wrong move. ;)


APAR DHAM (Class of 2011) commented via e-mail: 
This is great! :-D Loved the "honeymoon" line! Made me giggle! Hehe! Posted on FB and Twitter. :-) Thank you.

KOKILA JACOB, my erstwhile colleague at Khaleej Times who is now a Dubai-based media professional, commented via e-mail:
I forwarded your e-mail to my niece as the box sidebar gives some very timely advice to her. She has completed 2nd PUC and is now agonising over which colleges and what courses to choose. They have so many choices that it's difficult for them. Life was easy for us.... we had only one college and a handful of subjects to choose from! And we turned out okay, I would think!

DEBARATI DEB (Class of 2015) commented via e-mail:
Thank you so much for sharing this, Sir. It was of great help. :-) 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Do you have what it takes to be a restaurant critic?

What is a chef to think when a leading newspaper's restaurant critic, in her review, heaps praise on his rawas (salmon) preparation when the dish in question was chicken wings? Can you blame the chef for thinking there is something fishy about this particular reviewer? Wouldn't he then also question the credibility of the newspaper that sent her on this assignment?

This rawas-chicken wings gaffe is just one of the many sticking points in the relationship between chefs and restaurant critics, Lhendup Bhutia tells us in a recent issue of Open:

Earlier, a few writers reviewed eateries, but now almost every publication or website with a lifestyle section has one such reviewer. Unlike in the West, where food reviewing is a serious job and most writers have a background in culinary arts, here it is very rare to come across a food writer with any such expertise. What’s more, most of them don’t specialise in the subject.

It is not surprising that chefs dislike reviewers. But in India, where a chef’s competence is usually judged by a gaggle of fledgling writers, this dislike is replaced by utter contempt.

Read Bhutia's enlightening piece in its entirety here: "What Chefs Make of Food Reviews". Be warned, though: You may never again take a restaurant review in an Indian publication seriously. Worse, you may stop reading restaurant reviews.

The problem appears to be the lack of expertise on the part of restaurant critics in our country. Of course, there are exceptions, such as the food reviews in Time Out Bengaluru, which come accompanied by the claim, "The best food and drink in Bangalore, reviewed anonymously by experts".

But is there any food critic in India whose fame and prowess is on par with that of Frank Bruni, the New York Times legend? Of course, Bruni was a seasoned (no pun intended) journalist before he was appointed the newspaper's restaurant critic in April 2004 (he moved to the Op-Ed page as a columnist in June 2011). His background in journalism surely contributed to his approach and success as a food reviewer.

Some time ago, Bruni answered a couple of questions from readers on why he gave up conventional reporting and took up the position of restaurant critic. His response is so illuminating:

Q. Until reading the section on your background connected with "Talk to the Newsroom," I had not realised what an extensive background you had in journalism. I was wondering 1) why you chose to become a restaurant critic and give up your involvement in day-to-day news reporting and 2) do you miss being a more conventional reporter?
— Kenneth Astrin
Q. I've read your articles in The Detroit Free Press and The New York Times since the early '90s, and have always admired your work. With all respect, I can't understand why you are now doing restaurant reviews. It's honest work, but it seems frivolous.
— James Gerardi
A. Restaurant criticism was a new challenge and new adventure that came along at a time when I was almost ready for both. I say “almost” because I would have loved to have spent another 12 to 18 months as the newspaper’s Rome correspondent, but the critic’s job came open when it came open, just under two years into my Rome assignment.

Frivolous? I understand why it might be seen that way, but I myself don’t see it that way at all.

Food in general, including restaurant food, is an object of ever greater attention from ever larger numbers of people.

Restaurants often serve as handy mirrors of a neighborhood or a city or a moment in time. They reflect people’s passions and foibles and vanities.

They bring people considerable joy. They claim a considerable fraction of many people’s incomes.

So acting as a guide through the restaurant world and writing dispatches from it strike me as meaningful work.

At times I indeed miss what you call “conventional reporting.” There’s a very particular satisfaction in gathering information, in picking up the phone or hitting the road and, chalk mark by chalk mark, filling in what was a blank blackboard.

But I get to do some of that in the restaurant-related articles I write beyond reviews, and even reviews themselves incorporate more "conventional reporting" — or at least reporting — than you’d think.

They pivot, as all reporting does, on close observation and on making sense of a certain experience, a certain small patch of the world. 

What an insightful piece of writing this is! In nine paragraphs we get the essence of what it means to be a restaurant critic. Read the entire Q&A with Frank Bruni here. You will savour some delectable tidbits in the form of Bruni's replies to questions on topics such as the reactions of chefs to his reviews, and the music and noise in restaurants. He also addresses the very important subject of anonymity, and tackles firmly this question asked by a reader in Montreal: "What do you say to chefs who feel a critic without having worked in a restaurant or studied in a culinary environment, should not be a restaurant critic?"

For dessert, sample the restaurant review by Frank Bruni that prompted the owner to take out a full-page ad in the New York Times in protest against the review. (You will also want to read this trenchant post on the inappropriateness of the ad by former NYT restaurant critic Mimi Sheraton in Slate: "Restaurateur bites critic". And you must, absolutely must, read the New Yorker take on the restaurateur-critic face-off: "Kobe Beef". That's a great headline, too!)

Now there is only one question that begs an answer: What would happen if restaurateurs in India were to emulate the American restaurant owner?
  • Illustration courtesy: The New York Times 
Experience in journalism is an advantage if you want to be a restaurant critic

SAUMYA IYER (Class of 2014), a foodie whose wish is to be a food writer and who is currently an intern with Bangalore Mirror, commented via e-mail:
I think you at least need to be an experienced journalist with knowledge about the food industry in order to write about it. One of my favourite food critics, Marina O’Loughlin, absolutely loves restaurants. That passion speaks to me through her writing; not only is she experienced in the field of journalism but she is also very well versed with the nuances of food and the thought that goes into making a particular dish.

I also agree that a reviewer must remain anonymous at all costs because having the chef and staff give you special attention when they should be going about their own business is not how a reviewer can soak up the real flavours of the place.

As for amateur food writers, there are so many bloggers and Facebook groups like “Foodies in Bangalore”, that it got me thinking: just because you love eating food, does that make you an expert? I also spoke to one of the city’s famous chefs about this, and he told me that there’s nothing you can really do about it and that opinions are like a**holes, everyone’s got one.
  • SAFFANA MICHAEL, Dubai-based communications manager for Middle East and Central Asia, commented via e-mail: And we place so much of our decisions whether food or movies or books on these so-called "reviewers". Loved reading the Bruni critique on the Kobe Room …ouch!  
  • KOKILA JACOB, a media professional now living in Dubai, commented via e-mail: Ha ha, this is hilarious. I think there are not many expert food reviewers here in Dubai either.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

How do you know you love your job?

Dharmesh Shah, founder and CTO at HubSpot, a marketing software company based in the U.S., has put up a post that has already garnered 2,000 "likes" on Facebook. Some 500 people have tweeted about it and it has been shared almost 9,000 times on LinkedIn.

That's not at all surprising considering Shah (pictured) has addressed a topic that is top-of-mind for all of us: How do we know we love what we do?

Shah has helpfully given us what he says are 14 telling signs that you love your job. These range from "You don’t talk about other people; you talk about the cool things other people are doing" to "You don’t think about surviving. You think about winning" and "You view success in terms of fulfillment and gratification — not just promotions and money".

Check out the list here and then take the mini-quiz at the end of Shah's post (read the hundreds of comments, too) to figure out if you need to register on — or stay put where you are.
  • VARUN CHHABRIA (Class of 2012), associate editor of Books & More magazine, commented via e-mail: "How true! Answered yes to all 14 statements. :)"
  • DIYOTIMA SINHA ROY (Class of 2014), currently an intern with JWT in Bangalore, commented via e-mail: "Well, my score is 10/14. :)"
  • NIRANJANA MURALEEDHARAN (Class of 2014), currently an intern with R Square Consulting in Bangalore, commented via e-mail: "I have always had this question in mind. The moment I saw the subject of your e-mail, I opened it :) I scored just 7, maybe because I am an intern. Haha!"

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

DNA does a U-turn and brings back the Edit Page

On February 1, 2011, DNA did away with the Edit Page.

On April, 2, 2013, one month ago, a new-look DNA brought the Edit Page back and proclaimed the change with a bold statement: "The Edit Page is back. But it's not boring. And while you're at it, check out the kickass Op-Ed page."

That reference to "boring" was possibly a dig at the editor who had written, back on February 1, 2011, that the newspaper was nixing the Edit Page because "it's boring, very few read it, and it's a chore to fill. It's more punditry than expert comment." 

Be that as it may, DNA is a proper newspaper again.


Also read: When DNA scrapped the Edit Page.

"Three Little Words": A multi-part true story that keeps you wanting to read on. This is what journalism is really about

Journalism guru and Poynter doyen Roy Peter Clark, whose writing and teaching skills I have the greatest admiration for, is the author of a true story, Three Little Words, which he wrote as a multi-part series for The St Petersburg Times in 1996. This is how the newspaper introduces Three Little Words on its website:

Author Roy Peter Clark worked for two years to piece together this intensely personal family history. The story, which unfolded here and on the pages of the St. Petersburg Times over 29 days, challenges us to reconsider our thoughts about marriage, privacy, public health and sexual identity.

It is a touching story about a journey of trust, betrayal, and redemption. Make time to read it. You will marvel at the writing style — this is what journalism is about. Read it here: "Three Little Words".