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Two of a kind

Media watch: Latest happenings in the corridors of journalismThis is the most bizarre manifestation of the BJP’s Sampark for Samarthan campaign: the party’s national spokesperson Sambit Patra meeting Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami to convince him of the BJP’s achievements! The campaign is meant to seek the support of prominent people for the 2019 polls, but Patra is a regular on Goswami’s shows which are blatantly pro-Modi and anti Rahul Gandhi. Patra’s tweet—”Discussed the various developmental projects of Sh @narendramodi Ji’s government with acclaimed Anchor & Editor in Chief of @republic Channel Sh Arnab Goswami ji and handed him a booklet of achievements of #48MonthsofTransformingIndia under Modi Ji’s leadership” resulted in hilarious reactions on social media.

Kroor Singh tweeted: “Arnab calls it his news script what you are referring as the booklet.” Babu Sahab commented: “Wow one BJP spokesperson meets another”, while Komal had the last word on the photo Patra posted of him with Goswami: “A BJP spokesperson who appears every night on television to give illogical reasons to defend every failure of Modiji and starts raising his voice when he cannot raise his argument… The other guy is Sambit Patra.”

Fighting the fakers

In this day, when it is increasingly difficult to distinguish fact from fake, help may be on the way. Google is partnering with three firms to train journalists in India to fact-check news. The three companies are fact-checking sites BoomLive and Internews, and news analytics firm dataLEADS. The programme is aimed at training 8,000 journalists in English and six Indian languages over the next year, and is part of the Google News Initiative started in March to train journalists. As part of the programme, 200 journalists will be selected from cities across India for a five-day train-the-trainer boot camp where they will be trained by fact-checkers like First Draft, Storyful, AltNews, BoomLive, Factchecker.in and DataLeads.

“When journalists and communities work together, armed with the online tools to verify information, they can build a bulwark of trusted media to fight the tide of misinformation,” a Google spokesman said. The workshops will be conducted in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi and Kannada in cities across India.

Kiss and tell

Media watch: Latest happenings in the corridors of journalismThe BJP has produced a manual for its members on how to deal with the press and conduct themselves on social media in the run up to the 2019 polls. The guidelines include the best time to hold press conferences, how party spokespersons should be dressed for TV appearances and even the day of the week when a news break has the most impact. The more relevant advice is that spokespersons should not get distracted or get angry during television debates.

KISS is the key acronym, for Keep it Short and Simple. The guidebook is a dramatic turnaround from the hostile attitude the ruling party has taken regarding the media. It advises members/leaders to take editors and reporters out to lunch or coffee and send them thank you notes “as part of building relationships”.

The manual has been prepared by Amit Shah’s office and concludes by saying: “Be careful what you post (on social media) because once it is on the internet it is there to stay…a thoughtless post will come back to haunt you…”

Problems at Hindu

The Chennai-based Hindu newspaper is facing financial problems and has undertaken a cost-cutting exercise. In a letter sent to employees recently, it urged employees who are contributing little to the paper or find themselves in redundant roles to seek early retirement. A scheme containing financial benefits has been announced and employees are being urged to take advantage of it. The letter, signed by N Ram, chairman of the Hindu Group Publishing Pvt Ltd, says the company has been facing financial pressures “which have compounded over the past two years”. The success of the cost-cutting exercise depends on the financial lure. Employees who accept premature retirement will get normal retirement benefits too.

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