THE SLOW FAST-RESPONSE INDIAN COMMANDOS

Files under General | Nov 30th

Nine-and-a-half hours after the terror strike, the Indian “fast-reponse” NSG Commandos arrived in Mumbai.

A world record.

Here is the amazing timing:

9:30 p.m. Wednesday: The terrorists strike Mumbai. Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh is in Kerala. He is briefed about the attack. By the time he grasps the enormity of the situation, 90 minutes have gone by.

11 p.m.: Mr. Deshmukh calls Home Minister Shivraj Patil – who has now resigned from his post – and asks for NSG commandos. “How many men?” Patil asks. “200,” Mr. Deshmukh says. Mr. Patil calls NSG chief J.K. Dutt and tells him to send 200 battle-ready commandos to Mumbai.

11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday: Most of the NSG men have to be roused from sleep. They don their uniforms, strap on safety gear and collect ammo and firearms. It is discovered that the plane that can take 200 men, the IL 76, is not in Delhi but Chandigarh. Someone wakes up the IL 76 pilot; the plane refuels. It eventually arrives in Delhi.

5 a.m. The commandos land at Mumbai airport. By the time they board the waiting buses, it is 5:25 a.m.

6 a.m. The buses reach the designated place in south Mumbai where the commandos are briefed, divided into different groups and sent out on their mission.

7 a.m. They start their operation about nine-and-a-half hours after the terror strike.

This was called “Operation Cyclone” (sic).



SAY IT AGAIN: HOW MANY ROOMS?

Files under General | Nov 29th

The chaotic coverage by the Indian press of the Mumbai tragedy is amazing.

And The Times of India again leads the lack of accuracy.

The main story on today’s homepage includes conflicting numbers about something that is just a fact.

But fact checking must be too much to ask for a newspaper that many consider to be the best paper in the country (imagine the rest of them!).

As you can see in the picture below, in the same story The Times of India gives you two different figures about the number of rooms of the famous hotel under siege: 400 and 565.

The Taj Mahal hotel’s webpage clearly states the number of rooms: 565.

I read this story two hours ago, and nobody has found the mistake yet.

So if the reporting was bad, then the copy editing is worse.



CONFLICTING REPORTS AND LACK OF JOURNALISM

Files under General | Nov 28th

Many years ago, a BBC journalist told me that a camera just rolling doesn’t produce real news.

Journalism requires active reporting.

Not just cameras recording.

The conflicting reports from Mumbai are the result of this passive TV coverage.

So we are waiting …

Waiting for real reporting.

Waiting for real news.

Waiting for real journalism.

(Picture by Ritam Banerjee/Getty Images)



FRONT PAGES FROM MUMBAI

Files under General | Nov 28th

Picture by Reuters.



THE NEW WALL STREET JOURNAL

Files under General | Nov 28th

Today’s Wall Street Journal is a good example of how the financial newspaper is changing under Rupert Murdoch.

The front page displays a six-column headline.

The old design is gone.

The new Wall Street Journal is becoming a direct competitor of The New York Times.

Bolder.

Aggressive.

Global.



SELLING MORE NEWSPAPERS THAN EVER IN MUMBAI

Files under General | Nov 28th

Again, after a non-stop TV crazy coverage, people are buying more newspapers than ever in Mumbai.

(Photograph: Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP)



THE NEWS FROM BOMBAY

Files under General | Nov 27th



A QUALITY TEST FOR TODAY’S NEWSPAPERS

Files under General | Nov 27th

If you want to test the quality of your local newspaper, just look at today’s front page.

Here in the U.S., the Thanksgiving Day celebration dominates many front pages, but still there are newspapers that realized the Mumbai news deserved premium space.

It was not the norm, though.

Look at this one from Michigan!

Fortunately there were many other newspapers that sensed the importance of the India news.



THE CHAOS ARRIVES TO THE TIMES OF INDIA

Files under General | Nov 27th

Go to The Times of India’s really badly designed Web site for a Photogallery link (marked in yellow by me) under a dramatic picture of one of the hotels attacked by terrorists in Mumbai yesterday.

Well, when you click here expecting to see more pictures of the terrorist events, what you get is this: girls, girls, girls.

What chaos.

What a shame!



MUMBAI AND THE NEWS CHAOS

Files under General | Nov 27th

What chaotic news coverage!

Inside and outside of India.

India must have a very healthy newspaper industry, but this doesn’t mean that the news coverage has been good.

Just go to any of the leading news Web sites to see that they don’t have any clue about what happened, what’s going on and what is going to happen next.

TV went wild with cameras recording the chaos but unable to give any real information about the who, what, when, where and why of the events.

So, the only way to have a real feeling of the tragedy is to read personal blogs.

The New York Times decided last night to request the help of eyewitnesses and started to publish links to the news and information that the traditional media couldn’t deliver.

Like this one:

India Uncut.

Or follow twitter/Mumbai.

There was an unconfirmed report that the Indian Government had urged Twitter users to not share specific on-the-scene information, and that the Government may be trying to block Twitter in India, or has asked Twitter to block Mumbai-related tweets.

Well, they can start blocking the TV cameras, too.

The newspapers right now are pure nonsense.

India is in a state of emergency, but the media is, too.

Our friends in India have a lot of work ahead if they want to make real journalism.