Good thing the Vancouver Sun puts it’s stories – no matter which easily accessible wire service provides them – behind a pay wall. Giving them the benefit of the doubt I think of it as a way to protect people from bad reporting and inaccurate, biased stories.
Take the Sun’s coverage of the waste of $11 million of taxpayers’ money known as the TOIFA awards.
Perhaps unable to find someone with economic knowledge to defend this bizarre, last minute attempt to buy votes in the South Asian community, reporter Christopher Reynolds turned to two students to explain how great this awards show is:
“Sangram Chaban and Abhonardan Mannarkor – both 29 year-old MBA students at the University of Canada West who arrived in Vancouver from Mumbai more than a year ago – waited on tiptoes for the arrival of megastars like Shahrukh Khan, performing the right’s opening act.
“I can’t wait to see this man. He’s like a god in India. I feel like I’ve known him all my life,” said Chaban, who has attended the TOIFAs once before in Pune, India.
“This is the biggest event there is in India.” Mannarkor chimed in, arguing the awards ceremony – Bollywood’s answer to the Academy Awards – is bigger than the Oscars, given India’s 1.3 billion people.
Great, aren’t they? Bollywood’s answer to the Oscars. Aimed at a country of 1.3 billion people. Entrenched in the culture. Once held in Pune, a city of 5 million, just west of Mumbai.
Is there no fact checker employed at the Sun? There isn’t a single thing that’s true about those three paragraphs.
The TOIFAs have never been held in Pune, because they’ve never been held before. Not in Pune. Not in Delhi. Not in Mumbai. Nowhere. Not at all.
The TOIFAS aren’t Bollywood’s answer to the Oscars, either.
That honour belongs to the National Film Awards that were first presented in 1954. Generally the National Film Awards are presented in conjunction with a film fest where the winning films are shown. Pune has hosted that festival. And fairly recently.
Maybe Chaban was there. But he never went to the TOIFAs in Pune, BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T EXIST BEFORE CHRISTY CLARK BOUGHT THEM!
Now that’s what the reporter should have been reporting on. Just why did Clark buy this show from this company?
The advertiser (BC) paying for the story is the business model of the company putting on the TOIFAs.
According to a piece by media reporter Ken Auletta in the New Yorker last fall the Jain brothers, who own and run the Times of India, have turned journalism on its head in India, running stories that serve the needs of their advertisers and charging them for it.
Times of India subsidiary MediaNet was set up to market celebrities and the film industry. Celebrities, their agents and producers pay MediaNet to develop and publish stories about them.
TOIFA is an extension of this strategy. The market, contrary to the Sun story, is not the 1.3 billion Indian nationals as the Sun’s reporter appears to suggest. The Times of India – as an English language paper – is only India’s 13th largest paper. It’s TV arm is also a comparatively small player.
What the Times of India Film Awards are is a new, untested attempt by the Times of India to make more money generating stories that serve the advertisers’ needs. In this case the advertiser is Christy Clark and her needs are political.
If our government were interested in reaching the huge Indian film industry it would have done what Ontario did and gone with the Awards show with the proven ability to reach that market.
The Premier wants to reach a couple hundred thousand South Asians, mostly in the lower Mainland, most of whom speak English and Punjabi. That, the Times of India can achieve.
According to Auletta, the Jains often take equity as payment for their advertorials. Don’t be surprised if a small chunk of BC turns up in their portfolio.
PS – A shout out to friends Stuart and Tim who, through Marie, reminded me of the New Yorker story on the Jain brothers, which I happened to have on my vacation IPAD