Mediaah!: When Delhi Times and HT Cafe reported that Metallica performed

31 Oct,2011

By Pradyuman Maheshwari

The Delhi Times clip

The HT Café photo-story

It’s not something that’s not happened before. I recall Time magazine doing it in the late 1970s when it reported that an Indian politician had visited China when in fact he had called off the trip last-minute.

I was alerted on this thanks to a Facebook post by a former colleague, Narendra Kusnur. The city supplements of both the Hindustan Times and Times of India in Delhi reported that the Metallica concert had happened on



Friday. While the front page of the main paper did make a mention of the chaos at the venue, that of their supplements – which Kusnur believes happened because of an early deadline – was incorrect.

I am sure this is more than just a severe embarrassment for the editor and management of both publications. It’s not the case of an error in reportage or a typo or even a wrong picture that was printed. And mind you it doesn’t appear to be an inadvertent error.

Here was a case where the paper’s editors cheated their readers by deliberately printing incorrect information. We got to know about it thanks to a vigilant reader and also because it was a much-hyped event.

But my worry is what if the editors do such acts habitually, with other events too. Also a cause of concern is that the city supplements of the two leading newspapers in the capital carried a similar error. The Times of India blanked out the news item on the epaper, while HT didn’t do that. So obviously the decay exists not just in one publication.

I went through the front page of HT City and Delhi Times on Sunday to see if there’s any apology. I didn’t see any in the epaper edition. Times magazine, btw, had apologised for the error.

This only further accentuates my distress that the reader is being taken for a ride and no one really appears to care.


The Niira Radia exit. Good riddance or sad to see her go?


I still remember the days when Vaishnavi was setting up. The Tata group accounts were consolidating under an agency with a name unlike the other PR agencies. In the early days, the folks were working out of makeshift office at the Taj Mahal hotel and the Army and Navy Building in Mumbai.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and I found it very pleasant interacting with Vaishnavi staffers. For a period when I was with the Dainik Bhaskar group, we had recruited Vaishnavi with an assignment which again was executed very well.

The PR industry grapevine always had assorted stories about how the Vaishnavi bosswoman Niira Radia had managed to net the entire Tata group account. Needless to say most of it was out of jealousy. Guess they found some merit in getting the entire business group to go to just one agency for PR just as you tend to do for, say, media buying.

My sense is that this policy doesn’t work. It’s always good to get a few different players, given their strengths in various business areas and have experience professionals available in the locations you want them.

Two questions: now that she’s gone (well, as of close of business today), what’s the view. How would the world remember Niira Radia? High profile lobbyist or a quality communications professional? Lobbyist yes, but perhaps incorrect to stretch it to her being a wheeler dealer.

There’s a lot that exists as part of the deliverables under public affairs, and there’s nothing wrong if the influencing has to happen beyond media folk. For instance, if a senior politician from Kerala thinks he or she is not being recognised by the powers that be in Delhi, then there’s nothing wrong in pushing your way around in Delhi.

And if there’s a journo or bureaucrat who is amenable and can get influenced, it’s surely not the crime of the practitioner.

That both the Tatas and Reliance groups entrusted their responsibility to Radia speaks volumes for her skills.

There is a lot on Radia that the various enforcement agencies are busy with. I don’t see anything happening to her. She has enough contacts to get her out of any mess and has enough dirty stuff on people to pull the trigger if anyone gets naughty.

Question 2: were the Tatas wise by going in for Rediffusion? I would be interested to know what swung it for Arun Nanda. After all, he doesn’t have the best PR brains with him any longer.  Perhaps that’s why tied up with Edelman.

But then 10 years back when the group went in for Vaishnavi, similar questions were being asked. Radia’s team put up a decent show. The Tatas can obviously spot talent where not many of us can.


PostScript: Are news media professionals worried about the mutterings of Press Council chief retired Justice Markandey Katju. Read this hilarious account on Legally India. Must-read. More on Katju’s comments on the media next time (which I promise you won’t happen after three weeks!)

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2 responses to “Mediaah!: When Delhi Times and HT Cafe reported that Metallica performed”

  1. Jayanta Sircar says:

    We as a nation we really know how to get at people. We did it to Sonia and never got her to be the PM which is the nation’s loss. We have done it to Nira Radia, surely both Tata and Reliance, could not be wrong in their judgement of hiring her services. We really are past masters at killing the golden goose.

  2. Rahulkis says:

    Great article!