Straight Angle™: August 2007
Sunday, August 26, 2007

IBN's Foot in Mouth!!!! 

I dont know what is with IBN-Live Website these days, I am finding it highly unimaginative and stale to read the stories posted in there. May be they suffer from Foot-in-Mouth disease too. Take for example a recent article they had posted on the TATA-Land Rover Deal. The story opens like this:
New Delhi: Ratan Tata, owner of the largest Indian conglomerate is planning a smooth drive with American car giants Land Rover and Jaguar.
Thankfully, this story had been written by a Human- Karan Thapar. While I dont deny the fact that, these brands are American owned, Land Rover and Jaguar are hardly "American" Giants. They are owned by Ford- but they are basically European- British to be precise Giants. Their official websites place their registered offices in Britain- not Detroit. Though it is perfectly true to call these American Cars, it is not fair to call them American Brands. Hopefully, Karan Thapar will get over the Foot and Mouth Disease soon. May be I need to send him a Get-well card. But I should thank CNN-IBN for this wonderful discovery. If not for them, I wouldn't have been interested in searching for Foot in Mouth in Wiki and got this wonderful piece!

In other related observation, is CNN-IBN partly owned, or in debt to TATA industries? I agree TATA is a big name and all that- but what is the reason behind CNN-IBN covering only TATA related news in its business section?

Look at the news items in the business section right now. There are a total of 7 topics listed in that section and the headlines read thus:
  1. India's BPO export accounts 47 per cent growth
  2. TCS to hire 2,000 science and maths graduates
  3. Satyam joins hands with Malaysian government
  4. Infosys BPO unaffected by US stock mkt trouble
  5. 'Nuclear deal is best thing to have happened to India'
  6. Tata welcomes: Jaguar, Land Rover & Rs 1-lakh car
  7. Despite protests, Tata small car project on track
An astonishing 5 out of 7 stories there had a mention of TATA group in it. I wonder if there aren't any other businesses in India than TATA's or is it that ways for CNN-IBN?

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

IBN-Dead! (Brain Dead) 

I am wondering if there is any editorial oversight in IBN Live Website- the sort of stories that get published, the language, the content and the "news" that those stories claim to disseminate. While it is nothing surprising to come from NDTV, I am really distraught to see this reporting stupidity pervading the media space.

Take for example the below headline in IBN-Live Website:

Tata Steel ranked world's best producer by Fitch

I read the story, re-read it and read it again to find a faint shred of evidence to understand where exactly had the Fitch said that TATA Steel is the best producer of Steel- I couldn't find any such reference. All it said was,
"The rating with stable outlook reflects the company's position as an efficient value added steel producer, with significant iron-ore and coal linkages, making it one of the low-cost steel producers in the world, Fitch said in a release."
The opening lines of the story states:
India’s biggest conglomerate Tata Group just got another feather to its hat. Global rating agency Fitch has assigned the highest rating of 'F1+(ind)' to Tata Steel's Rs 500 crore short-term debt programme.
There are factual misrepresentations in that assertion:
  1. Though Fitch is a Global company, the TATA Steel was rated by Fitch India, which is an Indian Company- Fitch as a global entity didn't do the rating.
  2. This assertion sounds as though, this rating is the highest rating available for any short term debt programme globally- by subtly tying the Global tag at the beginning, it is misleading to an unsuspecting reader that this rating is on a Global scale. However, the Fitch India site makes it very clear on the meaning and definition of the grade as below:
    Credit Ratings
    The suffix ‘(ind)’ refers to National Ratings assigned by Fitch India. Fitch’s National ratings provide a relative measure of creditworthiness for rated entities in countries with sub- or low-investment grade international sovereign ratings. The best risk within a country is rated ‘AAA’ and other credits are rated only relative to this risk. National ratings are designed for use mainly by local investors in local markets and are signified by the addition of an identifier for the country concerned, such as ‘AAA (ind)’ for National ratings in India. Specific letter grades are not therefore internationally comparable.
  3. This is already a sub- or low- investment grade international sovereign- to induce a global comparison implicitly by clever wording is not what a journalist should do.
  4. There is no attribution to the story- it is as if, IBN Live website itself wrote the story itself with no manual intervention- or probably some divine power wrote it for IBN.
  5. I agree and respect TATA for all it might. But what is the need for IBN to stroke such hype around the company?
Look at another headline from yesterdays.

Big deal: Tatas set to bag Jaguar, Land Rover
[Dt. 26/07/2007]

It declared in bold letters that TATA is "set" to acquire Jaguar and Land Rover, it even went ahead and told its readers this:
Tata Motors has nearly clinched the deal to buy iconic British brands, Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford, sources tell CNN-IBN.
Again unattributed sources-that would tell only to CNN-IBN that TATA has nearly bought it. Such hype. Later today, the headline reads like:

Ford can't afford to let go of Jaguar, Land Rover
[Dt. 07/08/2007]

This headline leads to this wonderful realisation in the story:
Ford had received preliminary bids from some private-equity firms including TPG, Cerberus Capital Management, Ripplewood Holdings and One Equity Partners apart from two Indian auto manufacturers -- M&M and Tata Motors.
The company that had earlier nearly clinched the deal is reduced to a passing mention along side the other contenders.

More interesting is the part that says,
Prospective bidders for Ford's Jaguar and Land Rover brands have reportedly begun due diligence, but the sale may finally go through only in the next two month.
A deal that was imminent any moment earlier, is turning out to be a long, weary, drawn out process. While I was reading the earlier article, I was sure that Ford was begging TATA to buy Jaguar and Land Rover, now I find TATA and other prospective buyers doing a due diligence- earlier TATA had decided to buy those two brands, just like I buy my morning breakfast at Dunkin Donuts- look at the colour of the muffin and buy the one that is brightest- now they are thinking about the calorific value!

Mysterious are the ways of the world- that which was imminent and a near certainty just a week ago now looks not so imminent.

If you think these are the only hyperbolic stories that IBN can run, think again- better go rinse your brain again and come back.

Take a look at yet another master piece of logic, fantastic reporting and excellent grasp of concepts.

ICICI, Dena bank cut deposit rates, loans get out of reach
[Dt. 09/08/2007]

This article is the heights of intellectual paucity that had come to haunt the media. This draws such amazing conclusions as interest rate hike is "anti-consumerist" and "pro-capitalist". Look at the sentence construction:
The trend that’s emerging now is completely anti-consumer and pro-capitalist—low rates on deposit while skyrocketing interest rates on loans.
While I agree that hike in interest rate is hard on consumer, I am at loss to understand how would that be "anti-consumerist" and ludicrous of all -"Pro-Capitalist".

More over, the story tries to paint a picture as if, there had been a hike in the lending rates and reduction in the deposit rates- whereas only the second part is true- there has been a cut in the deposit rates and the lending rates are not changed- they are already higher- trying to tie two non-simultaneous events is not only illogical, but also stupid.

Inducing a causation where there exists none is bad journalism. It also announces the naiveties of the reporter on things that are monetary and complete lack of understanding of what is being reported. I doubt if the reporter meant what he/she had written there- the pro-capitalist and anti-consumerist bit.

If he/she understands a bit of finance, he/she would have known by now, that such easy credit and excess liquidity in the system would lead to high inflation which would be the real anti-consumerist proposition, than availability of cheap credit. I think its time for IBN Live to get some real finance knowledge to cover the business, rather than treating business as if it is political news- sensationalizing and hyping. And remember, this is yet another author-less, bot written story.

And the fun doesnt end there. Read for example this headline:

Walmart may eat away Indian retailer's bread-and-butter

[Dt. 08/08/2007]

This story not only convinces me of the complete lack of understanding of the business but also of english as a language, on the part of the reporter. What is Indian retalier's bread and butter and how does Wal Mart entering India as a B-2-B partner of Bharti going to alter that? If anything, it would be Bharti that would be eating away the proverbial bread and butter!

Look at the sentence below:
World’s biggest grocery store brand Walmart has probably sensed the insecurity of the small-time Indian retailers who are threatened by the entry of international brands in the market.
Did you read it right?? Walmart is the world's largest Grocery store!- Can you beleive it- Grocery Store-this is a complete ignorance(for the lack of better word) of what Walmart is and what is Grocery Store is and the difference between Grocery store and retailer. And how did Walmart sense that small time Indian retailers are insecure- I think they were roaming around Indian cities with a mask to sense the insecurity- and what have they done- that part is hanging in the air. What is the purpose of that statement- No Idea- it freely hangs in there.

These stories are more of an opinion pieces than real news. I wonder if there is any journalistic control on the sort of language that is used and editorial control at IBN- Live. Is it a fiefdom, for an individual to publish unattributed, author-less, bot generated stories?

~Cross Posted at "Third Eye"

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Crap adds to more Crap!

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