Thursday, March 10, 2005

Letters to Mediaah! 

If you are unable to see all letters, please click here

It just takes courage to fight the odds and make a mark. If u are right, after bit of a struggle u will achieve. u can restart the site, as i feel ur objective is good and selfless.

Listen, I am not the most regular reader of Mediaah, but I like what I see.
It's the underbelly of journalism.Without wanting to sound laudatory, I really think you guys have created a casino for Davids. And I'll be damned if anyone says they don't like Davids.

It will be sad if Mediaah is forced to shut the site. The unique aspect of your site is: honest commentary. I know financial compulsions add to the problem

My suggestion:(purely personal) why don't you speak to large non-competing sites and offer the Mediaah content as their media section? (on the lines of a syndicated column in newspapers).this will reduce your costs. Everybody is interested in media news and your style makes interesting reading. I am sure this section will increase the website's audience as well.

I also know that you would have explored this but sharing my thought nevertheless.

Don't shut it down. In fact all of us who are for Mediaah should chip in with time, resources, moral support and also gather larger numbers.. each one get at least one more subscriber. Let it be a force big enough to say boo to bullies.

As for this crisis, just delete the damn posts and next time, give news about the biggies without using names but with enough hints for readers to guess who they are. Use guerilla tactics!

Don't even think about shutting shop. Take the b******s on. They are perhaps bluffing and trying to smother you. Why don't you ask your readers to contribute towards your legal fees? Some of us should be more than willing to help.

You seem extremely defeated already, going by the way your post ends.If the biggie does not withdraw the notice, then you will shut tonight. That post alone is enough to make someone smile!

Here are the options I believe you may exercise:
Post a note on your site asking for a lawyer who will take on your case on a pro-bono basis. There are many many legal eagles who will be able to absorb the cost of your litigation within their current infrastructure. And I imagine, many would do it just for the free publicity (not to mention goodwill) this will generate - if not because your cause is justified.

Here is my personal take on legal suits. They are not necessarily meant to shut you up. Often, they will be sent by a corporate because (1) it's the easiest thing in the world to do for them - spare people in the legal cell. (2) it's a good way to keep you distracted (3)there is the off chance that the notice will scare you enough to shut down - that is the smallest upside they expect, and you seem to be playing right into their hands.

I would also imagine that you should write to someone on blogger/google to find out what happens in cases like this if you were to post from blogger under your 'real' name. Overall though, it just makes more sense to continue from a public blogger - but without your personal name/id being associated. After all, if/when Mediaah becomes bigger than it is, it will hopefully be about more than just YOU.

Cheers, and hope to see mediaah again - limited as I find it - tomorrow again!

OK, according to me if you are planning to shut down the site, you are giving up, I firmly believe that's the worse way out, you are allowing them to get away with it, work as an underdog, don't be a lapdog and just wither out.

Mediaah! is one and only media watchdog site that has the guts to stand up to an empire that is slowly dictating the news, everything is canned, filtered, materialised, stylised. Propaganda dictates that paper and everything that it does. It scares me that one day we might see TOI ruling the nation and creating an impact that will be undesirable.I don't think there is anything wrong in working under a pseudonym, I rather say something, than not say anything at all. That's just my opinion, if you want to back down, obviously it’s your choice and no one can stop you, but I can gladly say that I tried.

Another thing you said that when one thing like this shuts down, it provokes other people to start many more ventures like Mediaah!. though I would agree partially on that, but for me it’s like the entire truth will never be exposed, it would be helter-skelter, no focus and no definite goals as such. All the people will come ramble on and no consensus would be reached.

I wish you luck, and hope that you continue to contribute to media criticism and analysis in some minute way at least.

It's really sad to see a space like 'mediaah' ( not just a site) have to choose option #5.The biggies are wasting tons of print/ electronic space talking about Nepal democracy, however when it comes to their own court, they sucks ..huh!!

I strongly feel today's industry is not only big enough, it is open enough also. When some are not liking you (we all know who they are...right??) , they are lot who like you very much. Just a suggestion, you can deliver your effort by registered-based mail wise.Or kind-of download-based. So be it remain free, but at the same time it'll reach to those who are passionate like you guys!

FYI, I'm no way connected to any media organisation, however keenly follow your space because I 'love' it ! Wish I'll see you again tomorrow ..after tomorrow ..

All of us are just avid readers but finally you end up taking all the flak .. maybe its just the friend in me talking but i am not sure whether you should be taking such pressure day in and day out. And do you have the mindspace to handle legalities day after day in the interest of a selfless crusade.

I sincerely hope these biggies allow free media to prosper. If blogs such as mediaah have become the target, I wonder if people will be allowed to talk in public or will that also be considered defamation! Well, if not anything, I guess it pays to be a good lawyer!

Sruthijith K K:
An open letter to the Mediaah! bully (as in the guys who are bullying mediaah!)

Dear Mediaah! bully,

I'm a reader of yours. I also read Mediaah! when I need a break in office. Allow me to offer ten reasons why you should allow Mediaah! to write and publish what they want and withdraw the stupid legal notices that you have served them. C’mon, be a sport, not a cry baby.

1. This is ridiculous and outrageous. You cry hoarse about freedom of the press the moment someone even asks you to verify your sources. Do I need to need to tell you the virtues and indispensibility of an independent media?

2. You are executing the recipe for your own disgrace. Everybody who reads Mediaah! knows who this media biggie who is trying to play bully is. Mediaah! is anti-establishment in nature and character. Everybody loves an anti establishment media. Most mainstream media houses know this and have built their reputation fighting the establishment from time to time. Now when the establishment tries to stifle opposition, it gets better for opposition as people who otherwise merely liked the rebel, now becomes their active, mobilised supporters. In Mediah's case, it’s more than 8000 urban, articulate professionals who are more than aware of rights and freedoms. More, they are from your industry. They are your past, present and future employees. You will do well to avoid antagonising them.

3. You are helping them fight you better. By serving them with legal notices, you just added the vital catalyst to the process of doubling Mediaah!'s readership in three weeks. How would you like that?

4. You might want to know what exactly does 8000 readers-cum-supporters mean. Mediaah! readers are loyal because a. they do not pay to read Mediaah!, b. we are spared of ads and advertorials and are assured quality reads everytime we go back, c. people are generally sympathetic to this non-profit effort and likes the way the blogger writes.

5. What does reason no 4 mean in this battle? I can put up an online petition asking you to withdraw the notices before today evening. All the Indian bloggers who matter will put up the link next to their mastheads (In case you didn't know, they all hate you. They in fact refer to you as a certain slimes of .. whatever country you operate out of). In two weeks, 100,000 Indians on the Web (upwarldy mobile, urban, middleclass) will sign the petition. How would your competitors like to carry the story? It might even make international headlines. You know, the Web is a terrible thing.

6. You cannot effectively stop any writer on the Web from criticising you. The writer in question insists on using his real name. But by trying to shut his shop, you are pushing a hundred others like him, who wouldn’t mind much writing without their names. How would you like a hundred Mediaah!s? Counsel expenditure would go you see.

7. Law is an ass. Cyberlaw for sure is. And I'm not even talking about India. When technology is not able to keep a tab on matters like piracy, law doesn't even stand a chance on less urgent matters like defamation. Hollywood lawyers have been trying to pull down a li’l rascal called Kaaza which has been caving in on the profits of their clients – deep-pocketed music labels. Read this story to know how well are they doing. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.02/kazaa.html. Do you still think you stand a chance?

8. The fact that Mediaah! has been successful shows that its readers think it is impartial, independent and does excellent reporting and a great job of breaking news. You found 19 pieces defamatory. Readers think they are true. Pull up your PR chaps. Pulling up Mediaah! will only make their jobs tougher.

9. Rise up to the times. Be a sport. Nobody likes to read scathing editorials from a cry baby. Your criticism will lose teeth and readers if you are known to be intolerent of criticism yourself. If you plan to be, we'll make sure that you are known to be one.

10. You know David and Goliath. By default, you are the Goliath. And everyone loves David.

Stop gazing. Ring your lawyer, ask him to withdraw the notices. Else, ring us up. We'll swing to action.

See also: Online petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/mediaahp/petition.html

Why don’t you incorporate this site abroad, get some foreign media company to fund it and you drive it from here. Your funding also taken care of.

See, you register a pvt ltd company, make yourself a director.Transfer the domain name to the company. Then case will be against the company and not you as an individual.You then scout around for equity stake in the company. Thoda accha bizplan bana, there are so many vcs running around in the country. I am sure somemoney will come from somewhere.

It is easier for me to say this as I am not even in India, but the only realistic option for you is the fourth one. Ignore the notice. See if you can get legal help from media-friendly lawyers who used to do this stuff pro bono -- I have folks like Ashok Desai, Darshana Bhogilal, Navroz Seervai and others in mind.

Get in touch with Tarun Tejpal and find out how you can take on the biggies. But don't give up. I don't know the name of the organisation that's throwing its weight around, but if it is toying with the idea that a blog is a threat to its reach, and wants to continue its policy of subverting every rule of media, then this is a challenge worth fighting. But you will need support at home for this.

I know that Indian media laws aren't as liberal as in the US, but you should be able to argue that what you've said is fair comment. The care you should take is that it is factual (with corrections as appropriate) and its tone not deliberately derogatory. Then I think you'd be on a good wicket.

I had never thought of your site being one infested by unionites anyway, so that's a new one. But closing the site, changing names, etc are, while realistic enough as options, would only be a step backward. As I said, it is easier for me to say this, as you have the music in front of you to face, but I did want to chip in....

I've been a regular reader of mediaah, but i've never sent in a post before. Today, however, is slightly different. You cannot and must not choose option # 5. It’s another victory for them. Agreed that it’s not a war. We never wanted one. This is a free country, and we are all allowed freedom of speech. And the fact that it is a media company that's asking you to take back words/ apologise – it’s so ironical that it borders to being funny. Only it is not so funny.

Yes, there is the problem of money. So let’s start a campaign. I'd say reveal the name of the company, start an e-campaign, if there's need for monies - lets ask for donations. If there are actually any false statements that've been made in any of your post - those can be apologised for - as for the rest - they are points of views, and you as sure as them (the 'big' media conglomerate) have the right to voice the opinions.

Our generation has had it so easy. We've never fought for a cause. There's never been a revolution. And the easiest thing to do would be sit, get walked over, and still pretend that we are free, and ours is a good life.

Nitin Karani:

If you believe in yourself that you have done no wrong, do one more right thing and take on the biggie. You will find more support for that when it does come to the crunch.

Won't all the activist types and the celebrity types including Shobhaa Dé support you? I am certainly on your side, if you choose 4 or 3.

I know it's too tempting to close down and get back to a regular job (though you are already in it) and enjoy the peace of life. But as you had revived the site and has managed to keep up with readers' expectations (I personally think your first avatar was better than the current one), I think you should be in it for the long haul.

I am sure you would face setbacks, legal hurdles etc, but that's what would you give the kick to be in business. I think it's going to be bloggers' age from now on. I am sure you would have noticed the story where one blogger managed to get access to White House's daily briefing.There is still debate on who is a legitimate reporter... I think a blogger is as legitimate as the one who works for a lala.

The other argument in favour of staying put is that you can be in business if you have well-thought-out revenue streams. Media is a happening industry (look at the number of IPOs coming in, and also FDI etc. etc.). So it's high time you brought out research reports, analysis of the industry, daily newsletters etc. I haven't really pressed my mind into these issues, but I am sure they are there...

My point is don't close the site only because somebody threatened you. But you can go ahead and shut it down if the reasons are as follows:

1. No money to carry on 2. Can't figure out revenues streams 3. Lost interest...and no meaning in carrying on
But, as for legal help, I am sure there could be some lawyers (like Ram Jethmalani or P N Lekhi) who always support the underdogs...don't forget to check them out (these guys do a lot of pro bono work). Hope you stay on and fight this out

The legal notices are coming your way because you MATTER! What you say matters!!! Readers listen to you and that’s what the "biggies" know.

There's all kinds of hurdles which come along the way of a good thing. It never is easy. The show MUST go on. Chill out for a while if you have to. Go easy on stories. Which does not mean you compromise in any way!
But for God's sake do not go off! You cannot let them win. Going off is giving in and that is a helluva lot more pathetic than compromising. Copping out is not the solution.

It’s perhaps easy for me to give armchair opinions but I do feel you have a VERY GOOD thing going. Poynter India will materialise only with relentless pursuit and sticking by no matter what.

When things go wrong as they sometimes will
When the road your trudging seems all uphill
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile but you have to sigh
When care is pressing you down a bit - Rest if you must

Goodluck. If I could do anything I would... in a second.

Just happened to read the latest post of the legal notice being sent to you. I have long been an admirer of Mediaah, ever since its early days. I have always liked and enjoyed the content and appreciated the fact that you have been frank and always stuck to yourguns.

It's a request to you not to shut this site. For the simple reason that we in India need a media watchdog. Sir, I am an undergraduate and would soon find myself in the media business. Sites like these give me the impetus that all is not wrong with the media world.

Shutting of this site would be a shame. I really don't know what to suggest to you as such, but please do not shut this site down. It’s a sincere request.

option 4 please.

What a shame!! Getting into a legal battle may well take too much out of you personally, so one can only hope the media company backs down. Failing which, for the future (provided you decide there is one) isn't it possible not to name the company when the post is particularly controversial? Just hint at it. Is that enough to get you into legal trouble? Of course I think it's great to be gutsy enough to name names, but bettersomething than nothing, no?

I know you are going thru some kinda existential crisis with your rather effective blog. All the best. Only you can decide on that one...


Don’t tell me that a threat is all it takes to shut shop? I mean why should you? You guys have always had more balls than that!!! Is there some law your have violated by running your site? I mean this is the stuff British media survives on; only they take they pants off their political biggies, not just models, actors, wannabes and yeah, occasionally media pooches as well!

What are the technical ramifications of taking those notices with a pinch of salt and yet continuing to run Mediaah? If you inform us readers of exact consequences of whatever decision you make, it makes it easier for us to digest it and live with it. Personally speaking, Mediaah is my daily afternoon fix post-lunch and pre-afternoon ennui. All the best and hope you guys hang in there.

Why harakiri? I think it would make better sense for Mediaah to create a ruckus on the issue among international media watchdog groups. Write to Poynter, Editor and Publisher, the international partner of the offender, get http://www.journalism.co.uk/ (which covers journalism in UK) to look at the issue if there is a British Broadcaster involved, write to the Hoot in India, start an email campaign, mount an opinon poll online, write to politicians, whatever to take the battle into the enemy camp.

As it is, the newer version of mediaah seems to be a bit tepid. Killing it would only make Big Brother emerge victorious.

Will speaking to Pooja help?

T K V:
Never ever shut down or shut up. In this case, opt for #4. To the extent possible, just ignore it with the contempt it deserves. If need be, why not go pay? By the way, which is this 'media biggie with deep pockets'? Just name it, call a spade a spade. And carry on with courage, conviction and above all, WISDOM.

Made a post on my blog about this: http://presstalk.blogspot.com

#5 option is no good. Do u really think you could go back to living normal lives after something like Mediaah!!?? You are working on it because u love working on it. It is a fabulous site and makes a very good read.You should take the highway and stick it out in the courts.( Besides! with our courts, probably it might not come up for years.)

It might be hard but that is the thing to do, coz u guys will be proud of it years down the line. As far as money goes, you'll find ways to stick around... By the way, I am just a student and not even in the media. Never written to u before. A secret fan :)). Just felt compelled to drop a mail. And I feel sincerely that u should take to the courts. From personal experience, let me tell u , the judges are actually nice...)

I have been following Mediaah! since its beginning and was most excited when you guys came back. Now seeing you guys in trouble, hurts! I am not sure killing the website is the answer. Especially considering your long-term plans. The way things are going in the media we need people like you to tell the "Truth about the media"

Also, I believe you have to be in the system to beat the system. It is not an easy thing - the media watch biz. You have been brave so far and done a great job...I do hope you will continue to do this...even if it means taking a little break.

PS: Unfortunately I do not any of the "biggies" to pull the strings only moral support!

Baby, don’t go! It’s very, very unfortunate that the whistleblowers of the Indian media cannot take the digs on itself. I am an aspiring journalist sitting in Bahrain, and reading Mediaah is like reading the papers. My morning cuppa is not my morning cuppa till i read Mediaah.

Maybe someone should tell these biggies that they are not being gracious. After all, the reason people get into journalism is to dig out the truth with all the skeletons with it. What makes mediaah any different than them. Guys stop hassling Mediaah and if it wasn’t true, u wouldn’t be paying more attention to tit would you. And never underestimate the power of one, you never know where we may turn up when u least expect it.

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