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Writer: Pradyuman Maheshwari - Monday, Dec 29,2008 5:43 AM

Mixed Media: The 2008 News Media Awards

It’s that time of the year when the world does its year-end reviews, and publications and channels announce their ‘persons of the year’. The film and television industry does have its awards, but the news frat across the Indian media could do with some year-end recognition.

Before I get into the Awards, here’s an alert – these are the Mixed Media Awards. There is no jury sitting in to decide who should get what, and there will be no public presentation of titles. Some of you may disagree with them, and some may find them bang-on. Most importantly, these are not the exchange4media.com awards, and are the creation of yours truly. Also, this is solely for the English and Hindi media. I know this is grossly unfair, given that we have some excellent work being done beyond Delhi and Mumbai. But I don’t think I am equipped to judge media in the languages I don’t understand. My apologies.

So, without much ado, let’s get down to the ‘ceremony’.

PRINT

Best English Newspaper (General): The Times of India

I have my views on Medianet and feel it is exceedingly regressive and believe that that there should be no quid pro quo on private treaties (stake in company against free ad space, etc.), but there’s no disputing that The Times of India is the best newspaper we have in the country today. It is the best newspaper brand across languages and, according to me, is the best general-interest English newspaper in the country.

Best English Newspaper (Business): Mint

Don’t expect to read everything under the sun here, but Mint has got most of the stuff that matters. One will now wait to see how well the new newsroom leadership is able to steer the paper given that Editor and conscience-keeper Raju Narisetti will exit to turn advisor on January 1.

Best Sunday newspaper: Hindustan Times

The Sunday Express used to be on top, though that was once upon a time. HT’s Brunch section is decidedly the best Sunday leisure read, far better than the others. The rest of the Sunday paper too is super.

Best Newsmagazine: India Today

Must confess I don’t know if I prefer the main magazine or the add-ons, but it’s the combined offering that scores over Outlook which, by the way, could do with some renewed vigour.

Best Business Magazine: Mint

Chill, I haven’t got it wrong. Mint is essentially a magazine in the newspaper format, and its Lounge section on Saturdays is superlative. My view is that all our biz magazines need to do what they recommend businesses to do: reinvent.

Best City Magazine: Time Out Mumbai

Exceedingly well-produced, great ideas, well-written stories and smartly packaged. It is one of the few magazines I read cover-to-cover. Well, almost.

Best Hindi newspapers and magazines:

I am sorry, I don’t track these enough and it would be incorrect for me to comment. Will try and achieve this next time!

TELEVISION:

Best English News Channel: Times Now

This was a tough choice, because CNN-IBN is still a personal favourite and NDTV 24x7 is my channel of choice for election analyses, but for the daily dose of news, Times Now has done superlatively over the last year.

Best Hindi News Channel: Aaj Tak

I’m aware that the likes of NDTV India, India TV, Star News off and on, and NDTV India are doing fairly well in the ratings and various awards, but of the various Hindi news channels that exist, Aaj Tak is the most trusted. Guess eventually that matters most in the news biz.

Best English Business News Channel: CNBC-TV18

The only category where I didn’t spend more than a minute in taking a decision. But for it stay on top in 2009, CNBC-TV18 will need to do a lot, lot more. The Economic Times channel is expected to launch by March, and UTVi is trying its ‘bestest’ to catch up.

Best Hindi Business News Channel: Zee Business

I wouldn’t watch it until a few months back, but got hooked on to it quite by accident. Highly underrated by the media.

Most Infotaining News Channel: India TV

If news has to be more than just news, and it must also entertain, India TV wins hands down across English and Hindi channels. Aaj Tak is getting there, often a step ahead of India TV, but it’s a me-too in the dumbing down of news.

ONLINE

Best News Aggregator: Google News

Decidedly the best source to pick up news from across the Web on an issue. And not to miss GoogleAlerts. It is what keeps tabs on all the news that I would like to track, but am too lazy to do on my own.

Best News Portal: Ibnlive.com

Rediff.com is good and NDTV.com has the updates, but Ibnlive.com has its act together well and is most often my first choice if I need to check on news. Yes, even before I switch on the telly.

Best Mobile News: MyToday

Intelligently sent updates. More importantly, it doesn’t use database to intrude on privacy by sending ad SMSes by the dozen.

Best Blog: Several

There are just so many of them. And all of them indicating there is a wealth of talent out there. A personal all-time favourite is Rajesh Jain’s Emergic.org, but I’m looking for something to grow into a Huffington Post or a Drudge Report. We may just have one this time next year.

Phew! Awards and lists are always controversial and it’s a thankless exercise. However, it is important to recognise the good work done. Obviously, those who haven’t ‘won’ will be aggrieved, but the media space is dynamic. What’s hot today, may be out tomorrow.

Mixed Media is not just about the news media, so, save FM radio, which is tough to track pan-India, expect a similar exercise for the rest of the media. Soon.

(Note, the views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the exchange4media Group where I am group chief editor, exchange4media.com and impact. Don’t agree with my choice for the ‘News Media Awards 2008’? Mail me at mixedmedia@exchange4media.com)

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