Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Hindu, Plagiarism and Gautaman Bhaskaran

Nina, a film buff blogger has pointed out that Gautaman Bhaskaran, a senior journalist of The Hindu has been largely inspired in his reviews by NY Times. She has given relevant links, and by now the blogosphere is abuzz.

I hardly watch movies, so didn't bother to read the links. One of the pet hobbies of this blog was to point out the shoddy reporting of The Hindu. But after a point of time, it stopped entertaining me. There were too many errors to make fun of. Also I have been antagonistic towards their editorials since long. And to top it all, today they carried a 3 full page advertisement for IIPM, not an insert, in the main sheet.

I have read Gautaman Bhaskaran in passing, admiring his use of phrases and words though I couldn't empathise much with movies. So it was shocking to hear that he has copied from NY Times. How this is going to pan out is anybody's guess. The Hindu doesn't bother much about bloggers, so they can pretend that this didn't happen.

This incident set me thinking about this sharp tool called blogging. Take Mr. Bhaskaran. He has been writing for about 20 years. Assuming 20 reviews a year, that makes it 400 reviews. Even if say, 20 of his reviews were inspired, he will be painted as a plagiarist for all 400 of them. It is a little harsh on him. Again I stress, I am not batting for anybody, just thinking out loud how this tool called blogging can be used.


Kaps said...

one incidence of theft is sufficient to brand somebody as a thief. past history / innocence has no value. people might dig up all his old reviews to find out if he has stolen something.

As u said, The Hindu might prefer to ignore bloggers as the impact might not be much. Even Gautaman would have done this hoping that none of Hindu's readers read NYT. It is like taking the readers for ride.

what surprises me is Hindu's ignorance of the Manjunathan murder.

Premalatha said...

If some one steals after, say, 40 years of life, one cannot go and argue that, all my 40 years no-stealing is not considered.

Your selection of words is very interesting. I never have come across the usage of word "inspired" to mean "copied/lifted/stole".

In order to get some sympathy for the "inspired" writer, making the other person(nina) look bad, is a very very cheap politics. No matter what and how many "crimes" the other person (nina) has done, it cannot erase the "inspiration" the writer has been drawing so far. It (your attempt) is just so cheap.

I don't care who did what (including the inspired writer). my comment is just about your method being so cheap.

Chenthil said...

Kaps, Somebody mentioned in my comments that Manjunath issue was covered in the Bangalore edition.

Premalatha, :-). I first read about this issue in India Uncut, and decided to use the same word as I thought it was cute. And if you think I am cheap, you are welcome.

Premalatha said...

What word in India uncut you have used?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005
The Hindu gets 'inspired'
Consider this paragraph:

Stone has always made stories about men for whom ordinary life is impossible by accident or by choice. As a storyteller he has long made a habit out of extreme personalities, a preoccupation that during the 1990s was matched by one of the most playfully expressive styles in American mainstream pictures.
Well, it appears in Gautaman Bhaskaran's review of the film Alexander, published Feb 11, 2005. It also appears in Manohla Dargis's review in the New York Times, published November 24, 2004. It's evident who has plagiarised from whom.

I got this information via an excellent expose by Nina from Chennai, in which she also provides many other links that reveal that Gautaman Bhaskaran has been doing this for a long, long time. (Link to Nina via email from Mridula.) Somewhat like what Nikhat Kazmi, another MSM film reviewer, had been doing when Jai Arjun Singh exposed her.

In that case, the Times of India took no action against Kazmi. In this case, one can argue that the Hindu wasn't aware of this until now. Well, let us see what they do.

Cross-posted on We The Media.

Update: Ravi Ratlami has another expose here.
amit varma, 1:08 PM| write to me | email this to a friend | permalink | homepage

Hasn't he used ""? it gives a clear idea what he means.

When he uses "" he may be referring to someone like I have used it in my comment.

secondly, onething is that usage of the word. what about your entire post? whom are you going to blame for that one?

Oh boy, you ARE so cheap.

Chenthil said...

I am to blame for the post Premalatha :-). How can I blame any body else for my thought process? If you want me to think what you think, well I am not going to. And I am going home now, if you comment any thing after this comeback tomorrow for a reply.

Premalatha said...

If you want me to think what you think, well I am not going to.

another twist.

I don't remember asking you to think what I think. Did I?

And I am going home now, if you comment any thing after this comeback tomorrow for a reply.

Thanks for informing that. that's very gentlemanly.

I may not comeback to see what is going on here. Bye bye.

tris said...

Hi Chen,

I have often wondered about this myself 'pala naal thiruden oru naal agapaduvan' - the converse also becomes true there on:

'oru naal thiruden pala naal agapaduvan.'

Anonymous said...

the hindu used to publish articles from the NY times ..am not sure if they do that now .. and the source was always credited..what a fall !

and gautaman bhaskaran was like the voice of the hindu when it came to movies ..his reviews and analyses used to be sharp ..didn't know he was using borrowed pencils!


Nilu said...

Chen : Your worst fears are coming true. Exhibit A: Premalatha.

Hawkeye said...

1. I think a person who plagiarized 20 times is better than a person who plagiaried 400 times. its like the difference between anu malik and ar rahman. both have plagiarized at least once in their lives but both arent the same.

2. i dont like gauthaman bhaskaran. i dont think he should be fired but at least told that his game is up and he shld start doing original material.

3. i also dont like premalatha. i dont even get what she is nitpicking about.

4. although my respect for Hindu is going down, i still think given the seniority of bhaskaran nobody would dare check him out ..plus its difficult to check him out. i dont know how you would do it. it depended on his own ethics and he chose to be unethical. as simple as that.

Anonymous said...

//Even if say, 20 of his reviews were inspired, he will be painted as a plagiarist for all 400 of them. It is a little harsh on him. //

Chenthil, I don't get this logic. How do you say its a little harsh on him. its a matter of integrity when it comes to fourth estate.

Chenthil said...

Premalatha, it was nice having you here :-)

Tilo, true. Who doesn't have skeletons in their cupboard? And one whiff of a scandal and you are doomed forever.

Varun, I lost respect for The Hindu a long while ago. In this matter I was wondering whether blogging is becoming more of a vigilante activity.

Nilu, it came faster than I expected.

Hawkeye, AR Rahman plagiarised?. Never say that, you will have a flame war at your blog :-).

Guru, the issue I was concerned more here was how blogging can be used to bring down somebody.Integrity of Fourth Estate, do you believe they have it.

Bart said...

A cliche: Mark a black dot in the centre of a white paper and what do people see?
Gautaman Baskaran is a wrong example but the point of using blogging as a powerful tool is true. Its been observed in the IIPM case recently, Tsunami before and yes, exposing quite a few private skeletons...
Albert Einstein long before said, "No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; A single experiment can prove me wrong" :)

Premalatha said...

Hi Chenthil,

I did come back to check!! Women eh!!

anyway, again it is very gentlemanly of you to close like that.


Premalatha said...

Hi Chenthil,

Chakra explained few things over phone. Your post gave me an impression that you were trying to accuse Nina. (Please read my first comment on this). If my comment didn't make sense to you, you could have asked me. You just went along, which only made it worse.

Anyway, sorry for that.

I just want to state for the record that I am not an anti-Hindu or a pro-Hindu.


tris said...

chen - king of cool - what are you translating next?

Chenthil said...

Premalatha :-).

Tilo, whatever it is I want more comments from readers discussing the content. So do come over to that blog and comment

Anonymous said...

//Guru, the issue I was concerned more here was how blogging can be used to bring down somebody.//

Yep !! There are rogue bloggers every where and the idea of rogue bloggings sucks. I agree.

Now lets take this analogy to the IIPM case which is very recent. Do you also think that IIPM literally raped by bloggers. Imagine IIPM has been around for a while and they might have given great education even for atleast 200 people, they were ragged by the bloggers for screwing up with one AD on newspapers. Do you think so ?

Also, imagine the tamil nadu police captures so many criminals on a daily basis. do you think they were ragged by bloggers when they were condemened for moral policing with just one hotel.

Are we being balanced here ? If you are saying yes, i'll have a bigger reply.

Chenthil said...

Guru, of course I am not being balanced. I myself have participated vigorously in IIPM issue and Moral Policing. But of late I am getting this doubt, whether we are using blogging as a tool to bring down things. When I was participating in those issues, I could feel the mob mentality engulfing me, making me feel the potency of power without accountability.

In such mobs, some of those who are shouting along with you won't be agreeable to you on normal days. But since all of us are shouting for an issue, we tend to forget this fact. To put it in Engineering College slang, whenever there is a fight in collge, there will be a group who will be standing invisible but creating a big noise. We call that "Sound vidarathu". I am wondering whether blogging is going down that road.

Anonymous said...

Obviously its going in that road. Remember those days when you had asked why I was keeping off senstive issues. This was the reason. Its because we have bandwith and a keyboard that listens to your whims and fancies, by means of senstive topics and sticky posts, we are just becoming rogue bloggers, to the core.

Ofcourse there are people who react because they feel dejected or upset of some issue. i have to say i felt very dejected when i saw the plagiarism. two reasons. one the lazygeek blog is a victim of plagiarism. donno if you know but the reviews and posts are intelligently stolen and some interesting thoughts are added to it make seems like a original post. second, i am a long term reader of hindu. infact right from the start. so i felt dejected and hence that post about hindu.

there are bloggers whom even you can spot so easily who are just waiting for to kick someone and waiting for a prey. those dudes are pretty new and have no clue of the immense satisfaction blogging gives. if its all about eyeballs and page hits and comments gallore, blogging ceases to exist. but thats what we have today and it really sucks. really sucks.

Anonymous said...

The shock factor (at least for me) is high because, it was *Gautaman Bhaskaran* and not some critic.

Anonymous said...

'oru naal thiruden pala naal agapaduvan.'
have you thought about this too? When I came up with this odd reversal of Pazhamozhi very long ago, I think I was rationalizing some crap that I made up in my mind.
So, same odd things (crap or not) come up in different minds too..

Ravages/CC said...

This I swear is my last comment ever on any blog.

Chenthil, you mentioned that you were afraid that the post by Nina would adversely affect GB's reputation. Will you say he didn't invite it upon himself?

You have reviewed quite a few books. Would you be okay if GB were to get "inspired" by your reviews? Would you let him go by without a remark, after all, he's been doing book reviews for a long time, and this is the first time he lifts a paragraph or two from you?

Lazy and Chenthil, what an interesting discussion.
As one of the persons who was a second hand member in both your examples - IIPM, Moral policing, as well as one of the participants in the Mediaah! v TOI, Rohan Pinto plagiarism issues, I think I've gained a perspective about what you both are talking of.

First, I don't believe blogging is going down the road of bullies. For one, bloggers and blogs are still far too small and insignificant to have any effect whatsoever against big business. or even small businesses.

Sure, we were screaming loud in IIPM, trying to bring them down but there was a reason we did that - they were a) misleading people with ads and b) trying to stifle free speech. The entire issue with IIPM in my mind is to do more about free speech than it is do with the quality of the education. if you remember, we didn't get on to the bandwagon till Gaurav was threatened...and once that happened, we were talking about free speech.
Also, Guru, having personally seen what IIPM offers, I would seriously doubt if even 2 people have benefited from their course, let alone 200.

Chenthil, blogs aren't about sound vidaradhu.
Blogs are about conviction and freedom to say what you want to say.

Again, blogs are not about bringing down people - who have we brought down so far? Or can we just bring down people without just or believable causes?

If we've managed to bring down people, it is only because they were eminently bring-downable. Rohan Pinto for example.

He asked for it, plagiarising people.

As I see it, Blogs will help spread the news of fraud, illegitimate activities faster than traditional media and therefore only play a significant part in the rectification of the wrong, maybe even a principal part. I don't see blogs to be able to wantonly destroy people and reputations.

That is my own opinion though.

I do see Blogs used as a tool/forum to discuss a lot of issues that are of significance to people, and therefore, possibly, the first spark for any unrest might come from a blog. But that again is because there will be and most definitely is a valid reason for the said unrest.

Chenthil said...

None bloggers not allowed to comment here CCG :-).

I have nothing for or against GB, he is not even my favorite Hindu Columnist (that will be Sevanti Ninan / Nirmal Shekar). What I am saying is that I am not righteously angered in this issue. I have prompted you to create noise about the moral policing issue, then I was really angry. But now something holds me back.

I am sort of vacillating. That prompted me to put the question on the blog. May be I am growing old.

tris said...

Chen - this is for Zero if he comes back and checks :-)

Your much earlier comment on another topic

you get to talk about WW II, Sartre, Stupidity, Anarchism and Movies? Hmm.. I am very much alienated from girls and all that; but from what I hear (and no "assumptions" here), this is hardly the scenario.

Zero - girls think and talk the same things (crap or not) as guys :-).

so hardly surprising we turned the same phrase around in our heads.......

Anonymous said...

Hey Tilo!
I said "no assumptions" and I seriously meant it. I was referring to getting to meet "odd" (for all mainstream definitions, I consider talking about Sartre is odd) people (and not women) on date. I am really sorry if it sounded different.
and it had nothing to do with my surprise that we independently invented the same pazhamozhi :).
Because to whom ever I told that pazhamozhi (which was nothing but quite a poor play with words, with due respect :)), they just gave back a stare.

Anonymous said...

I must add that his virtues (!) doesn't just stop with plagarism.

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