Fifa World Cup 2014 Schedule: Easy Way to Keep a Tab!

Sports journalists, and football fans: I’m going to do you a giant favor. That is, if you haven’t figured out a way to do this already.

It’s less than 2 weeks to the FIFA World Cup! If you are having trouble keeping track of the matches, here’s an easy way to do it.fifa

Download this calendar file which has the Fifa World Cup 2014 Schedule in it. And import it into your calendar application. It should work with Google Calendar, Outlook and most of them that support import from an ics file. And you are done!

In case you need help, here’s a step by step guide to do it.

1. Click on the calendar file above. It should download a file called basic.ics to your computer.

2. After it downloads, open your calendar application. Say Google Calendar.

3. Say Import Calendar and select the file basic.ics to import from.

4. That’s it! Don’t forget to share this with your friends!


Tips & Tools to Improve Online Writing

Strict style sheets have become old and irrelevant in the digital world. What it means is that you have the kind of freedom that a newspaper can never afford. What it also means is that the responsibility to make your story legible, or present it beautifully is yours.

Assuming that you’ve covered the basics like grammar, spelling and dealt with questions like why should the reader care, it would be a good idea to check your post for legibility. There are no hard and fast rules on the Internet. Here are some tips and tools to improve online writing.

1. Clear and crisp writing works very well on the Internet. The key is to organize your thoughts before you write. If you need help with writing, try the Hemingway App .  It makes your writing “bold and clear.”

Hemingway highlights long, complex sentences and common errors; if you see a yellow highlight, shorten the sentence or split it. If you see a red highlight, your sentence is so dense and complicated that your readers will get lost trying to follow its meandering, splitting logic — try editing this sentence to remove the red.

2. There are detailed style sheets painstakingly prepared by editors. However, you don’t need to follow them on the Internet. If you must, here’s a simple, easy one: The Medium Style Sheet. It has a few recommendations that can be applied to your blog or an article that you are writing.

3. The Medium Best Practices are also a good place to borrow from. They are not only good for Medium, but mostly for the web. For instance: What is the ideal world count? About 400 words works best.

4. Headline? Use one that effectively summarizes the story. Avoiding pun might help if you are targeting search traffic. Writing that great headline can make all the difference. The trick is to strike a fine balance between click bait and a legit headline. Folks at Bufferapp have put together a great piece on how you can write a great headline.  Read it here.

5. Pictures: Use good quality ones. You can use Creative Commons Search to find free pictures. I found one for this post. Make sure you check the license information before you use the picture.

Got questions/ Suggestions? Leave comments.

Reporter 2.0

What does a reporter’s job look like in the digital era?  While all the qualities and skills of traditional reporting are needed in the online world, journalists in the digital world often have to go the extra mile.

When I was working for offline dailies, I just had to write a good story to feel like a king. The desk would edit it, find a great headline, a designer would make it look good. A photographer would give us some great pictures to go with it. The press would print it and agents would get it into the hands of the reader.

Nowadays, not only do I have to write a story, I usually have to publish and distribute it myself. The site I write for has a great set of readers, but I need to bring them back constantly while I find new readers. The faster, the better.

It means taking care of formatting, editing, writing a great headline, sourcing pictures, optimizing a story so that search engines can find it and distributing it across the Internet and mobile.

Formatting should improve a post’s readability online. Using simple techniques such as writing shorter sentences, being direct, using sub-headings and styling a post, a writer can present stories better.

Because new news room can seldom afford a separate desk, writers often have to edit the story themselves. Writers need to be fast but can’t screw up on accuracy. Thankfully, stories published online can be edited even after publishing.

Having a photograph or a picture makes a whole lot of difference to a post. There are many sources on the Internet like Flickr and now Getty Images (the image in this post for example) where you can free images.

Search engine optimization is also a skill that journalists and writers need to master. Trust me, it makes a whole lot of difference. It would be a shame if painfully written stories get buried on the Internet.

Finding the right audience and getting your content to them is also as important as writing the story. Sometimes stories go viral and you don’t have to worry about this. But most of the times, you need to carefully plan ways and places to distribute your content.

Did I miss something?

Should Journalists Learn to Code?

Like me, many of you might have wondered: Should I learn to code? The answer is quite simple: you don’t need to. Let’s think about what you want to do.

As a journalist, you probably  want to tell great stories, track a beat, break news & bring insights to the reader. You also want to create an impact with your stories. Will learning basics of coding solve the problem? I don’t think so.

What should you be learning instead?

1. Get better at news gathering: With sources going direct and conversations shifting to the social media, it’s a good idea to go online and start building a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Quora, LinkedIn & a few other popular social networks. You might want to install a few tools that will help you make the best use of your time online. I’ll be writing about such tools on this blog. I’ll also cover some strategies that will help you build a better brand presence online.

2. Make your stories seen: Most of the times, stories that were painstakingly written can’t be found by readers because it is buried deep under in a pile of junk on the Internet. There are techniques to make your stories show up higher on search results. Search engine optimization is something you must know. There are ways of distributing content on the Internet. We’ll come to that soon.

3. Cover your tracks: Most you are probably aware. But in case you haven’t heard: security agencies are listening to conversations online. You might want to learn how to keep your sources safe. You can use methods and programs to keep yourselves from being spied when you are on to sensitive stories. You can also use programs to keep track of the people, companies and issues that you are interested in.

4. Talking Numbers: Although it might seem daunting at first, this is something you can master very quickly. Data visualization tools will help you tell a compelling story in the online world. You can also use tools to digest large amounts of data and glean nuggets of insights from them.

5. Go viral: Good stories need to be read. In the online world, you not only have to write a good one but also have to reach out to the right people at the right time. There are various distribution methods and tricks that will take your story places.

The Internet is threatening old world existence. But this is a great opportunity for all of us. The possibilities are endless. Learning some interesting hacks, will help you save time & effort that you can spend on your stories.

Yours truly on BBC

Excuse this plug. But I have to do this.

 Last Saturday, I debuted on international television!

I was interviewed by the venerable British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for Click, their flagship technology programme.

You must have already read about the Click team’s arrival in Bangalore to film the tech scene in India.

The episode was aired on the BBC on Saturday and Sunday, last.

Despite my extensive acting experience in the Doordarshan era, as a 12 year old protagonist in a telefilm which never aired and as the hero’s childhood sidekick in another teleserial and a cameo role (I was maybe 2 years old) in a documentary on environment, the camera was making me slightly nervous. So if you noticed any problem with my accent, don’t bother telling me. I already know.

You can read the story online here. Read other stories they covered here and here.

Follow BBC Click.

That’s it for now.

Yours tully,

When a journalist praises another journalist its news

Is it still true that when a man bites a dog its news? If yes, by the same logic, I have news. It isn’t very often we hear a journalist say good things about another. As Mint’s editor R Sukumar once pointed out in a column, hacks usually don’t have kind words for fellow hacks. In a rare and perhaps bewildering (to many who can’t think of saying: Oh that story? I only gave it to him, that’s an old story) gesture, senior journalist K Balachandran has penned down a poem in praise of Joe Scaria, a journalist for nearly three decades.
Here’s what Joe had to say when he shared the poem with us.

I’ve had a couple of journalism students I taught mimic me at their cultural show, but this one is a new experience. Senior journalist K Balachandran has penned some lines that make me mumble and fumble for words, if not feel downright embarrassed. Such words normally come your way when you are close to taking a final bow. Admittedly being in my last lap, I am not perturbed. My only claim to fame during a 27-year career in the media is to not have won a single award. If any of Balachandran’s words is true, that would be an award I’ll cherish.
For forwarding this self-laudatory stuff, I ought to be making a proper confession, for the Bible says “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Cor 10:12-18), but I thought I’ll go ahead anyway because Balachandran’s lyrical prose is also testimony to his affection for fellow journalists.
So here goes: (Please be guarded, particularly about the penultimate stanza)
My dear Joe, my dear friend
you’ve been instrumental in showing how
journalism itself could be healing
by gently unraveling the truth
hidden as well as difficult to accept for many.
Acted as the resident confessor to all those who
suffer any which way by journalism’s sins,
psychoanalyst to exorcise scribes’ pains
though it has not started to feel here
as all around the world.
Your inventive mind and leadership role
I am bound to whole-heartedly appreciate.
After all we are among a few in this profession
who believe life is for living, the way you find it enjoyable.
The mind and spirit you display is special
In Kerala there are only a few left, who think and act like you,
not because of anything else, but out of
pure love for what you do and for the happiness in doing so.
Journalism brought me many exquisite moments of happiness
mainly what I created for myself, and to gift others
from the small world that we live in,
those were indeed luminous moments.
I am satisfied but there are great disappointments and regrets
not because any of my dreams did not materialize
but I found very few people whom I count
sensitive minds, to know, make friends with and cherish.
Had I not met you in my journey, I’d have regretted more
You are an oasis, a tree full of sweet fruits
for a weary traveller to relish, a fine human being,
self contented and keeping the poetry of life in mind.
May the coming days be special to you, your family, near and dear
I wish abundance of peace, serendipitous high in creativity,
all glad tidings and fulfilment of every kind, and let us continue
the adventure as there are much more exciting things to share in future.


PS: You can read Joe’s tongue-in-cheek commentary on news from across the world here.

Book recommendation- Lucknow Boy: A Memoir. Buy from

I am Mumbai

Brilliant commercial made for Mumbai Mirror by Taproot India. Agency: Taproot India Client: Bennett & Coleman Brand Team: Rahul Kansal, Priya Gupta Creative Directors: Santosh Padhi, Agnello Dias Writer: Agnello Dias Account Management: Mandar Sawant Production House: RDP Director: Abhinay Deo Music: Ram Sampath Executive Producer: Apurba Sengupta