Monday, March 29, 2010

Conflict Of Interest?

This post is about two of my favourite books launched this year, May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss by Arnab Ray (Greatbong) & Dork by Sidin Vadukut. Before I start, if you haven't read either of these, I would highly recommend you quickly make amends by ordering them now.

Both of these are the debut novels of their authors. Both of them are two of India's most well known and widely read bloggers. Personally I am an avid reader of both. As a wannabe blogger I am very proud of these two books produced by the best we have in the Indian blogosphere.

Disclaimer: I may potentially have a conflict of interest myself while writing this post because I am a friend of Arnab and have known him personally for sometime now. I follow Sidin's blog & tweets (and love both), though we haven't had any personal interactions yet.

What sparked off this post was this review of MIHYAP (May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss) by Livemint, a newspaper/news portal owned by Hindustan Times, one of India's leading media houses. The review seems a bit too personal and in parts of very bad taste.


"Unless you are leading a secret life as a prostitute, you have no business turning your blog into a book"

Now coming to the conflict of interest part of the post. So far it just seemed like a reviewer trashing a book, almost at a personal level. But that's okay. You can't please all the people all the time, and the reviewer is well within her rights to share her thoughts about the book.

There is a twist in the tale here because, interestingly, the Managing Editor of the publication (Livemint) which carried the review is none other than Sidin Vadukut

So here we have two well known Indian bloggers, who have both just launched their first books (Dork was launched in January 2010, MIHYAP in March 2010). One of them is the Managing Editor of a publication brought out by a leading media house. And that publication runs a stinker of a review of the other's book.

Seems a bit off.

Again, having been a reader of Sidin's blog & tweets for long I am not questioning his integrity. Or accusing him of using his professional powers for some personal reasons. Sidin is way too popular a blogger and the author of a best selling novel who will require to do such stuff. The question I have in my mind is - isn't there a situation of conflict of interest here due to the circumstances?

Also, another question regarding the conflict of interest issue is the glowing review of Dork brought out by Livemint. Here again the reviewer is well within his rights to say whatever he feels about a book, in this case he felt highly positive about it, and that's okay. But given that this review is being written by an employee of a publication about the book written by the Managing Editor of the same publication, isn't there a case of conflict of interest?

Some food for thought.

Pictures courtesy: &


Suman Paul said...

"So far it just seemed like a reviewer trashing a book, almost at a personal level"

I have questions here:
1) Just because one is a journalist and has the liberty to publish anything in a leading daily.. does not mean that you put only your interests when publishing but also judge the expectations of the potential readers.. that's why they are in the job.. otherwise.. why not ask me to write one?
2) Review of anything and everthing has become neccesary these days and every jack and jill is reviewing things.. while this is good.. but largely I have been dissatified.. Csn there be any check on this??

Abhishek said...

The Livemint review was reprehensible. And while I quite like Livemint as a newspaper, they also publish people like Aakar Patel. So, can't take them too seriously at the best of times.

Ankur Banerjee said...

I haven't been able to read either of the books primarily because they aren't sold in UK. As I said, I haven't read the book but in case what the reviewer says is true - that the book feels laboured because it misses the hyper-linked interactivity of a blog, then I'll have to agree. If you notice, Sidin's humour is simple written humour, while Arnab Ray and Amit Verma (India Uncut) often rely on linking to related concepts as a part of the jokes they use.

The prostitute reference, of course, is to Belle de Jour's 'Intimate Confessions of a London Call Girl' which was blog later turned into a book. I don't think it was meant in bad taste, but I can understand that people might misunderstand that if they don't get the connection.