Ravi Mohan's Blog

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Misquoted in the Media

A reporter from the Economic Times asked me for some information about our wargames club, conducted a telephonic "interview" with me and a couple of friends, and then wrote an article in the paper.

So far so good. What is not good is that he has quoted me as saying things I never said , and in horrendous English, to boot.

Here is what I am supposed to have said.

(Apologies for the terrible English and mangled tenses. *I* didn't say *any* of this. The journalist just says I did. The language and ideas are his, not mine. I checked with some journalist friends of mine and apparently this practice of expressing journalists' ideas as "quotes" from the people they interview is common practice in India! And I thought only the Indian Software Industry was a con game!)

Anyhow, onto the quotes (from the Economic Times dated 8th July 2007) - my comments below each quote

"We are an informal group of Wargamers based in Bangalore. We are interested in topics like strategy in wars, the history of warfare, historical re-creation of battles, battles of all times and eras. We do not use miniatures in our games but make do with suitable counters instead,” says Ravi Mohan, group co-ordinator."

[ I never said this. This paragraph is lifted straight from our club website. See the first paragraph].

The report continues to "quote" me.

In the last one year, the group strength has increased substantially. “

[huh? This is outright fiction. The club membership has held steady over many years and there were no additions in the last year. Needless to say, I never said this either! ]

As kids, we all use to play games such as this. So there is a natural interest. And, as awareness spreads, we'll see more people joining the fray,”

[Aargh! This is tortured, atrocious and ungrammatical English , and cliched to boot. Does anyone talk like this? "we'll see more people joining the fray" ?!!

The least a professional journalist could do (even when inventing quotes) is to use correct grammar.]

There are many unintentionally funny errors in the article- E.g: the use of "Canon" for "Cannon"- but it is too much effort to list them all here.

The next time someone wants to interview me for the mainstream media (and may that horrible day never come!) I'll just write the damn article myself. Or even better, run like hell!


Siddhi said...

This is very common.

Thats why companies have media kits. They just hand over the kit which says what they want to say and the journalist copies lines from it.

Talking about wargames - do you want to get a few people over during the upcoming barcamp and have a round of wargames?

Ravi said...

Good point on media kits. I never thought of that.

As to wargames during barcamp, (I didn't even know there was a bar camp coming up), certainly. We might need to work around some logistics issues, mostly regarding getting a good place to play in (we'll need a "table" of about 6 ft by 5 ft.). Generally we play at my house, but for complicated reasons, the place is a bit cramped these days.

We'll work something out.

Joe Williams said...

Something like this happened to a friend of mine. I sympathise!

Siddhi said...

Its at IIM, July 28, 29. We could use the canteen or coffee day. Or we can use the garden. Finding space should not be a problem. Just need to find people.

Sarath said...

ROTFL ! Ravi, this is the first time I see this happening to someone I know. Hmmm..in future I shall take all quotations appearing in the media with a pinch of salt !

Nisha said...


Here's your solution. Maybe.


Ravi said...

Very useful, Thanks! I personally would like to tie these so called "journalists" to a cannon's mouth and fire off a shell, but this service looks like it might be an acceptable substitute!

Thanks for the heads up!