The silly season

Over the weekend, I noticed this series of posts on Rajdeep Sardesai’s Twitter stream: 1 and 2.

I jocularly posted how impressed I was that CNN-IBN was ignoring the story. To which I got this reply from Rajdeep.

Elsewhere, Barkha Dutt is ‘disgusted’. And introspective.

And Sagarika Ghose is — well, confused.

My takeaway from what the media moghuls are saying is, covering the Sania-Shoaib ‘story’ wall to wall — as I write this, guess what’s playing on CNN-IBN? — is okay as long as the electronic media does it. When it goes out of proportion is when print puts it on page 1.

Ah well. In the Asian Age, Sudhir Tailang nails it.

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25 thoughts on “The silly season

  1. and the minute I commented, the links seem to be fine! (earlier they opened some wordpress link referring to twitter link which again referred to wordpress link) Honest 😛

  2. Pingback: Sagarika redux « Smoke Signals

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  4. Even in print media, I’ve seen editorials lecturing public about respecting individual’s privacy and guess what’s there as their front page headline?

    Both print and electronic media are guilty. Quick to preach others but feel no need to follow standards themselves.

    • I agree. Everyone seems to have high ideals at the level of thought and speech, but for some mysterious reason the same is never reflected in the media they are part of. Any editor worth two cents can (and always do) lecture for hours about the journalistic ‘standards’ the media should follow, and lament the dropping standards in this age. Only, every single paper in the country today is fervently pursuing the Sania-Shoaib ‘news’ story.

      A girl is getting married to a guy she likes. Thats all there is to it, and thats her personal business. Grow up.

      I think this situation is generic of any business, which is what the media is at the end of the day. The whole journalistic ethics is a nice thing to talk about, only make sure it never interferes with business sense.

  5. The only things the news channels have been playing for the last couple of days have been the shoaib Sania affair. it is akin to having the same story run on page 1,3,5,6,7,8 in a newspaper

  6. This is a continuation of Jazzyb-JII-Prem discussion; i hate it when the comment shows up in a narrow section.

    So, Prem says we need to balance both stuff. I am an outsider, just curious: is it that nobody in the media industry tried to do it? I mean, people like Sardesai, who looks like a genuine guy. So, there should be pressures, I suppose it is money-related, behind this screaming-lollipopping stuff that we see.

    From my TV watching experience in USA(it is limited, i should admit), I think that their news media spends less time in RakhiSawant-like “news”, and there is a bit of seriousness as compared to Indian media. My initial judgement is that this is a reflection on our society as a whole. Any comments?

    • I doubt it is a reflection on the state of Indian society. Actually, many factors contribute: (1) Paucity of high quality editorial personnel; (2) Publishers unwilling to invest big time in good content; (3) Too many players, leading to escalating shrillness of coverage in a frantic bid to rake up TRPs and so on, and on.

      One thing it is *not*, IMHO, is that this is an indication that we as a society are currently preoccupied, to the exclusion of all else, with the marital status of two fairly ordinary sportspeople.

    • I agree with Kalki. You really haven’t seen much of news in US. Either that or it got to you so much by now, that it just skims over your head!
      My opinion on the reporting seriousness etc., since you raised that issue, is that Indian media (by that I refer to the television reporting) is influenced mainly by American media. A decade ago, when 24×7 news channels were beginning to crop up, examples were already available on what to model them on. Once the modeling of these channels, the way of reporting etc were done based on the popular American media (like CNN, Fox etc.) the Indian media are always playing catch up & blindly following their footsteps.
      Every issue needs a panel discussion involving ‘experts’. Every new development has to begin as a breaking news before becoming a sensational news. There has to be speculation, reporters who jump the gun leading to riots (remember Telengana?) and reporters who fall over each other to be the first to report disregarding the public safety (remember Taj/Oberoi hostage situation?).

    • Is that what I said, mate? Really?

      Rajdeep was the one complaining about print playing the story. Not me.

      I merely pointed to the hypocrisy of TV anchors rabbitting on about proportion, while giving disproportionate time to the story themselves.

  7. i am actually confused about this whole media thing, its like a chicken-egg issue: Is the media just feeding us what we want? Or is it that we are eating up whatever the media gives us?

    • Has the media asked you what you want? If it did, what would your answer be? In that answer, is the response to your question.

      • Obviously, the media will not indulge in this if they didn’t get any returns out of it. So, if they are still feeding this story, there must be a sizable number who haven’t had enough helpings of this. In a country where we waited with baited breath to see whom Rakhi Sawant & Rahul Mahajan would end up marrying, isn’t this ‘real’ reality TV?

        • The thing is, there is no direct co-relation between the stories you run and the money you make. So the argument that this is what pays the bill is based on anecdote, at best, not hard facts.

          Here’s another way of looking at it: To do good, substantial stories on the issues that matter take time, skill and effort, not to mention investment. With the talent pool limited, that is a very difficult thing to pull off. Yet, the news machine must be fed, constantly — so the far simpler alternative, and the one that the media has seized on [and I am writing this as a member of the media, not some outsider sitting on the high moral mountain] is to go with such easy-to-do stories on trivial issues, that require very little skill, merely an ability to make endless noise.

          • But, then again these stories have ‘minimum guarantee’, to borrow a phrase from film parlance. But, do we have a guaranteed audience for the ‘substantial’ stories?

            • So it is not about avoiding one type and concentrating on the other, but balancing both. That is how you build an audience need, no? Bring them in with the fluff if you must, but then hook them with the good stuff. Too much of the former, not enough of the latter, leading to a situation where we are force fed cotton candy all three meals.

  8. It’s a weird situation where visual media chases TRPs and in their hurry capture data coming from quarters that are often dubious. I mean how can TV report that the lady was pregnant and had a miscarriage and go on to say that such the hospital she referred to doesn’t exist? Then, why in the deuce did they take cognizance of the lady’s statement in the first place?

    Even on telly, the story should be about man biting dog and not the other way around. What is happening in the name of news is pure rabble rousing where celebs are created out of nobodys…. Remember the Ram Sene jerk in Bangalore?

    • The additional problem is, when TV makes an endless noise about something, the print media latches on for fear of being left out. 😦

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