Monday, November 22, 2010

See the people

Conversations between PR lady & lobbyist Nira Radia and assorted journalists are currently talk of the town. Well, at least the part of town that is on the internet.

I have not had the time and energy to listen to the 'tapes' and get outraged/ upset/ confused about ho kya raha hai.

But here's what a friend from the industry observed, after wading through some of it.

"More than anything, it's the tone Vir Sanghvi uses which is shocking... "

A tone of please, 'tell me what I need to get the interview'.

Since this interview never happened, we cannot actually accuse Vir Sanghvi of being influenced - in this instance. But the point is a larger one, why should journalists - even names as big as Vir Sanghvi - grovel for interviews.

Because, the demand-supply situation is absolutely skewed.

We have four business news channels, six pink papers, a dozen business magazines - and that's just in English.

The media is therefore reduced to fighting for the time and attention of businessmen, instead of the other way round.

Yes, I am assuming every journalist is not for sale. And that today, the very act of 'doing your job' brings with it all these sideshows and headaches.

Journalists routinely make promises which go against the very grain of journalism. Like agreeing to go soft on the issues that really matter. Coz a wishy-washy interview is better than no interview.

But does it really have to be so?

Has anyone stopped to think, how many viewers actually care to see Anil Ambani or Mukesh Ambani in their drawing room on a regular basis? Do such interviews or soundbytes increase ratings - or is it just the imagination of high-strung editors?

At the height of the Anil-Mukesh gas row, the man on the street was clueless what the battle was actually about. And how would an outcome, either way, affect his life.

And I bet if the top 30 CEOs we see on business television every day were to go on a long vacation, no one would miss them. Younger, happier faces would take their place.

The fact is that media is run more on whim and fancy, when what it needs is a leap of faith. Faith in the audience.

That if you stand for something, and deliver it consistently, people will follow.

That one interview or scoop does not make or break you, it is what you do and how you do it over a period of time.

That what people want is something new, different and interesting. So if you entered the arena late it's actually an opportunity. Do something that's never been done before - stand out.

The funny thing is, until you are a success, people will make fun of you for even trying. But the moment you grab an audience, they will try their hardest to copy you, down to the last detail.

Coming back to the tapes - I still don't have a concrete opinion. But broadly speaking, I think journalists should always fight the good fight.

Keep their wits about them.

And never get drunk on proximity to glamour and power.

Although, frankly, that is exactly the reason so many young people are attracted to the profession today.

And why proprietors are willing to pump in money into media vehicles which consistently lose money. Pots of it.

With these kind of foundations, what mighty edifice can you expect? Taj Mahal ya Hawa Mahal?

Enjoy the hot air.


  1. Very well said Rashmi. Media is so obsessed with "who will break the news first" that the quality of journalism is suffering.

  2. Well said. Also an important point is, that the viewer who follows these Chanel/reporters/talk shows with his loyalty builds a trust quotient on his choice of handle. When that very person/ institution is found discrediting its own foundations it is in fact "a breach of trust"(@ some level).
    *How cud u miss the tapes???

  3. I think you should go back and listen to the tapes. Come back here and edit your post. I will come back with my comments as well. Until then this is not so useful.

  4. Media is themselves corrupt from inside and they show that they open the polls of others. hahaha. so funny.

  5. These tapes confirm why Vir Sanghvi is the best choice for anchoring the show "Custom Made" on that lifestyle channel...

  6. I do have an opinion and I haven't listened to the tapes (read a bit though about it) and I don't even intend to. However, there is a class of journalists who have become way too popular sensationalizing stuff. I always felt it was more than honest journalism. A lot of times good work starts with a personal motto and gain like Mark Z in "the social network" says that he doesn't want to be a nobody. Now he is talking about creating an open world and I think that is awesome. But in a lot of cases it just remains personal, never moves on and I think B is one such case.

  7. I'm going to absolutely agree with Deepesh Yadav here..who cares if what Barkha & Vir did was :

    a) Illegal
    b) involved qui pro quo / influenced their stories
    c) legitimate fishing for info on stories

    What they ( the MSM ( habe been doing for years:
    1) pushing agendas when neutrality is called for
    2) unrestrained journalism with no respect for consequences of their stories
    3) getting drunk on the power and pelf and forgetting the strife & the self [forgot what made them good journalists in the first place]

    And that is why I am so glad Vir Sanghvi & Barkha Dutt have lost was long long overdue !!

  8. Honestly you should take some writing lessons, it is very hard to believe you write books for a living after reading such ill written blog posts. I guess India really is a miracle country.

  9. What a crappy article. It looked more like a masala news channel's breaking news report.

    There is no opinion, no conclusion and you dont know where the author is getting at.

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  11. Nice article and blog. Keep on your great blog :)


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