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Saturday, November 18, 2006

What's News?

I have scant respect for television as a medium of communication. Only seconded by the Times of India….

The outcry over getting the Jessica Lal/Matoo case back on track may have had its benefits but when the victim isn’t a young good-looking professional, then it ‘aint news.

I don’t see the media getting their knickers in a twist about booking Bhotmange’s daughter’s murderers. And what of poor Gudiya? She subsequently remarried and was pregnant with her second husband’s son when the first (supposedly dead) husband reappeared. NDTV swooped down on Gudiya as did all the other news channels delirious for sound bytes. They dragged her family members into studios and thrust mikes into her face demanding, “Which husband do you choose?” - anything to feed our voracious voyeuristic appetite. Poor Gudiya really didn't have a choice, the Shariyat and the media did the choosing for her.

Anyway to cut a long story short, Gudiya committed suicide. I daresay the inhumane media coverage was one of the not-so-insignificant factors that drove Gudiya to desperation. Her death wasn’t deemed newsworthy enough. It found a mention in annews column on the 10th page of a daily.

Bhotmange, whose family was brutally killed, doesn’t want a Government job, he wants the murderers hanged. But then, he is a poor Dalit who dared to send his children to school and college, and who dared to dream of a better life.

I really don’t know what we can do to change the system or rid India of a deep rooted social malaise. Writing about it in a psuedo Mulk Raj Anand-Raja Rao way is all we ever seem to do – and that includes me. Is action being taken, I am not sure – the media isn’t covering it anymore you see.

‘The Untouchable’ by Mulk Raj Anand tells the story of a single day in a young boy’s life. He cleans latrines only because his father does. An extremely sensitive portrayal Bakha wonders ‘Do people consider us dirty just because we do dirty work?’


Anonymous said...

sad but true..the media loves scandals..loves controversies..loves anythin that brings in TRP's..

as i read this amused the time CNN is dedicating fot Tom Cruise's wedding...thats what they called world news for the day!!

some gain coz of media..some lose out like the story u have mentioned..

Anonymous said...

Oy! I am glad I have tuned out soem parts of the media.

Chilla-Bong said...

Like all other businesses,media business bosses also have to make their share-holders smile,so at the end of the day it boils down to TRP and TRP only.Jessica Laal sells,so does Mattoo.And media gleams with its new messiah avatar.Dalit rapes in Kherlangi doesn't make a good sell so it doesn't feature other than an obligatory spot to fill up the news-print.

Anonymous said...

From what I see, this is not peculiar to the Indian media, in the US too, a missing blonde girl with connections is apt to cause more of a stir than a missing 'anybody else'. It's tragic how apathetic we are when the victim is neither well-known nor well connected.

Alpana said...

I hadn't heard about this, before I read your blog. Keep writing about such stuff, maybe it will help even if in a microscopic way. Who knows, critical mass might be achieved one day.

MellowDrama said...

@Mathew, Chilla Bong:: Yeah TRPs rule, never mind journalistic integrity. The print media is no less - Page 3 boosts up ABC circulation figures I guess.

@Sanjay: Smart move, am the same unfortunately cannot quit seeing the 8 news or reading the newspaper

Lotus: Lol, it's the same everywhere aint it? You forgot decent looking tho:)

Alps: You give us hope:) Hmm but seriously Gudiya's death was not even a passing mention in the news, read a teeny newspaper column abt it somewhere and you knw what, within a few months of her death both the 'husbands' remarried.

Anonymous said...

hey ram
read ur blog today. write more and i'll be back again..

this is kittu and my blog is

Anonymous said...

Hi Rama,
It's like what the mid-day does every afternoon in Mumbai... Get an eye-catching headline on the front page, and voila...copy sold!

It's the same with TV Channels these days.
No manhunt for Satyendra Dubey's killer who escaped from court. (??)

No agitations for Manjunath(beyond the two day show of support by the IIM Alumni...guess they got down to counting their $$$)
Noticed just a small mention of his 1st death anniversary in the TOI the other day...and that's about it.

Bottomline: Old stories don't help sell newspapers. Old scandals don't get the TRPs up...and our great country has no dearth of new ones.


Cure for ennui said...

it all boils down to money.
the mentality is, 'will i get enough TRPs if i air this story.

MellowDrama said...

@ Kshitij - if you see this gimme your mail id, am totally off hotmail and lost your ids! Brilliant to hear from you after ages and that too in the form of a post, you made my day:)

Cure: I love your nick. Yeah..tho I must say the media outcry does have its plus points like putting the Lal case back on track?!

clash said...

Its al about being poor.. Not the TRP ratings.. The poor in India doesnt have an address..

Pegasus said...

the problem with the television is that people want Mandira bedi to analyze about a pace bowling rather than an expert in that field...
people get crap because they are happy with crap

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Anonymous said...

disclaimer: i work in the broadcast media!

it's easy for outsiders to comment on TRPs and it's pressures on news channels. a tad naive, i'd say.

unlike the beeb, the indian govt does not fund news channels. and how many of us bother to watch what it does fund - doordarshan?

i suppose it's easier to blame the system, blame the media and feel proud that we've fulfilled the duties of a true citizen.

even when news channels have taken up very pertinent causes - like that of an ex-army man who lost his limb and was fighting a battle to be paid by the govt - no one gave a standing ovation to the channel that took up his cause... did they?

the media is a reflection of a society. and honestly, if the times of india is the largest selling newspaper today - is it because we all fall prey to some sort of marketing gimmick by the TOI group? obviously we are all enjoying reading the paper more than the others.

having said that - the broadcast medium is at a very nascent stage in our country. it does have a long way to go. i wish there was as much encouragement from learned people like the author of this blog and the various commentors.

but i am an eternal optimist and i have faith that one day we will all recognise the contribution of the broadcast medium. even then, i'm sure there will be the odd cynic waiting to pounce at the media, waiting for it to make a tiny mistake!

i'm certain the author of this blog - who is a very dear childhood friend of mine - knows who has written this comment and i can feel free to post as anon!

Anonymous said...

also - we all collectively hate ekta kapoor and her regressive k soaps. but if there is an audience lapping it up - what do i say - to each his own!

Mellowdrama said...

Dearest Anon: And of course I know it is you:) You are absolutely correct regd the fact we pick on the flaws and ignore the good, and we do live in an urban set up hence the need to focus on issues more pertinent to the great middle class:) But honestly 8 times out of 10, the news is rather inane and this comes from someone who only watches one show - the 9'0' clock news - perhaps there are relevant news stories at other hours and you cannot waste something as valuable as prime time on non-issues in jurno lingo, but my post was also about how newspapers are just as much to blame. In fact my article was mostly about the newspapers, how the rARELY follow up a story...on the track of the latest scoop, yesterday's news is as good as in the dustbin and come on, you cannot deny the fact that Dalits and the lower middle class are 'BIG' issues in our country that is fixated on marketable news???? Of COURSE we are to blame...that is exactly what we said, we are idiots and the media caters to us...we do not demand more, which is sad indeed!

preeti said...

on a more practical note... perhaps the newspapers in vizag are not as wholesome as the mumbai and delhi editions. :-) in fact i am told b'lore TOI is not half as good as the mumbai one... and the only good paper that most of my pals in b'lore grew up on - deccan herald is dead and forgotten.

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