Sunday, January 29, 2006

Media Jungle

“Do I climb the ladder or go up the rope?’ I read this somewhere in a handout about a play, I think. Isn’t it so relevant for people like me - wondering what the hell to do with life?
An outlook journalist gave a talk at college yesterday. Generalizing on outlook I thought he must be those journalism is infotainment with not an ounce of social responsibility types. Thankfully he wasn’t and had a lot of interesting things to say. One of them being that it’s not all about low waist jeans, butt cleavage and donating one’s youth to M.G road and Brigade road. This made my friends and me cringe in a bit of well deserved guilt.

Anyhow there was some talk about whether newspapers will soon be extinct in this age of technology. He said firmly that they will not. However the print media will constantly adapt to competition from the broadcast and internet media and cater to shorter attention spans at whatever cost. Whether its sms alerts or shorter articles change will be rapid. In the west there are free DVDs etc for subscriptions which attract readers. Unlike in India where newspaper sales are booming, they are on the decline in the west.

Talking about the aggressive marketing strategies of the Times of India, he said that they employed this strategy he termed as dumping-conquering as much advertising space in a town as possible. Another strategy is, he said, cost cutting. A dealer would probably make more out of a bag of newspapers from the raddi wallah than actually selling it. This is obviously possible because of ridiculous amounts of advertising revenue from elsewhere. An advertising manager from TOI who quit apparently told him that he wouldn’t trust the TOI with is daughter .Interesting.

Then, again, I don’t think journalism is all serious stuff and intended to bore us to death. True, it is a valuable tool for democracy and its purpose is to create awareness. However,
The fact is that it has to inform in entertaining or at least reader/viewer friendly way to get the attention of the masses. There is obviously a thin line between sensationalism and good ethical journalism. Also there is a thin line between boring drab journalism and good ethical journalism.
About the tehelka tapes he felt, they were needed. The media is accessible le only to about 10% of a largely illiterate country. The tapes left no room for doubt about political corruption. What were the larger publications doing then is a valid question he asked. Has the print media become complacent just churning out the regular day to day stuff?

Outlook man felt the most boring journalism came out from Bangalore and Chennai. Possibly.
Anyhow what did I start with? Ya, the ladder and the rope. I’ve always been attracted to journalism. Now, I feel overwhelmed by the jungle the media is beginning to sound like As a journalism student it seems unnerving to enter it .

No comments: