Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mass Media

In goltland(A.P) , the word mass(famously made into a dust raising encounter with Nagarjuna) means pandering to the crowds. Thats what the mainstream media in India is out to do now. I do not watch T.V regularly (i look towards the heavens in gratitude), but whenever I watch news its the same old story.
Sahara Samay: "Abhi abhi kabhar pahuchi hi ki Abhi (Abhishek) mutne gaye hai, chaliye ispe janta ki pratikriya jante hai"
IBN Live:"This is a momentous occassion for the Bachan family. This sort of thing has not happened from the time Zeus was looking for his many brides(err..lovers). Amitabh must be a proud father(ya his son got married-marriage vs Guru was another question, yes, you are allowed to weep)"
NDTV: "Today is a sad day for humanity. The dog in front of the Amitabh family home died because of excessive flashes from the paparazzi. What has India become? Watch 'we the people' for answers"
Times Now: "Hmm...err. This sort of thing has happened before. Lets look at all celebrity hook-ups and decide what Abhiwarya(yes they have been called that, no wonder celebreity combo names and 'breaking news' have been banned from usage) will do from here"

Of course I have pretty much stopped looking at news after 15 mins of this. While it is not as if the news channels have not been any good, they have done a tremendous job in educating people about a lot of issues and have turned some judicial decisions on its head (Manu Sharma et all), but at the same time there is total lack of macro level thinking. I was reading the book Al-Jazeera and the statement that a news channel decides the content based on public opinion while at the same time moulding them to some extent. Our own media has delightfully ignored the moulding part and is interested in the eyeball share. Gore and entertainment are easy to sell. Thats why you have the crime columns in print media too. We are all influenced by celebrity lifestyles, from what we wear to what we eat. So a glimpse into their lives sometimes is again ok. But how far is too far? Especially in a country like ours where there are a lot of issues that need thinking. Dalit upliftment-how is that going to happen? Why are some parts of the country totally secluded from the country? Some of these shows might not bring in the money, but they set the agenda for the channel. I am not too well versed with regional channels, in english channel NDTV used to be the channel which took this responsibility. They do come up with pretty good stuff even now, but overall the essential deal for them is to do a post-mortem. But as Thapar got rogered by Chidambaram on the fact taht penetration of english channels is less than 5% the onus probably will rest on linguistic media and they for now do not have the means or talent to go big.

Till the time internet takes over our lives, T.V would remain an important medium. To make maximum use(message and revenue) of this proposition is something news channels need to clearly work on. They have the people all is required is the choice. The choice is to be some thing full-fledged. If you are covering fashion, the latest trends must be there. If its Bollywood, a full ringside view is required, not just who partied where. If the media channels cannot do something that they claim, they will never get teh niche audience which will bring in ad revenues.

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