Reading the daily newspaper first thing in the morning over a cup of chai is no longer a pleasure. The experience is depressing to begin the day on a dark note. Media, Rape, Robbery (MRR) appears to be the mainstream media’s winning formula to garner more readers and viewers. If the headlines of a national newspaper announces the murder of a reputed physician in the city, then the pages inside are filled with more stories of double murders, homicide of an aspiring air-hostess or the latest gory details on the trial of Aarushi Talwar’s murder. As if this wasn’t enough, the twists and turns in the Neeraj Grover murder case takes up more space. Honestly, I don’t know if the ratings of the news channels increase because of sensationalizing such news. It is such a pity to give so much media attention to some families when they are grieving (not in these two where the families maybe involved but in other cases) and not treat the deceased with the respect and dignity they deserve. I can’t quite recollect when I last browsed through a news channel for more than 5 minutes. Before these murders took up prime time, it was the case of Scarlett. There’s always either some murder or rape that gets more coverage over real news. Is it really required to go into the weapon used, recreate the scene and such? Reporting on the news is not the end of story. A whole series of programs are aired ranging from talk shows discussing on the values of today’s children to the lack of involvement of working parents on their children’s education and general knowledge about their mobile/Internet usage and whereabouts on weekends. A set of specialists from child psychology to marriage counsellors is always readily available who lose no opportunity in preaching on parenting and ranting on Indian values. Oh..let’s not forget the saas-bahu serials who are quick to edit the plot to give a new twist based on the latest real life thrillers.
The print media is not far behind. In addition to such news of national significance (not the right word perhaps), there is the daily dosage of local robberies and other anti-social activities. Can we please stop focusing so much on such news in mainstream media? Are you creating awareness amongst the public in the process or corrupting more minds in the process actually hinting that there are other brilliant ways to do it?
Here are a few clips of the news items that appeared one day last week in consecutive pages of a local tabloid. Now tell me if it makes for a pleasant reading. People who are interested in reading thrillers every morning, please get yourself the Sherlock Holmes series and spare the rest of us.
There is no question that news is emotional.
News is about real people, real issues, real money and real lives.
News is about history, and about how history - and different views of history - impact the present.
Readers of news services, including those of Reuters News, have strong views and often emotional views about how we cover stories that either directly affect their lives or their emotions.Every year brings to the headlines stories that have the power to stir bitter feelings.
Our job as journalists is to keep the emotion out of it, to strive for objectivity, to strive to be free from bias, to strive to tell the story as it is.
Couldn’t have been better said. If only our journalists learn a thing or two to strive for objectivity in reporting - all in the true spirit of journalism.
Related Reading : Dial M for Murder
Often when other women - mothers and otherwise - ask me what I do, I keep it simple by saying I stay home and have fun with my son. Because that’s what I do. No complications answering I’m a freelancer juggling writing and stock trading with some more fancy terms as stay-at-home mom thrown in. Unless specifically asked neither is the past history of working revealed. Past experience has taught me this works great for two reasons: one, if the other lady has a similar history of working and now staying home with the kid, then it opens a can of worms with non-stop whining and bitching about the lack of support system blah blah that doesn’t help me anymore - it’s just depressing. Secondly, it gives room for other interesting topics to talk about that doesn’t involve kids, notes exchange on their vaccination programs, feeding habits and sleeping schedules.
Working women think it’s cool to be a freelancer earning good bucks from the comforts of your home and staying home with your child. Mothers who quit their jobs feel they wished they could do that too and earn some money while on a break. But the truth is that I’m a starving (so to say) freelance writer with the checks always in the mail and never making it to the bank. People who change tracks or careers mid-way through their professional life have a plan and build on the secondary one slowly before making it their primary source of income. They don’t give up their job that pays their bills first while trying to get the hang of the other one. I planned but executed poorly. Didn’t have no plan B if plan A didn’t work. No backup - it’s good at times not to have plan B because that’s what you give your full - some call it commitment. Per Plan A, I write. A lot sometimes. I’ve been flexible accepting assignments I don’t necessarily enjoy but the check is assured and a little practice and building on credentials hurts no one when you’re starting out. Contrary to what most people think that online writing is easy and pays well, most of the jobs are ugly and pay in the range of Re.1 a word. Imagine if you were to make a living with that kind of payment how hard one would have to work!
The area I’m told to have failed miserably is in marketing. This is an age of self-promotion. I mean look at all the blogs - the bloggers being a good case in point. It’s a vicious circle - people spend hours on end everyday commenting on each other’s blogs patting their backs for every word uttered - be it right, be it wrong all too careful to be politically right and not highly opinionated unless you are very popular. Nothing wrong in that you might say! Sure, if it’s worth the effort and a means to what you ultimately want - traffic, popularity and credibility. Just being good without shamelessly self-promoting will not get you anywhere. Sell, sell and sell - to editors, publishers if you want to earn the moolah. I’m learning my lesson and hope to be out of the starving phase soon enough. Spread the good word. So long!
If you are a parent who stays abreast of the news, then you can skip reading this post. This is for mothers like me who get to know what’s going on around the world a day later and sometimes never until someone calls…sometimes family calls me to keep me informed if it’s either going to affect my life or my dear ones in any way such as the one today.
Dad and my aunt were apparently trying to reach me this evening and as expected I stayed incommunicado for a good part until Lil’ General alerted me to the ringing phone - the volume is so low that only his elephant ears can catch the signal. Later, I randomly checked my cell phone for missed calls I realized the urgency.
Indian Media is not far from aping the West in giving maximum coverage to useless breaking news such as AbhiAsh wedding over real news. More often than not none of the top stories qualify as news worth hearing or reading. Spat between Amitabh Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha or the corrupt Indian Hockey Federation mulling over when KPS Gill will resign and where Saif and Kareena Kapoor were making out the previous night gets more coverage than 4 infant deaths in Tamil Nadu. he news channels can’t be blamed. The public is always hungry for more gossip, sensational news such as these that meaningful journalism takes a backseat.
Coming back to the vaccination tragedy, 4 infants died after being given Measles vaccine at a Government Health Center in Tamil Nadu. What an irony? The very thing that should protect a child from killer diseases takes its life. What if the parents had not given - ofcourse that’s not a wise idea as it would bring a major setback in the immunization program. What enrages me is the Health Ministry’s statement which in its defense says it was a trial order from a private Hyderabad based company. Since when did we start experimenting on 9 month old infants like Guinea Pigs? Is it way too much to expect people to be careful where lives of infants are involved? I can’t even fathom what must be going through the parents of those 4 children.
Meanwhile, the newsrooms of all the channels are busy discussing if the cheerleaders should be banned. I’m actually surprised that this hasn’t surfaced any sooner. Wonder if the moral police were partying enjoying Twenty-20 when it suddenly dawned upon one of them to stir this controversy for all that’s worth. How about banning item numbers for a change?
Lead India is a Times of India initiative. In their own words,
On August 15, we embarked on an ambitious journey — a unique talent search which has the potential to make a huge difference to India. We began a hunt to identify new leaders for a new India, men and women with the vision and ability to empower India with the kind of political leadership that is so conspicuous by its absence.
The Lead India campaign stemmed from our belief — and overwhelming reader feedback — that even as India takes giant strides towards fulfilling its undoubted potential, it is doing so despite, not because of, its political leadership. ‘‘Good people don’t want to join politics’’ is an oft-heard lament. And yet, good governance is the cornerstone if India is to overcome the many hurdles that threaten to slow its journey to developed nation status. Read more
The Times of India - a daily Indian Newspaper in English with the largest circulation started a small colorful column on its last page a few months back. It’s called Graffiti. I have no idea why they run this column - more often than not, Posh Spice occupies the space here with cheesy news about their over-publicized lives.
Sometimes, I think it is one of the strategies of The Times to boost readership just as their city supplements do. I know of many people who read the Bangalore Times / Pune Times first and then if time permits, go on to read the main paper.
The point here is the Graffiti column I totally out of taste bordering on reporting news that can easily fit into the indecent category. Sample this one titled “Posh discloses all” if you don’t believe me. Of late, also giving Posh company is Lewis Hamilton who gets more attention in Times for his exploits than his races.
If you are here looking for information on how to get published in The Times of India, then you are in for a disappointment. I’ve spent every waking second trying to get information on how to make an edit page submission to The Times.
Alright, here’s the deal. I am very new to this writing game and I am not familiar with the unwritten rules; so I play by the book and deal in black and white. Now, you know how it works in India; until you’ve tried a zillion times for anything, success is not guaranteed.
I’ve had success in getting my work published to wherever I’ve sent so far. So, why The Times now, you might ask? Every evening when my husband returns from work, he looks at my distraught face knowing what I’ve been up to and asks, “Again? today, too? Why? Why just The Times? There is Mint, DNA, Hindustan Times, The Hindu, Deccan Chronicle and rattles the list.” I sigh; if you have to ask you wouldn’t understand. Call it my obsession or whatever you want. My morning starts with this paper everyday; it has been that way for the past 7 years of my life which makes it difficult to just turn away and give up in a day. Getting a work published in the edit section of Times of India is my dream, even if it’s just for once. I know what you’re thinking - very ambitious indeed for a person who started writing just a few months back. So what, I’ve had no rejections so far. I have a piece ready to be submitted to Times and my gut says, it wouldn’t get rejected. I’ve closely observed and analysed every single column submitted in the past five months and I feel I am ready to try it. Read more