Sunday, November 28, 2010

'That's journalism: Tomorrow's news yesterday'

If you spend any time at all on the net, and read about the media in India, you will be aware of the Radia tapes story that Open magazine broke, that Outlook ran with and - barring a few honourable exceptions - other MSM blacked out.

It's all of a piece with everything that's been happening recently, including the spiking of Mitali Saran's piece of Arun Poorie's plagiarism. But I don't have anything to say about the Radia tapes that others haven't already said. Instead, let me point you to Kai Friese's very enjoyable piece in Outlook that Mitali (who has been linking to nearly everything worth reading on the issue on FB) pointed to:

Back in ’03, the leading newspaper in this land threw many worthy journalists into a spin with a shining line called Medianet. Today it’s prosaically called ‘paid content’ and ‘edvertorials’. Their reasoning was silky: “The role we envision for Medianet is that of a conscience-keeper, auditor and watchdog, regulating the media’s burgeoning interaction with the PR sector.” It sounds like the devil himself. But they were onto something. And they knew you’d object: “Those who are apoplectic about the perceived invasion of the ‘message’ into the domain of ‘content’ may want to consider that the two have long since ceased to be strangers, and are sharing an increasingly symbiotic relationship. Marshall McLuhan famously declared that the medium was the message. In all humility, we’d like to say, Medianet is the messenger—heralding a brave new world of innovation.”
Isn’t that brilliant? Especially the bit where they gloss McLuhan, Huxley’s dystopia and ‘innovation’—a term of art for advertising in editorial places. The old lady of Boribunder is an oracle too. That’s journalism: Tomorrow’s news, yesterday. So when some has-been journalists whine that the leading newspapers and TV channels have been silent on the Radia tapes, just tell them. Of course they’re silent. Have you offered to pay them? I didn’t think so!
Unfortunately, there are alternatives to the dignified, business-like silence of real journalism. There are greedy magazines like this one, and hungry ones like Open. Worst of all there’s the internet, which as you know hasn’t even been properly monetised yet. That’s not journalism!

Mm hmm. And special points for Friese's slipping in the terms 'Twitterlicking' and 'Facebukkake'.


AKM said...

Reading the article, I was stunned at Sanghvi's amazingly brazen spin, where he suggests that he wrote a balanced article after the conversation with Radia, whereas the truth is that he reproduced verbatim her side of the story in the article immediately after the conversation. (The Open story misses out the other sniping @ Anil's R-Power in his article ... no way can it be said to be a balanced one).

The blackout of course, has nothing at all to do with the media protecting its own. The media is far too cannibalistic for it. The real reason is merely that commenting on the sold-out will inevitably lead back to the buyers. And when that category includes the Tatas and the Ambanis, who can take the chance ?

km said...

Are TV anchors journalists, or entertainers?

Ha ha.

JP said...

I missed this whole thing because I stopped following the Indian news media a long time back, I hope this is the end of Sanghvi's career, at least. I've always had an instinctive loathing for him.

Space Bar said...

AKM: Yes, I saw both Bal's and Joseph's more recent articles, and though they make good points, I was mystified by Bal's holding Arnab's internally circulated memo as a shining example of journalistic ethics.

As to the blackout, I think it's the media trying hard not to cast the first stone; but twitter and fb did it for them and now they can't ignore it, can they?

km: I know, right?

JP: :D you've caught up now, so that's good! Yes, Sanghvi no longer has his column in the HT or in the NIE. But whether it's the end of his career is another matter. He'll go underground for a bit is all.

JP said...

So I've caught up on most of the commentary and some of the tapes. What horrifies me most is that these top journos have been so happy to go to bat conveying messages to and from politicians and industrialists as well as to the public and yet our media refuse intervene when people's civil rights are being violated in front of their cameras.