Archive for April 28th, 2007

‘Our mass media are ignoring plight of the poor’

28 April 2007

The poor have been largely forgotten, ignored, sidelined and marginalised in the national reform agenda of liberalisation and globalisation adopted by our political leadership, wrote K.N. Hari Kumar, the former editor of Deccan Herald, in a piece on the edit of the paper this week.

“Following this lead, the mass media also has in recent years rarely, if at all focused on the problems and plight of the poor and the damage to their means of livelihood and the environment under the new policy regime. Nor has it deliberated on the need for initiatives and programmes to improve their condition and enable them to take control of their lives.

“Rather, reflecting perhaps its ownership and readership which has largely been the educated and propertied elite, it has only been expending large amounts of energy in enthusiastically exaggerating stories of great business successes in the domestic arena.

“It has been even more enthusiastic in devoting vast amounts of paper, words and pictures to hype the real and putative success stories of Indians, living in India and abroad, even those with foreign passports, in professional and entrepreneurial roles and in R and D, in the advanced western nations, especially in the US. These men and women, including sportspersons who have achieved greater and lesser international success, are the heroes of the new reform agenda and the values, ideology and perspective on which it is based. They are seen to have, almost miraculously, succeeded where their compatriots back home have tried and failed. They are being sought to be promoted as models to inspire the nation, especially its youth, to greater ambition and endeavour. Their successes are seen to give confidence to a nation that has lost faith in itself. They are evidence for our belief that we as a nation can, indeed, do it…

“In trying to swim against what has lately become the mainstream of Indian opinion and policy, and focus attention on the plight of the poor, powerless and oppressed—their needs and hopes, their troubles and obstacles, their frustrations and demands, development journalists face an uphill task…

“The real challenge before the media is how to attract the readers’/viewers’ attention to the small-scale, patient, unspectacular, not always wholly successful constructive work being done by ordinary individuals and organisations, like co-operatives, unions, parties, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), at the grassroots, but which may not instantly thrill the readers/viewers into paroxysms of excitement and amazement.

“Finally and perhaps most difficult in the current climate, they will have to reaffirm the relevance of Indian languages for communication at the grassroots and in bridging the ever-widening gulf between the haves and the have-nots, the powerful and the powerless within our society.”

Read the full two-part article: The forgotten poor

Need for new agenda

Three ways to write better: write, read, talk

28 April 2007

Dr Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar and vice-president at The Poynter Institute in Florida, and the author most recently of Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, speaks to G. Ananthakrishnan in today’s Hindu on the three paths before journalists to write better.

“There are three paths to improve writing.

“One is to write, which is the definition of the job, although the writer may want to write in ways that he or she is not permitted or encouraged to write in the newspaper. So sometimes you have to write outside the framework of the newspaper in order to grow. To write for yourself, or to freelance a story for a magazine or contribute something to the Poynter website.

“The second is reading. What are you reading and how are you reading. If you want to write stories, you need to read better stories. If you want to write shorter articles, you need to read better shorter articles. You need to be able to experience through your reading the kind of things that you want to write.

“The third thing is talking. It is usually the one that is missing. Reading, writing, and talking about reading and writing. Talking about the writer’s craft, talking about strategies that work, talking about something that you are reading and sharing your ideas about how that story works. We do that so much at Poynter that I take it as sort of breathing for me. In a newspaper, it is discouraging when you don’t hear anybody talking about the craft, talking in formal ways where you sit down and talk about it, and in informal ways when you are going to lunch or when you are walking down the hall.”

Read the full interview here: Crafting tools to help writers

Have a query? Mail Dr Roy Peter Clark: rclark@poynter.org

Photograph courtesy: The Poynter website

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