Posts Tagged ‘Mahesh Vijapurkar’

Guess who monetised editorial space first?

2 November 2009

thepioneer

“Paid News”—editorial space being sold for a fee, without revealing to news consumers that it is an advertisement—is suddenly all the rage, with the Magsaysay Award-winning journalist P. Sainath weighing in on the issue.

In just the last week, the Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP) has conducted a seminar on the topic*; the communist party leader Prakash Karat has dropped some pearls of wisdom; The Hindu has editorially commented on the issue and warned of a follow-up editorial; and media-watchers like B.V. Rao, formerly of the Indian Express, Star News and Zee News, and Mahesh Vijapurkar, formerly of The Hindu, have thrown fresh light on the subject.

But the phenomenon of “paid-for news” is really the institutionalisation of an individual transgression.

Individual reporters and editors with feeble spines—in politics, in business, in cinema, in sport; in English, Hindi and every language; in every part of the country—have always been available for grabs. They could be relied upon to mortgage their minds and do the needful in exchange for cash, cars, government accommodation, house plots, and other sundry benefits (as this news item in The  Pioneer hints at).

A whole band of editors and senior journalists were not loathe to calling up chief ministers (and other movers and shakers) for advertisements to shore up their bottomlines.

And several have done far worse.

In a way, they were only marginally different from “paid news” and are, in many ways, its precursor.

The key difference is that the bean counters in media houses have realised that, in a downturn, there is a small mountain of money to be made by monetising editorial space, and that advertisement as news can put some black on the bottomline. But can mediapersons have any objections over the institutionalisation of a retrograde practice without tackling the individual sins?

* Disclosures apply

Newspaper facsimile: courtesy The Pioneer

Also read: Pyramid Saimira, Tatva & Times Private Treaties

Times Private Treaties gets a very public airing

SUCHETA DALAL: Forget the news, you can’t believe the ads either

Does he who pays the piper call the tune?

SALIL TRIPATHI: The first casualty of a cosy deal is credibility

Selling the soul? Or sustaining the business?

PAUL BECKETT: Indian media holding Indian democracy ransom

Does he who pays the piper call the tune?

PRATAP BHANU MEHTA: ‘Indian media in deeply murky ethical territory’

The scoreline: Different strokes for different folks

A package deal that’s well worth a second look

ADITYA NIGAM: ‘Editors, senior journalists must declare assets’

‘Media shapes, sexes up, manipulates, distorts’

10 September 2008

Is the media playing with the tiger’s tail? Or is the tiger cub riding the media? In other words, just how much is the media responsible for the Raj Thackeray bogey?

Is the “demonisation” of Thackeray junior entirely the handiwork of sensation-seeking journalists trying to fill up the airwaves in the era of 24×7 news? Is the Maharashtra Navanirman Samithi (MNS) campaign against migrant workers, taxi drivers, and the Bachchan family, “a demon created by the media”?

Yes, say two people who should know.

Exhibit A: K.L. Prasad.

The joint commissioner of police (law and order), Bombay, blames the issue on profusion of reportage. In fact, he says there was “no issue at all.”

“I have a complaint against the media. You people make heroes out of zeroes. I would say, just neglect him [Raj Thackeray]. He will get asphyxia. Channels are constantly repeating the footage. One incident is shown 74 times. This is clearly [a way of] reinforcing it in the mind.”

Exhibit B: Mahesh Vijapurkar.

Longtime Bombay bureau chief of The Hindu, he writes that the media has on three separate occasions missed the woods for the trees and distorted Raj Thackeray’s statements.

Irving Wallace was bang on target in his 1982 novel The Almighty in which the power-hungry media-owner Edward Armstead‘s obsession was to shape the news and then manipulate and control it with disastrous consequences to the world.

“The Indian media’s obsession to shape—or sex up?—a story to its worst distortion has come to the fore. And without anyone even batting an eyelid in concern.

“What further mischief lies ahead? Can we trust the mass media? The reader believes the printed word and sees television, despite its limited depth—or actually, the absolute lack of it—as real because he sees live images….

“The media has lost its head and plunged the region into trouble, jeopardising lives and property by its irresponsibility.”

Cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/The Indian Express

Read the full story: How the media created the Raj Thackeray bogey

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