Posts Tagged ‘Santosh Desai’

‘Bak-bak on FM radio captures spirit of new India’

18 March 2013

Adman and columnist Santosh Desai in The Times of India:

“Perhaps no medium captures the crackling sociology of the surging new spirit of cities, particularly that of small-town India, better than FM radio…. What it does is give voice to the city in all its liquid stream-of-consciousness currency. It lives in the ever present, and does with energy and enthusiasm, an excitable running commentary on the everyday interests of the city’s residents, particularly the young.

“All over India, RJs on FM stations are evolving a unique local voice, that fuses media-fuelled aspirations with local doubt, the headiness of new opportunities with a reinforcement of an existing way of life. The tone is cheerful, electric even, and the interaction a combination of diversion, stimulation and worldly counselling….

“The conversation does not locate itself in the world of ‘happenings’, nor is in the least bit concerned with what is deemed important but in the new universe of the hyper-trivial. New malls, restaurants, shopping bargains rub shoulders with romantic problems, real and imagined.

“FM radio teases out the private into the dominion of the public, one confession at a time.

“The listener is in fact the protagonist, in the sense that radio promotes a parallel dialogue in the listener’s head as one eavesdrops into relatable situations being faced by others. The inner life of the listeners becomes part of the collective outer life, as radio symbolically helps people hold hands as they walk down unfamiliar new paths.

“Change is legitimised, made sense of and accepted as one finds oneself in the happy company of the new. The city is fed to itself morsel by engaging morsel. Packaged in the grammar of agreeable drivel, FM radio is part of the new ‘bak-bak’ economy that has sprung up in small town India, which breaks down the modern into little bits of the enjoyably trivial.”

Read the full column: The new voice of the city

Follow Santosh Desai on Twitter: @desaisantosh

More media options means fewer choices?

27 September 2011

Last week, the Grammy Award winning musician Vishwa Mohan Bhatt lamented that although there were over 500 television channels in the country, there was not one for classical music.

The ad man cum analyst Santosh Desai joins the debate in The Times of India:

Do more options actually mean more choice? We have a few dozen television channels to choose from, but apart from volume and pitch, is there a genuine set of choices?

Every successful product seems to trigger replication—one kind of soap opera begins to work, we see a deluge of programmes with similar themes; as one anchor discovers that hysterical denunciation is the way to ratings, other channels follow suit.

With so many channels, one would have thought that programming of a more specialised kind would become more viable.

In the pre-liberalisation scenario when most programmes got massive ratings, content that spoke to a few might have been unviable, but in today’s world where getting 2-3% of viewers is considered an achievement, surely we should have seen more diversity.

To be sure, there are channels that cater to subjects other than current affairs, serials and cinema, but most of these contain international programming. We have for instance, no classical music on television, little coverage of art, no interest in local folk forms; we have channels that bring us the best of world cinema, but that none that brings us the best of Indian regional cinema in any meaningful way.

Read the article: More choices, fewer options

How The Times of India pumped up Team Anna

31 August 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: Six minutes and 20 seconds into his vote of thanks at the culmination of Anna Hazare‘s fast-unto-death last Sunday, the RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal heaped plaudits on the media for the support it had lent to the Jan Lok Pal bill agitation by “articulating the outrage of the nation”.

Pointing at the jungle of anchors, reporters, cameramen and crane operators in the media pen in front of the stage at the Ramlila maidan, Kejriwal said the “media weren’t just doing their job… they are now part of the movement”.

Verbatim quote:

Hum in saari media ke shukr guzaar hain. Yeh aap dekhiye, abhi bhi camera lekar, tadapti dhoop mein khade hain, yeh log. Yeh zaroori nahin, kewal inki naukri nahin thi.  Yeh log ab andolan ka hissa hain. Raat-raat bhar, chaubis-chaubis ghante, bina soye in logon ne hamari andolan mein hissa liya, hum media ke saathiyon ko naman karte hain.”

Kejriwal’s general gratitude was for television whose frenetic and fawning coverage instantly took the message to parts of the country print wouldn’t dream of reaching in the next half a century. (A TV critic wrote last week that a survey of TV coverage of Hazare’s Jantar Mantar fast in April found 5592 pro-Anna segments versus just 62 that were anti-Anna.)

But if Kejriwal had to choose one English language publication in particular for rounding up “Middle India” in round two of the fight for a strong anti-corruption ombudsman, the honour should surely go to The Times of India.

From the day after Anna Hazare was prematurely arrested on August 16 to August 29, the day he ended his fast, the New Delhi edition of The Times of India took ownership of the story and played a stellar role in mobilising public opinion and exerting pressure on the political class.

# Over 13 days, the main section of the Delhi edition of The Times of India, covered the Anna Hazare saga over 123 broadsheet pages branded “August Kranti” (August Revolution), with 401 news stories, 34 opinion pieces, 556 photographs, and 29 cartoons and strips.

# On seven of the 13 days of the fast, the front page of Delhi ToI had eight-column banner headlines. The coverage, which included vox-pops and special pages, even spilled over to the business and sports pages, with the Bofors scam-accused industrialist S.P. Hinduja offering his wisdom.

# In launching a toll-free number for readers to give a “missed call” if they wanted a strong Lokpal bill, ToI was almost indistinguishable from the India Against Corruption movement behind Hazare. ToI claims that over 46 lakh people have registered their vote.

In short, backed by an online campaign titled “ACT—Against Corruption Together” plus the Arnab Goswami  show on Times Now, the Times group provided substantial multi-media heft to the Jan Lok Pal campaign.

In its almost completely uncritical coverage of Round II, The Times of India provided a sharp contrast to the almost completely cynical coverage of Round I by The Indian Express four months ago, the former batting out of his crease for for the wider constituency of the reader, consumer, voter and citizen.

Remarkably, also, for a publication of its size and girth, ToI took an unhesitatingly anti-establishment stand in its headlines and choice of stories, showing where it stood on corruption—an issue agitating readers in its core demographic—in a manner in which most large newspapers are loathe to do.

There were only token negative pieces like the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid calling the protest “anti-Islam”; Dalits wanting a Bahujan Lokpal bill; or Arundhati Roy calling Hazare’s stand “undemocratic”. On the whole, though, ToI coverage was gung-ho as gung-ho goes, especially judging from some of the mythological, militaristic headlines.

Just what was behind the ToI‘s proactive stand still remains to be deciphered.

Was it merely reflecting the angst and anger of its middle-class readership? Was it taking the scams, many of which it broke and which brought the Lok Pal issue to the head, to its logical conclusion? Or, does the involvement of its in-house godman in the proceedings, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living, lend a clue?

Was it willy-nilly taking part in the dark rumours of “regime-change” swirling around Delhi? Or, was it just doing what a good newspaper is supposed to do: taking a stand, making sense of an increasingly complicated world to a time and attention strapped reader, and speaking truth to power?

Whatever be the truth, the fact that ToI took such a popular-with-readers, unpopular-with-government stand when it is involved in a no-holds-barred campaign to stall the implementation of the Majithia wage board recommendations for newspaper employees, speaks volumes of its conviction on the Lok Pal issue.

***

August 17: Coverage on 14 pages, 34 news stories, 2 opinion pieces, 41 photographs, 1 cartoon

Lead headline: Govt can’t stop August Kranti—Morning arrest turns into nightmare for Centre as Anna refuses to leave Tihar unless allowed to protest

Other headlines: 1) A million mutinies erupt across India; 2) Congress’s big blunders; 3) Emergency is the word for Gen Y; 4) Anna held, people hurt; 5) Intellectuals draw parallels with Emergency, JP movement; 6) Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Govt is being arrogant; 7) The Indian protester rediscovers Gandhigiri; 8) Emergency makes a comeback to political lexicon; 9) Annacalypse Now! Angry India on the streets; 10) Emergency redux, say legal experts

Editorial: Wrongful arrest—government action against Anna Hazare leaves it isolated and sans goodwill

Opinion: State vs Anna—Hazare’s arrest serious questions about India’s ‘democratic’ claims

Opinion poll: 92% say govt’s handling of Anna is undemocratic

***

August 18: Coverage on 10 pages, 36 news stories, 3 opinion pieces, 56 photographs, 4 cartoons

Lead headline: People march, govt crawls—sledgehammered by nationwide outrage, UPA withdraws almost all its earlier curbs on Anna protest

Other headlines: 1) Global bank VP on ‘fasting leave’ from Hong Kong; 2) India Inc backs Anna; 3) Dabbawallas, NGOs building ‘Anna Army’; 4) This way or no way, says Anna; 5) Govt fails to move Mount Anna; 6) In Hazare and Baba Ramdev, govt has two powerful adversaries; 7) ’9 months to arrest Suresh Kalmadi, 3 mins for Anna’; 8)

Editorial: Anna wins the day—With public anger swelling, government must take a stand on corruption

Opinion headlines: 1) Have a referendum on sticking points; 2) Let an independent arbiter decide; 3) Are you an Anna dater, a Jokepalwalla or, worst, a piggyback passionista? 4) Civil society frustrated at lack of government action

***

August 19: Coverage on 9 pages, 26 news stories, 4 opinion pieces, 27 photographs, 3 cartoons

Lead headline: Judiciary out of Lokpal? Team Anna softens stand

Other headlines: 1) Brand Anna is a rage: youth wear him on T-shirts; 2) Protesters rename Chhatrasal stadium after Anna; 3) Sensing hour of reckoning, Tihar protesters give war cry; 4) ‘Gandhi’ takes world media by storm; 5) Indian editorials slam govt handling; 6) Fight to go on for generations, says Aung San Syu Ki; 7) Expatriates in south east Asia rally round Anna;

Editorial: Seize the day—reform is a powerful anti-corruption tool

Opinion headlines: 1) It’s the middle class, stupid; 2) 10 measures to reduce corruption

***

August 20: Coverage on 8 pages, 30 news stories, 3 opinion pieces, 46 photographs, 2 cartoons

Lead headline: Anna rides wrath yatra, ups ante

Other headlines: 1) On fourth day of fast, 74-year-old outsprints cops; 2) He gives supporters a run for their money; 3) ‘I am Anna’s Krishna in the Mahabharata against graft’; 4) Cap fits: no weakening satyagraha—gives call for ‘second freedom movement’, will fight till last breath; 5) Amma Hazares join the cause; 6) Protest tourism: why Anna catches their (foreigners’) fancy; 7) ‘Parliament isn’t supreme, public is’

Editorial: When khaki met khadi—a confused cop learns about being civil, through agitation

Opinion headlines: 1) Which democracy do we want? 2) Reclaiming moral authority

***

August 21: Coverage on 8 pages, 25 news stories,  2 opinion pieces, 36 photographs, 1 cartoon

Lead headline: Angry tide forces Manmohan’s hand

Other headlines: 1) 35% drop in crime during Hazare’s fast; 2) Parents bring kids to Anna ki pathshala; 3) Painter plans to capture ‘Anna legacy’ till passage of bill; 2) Parents want kids to see history being made; 5)  Over one million join ToI anti-graft drive;

Opinion headlines: 1) Arrest corruption, not those who protest against it; 2) Why I’d hate to be in Hazare’s chappals

***

August 22: Coverage on 7 pages, 23 news items, 1 opinion piece, 28 photographs, 3 cartoons

Lead headline: All roads lead to Annapolis

Other headlines: 1) Crowding glory—over one lakh throng Ramlila ground; 2) Protestors take metro, ridership at New Delhi jumps by 50%; 3) Religious lines blur for Anna’s cause; 4) Anna gives call for revolution to surging masses; 5) Lockedpal: earn our trust, team Anna tells govt; 6) Anna’s  army pickets netas’ homes

Opinion headline: Re-negotiating democracy

***

August 23: Coverage on 10 pages, 30 news stories, 2 opinion pieces, 46 photographs, 1 cartoon

Lead headline: Govt may relent, put PM under Lokpal

Other headlines:  1) Gen Y  rocks to Anna’s beat; 2) At maidan, 80,000 celebrate carnival against corruption; 3) Behind the public face, a very private man; 4) Aam admi thinks bill is cure-all; 5)  Anna proves the power of the big idea: management gurus

Editorial: Start talking—dialogue and flexibility can break the Lokpal logjam

***

August 24: Coverage on 9 pages, 35 news items, 1 opinion piece, 38 photographs, 3 cartoons

Lead headline: Govt bends 70%, Anna seeks 90%

Other headlines: 1) 22 newborns in MP named after Anna; 2) ‘Don’t let them take me’; 3) Unsung soldiers: they sacrifice daily bread for Anna; 4) Maidan doesn’t sleep, volunteers up at dawn; 5) Anna critic Aruna Roy briefs Rahul on grievance bill, calls on Jairam Ramesh; 6) Anger against plutocracy legitimate, says Prakash Karat

Opinion headline: Beyond Anna’s India—is anger against corruption blinding us to other evils?

***

August 25: Coverage on 8 pages, 30 news items, 4 opinion pieces, 38 photographs, 2 cartoons

Lead headline: From breakthrough to breakdown

Other headlines: 1) Braveheart Hazare baffles doctors; 2) Judge follows his conscience, speaks out for Jan Lokpal bill; 3) Destination Ramlila maidan: get a free auto ride; 4) Critic Aruna Roy comes calling; 5) Aamir Khan is brain behind picketing MPs; 6) ’542 VIPs are making a fool of 120 crore people’

Editorial: The Lokpal moment—it’s a good time for Anna to end his fast and join the discussions

Opinion headlines: 1) Fasting as democracy decays; 2) Celebrities endorse Anna movement in large numbers—they are citizens too

Online toll: 22.7 lakh join ToI online campaign against graft

***

August 26: Coverage on 8 pages, 32 news items, 3 opinion pieces, 38 photographs, 3 cartoons

Lead headline: PM walks extra mile, Anna unmoved

Other headlines: 1) 5,000 cops to fortify PM, but Anna army sneaks past posts; 2) Witnessing power of people, says Army chief; 3) Hardliners holding up Lokpal resolution; 4) Angry Anna: UPA ministers take the hit in virtual world; 5) ‘Sonia Gandhi would have handled situation better’

Editorial: Seize this opportunity—Anna Hazare shows flexibility, the govt must do so too

Opinion headline: Finding the middle ground

Online toll: 25,30,251 votes

***

August 27: Coverage on 11 pages, 34 news items, 3 opinion pieces, 50 photographs, 3 cartoons

Lead headline: House hopes to send Anna home

Other headlines: 1) Downcast but steadfast; 2) Fast hits country’s financial health—reforms put off because of Anna stir, may take a toll on growth; 3) Sports icons one with Team Anna

Editorial headline: A carnival called India—from Gandhigiri to Annagiri, it’s dhak-dhak go

Opinion headline: Saintliness in politics cuts both ways

Online toll: 32,09,129 votes

***

August 28: Coverage on 9 pages, 35 news items, 2 opinion pieces, 64 photographs, 1 cartoon

Lead headline: Anna wins it for the people—To break fast at 10 am today as Parliament bows to Hazare’s khwahish and PM sends letter

Other headlines: 1) Anna’s next: India tour for clean leaders; 2) Anna superfast arrives; 3) Anna sets House in order

Opinion headlines: 1) Don’t mess with the middle-class; 2) How to reverse the trust deficit

Online toll: 39,74, 515 votes

***

August 29: Coverage on 12 pages, 31 news items, 4 opinion pieces, 48 photographs, 2 cartoons

Lead headline: Only deferred fast, fight goes on: Anna

Other headlines: 1) Can’t trust govt, have to keep watch: Prashant Bhushan; 2) ‘Battle is won, war has just begun’; 3) ‘This victory is our second freedom’; 4) Anna among top brands online

Editorial: Dance of democracy

Opinion headlines: 1) Has Anna really won? 2) Ways to fit the bill—accommodating Anna’s three key demands will require imaginative lawmaking

***

Also read: Is the Indian Express now a pro-establishment paper?

Is the media manufacturing middle-class dissent?

Should media corruption come under Lok Pal?

Santosh Desai: Letting readers decide is a cop-out

9 August 2011

Notwithstanding all the kvetching among journalists about managerial interference, there can be little doubt that B-school types are doing a lot more thinking of what is happening to the profession—and the way forward.

Santosh Desai, the managing director and CEO of Future brands—and a compelling Times of India columnist—showed just why in his presentation “The Need for News”, in New Delhi last week.

Desai’s key point: despite all the segmentation, fragmentation and decentralisation of news—which has seen dependence on traditional news outlets go down and the collapse of the idea of the “single truth”—humankind would still want news to be served up by professionals.

In other words, news consumers like a bit of hand-holding to make sense of the world. Giving them “what they want” and letting them decide, is not quite the magical mantra it is made out to be but a cop-out.

“Newsmaking and newspapers are an order-making device. When we hold a newspaper, it gives the feeling that the world is a knowable place. It allows for an orderly movement of time.”

Therefore, news, he avers, cannot be moulded by consumers or crowdpsourced or user-generated all the time; credibility becomes even more critical when news gathering gets atomised.

The role of media titles in such an atmosphere, he says, is threefold: the curation of opinion, the certification of authenticity, and the ability to stand outside the market system while participating in it.

View the full powerpoint presentation: The_Future_of_News

Read the Agency FAQs report: The changing face of news

Also read: Of headlines and buylines

The Fuhrer intervenes again on Radia Tapes

25 November 2010

As journalists ponder the rot within the media, Varun Grover at The Daily Tamasha provides much-needed levity to the proceedings by asking the basic question: where is the story in the paper I read (and the TV station I watch)?

Also read: Santosh Desai: Silence of the hacks

***

In which Adolf Hitler reacts to ‘Barkhagate’

Has media credibility suffered a body-blow?

‘Go to bed knowing you haven’t succumbed’

The TV anchor, the ex-editor and TV personality

Why we didn’t air Niira Radia tapes: two examples

Can the media be as amnestic as its audience?

14 January 2008

How much of a memory should the media have? Should it take each day eagerly and feverishly as it comes and rush into judgment regardless of what it reported/opined in the previous day? Should be it be a beacon of balance, proportion, and perspective, even at the risk of alienating its audience?

Santosh Desai, former adman and MD and CEO of Futurebrands, in Tehelka:

Sachin Tendulkar scored a century (in the Sydney cricket Test against Australia) and CNN-IBN asked its viewers if he deserves the Bharat Ratna. Barely three months ago, it was asking if Sachin should retire; Rajdeep Sardesai himself led the charge on that one.

“It is clear that journalists take the role of building monuments and then tearing them down with increasing seriousness. The absence of any tempering memory is striking—it is as if one is responsible for one’s opinions only for the day. Tomorrow, as someone has had occasion to say, is another day.”

Read the full piece: Presenting: A brand new opinion, every day


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