Daily Archives: 22 September 2010

Is media resorting to self-censorship on Ayodhya?

The run-up to the court verdict on the title suit in the Ayodhya dispute has seen plenty of activity built around the media. The News Broadcasters’ Association—the body representing private television news and current affairs broadcasters—has issued a set of four guidelines to all editors of member-news channels:

1) All news relating to the High Court judgment in the case should be verbatim reproduction of the relevant part of the said judgement uninfluenced by any opinion or interpretation.

2) No broadcast should be made of any speculation of the judgement before it is pronounced ; and of its likely consequence thereafter which may be sensational, inflammatory or provocative.

3) No footage of the demolition of the Babri Masjid is to be shown in any new item relating to the judgement.

4) No visuals need be shown depicting celebration or protest of the judgement.

Citing the size of the court room, the media (print and electronic) have been kept away from the compound of the Allahabad high court, and the court has gone so far as to say that the media must not speculate about the verdict till it has a copy of the operational part of the order.

Now, the Union home minister P. Chidambaram has urged the media to “reserve judgement and not make hasty pronouncements.”

While the precautions are no doubt understandable given the preciousness of human life, a good question to ask is, is the Indian media resorting to self-censorship in order to present a better face? In the process of doing so, is it allowing itself to be told what to do and what not to do, thus depriving viewers of what they should know?

If all this passes muster in the name of “self-restraint”, where does this self-restraint vanish on normal days? Is the NBA’s call for self-restraint now an admission of the utter lack of it on regular days?

Was the killing and mayhem that followed the demolition of the Babri masjid by Hindutva goons, while BJP leaders watched in 1992, squarely a fault of the media? Conversely, if the media weren’t around for this and other stories, would India be a land of milk and honey?

Cartoon: courtesy Keshav/ The Hindu


When an advertisement becomes the news

Both The Hindu and The Times of India have today run news items on the buzz created by the Volkswagen Vento “talking” advertisement that the two papers ran.

And both claim they were the “world’s first” newspaper to run the ad, without mentioning the other.

But, to its credit, The Times of India story also mentions the scare and confusion the ad caused. A maid thought there was a ghost in the morning paper. Elders panicked. And a panic call was made to the bomb squad in Bombay after a “beeping sound” was heard from a garbage bin where the paper had been thrown.

Also read: ‘Talking ads’ in The Hindu and The Times of India

Three reasons why the ToI-Volkswagen ad won’t work

3 reasons why ToI-Volkswagen ad doesn’t work

Still unaware that the Volkswagen Vento ‘talking’ ad appeared first in The Hindu, Madras, and not The Times of India, and that it also appears in The Hindu Business Line, the adman turned columnist Anil Thakraney lists three reasons why the ad doesn’t work, in Money Life:

1) Getting instant attention cannot be the sole purpose of advertising… The idea must always be to get attention in an endearing way, and in a way that the route embellishes the brand’s core personality.

2) It’s a boring, non-stop chatter from a sleepy voice, that pretty much translates what the ad is already saying. Now if my newspaper has to play the role of a radio in my life (eeeeks!), the least it must do is to entertain me.

3) For a luxury sedan, isn’t The Times of India, a mass paper, a waste of the ad rupee? Wouldn’t this gimmick have been more suitable for, say, The Economic Times? Or one of those many auto mags?

Read the full article: Gaddi badnaam hui

Also read: ‘Talking’ ads in The Hindu and The Times of India