A viral video takes on Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony

KONY 2012

Invisible Children, a U.S.-based advocacy group, staged a media coup last week with its 30-minute web video about Ugandan warlord Joseph Konyand his purported crimes against the people of this country. The video has been viewed more than 55 million times on YouTube since going live earlier last week, and #Kony 2012 continues to trend worldwide on Twitter.

The slickly produced video accuses Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army of abducting, mutilating and murdering thousands of Ugandan children who served as foot soldiers and sex slaves in the LRA’s rebel forces from the late 1980s, when the group first rose to prominence, to 2006.

After releasing the video on YouTube and Vimeo a little over a week ago, the group aggressively promoted it via its social networks. By enlisting stars like Justin Beiber and Rihanna to “Stop Kony,” the message spread like wildfire on Twitter and Facebook over the course of several days. Even Oprah Winfrey got involved by donating over $2 million to group via her Oprah Winfrey Foundation.

But almost as quickly as it gained supporters, the video has also attracted its fair share of detractors. In recent days, many activists, aid workers andAfricans have cried foul about the video and the group behind its production. Journalists like Michael Wilkerson argue that the video sacrifices accuracy for impact. While the video supports a simple goal — capture Kony — Wilkerson points out that this alone would not eradicate the problems facing Ugandans, who are still caught in the crosshairs of a war-torn country.

“The film sends the message that Kony is the sole source of evil in this part of the world and simply by sending in $30 for an action kit you’ve solved this problem,” says Africa expert at the Atlantic Council, J. Peter Pham, in a USA Today article.

The video also calls for U.S. military intervention, but fails to acknowledge that the U.S. has been training Ugandan forces for several years. As recent as last October, the Obama administration dispatched 100 U.S. troops to assist the Ugandan military (in an advisory capacity) in its hunt for Kony and his LRA fighters.

But supporters of Invisible Children, like former child abductee Jacob Acaye (who is also featured in the controversial video), are quick to argue that the video raises awareness of a humanitarian crisis that many in the West know little about. Acaye, now 21 and studying law in Kampala, told The Guardian earlier last week that, “Until now, the war that was going on has been a silent war.”

The Center for American Progress’ Sarah Margon also credits the group’s grassroots mobilization efforts for contributing to the passage of the 2009 LRA Disarmament and Northern Ugandan Recovery Act. This piece of legislation provided emergency aid that has been vital to rebuilding Northern Uganda.

Regardless of where you come down on Kony 2012, most media watchers agree that the video’s popularity highlights the growing power of web video and social media in shaping public opinion. It has already set newweb traffic records, and even garnered a mention from White House spokesman Jay Carney last Thursday during his daily briefing.

How a small newspaper registered its protest

Stories of newspapers running blank editorials and news columns during the censorship era of the Emergency in the mid-1970s are legion.

But in this day and age, when space is calculated in square centimetres?

Star of Mysore, the 35-year-old evening newspaper from Mysore, ran this front-page on March 3 to protest the murderous assault on journalists by lawyers in Bangalore.

A front-page editorial noted grimly:

 “The Fourth Estate is the new target.

“In the new resurgent India, the media has played its role in exposing the wrongs done to this nation by its own people and has given voice to the weak. The Press, the fourth pillar of democracy, has so far kept check on the three other powerful pillars—the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary—and has done so in the interest of keeping the citizenry of this nation informed and to get it involved in national issues.

“This success of the media in getting people involved in issues that concern the nation is what has made the other three pillars uncomfortable…. A media that helps create awareness among the citizenry making it pro-active is not in the interest of the powerful in the other three pillars of democracy. And so, on March 2, while a certain section of lawers went on a thrshing spree on media persons, the police stood like helpless bystanders.”

Image: courtesy Star of Mysore

A blank editorial, a black editorial & a footnote

When Indira Gandhi introduced media censorship as part of the Emergency in 1975, Indian newspapers ran blank editorials as a form of protest.

The Kannada newspaper Vijaya Karnataka, belonging to The Times of India group, runs a blank (and black) editorial today, in protest against what happened in the State legislative assembly on Monday, during the trust vote moved by the chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa.

And in white type set on 60% black, editor Vishweshwar Bhatwrites this small footnote at the bottom:

“The unseemly occurrences in the assembly on Monday should make every citizen bow his head in shame. The manner in which our elected representatives behaved is unpardonable. They have dealt a deadly blow to democracy. While criticising this, we symbolically represent the silent outrage of the people in this form.”



(Courtesy: Churumuri)

Every channel is a winner in great poll race

For politicians, an election is a loaded game: there is one winner and the rest are losers. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Unless, of course, it is a hung parliament or assembly.

Not so for those in the business of capturing their victories and defeats.

All three of India’s leading English news channels are claiming that they were the channel of choice on results day, March 6, when the verdict of the elections to the five State assemblies, including Uttar Pradesh, came out.

Times Now* newspaper advertisement: “Times Now reaffirms its undisputed leadership on election counting day.” Citing TAM ratings, it claims fullday viewership of 39% (versus 23% for CNN-IBN and 22% for NDTV), and primetime (7pm to 11 pm) viewership of 48% (versus 18% for CNN-IBN and 20% for NDTV).

# CNN-IBN newspaper advertisement: “Elections = CNN-IBN & IBN7. India’s best team = India’s best results. CNN-IBN, IBN7 and The Week post-poll conducted by CSDS gets the projections right again.” On air, CNN-IBN says it was the most watched of the channels.

# NDTV 24×7 newspaper advertisment: “Who won the election without any shouting and screaming? NDTV24x7 had more viewers than all other news channels COMBINED.” Using an opinion poll by GfK-Mode in 11 cities (sample size 5,000), NDTV claims it had 51% viewership compared with CNN-IBN’s 19%, Times Now’s 15% and Headlines Today’s 10%.

* Disclosures apply

by churumuri

Portrayal Of Women By The Indian Media

Movies, or for that matter media in general, are often said to be the reflection of the society. Or at least that’s what majority of people in India consciously or unconsciously tend to believe. While it’s arguable whether the media truly reflects the society or not, there’s no doubt that media has a big sociocultural influence on the society.

The way women are shown in movies these days is hardly different than those before a decade or a few. Women have been shown to consider being an ideal homemaker as the goal of their life. Leaving few exceptions, movies of recent times have hardly shown an ‘ideal woman’ doing anything but being a housewife. Even in those movies where a woman is shown to have more decision power in hand than her husband, the wife is almost always portrayed in bad light.

A few days ago, while watching such a scene from a movie, one of my roommates actually said, ‘This is the reason why a woman should not be given power. She doesn’t know how to use it.’

As far as showing women in advertisements is concerned, things seem to have only worsened over time. In most of the advertisements, a woman is either washing clothes and/or utensils, cooking, serving food to family members or trying to make her husband feel better who’s at that time reading a newspaper or suffering from cold. A woman does all this even when she has headache or backache. These advertisements arguably encourage sexism. They reinforce the old belief that a woman is supposed to forgo her own comfort and keep on doing household chores without getting tired.

The same has remained true for the soap operas of earlier times and of recent times. While in many of these soaps, a woman has more decision power than their male counterparts, it’s very difficult to come across such families in real life. Moreover, those women who wear modern clothes and appear very confident more often than not have bad intentions than their conservative and not-so-modern counterparts.

I recently came across this: ‘The media should refrain from portraying women as commodities and sex objects.’ The media still portrays women as objects showing whom in certain way can catch the attraction of people. It’s very amusing to see a woman in advertisements for products like cement.

A women holds utmost importance in the Indian culture and household. It is the sensationalism by the media that women today are not receiving the much needed aide from their families. It is high time we portrayed women as progressive yet positive, especially in daily soaps.


The writer is a Mumbai based correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

Advertisements Using Women As Objects To Sell Products

Women have always been a very important part of the society. This is so because a woman plays various roles in her life, that of a daughter, sister, mother and so on and this helps in framing of a society in which we live. That is why she has been respected from earlier times till date. But in today’s fast changing world it has been noticed that women are mostly being treated as mere pleasure objects by men.

It is said that visuals leave a greater impact on a person’s mind compared to being bombarded only by words of mouth or written text. This is in fact true as one can recall things easily that one has witnessed or seen rather than what has been read; and if the visuals are with text then it leaves all the more impact on a person as a whole. For example: Films, advertisements, magazines etc.

Today the advertising industry is one among the fastest growing industries not only in our country but across the world. Almost every company, institution and services take the help of advertisements or ads to make people aware of their products and services. Advertisements not only inform people about the new brands available in the market or about the upcoming ones but also help in creating a need for the product in the mind of the viewers. They also help in building a brand’s image and creating a niche for the same in the market.

Due to the availability of similar products from different companies in the market, the consumers get a wide variety to choose from. In this scenario every company wants to publicize its product in such a way that it can attract more and more customers to get hold of the same. Thus, they make use of advertisements to popularize their product.

Advertisements can be of various forms and sizes, depending upon the budget provided by a company/client to an ad agency. These agencies make the ads for their client keeping in mind the target audience for the product. They decide as to what kind of ad would be suitable for the product and where. For example: whether the ad should be a commercial one or a print ad and so on.

On one hand where these ads/advertisements help in the sale of products on the other hand the same ads are hampering the image of a woman. Most of the advertisements shown on television today make use of women in order to enhance/increase the sale of the products.

Women are being portrayed as mere sex objects in most of the ads. They have been shown as a weaker section of the society who can be easily get carried away by men. In ads like that of perfumes and bikes the products are compared with that of a woman’s body. For example the AXE effect (perfumes/deodorant’s) advertisement, wherein after the usage of the perfume all young girls try to jump on the man, who has applied it. Moreover, the girls/women used for the different kinds of ads are shown to be fair and exceptionally thin. This has created a negative image of women in society, and high expectations amongst families and peers.

These advertisements leave an impression on a common man’s mind that a woman is just an object, which can exploited easily as she is weak by nature and always needs a man for her protection. This type of projection of women is termed as stereotyping.

Well, not only men but even women who come in contact with such ads start feeling inferior of themselves as they are not as pretty or thin as compared to the actors or models shown in advertisements. Though there are certain guidelines provided to the ad agencies by ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) with regards to the making of advertisements, these guidelines are not kept in mind most of the times while framing an advertisement.

Now the biggest question to think about is that whether making money is more important than the dignity of a woman. Who has the answer? Do comment in the section below.

By Avanija Katiyar

(courtesy: Youth Ki Awaaz)

Are Advertisements A Big Threat To News?

The 8-page relatively serious Sunday Magazine of ‘The Hindu’ invariably goes without any advertisements in it while ‘The Cinema Plus’ pull out on the same day has almost three pages of advertising. This reflects the great minds of advertisers who think that less cerebral has more readers. Do they aim to target those whom they consider relatively ‘dumb’ (define as you may) and whose opinion can easily be moulded? Well then in that case, almost everyone who has bought something or the other after watching an ad must be dumb according to the advertising genius.

There have been numerous debates on whether advertising is a necessary evil or not. Being a debate, it definitely attracts two sides of the argument but it actually is a beautiful mind game. The advertisers play with the mind of consumers and create a space for the product in their head. But today mere advertising is not enough. The correct pitching of the advertisement is as important as the content. As it is said about the success of a book, that it has to be at the right place at the right time, so is the case with advertisements. But here it is about being at the right time at the right place with the right content. Since advertisements are foggy in nature, advertisers think they can act as blinking lights which helps a wanderer find his path. This path leads to their products which the person inevitably ends up buying because they’ve been led to it.

But, what about those who can’t be mislead or have a clear picture of what they want. Do the advertisements fail to catch their attention because they are already so clear in their head? Well, there is certain lacuna in all and the great advertising minds focus on it to enlarge it so as to increase their sales. All they present is a white lie which we fall prey to. Therefore there is no use to categorise as to who can be influenced. The time period may differ but sooner or later we are ought to buy something because we saw it somewhere.

Advertisements have become indispensible to our lives. No matter how much they are criticized they do make us informed and information is a very powerful tool. Maybe this is why ‘The Times of India’s’ news columns are no longer of the standard size giving way for advertisements. Editorials have been replaced by Advertorials. But are advertisements being a threat to news? This definitely needs some pondering.

By Salma Ahmed

(courtesy: Youth Ki Awaaz)