First ever, all Kerala Media fest to remember father of journalism education in Kerala

Professor Maxwell Fernandez helped launch the first media course in the State.

When his single-handed effort resulted in the launch of the first university-level media education in Kerala three decades ago, Professor Maxwell Fernandez’s students could not call him anything but the ‘Father of Journalism Education’ in Kerala.

The youthful professor left the world in the prime of his life — at the age of 40, but his efforts paid off.

This year, when his colleagues and students thought about commemorating him differently, they came up with something unique — a media fest, the first one of its kind for students in the State.

The event christened ‘Take One Fest,’ organised by the Communication Club and the Alumni Association of Kerala University’s Department of Journalism, is aiming to provide a platform to appraise the skills and potential of media students across Kerala’s colleges.

Scheduled to be held on 6, 7 and 8 July, the organisers claim that this is the first ever all-Kerala media fest, which will blend the academic benefits of events that hone the communication skills of students, in the atmosphere of a students’ camp.

“Mediapersons, who are alumni of Kerala University, will interact with the participants. So far, 100 students have registered online. We’re expecting about 250 students in total,” said Gokul Prasannan, event coordinator.

The organisers have lined up about 19 competition items for the participants, who would be at the degree and PG level of their education. “However, it is more of a platform for students to interact with media persons, than compete,” Gokul added. Registration is on till July 5, and the programmes will be from 10 am to 8 pm on all days.

“We are also providing accommodation facilities for students from districts other than Thiruvananthapuram,’’ said the organisers.(courtesy: Deepa Soman, Kochi for Deccan Herald)

Indian Media: Sexual favors demanded from 90% women journalist in Kerala, god’s own country!!!

Dhanya Exhuthachan writes in her article titled “ACCEPTANCE OF FEMALE JOURNALISTS IN KERALA” Kerala’s own “City Journal”, how woman journalist are not accepted as bride in Kerala. Malayalees do not prefer to send their daughter to work as a journalist and that most of the woman journalists are exploited by their male counterparts to receive pay hike, promotion, etc :


A significant number (40.2 per cent) of female journalist did not complain because they felt sexual harassment is not taken seriously in their workplace or that their complaint would seem trivial or over-reacting.

THERE are many girls among us who wish to be a Barkha Dutt or Leela Menon when they grow up. Most of the times, those dreams are shattered due to contradictory circumstances. Female journalists are aplenty in Kerala; definitely majority of them are more talented and sharp than their male counterparts. Still, Malayalees are yet to prefer journalism as a career for girls. It is a fact that most of the female journalists reach for the work overcoming disagreements even from their parents and husbands. Parents cannot be blamed as they are concerned about the safety of their girls as journalism is about taking risks and challenges. But it’s really ironical that even boys here do not prefer to marry a working journalist!
Arun Menon, a mechanical engineer says, “I cannot accept my wife going for reporting. I do not blame their profession. Of course, it’s a cool one. But it will not be nice if my wife goes out of house at midnight. I know it’s a part of their job. They should be present if something happens. I respect that. But even if I accept, my parents will not be. They are old people. We cannot change them. So I prefer a job for her in which she can go in morning and come back by evening.”
As journalism became a profession, women were restricted by custom and law from access to journalism occupations, and faced significant discrimination within the profession. Nevertheless, women operated as editors, reporters, sports analyst and journalists even before the 1890s.
In several places now women can no longer be ignored and also the old tradition of keeping women out of the workplace has been set aside by the younger generation of newspaper owners. This has happened in Malayala Manorama. Fifteen years ago, women were not allowed to write the entrance test for recruitment to Malayala Manorama. In those days, even receptionists in the organisation were men. Today there are women in almost all departments, the change brought by the second generation owners and their spouses.
A male news reporter in the city says, “Its true people have started to accept female reporters. But still there is a concept among public that female journalists are bad. It’s common people pull a long face if they find any girl on the road after 7pm. Moral policing is very high in Kerala society. Now the newspapers and channels provide cabs for security of female reporters. But those who travel in bus or train at night have to suffer the male gazing even if they are journalists. Boys think female reporters are daredevils and they will command everything if they marry them. Lack of feminine look is another problem in their eyes. It’s true as part of the profession, the reporters adopt dress styles similar to men and go for short hairs. The society is yet to change. There is no doubt that females are excellent in reporting and finding things. They stay a step above us always. But they have many limitations.”
Some have the opinion that male domination is very high in media field. As being a ‘Pennu (Woman)’ in their language, most of the times, the girls have to face several harassments from workplace. 90% of the female journalists here come across a situation in which their male seniors demand their body to get a salary hike or promotion. Some girls obey that demand thinking of a better payment and position, some leave the job and majority suffer without saying all these things to others. Maybe, all these exploitation also stop parents and boys not to prefer female journalists.
National Commission for Women had conducted a project on the ‘Status of Women Journalists in the Print Media’ to look into the issues affecting the role of women working in media. The project was prepared conducting survey of women journalists all over India.
A section of the project says, the biggest burden on women in journalism is their domestic responsibilities as wife, mother and daughter-in-law. The brightest and most successful journalists have left a bright career to settle down in matrimony or have moved to less demanding jobs when children arrive. For women, almost invariably, the home comes first.
AT Jayanti editor of Deccan Chronicle, believes that “As home is always a woman’s responsibility, it naturally affects her work. I have no problem with any girl until she marries,” she says.
Findings of the projects also include that sexual harassment is part of work culture in media organisations in India but women either do not know how or, for a wide variety of reasons, choose not to do anything about it. Only 15.2 per cent of women who experienced sexual harassment had made a formal complaint. 10.8 per cent of those who did not make a formal complaint did not do so for fear of intimidation, victimisation or losing their job. A significant number (40.2 per cent) did not complain because they felt sexual harassment is not taken seriously in their workplace or that their complaint would seem trivial or over-reacting.
A senior Malayalam journalist, who spoke to the Commission on the harassment of women both sexually and professionally, put it briefly: “A woman works alone and suffers alone. She finds no support either at home or at office. Men on the other hand, when faced with allegations, close ranks and stand by their colleagues.”

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Puthiya Thalaimurai (PT) – A news channel independent from any political party

Behind the idealism and the confidence of having seen early success, PT also has a systematic and calculated approach to build its own brand and expand viewership.

Launch last August. Its claim to fame: Independence from any political party. A new channel – Puthiya Thalaimurai (PT) –  has been making waves in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. For years, politics, entertainment and news comfortably shared the same bed in the state. In the ’40s and ’50s, the DMK built its cadre by gathering people in street corners, reading and interpreting news for them. When cinema became popular, they mixed propaganda with the art – Anna and Karunanidhi through their screenplays, and MGR and Jayalalithaa through screen presence. The tradition continued in the era of television too. Sun TV functioned out of the campus of the DMK headquarters for most of its existence, and now that space is occupied by Kalaignar TV. To know how bad DMK is, watch Jaya, and to know how bad AIADMK is, watch Sun is the balance of media equation in TN.

PT launched a magazine, Puthiya Thalaimurai, that targeted youngsters, but without depending on the usual fare of cinema and politics. The success of the magazine – its circulation is about a lakh now – indicated that an independent news channel focussing on real issues like education, health and infrastructure would succeed. PT’s campaign started on August 15 last year, with a tagline that translates to ‘freedom to know the truth,’ and the channel itself was launched nine days later.

“When we were thinking about the idea, almost everyone I spoke to said it won’t work here. They said distribution will be difficult. They said there will be political pressure. But here we are,” says P Sathyanarayanan, president, Puthiya Thalaimurai.

Read the full report by N.S. Ramnath/ Forbes India in Money control.comNew competition for Tamil Nadu TV channels

What is Arundhati Roy’s problem, “truth”?

Colin Todhunter writes in column titled ” Looking In The Mirror, Living In Denial: The Arundhati Roy Effect” in Countercurrents.org about problems with Arundhati Roy, that her critics acknowledges the fact that what she says and writes the true motives and intent underlying official policies. That, she is a Malayali/Bengali and it has always been fashionable to take an opposing view and that she is merely playing to a western media that are always looking to paint the India in a poor light.

Arundhati Roy holds up the mirror and forces people to look. Picture by Richard Avedon

Arundhati Roy’s recent 6,000 word article in India’s Outlook magazine in March contained a wide ranging critique of US foreign policy, capitalism, imperialism, globalisation, India’s industrialisation and the nation’s various internal conflicts and numerous other matters. All the things she has become noted for. Predictably, it provoked the kind of personal attacks that Roy has become accustomed to.

You either agree with Roy’s overall analysis, or at least parts of it, or you do not, and it’s always interesting to read critiques of Roy’s stance based on logical argument. Those who try to counter Roy in this way at least respect her views enough to spend time critiquing them. There are many, however, who like to leave logic aside and concentrate on Roy the person, stridently attacking her motives, psychology and personality.

What is it about Roy that elicits such bitter reactions, especially from within India and particularly in upper middle class circles? Such responses confuse personal prejudice, character assassination and sniping with critical analysis. Notwithstanding that no one can ever be right all of the time, it could well be that there is nevertheless a good deal of truth in what Roy says on various matters, and perhaps that’s the problem.

If her arguments are too black and white then show it. If she leaves little room for nuance then discuss it. If she is playing fast and loose with facts, challenge her. Instead, what we too often have are outbursts that have little to do with the issues themselves, but with Roy and what some consider her to be.

There are the accusations that say she merely plays to a western audience that buys her books, she is a self publicist or that her writings display some sort of personality deficit in terms of her constant attention seeking. While it may well be the case that there is a certain underlying misogyny inherent in some of the personal attacks, the question remains as to why do so many ordinary people in middle class households get so fired up over her.

Anti-establishment figures in all countries have always been vilified by newspapers, TV channels, politicians and opinion leaders. And ordinary folk often follow suit. Noam Chomsky experiences it in the US and journalist John Pilger has also had to bear similar establishment backed wrath in the UK. Roy is as terribly anti-India as Chomsky is as single-mindedly anti-US, so the warped line of reasoning from officialdom and its cheer leaders goes.

Most of the time, the writings of such figures delve beneath the rhetoric and propaganda to highlight the true motives and intent underlying official policies. Their arguments, however, too often become buried beneath personal criticisms and smear campaigns which set out to undermine them as people and by proxy their analyses. Why deal with uncomplicated truths that challenge officialdom when they can be brushed aside or attention can be diverted from them with abuse?

As far as Roy is concerned, the smears against her take many forms. She has writer’s block, so she seeks the limelight by jumping on the latest cause celebre. She’s not an expert – others in a given field have been working for a cause for decades and never get the column inches she gets. She is Malayali/Bengali and it has always been fashionable to take an opposing view. She is merely playing to a western media that are always looking to paint the India in a poor light.

And don’t forget that she doesn’t really understand the plight of the poor or oppressed. How could she choke on the stench of poverty or oppression with such a big silver spoon filling her mouth?

India doesn’t need Roy to tell us what we already know, does it? We don’t need such a celebrity activist with prosaic writing to tell us how to put things right? India has thousands of hands on community activists and workers who are making a real difference every day.

Such is logic of the anti-Roy brigade.

Looking at onself in the mirror can be a painful process, especially when the mirror is, like India, not as shiny as you were led to believe. Roy holds up the mirror and forces people to look. It is then that the gap between the poor and violently oppressed and the self congratulatory ‘new’ India of AC shopping malls, gated communities and all manner of conspicuous displays of luxury which the Indian upper middle classes cherish so much becomes too unbearable to accept. So what better response than denial? What better reaction than to vilify the messenger?

Could it be that Roy makes many feel too insecure? Could it possibly be that living in denial helps suppress the guilt that would gush forth if people were to acknowledge that a terrible price is being paid for an urban-chic lifestyle built on squeezing the life out of much of India via population displacement, land grabs, highly exploited labour, environmental degradation and state backed violence?

You don’t have to be living in the gutter before you are allowed to express a valid opinion on poverty or oppression. And if you have a message, it would be foolish not to use your talent to reach out to as wide an audience as possible. But maybe that’s part of the problem. For some, holding up a mirror to Indian society is bad enough, but Roy has the ability to project a realistic yet unpalatable image of India across the globe. With all their new found wealth, that’s what seems to annoy her critics most. When you strike at a raw nerve, unthinking, knee jerk reactions usually follow.

Colin Todhunter : Originally from the northwest of England, writer Colin Todhunter has spent many years in India. He has written extensively for the Deccan Herald (the Bangalore-based broadsheet), New Indian Express and Morning Star (Britain). His articles have on occasion also appeared in the Kathmandu Post, Rising Nepal, Gulf News, North East Times (India), State Times (India), Meghalaya Guardian, Indian Express and Southern Times (Africa). Various other publications have carried his work too, including the London Progressive Journal and Kisan Ki Awaaz (India’s national farmers’ magazine). A former social policy researcher, Colin has been published in the peer-reviewed journals Disability and Society and Social Research Update, and one of his articles appears in the book The A-Z of Social Research (Sage, 2003).

Daily routine of foreign journalist in India: A guideline

Dateline India: (top) Vanessa Dougnac of Le Point at her office-in-residence. Priyanka Parashar / Mint; and veteran Mark Tully, who worked with BBC in India for 30 years. Ramesh Pathania / Mint

A foreign correspondent is a journalist who covers news for a newspaper/ radio/ TV channel/ magazine/ website/ wire service in another country. He could be stationed in a foreign country working for a media outlet in his homeland or based in the latter, working for a media outlet of another nation. One must be well qualified to become a foreign correspondent. But your growth and success depends primarily on your performance. Your qualification only helps you find the first job. Later, what matters is your work and performance. Reporting as a foreign correspondent not only involves international affairs, but it also entails local stories covered from an international perspective or with a human interest.

The appetite for news from India is expected to constantly increase in the West which will increase the number of foreign correspondents in India. Vishal Arora a journalist who writes on politics, religion and foreign affairs in south and south-east Asia lists down some guidelines to be followed and the practical schedule being followed by the foreign media correspondents in India in his article titled Faraway messenger in Hindustan Times HT Education:

Clockwork
9am: Watch/read news at the log-in service (to access the newsroom) provided by the organisation 

10am: Follow the local media  
10.30am: Talk to contacts
11am: Explore the day’s development
Noon to 5 pm: Cover the day’s news
6pm: Discuss the coverage with the editor and discuss the modalities of publication
One also goes for media briefings, mainly by the government/army authorities. Often, travel to other cities, towns or villages for stories

The payoff
You can earn Rs. 1,00,000 per month as a foreign correspondent (for which you have to spend atleast five to 10 years in the industry). After that, compensation would rise depending on your experience

Skills/TRAITS
* Curiosity – the essence of any form of journalism

* Open-minded approach where you don’t dismiss anything as futile

Getting there
After working as a journalist, for a few years, you can work your way up. There are few journalists who become foreign correspondents quite early in their careers, especially in news agencies. For that, one has to be extremely focused in one’s approach

Institutes and URLs
* Asian College of Journalism,Chennai, 

 www.asianmedia.org
* IIMC, Delhi/ Dhenkanal, 
 www.iimc.nic.in
Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi 
 www.ajkmcrc.org
   
Pros and cons 
* Relatively better paying as compared to other areas of journalism
* RYou get to explore the world
* Though it’s not a thumb rule, usually you don’t stay in one country for a long time 
* Risky job. You may be sent to areas embroiled in civil, military or political unrest

Indian Media: The Great ‘Kannada” News Channel Circus

So  for  all those who still doubt whether there is space for one more news channel to make it 7 in all apart from the 11 general entertainment Kannada channels,  it is only a matter of time before they are able to get an fitting answer.  This debate has come to the fore with the recent addition of Public TV of former Kannada Prabha and Suvarna Channel’s News Editor H R Ranganth, to the existing stampede of channels.   With one more player in the market   the fight for the top slot in the small screen is going to generate more heat and the clamor for ‘breaking news’ is sure to witness a new high (or is it low?).  One-time firebrand journalist H R Ranganath being at the helm of affairs at Public TV has only added more nosiness and intensity to the existing fight for supremacy among channels for grabbing eyeballs.

Public TV which was went live on February 12, 2012 and 7 channels are now competing and combating with one another to climb to the top with ‘breaking news’ of every possible kind.  Public TV has become the 7th Kannada news channel of the state which will fight it out with Udaya News, T V 9 Karnataka, Suvarna News, Samaya, Kasturi and Janashree News channels, with each one trying new stratagem to garner public attention.

How these channels will conduct themselves in the course of next few years will be crucial.  In the entire fiasco the viewers will have no other option but to keep changing channels in their search for credible or unbiased channel for news and views.  Nevertheless, many regular viewers of the news channels in Karnataka have expressed their views openly in favour of one or other channels.

Suvarna News is the Best channel. TV9 is losing its scene in state..Kumaraswamy’s Kasturi news channel is used only to blame Congress and BJP..says Dinesh Poojary, Kundapura. Dinesh Rao from Mangalore is irritated about the influx of these channels. He says, ” Of course the number of Kannada news channels has increased over the years. But who cares about the quality? In the name of getting viewership all most all channels are reporting only cheap political, crime related or unnecessary items in the name of news. You must have seen many channels are thriving on murder, rape or accident stories…or even daily household quarrels which can happen at any time next to your door!! Also all most all channels use buffoon like specimens, who will be talking nothing other than nonsense! Why cannot these channels, if they do not have their originality just imitate English news channels like NDTV 24X7 or CNN-IBN? Can Burkha Dutt, Prannoy Roy, Vikram Chandra, Rajdeep Sardesai teach these something so called as… journalism??”

R. Bhandarkar from Mangalore opins that the craze for English in these Kannada channels are not lost. ‘Breaking News’, ‘BIG NEWS’, etc . etc. Many a times the ‘breaking news’are restraint drainers. ‘Break or be Broke’ seems to be the motto of these channels nowadays. These news contents in thses ‘breakers’ are often suicides,accidents, killings etc.These have no repititive values but are aired till one is disgusted. ‘BIG NEWS” does not even have that ‘little’ to make one sit up and watch. Many of the programmes, serials etc are ‘direct lifts’ from the more popular Hindi Counterparts. The less said of the ‘humour or comedy programmes’ the better!

“Some channels have alignment with political parties, some are pro congress and some are pro BJP and some are pro communists and some are pro communual. Some channels are there to make money and blackmail by sting operations. The journalistic ethics have been compromised…Forget about the regional channel, even the national and international channels are biased..God alone knows the truth. Anyway journalism has grown very well in India and would continue to grow. But they should work in the best interest of community, peace, nation, truth and act as bonding agent between different faiths and communities…should work as watch dog against social evil practices, alcoholism, corruption, female foeticide, dowry, caste system etc etc”, writes Shahnawaz Kukkikatte from Dubai.

Below are views from the cross section of society from Karnataka:

“i think TV9 is doing good job, many criminals and corrupt officer and politician behind the bar, because of TV9. for simple reason: one week i did not get this cannel i am watching other news channel but their communication is very poor. but TV9 is sound and communication very good. what ever it i like only channel u can give good report like corrupt officer, and corrupt politician. some channels don’t. have power to publish against corrupt politican and police dept. but Tv 9 not worried about all this thinks.”

“Suvarna 24×7 is the best channel, they caught porn MLA’s watching porn Video. TV nine is busy in film news n always busy in telecasting Bhootha n Pretha stories. Busy in slapping it’s on back. TV9 loosing it’s credit after Suvarna news came into  existence. Udaya news pro congres. Janashri pro BJP. Etv is neutral.”

“I have lot of respect towards H R Ranganath who have started Public Tv. I believe he will do justice for the same.I want all culprits to be exposed so that people can understand the double game of all politicians. Best of luck for u and ur future.”

“Most TV channals are behind TRP rating, & are craze with giving foolish news, highlighting rape stories, pralaya & exagarations, slapping their own back as top rated channels. All channels should learn ethics from basic & telecast with sense. The wrong news published or news published in wrong way will be watched by people across state. ‘Ethics first – Publicity last'”

“Tv9 started a very peculiar way of presenting news by pronouncing words split-in at unwanted places and ending sentences with an awkward style. Suvarna started well, but followed TV9 in style. Very irritating way of presentation. One lady news reader (Ms. Soumya?) has developed a peculiar style of ending sentences – very shrill ending deliberately developed(?)to look special???. pronounce the words as it is in its natural kannada way and make hearing the news pleasant. Too garish appearance by some of the anchors is not appreciable.”

“Looks like most of the news channel are funded by political party. New Entry is Public TV looks to be unbaised and appreciate the effort of Ranganath owner. He has a very good knack in explaining in details about any news which attracts. Lets see how Public TV future goes without support of Politicians……..”

South Indian Media: Why is Sankeshwar interested in Media?

Mahesh Kulkarni writes in an article Sankeshwar to ‘disrupt’ Kannada papers, again in Business Standard

Vijay Sankeshwar is addicted to shaking things up. A decade after this businessman and politician from Gadag district in North Karnataka revolutionised the Kannada newspaper industry by launching Vijaya Karnataka, a paper that quickly outstripped the then market leader Praja Vani, he is doing it all over again.

Why is Sankeshwar so interested in the newspaper world? The roots of it probably are in the fact that his family used to run a small publishing press which put out study guides for the state SSLC exams. Then, as evinced from his sale of Vijay Karnataka for Rs 300 crore, there was good money to be made in the business. Also, don’t discount the fact that newspapers are a wonderful platform for budding politicians. Sankeshwar, after all, was once a BJP Member of Parliament from Dharwad North and is now a Legislative Council member in Bangalore.

Sankeshwar’s tremendous advantage lies in his vast logistics network that he can leverage to reach out to every nook and cranny of the state, ensuring that his newspapers are deposited on the doorsteps of his readers early in the morning. Sankeshwar plans to roll out Vijaya Vani across 10 cities in Karnataka over a period of one year. He has already launched six editions across key cities in the state. He has set up his own printing sites in these locations and will take delivery of five new printing press over the next five months.

It may almost seem like Sankeshwar rued his decision to part with the ground-breaking Vijaya Karnataka. As soon as his lock-in period was over, he was back in business, this time purchasing a 57-year-old district-level tabloid, Vijaya Vani, published from Tumkur, and re-launching it as a state-level broadsheet newspaper on April 1, 2012. He met with opposition almost immediately. The Times group raised an objection to the title, Vijaya Vani, saying it clashed with the one the group had bought from Sankeshwar, namely Vijaya Karnataka, and filed a case in the Bangalore city court.

“The name Vijaya is not their family property. Anybody can have the name Vijaya. It only shows their desperation and they are scared of our aggressive launch. I consider it as an unhealthy practice,” said Sankeshwar in response.

Vijaya Vani may not be the force that its predecessor used to be, but considering Sankeshwar’s track record, it may be a good idea to take his words seriously. After all, his name is not just on those papers, it also means ‘victory.’’

Read the full article Sankeshwar to ‘disrupt’ Kannada papers, again in Business Standard

Fountain Ink: Giving journalism a fresh perspective and journalists their much loved space

Shradha Narayanan writes in her article titled “Writing long with a different ink” in The Hindu about Fountain Ink, a Chennai based short magazine of long form journalism, which had a humble start and comes wrapped in a minimalist cover:

Fountain Ink a Chennai-based magazine, has gone big with essays and photo stories instead of fiction and poetry. When the team behind Fountain Ink, was faced with the choice of either going all out or staying low key, budget constraints made them choose the latter. The team behind this magazine, only eight issues old, has no complaints. Fountain Ink was founded to favour long-form writing with detailed reportage, essays and photo stories, giving journalism a fresh perspective and journalists their much loved space. All this content is wrapped in a minimalist cover and the magazine itself comes at a low price of Rs. 20. During the first three months of publication, the magazine was sold at just Rs. 5 in Chennai.

Fountain Ink refrains from being a literary magazine and has gone big with essays and photo stories instead of fiction and poetry. “Fountain Ink is a short magazine and so they can choose to concentrate on a few long pieces,” says Sreekumar Menon who teaches at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.

“The thought is to revive the culture of writing essays,” says Saurav Kumar, the magazine’s editor. The essays section, unlike reportage, carries contributions from non-journalists too. Topics are diverse and the expertise of the writer in the subject area shines through his/her writing, spruced up by illustrations. Issues that the Indian is familiar with are discussed here and leave the reader with narratives that increase his/her understanding of issues one may not otherwise feel connected to.

A Writer’s Road, an article on hardships faced by the regional language author in the magazine’s January issue is so absorbing that it gets the reader racking his/her brains for strategies to help promote the regional language author.

The ‘photo story’ section is also one to look out for. Whether it is a collection of Mario Miranda’s work or a glimpse into the unreleased work of Sudharak Olwe, the photos are introduced artfully.

‘Q and A’, the interview section, lets us have long conversations on subjects with the people concerned, which is a welcome change in the world of two-line commentary.

Read the full article in The Hindu: “Writing long with a different ink”

Power and Fear: Indian Corporate’s new media mantra

Gopinath Menon, CEO, Melon Media, Crayons Communications Group writes in his guest column ” New custodians of democracy emerge” in exchange4media.com on possible danger of corporate sector taking over the news industry:

Media houses of the past have slowly changed character and the traits now are very different. Earlier the  purpose was skewed towards a social objective, the freedom struggle, the voice of the down trodden, etc. This has given way to purely commercial and practical objectives. The social outlook of media houses has given way to the green dollars for the last two decades or so.

…..It is not the green dollars here as most media companies are bleeding and will take years before they break even. So what is the reason? The answer lies in the simple question “If you cannot be rich, can you be powerful and feared?”

With RIL investments in Network 18 and The Aditya Birla Group in TV Today, we are seeing a start of a new breed of corporate captains emerging in the fourth estate business. The significant fact to note is that all business investments have come in the news space and not in the entertainment space. So it is clear that it is not fondness for the media space but the news space that generates power and fear. This might change the media character of the written, spoken and seen words forever.

Why do we watch or read news? To be informed and enlightened. It helps us posses a viewpoint that builds our stature and standing within our peer group or society at large. The building block for this is ‘Credibility’ and ‘Truth’. I truly believe that there are no in-betweens when it comes to these traits. So you blindly rely on the information to develop a stance. What happens when this basic input is biased and misleading or planted? Everything collapses and it is tough to believe that their values will be embraced with the same intensity as before. If the same intensity prevails, its fine but is it going to be easy for a top business leader by origin to allow a huge chunk of business loss so that he comes across as principled? It is tough and maybe impractical to let it go and hence, the concern for the fourth estate.

Times have changed. We are on the threshold of a new society being weaved by the captains of industry controlling truth and credibility in the fourth estate. 

Read the full column : ” New custodians of democracy emerge”