Indian Media: Why journalists hate trolls

Pagal Patrakar (in his blog – writes without any screaming and shouting in plain English and without any intellectual nonsense or any stern voice and constipated faces either, about how journalists thinks that it is their duty, as a journalist, to show “mirror to the society” and not let anyone show the the mirror:

..For them(journalists) , a troll is anyone who is not following the rules and decorum of a civilized communication, and who argues without showing much respect to logic.

At this point of time, some of the top journalists leading the crusade against trolls would claim that their objection is only to the abusive and hateful trolls. I have reasons to believe that this is just an excuse.

The thought process (no lateral thinking involved here) behind creating such a list is rooted in a journalist’s arrogated right to frame rules and decorum for a public debate…..However, more than the anarchic nature of Twitter (and much of the virtual world) and a public display of love towards civilized discourse, a journalist’s problem with Twitter arises from the fact that traditional journalism is ill-conceived to allow and incorporate feedback and criticism.

……..I’ve been a (television) journalist myself (in pre-Facebook and pre-Twitter era) and don’t remember a single editorial meeting that was called in to discuss feedback. In fact, there was no mechanism to collect public feedback at all.

The only ‘feedback’ that we were responding to was weekly TRPs. There were weekly meetings to analyze what type of program gathered the highest TRP and how to repeat the “success”. And I guess things haven’t changed much since then.

Most of what is being dismissed as trolling by journalists (not all of them, I must admit; many of them are doing really good on Twitter) are actually instant and angry feedback by their ‘consumers’.

Traditional journalism, as an institution, has always seen itself as ‘giving feedback’ to the society and hasn’t thought it necessary to ‘take feedback’.

I remember Indian Express editor Shekhar Gupta’s interview with Star News (now ABP News) after the coup-story controversy where he claimed that a member of Team Anna (most probably Arvind Kejriwal) had asked him whether Indian Express took feedback from the readers on what it publishes (Express had published a string of stories ‘exposing’ Team Anna before).

Shekhar Gupta thought that the suggestion (about taking feedback) was irrelevant as it was his duty, as a journalist, to show “mirror to the society” (his words) and not let anyone show him the mirror (my words).

A bulk of the problems of journalists with Twitter is rooted in this nature of journalism, where feedback is not deemed necessary, in fact, it’s seen as an unpleasant development, something they happily dismiss as trolling.

Read the full post : Why journalists hate trolls

Face booked: From opening bells to wedding bells

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan at their wedding ceremony in Palo Alto, Calif., Saturday, May 19, 2012. The ceremony took place in Zuckerberg’s backyard before fewer than 100 guests, who all thought they were there to celebrate Chan’s graduation.

Saturday, May 19, 2012. A day after taking his company public, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg added a “Life Event” on Facebook, posting a photo that shows him wearing a suit and tie with the knot loosened rather than his trademark hoodie. Standing next to him in the picture is a woman in a white gown and veil. Above the photo are the words “Married Priscilla Chan.”

Status update!

Mark married his longtime sweetheart, Priscilla Chan on Saturday — but surprisingly, didn’t add a “Relationship Status” to his Facebook page. Zuckerberg just added a “Life Event” on Facebook

The photo had been “liked” by 522205 people at the time of filing this copy. Chan’s Facebook page updated her status as married to Mark Zuckerberg.

Screen grab of Priscilla Chan’s Facebook page and relationship status after she married Mark Zuckerberg on Saturday.

The nuptials capped a busy week for the couple.  Chan graduated from medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, on Monday, the day Zuckerberg turned 28. Zuckerberg’s company went public Friday, raising his wealth to a staggering $20 billion. To be precise, he is now worth $19.25 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Zucherberg and Pricilla playing with their dog ‘Beast’.

The wedding attendees went to Zuckerberg’s home believing they were attending a graduation celebration for Chan, but were happily surprised by the change of occasion. The ceremony took place in Zuckerberg’s backyard before fewer than 100 guests, including Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.  Zuckerberg designed his bride’s ring featuring “a very simple ruby. The couple was planning the wedding for months but wanted to wait until after Chan’s graduation. She is a pediatrician now. The couple met at Harvard and has been together for more than nine years. Chan is a native of Braintree, Massachusetts, and attended high school in nearby Quincy. She graduated Harvard in 2007 then taught science to fourth and fifth graders at the Harker School in San Jose for two years before starting medical school. Zuckerberg, already the world’s youngest paper billionaire, turned 28 on Monday and is reaping the rewards from an unlikely beginning in his dorm room in Harvard.

Mark turned vegetarian in 2011. Food was served family-style and included dishes from the couple’s favorite Palo Alto sushi restaurant. The couple served Burdick Chocolate “mice” for desert — they had eaten the chocolates that are in the shape of mice on their very first date..

Even after the IPO, Zuckerberg remains Facebook’s single largest shareholder, with 503.6 million shares. And he controls the company with 56 percent of its voting stock. The site, which was born in a dorm room eight years ago, has grown into a worldwide network of almost a billion people. Zuckerberg founded Facebook at Harvard in 2004.He was selected as Time’s Person of the Year in 2010, at age 26. Less than a decade later, he was ranked 14th on Forbes’ list of richest Americans, ahead of Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Zuckerberg grew up in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

“Seems hard to believe that @Facebook could be worth that much–be careful if you invest. And Mark Zuckerberg–get a pre-nup,” real estate mogul Donald Trump advised on Twitter earlier in the week.

Zuckerberg was portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg in the award-winning film The Social Network, based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich. The film also starred Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Brenda Strong, Justin Timberlake and Rashida Jones.

Facebook saving lives: organ donors signups shoots by 800%!

Proving yet again the rising power of social media to effect meaningful changes in the lives of people, a Facebook announcement on users’ ability to add an organ donation event to her timeline saw donor registration numbers shoot up overnight.

“Starting today, you can add that you’re an organ donor to your timeline, and share your story about when, where or why you decided to become a donor,” said a May 1 update posted jointly by CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Soon after the announcement, which was made as part of a tie-up between Facebook and Donate Life California registry, the institute saw online sign ups shoot by nearly 8 times.

“As of 12:30pm today, the Donate Life California registry has increased its online donor sign ups by nearly 800 percent from yesterday thanks to this mornings announcement of the partnership with Facebook! Thank you Facebook!” the California registry posted on its Facebook page.

The statement by Zuckerberg and Sandberg talked about the role Facebook played in helping survivors of Missourie’s Jopplin tornado retreive missing property and Tsunami survivors in Japan locate family and friends.

It then spoke of millions in the US and across the world waiting for organ donations for their survival, and how many of them die because the crucial donations do not materialise.

Why Indian Mainstream Meda Wants Social Media Dead

In recent times Herman Cain, an Afro-American candidate, pulled out of the race for the Republican party’s nomination for US Presidential election in 2012. Three women from his past had alleged sexual harassment by Cain which eventually forced him to abort his campaign. In contrast, Abhishek Manu Singhvi (AMS), MP and Congress spokesman, resigned on April 23 from various posts after his alleged sexual adventures were leaked through a video on the internet. That was enough for the Mainstream Media (MSM) and even PCI Chairman, Justice Katju, to start screaming for controls over the social media. The sex CD which involves AMS and a female lawyer was reportedly made by AMS’s driver and according to AMS was “fake, doctored and morphed”. How a driver went to Darbangha (Bihar) and found enough money and support and morphed a tape will remain a technological wonder for a long time. His alleged motives are “dog-bites and low pay”. Seriously, many of us may complain about our salaries but going to the extent of morphing our bosses into sex videos is taking even revenge too far.

 The case was brought to public light not by the driver or by the MSM or by the social media. It came to prominence when AMS filed a police complaint against the driver and got an injunction from the Delhi HC against airing of the CD. On what basis the HC gave the injunction is another mystery and it almost sounds like pre-screening. Naturally, people wanted to know what was on the CD and what the facts were. This is where the MSM failed as it completely blacked-out the story. The court had stayed airing of the CD and not the reporting of the story. It was then that the story spread like wildfire on Twitter, Facebook and other social media and finally parts of the CD were uploaded by some on the internet.

 In response to the public clamour for the story Rajdeep Sardesai even responded by calling them “EternalVoyeurs”. Such is his disdain for ordinary people. Rajdeep also asked why the Opposition was silent over the issue, as if they, or any political voice, should determine what the press or media should be reporting and discussing. A dead give-away.
Even so, when the cookie finally crumbled, the MSM wasn’t discussing the AMS sex incident, they were busy debating whether ‘Internet is above the courts’ (For uploading the CD against the court injunction) and some like Justice Katju andSagarika Ghose were discussing ways and means to ‘check’ the social media.
Nothing would please our MSM (and some politicians) more than to see the death of social media. It has come to challenge their monopoly, their bias, their spins, their lies, and their selective reporting. In the US the Internet media has seen the death of many newspapers and quite a few TV channels. Some 300 newspapers have died in a small country like UK. Unlike print and TV, social media requires the regular MSM and public figures to be interacting with people sensibly which is where they have failed in India. Public opinions can be suppressed in newspapers and TV but not on the social media. So while raging against the people on the social network and wanting to desperately ‘check’ them the Indian media really needs to understand the way social media works and harness it productively and profitably. Comments under the post “Media as cover-up artist for Seedy Singhvi” will reveal how even keen news-watchers were totally unaware of the AMS incident. That is how successfully the MSM blacked-out the story.
The Internet wasn’t created in India. The Internet didn’t evolve in India. None of the major social media engines were created in India. For all its other problems the US still remains a country with absolute freedom of speech. President, Pope and even religion are no exceptions to such freedoms. Books are not banned and books can be burned. Nazi group marches through Jewish localities to offend them is allowed. Protests at funerals against dead ‘gay’ soldiers, in bad taste, are allowed.Bad taste is not a crime. Therefore, for Internet and social media to thrive in the US environment wasn’t as big a challenge as it is in India. Mind you, the same laws that punish defamation or illegal activities otherwise also apply to social media in the US. It does in India too. It is just that in India free-speech is largely reserved for the powerful and the MSM. Now that the situation is changing it’s causing unease among many in the media and politics. US citizens over many years have grown used to and cherished their freedom of speech. Most of them know what to believe and what to ignore. The Indian govt and media simply doesn’t trust ordinary people to have the good judgement over issues.
Courtesy: Ravinar & Media Crooks (
If the AMS CD was uploaded on the net it was because the media didn’t discuss it. It got uploaded because people generally believed that this level of gagging by a court and black-out by MSM can only mean there is truth in the story. That a prominent lawyer like AMS would seek an injunction and instead of continuing the FIR against the alleged conspirator reach a settlement with him further reinforces the belief that the CD is neither morphed nor doctored. Apart from the frivolous discussion; “Is Internet above courts” on CNN-IBN (who else but Sagarika Ghose?) and other channels, NDTV even discussed if ‘India is going the US way’ on the media issue. Among participants on NDTV was Shoma Chaudhury, editor of Tehelka, a near-gossip tabloid, and the same tabloid that famously used call girls to do their jobs. That is enough said for morality in media.
If there is evil in the social media, it is prevalent elsewhere too, particularly in the MSM and politics. It is how we respond to it that counts. It is not easy for someone to survive in the social network by constantly peddling lies and misleading information. In Indian media it is definitely possible and sometimes it even seems they are paid for it. For those screaming about morals so much in the MSM there is an example of a prominent journalist Keith Olberman who was suspended from his channel, MSNBC, for a small but undeclared donation he made to politicians. In contrast people like Barkha Dutt are celebrated in our media despite established wrong-doings. In the US Barkha Dutt would have been permanently trashed and out of the media for good. So people like Rajdeep Sardesai would do well not to sermonise on morality, which he often does. The likes of Shoma Chaudhary, Sonia Singh (NDTV), Sagarika Ghose should also be frequently reminded of the sordid NOTW affair in UK. That tabloid is what much of Indian MSM should be compared to and not values of ‘Freedom of speech’.
In the last US presidential election Youtube was successfully used by CNN to allow ordinary people to put questions to the candidates and have them debate the issues. Many other clips from Youtube are also used by US news channels in their reports. Why Indian media cannot find productive use for social media other than promoting egos of individual journalists is simply the fear of sharing their turf. Forget harnessing social media productively, the frequency with which our news channels twist and manipulate tweets to suit their agenda actually amounts to abuse of social media by them.
The MSM perceives a loss to the social media on the issue of AMS, his sexcapade and his final resignation. This is hardly the truth. Social media did not bring AMS down. In the final scene of the movie ‘All the President’s men’ WaPo editor Ben Bradley chides Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein thus: “You know the results of the latest Gallup Poll? Half the country never even heard of the word Watergate. Nobody gives a shit”. That’s right half the US didn’t know and didn’t give a shit till Nixon finally resigned. That was despite tremendous coverage by the Washington Post and a few more newspapers. Here we are, an entire MSM blacking out the AMS story and they want the world to believe it is the evil of social media that has to be ‘checked.
Social media didn’t bring AMS down. He brought himself down with his dirty deeds, social media just showed the courage that MSM did not just as Woodward and Bernstein didn’t bring down Nixon on their own. MSM, and Justice Katju, would do well to partner social media rather than try to check it. If ever ‘Power to the people’ made sense in a democracy it is Social Media. Celebrate it!

Social Media Replacing Journalism?

Data from April 2011 Editor Survey that lists Social Media activities (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a fantastic post on Media Bistro’s blog, 10,000 WORDS by Meranda Watling.  ”Infographic:  How Social Media Wins AtBreaking News” speaks volumes of how news consumers get their breaking news and how much that has changed over the last decade.

Watling opens up by asking her readers to try and recall how they learned of the attack on Sept. 11.  She sums up by acknowledging that most people found out through television, contacted their relatives by phone, if possible, and then likely read the newspapers the next day and followed up with a weekly news magazine.  She points out, we didn’t hear of it through social media, likeFacebook or Twitter because they weren’t invented at the time.

Watling continues to discuss how major news stories spread through social media, using thekilling of Osama Bin Laden and other stories as examples.  Her article discusses the very real change that is taking place in the news industry with respect to the advancement of social media becoming one of the major sources of news for people.

Watling concludes her article with a graphic done by, that referenced a Pew Research Center study titled, “What Facebook and Twitter Mean For News.

I don’t think it comes as major surprise to those who already use social networking on regular basis.  The implications however, of social networks becoming a serious player in the news industry is something to consider carefully.  Especially, in an age of citizen journalism, when blogging and other forms of news dissemination is exploding on the frontlines of journalism.

Before you get too excited and think you can now depend on getting all of your information from sites like Facebook and Twitter, note in the graph where it states that 49.1% of people have at some point heard breaking news on social media that turned out to be false.

Ah, the new-age, old problem of citizen journalism.  Verification.  It’s wise to not believe everything you see or hear on these sites, but with a little digging, you can pretty quickly decipher the validity of the breaking news.  Watling touches on the issue of trust and verification of reporting in her blog post, but leaves it for another day.

On the website that displays this graphic, I don’t know that I would go so far as to agree with the notion that social media is replacing journalism.  I don’t think that’s the case.  I do think, the news industry is figuring out how to capitalize on social media sites, and while anyone can become a news producer these days, not everyone follows the guidelines and “rules” of traditional journalism.  So, social media is not quite there yet.  Could it be ten or twenty years from now?  I think that is a very real possibility.

The graphic below is the one produced by

(courtesy: WATCHING THE WATCHDOG & kendra75)

Media Movements: PRINT goes along with web — hand in hand and that’s not changing …!!

There has been an evolution in media and its moving towards Digital but are we witnessing a decline in print? How is Digital Media changing the face of publishing?What would be your pick, print vs web?

–Bhuvaneshwari Joshi, Ideator, Media Movements, Facebook group page.


A very interesting & academic  interaction is initiated by Bhuvaneshwari Joshi, a champion of Mumbai Indians and a creative mind, on the prospects of print and the digital media and that in coming years which of the two will gain more prominence amongst all age groups and media at large. Media Movement is a platform for the latest development in media industry of and for media professionals.

Several experts have expressed their reservations about the future of print and its survival in a decade or so. However, strong sentiments have been aired in favour of print media’s dominance over the digital platform with a light comments by Priyanka Joshi, learned journalist:

😀 and besides all this gyaan, newspapers will always be needed to wrap things, line our cupboard, shelves, used in packing glassware while moving houses etc etc

She strongly advocates print media by saying:

(I am) not talking of campigns/marketing stuff…(but) talking of news where TOP CEOs air their comments. My point is that for newsmakers/newssellers/newsagents written word or the print/TVmedia brand holds more weightage than websites. Will Nita Ambani will give an interview to a WEB only publication? Will Vedanta share its EXCLUSIVE expansion plans with a WEB only desi journo first? …will their communication team allow a WEBSITE to break the news or choose front page of a leading daily?

Joshi narrates an incident when a leading telecom’s communication person called her for a follow up and she told her they we will release the copy on WEB and her voice went to the saddest pitch, begging her to “ATLEAST FILE A SNIP IN PAPER” — what does that tells you, she asks. Besides, she adds (when countered by a group member about the prominence of digital platform),

Wanna guess how much money any news website makes today? It’s not abt ad formats, or company that owns it … what content will your website run if you dont invest in reporters+big news thats not copied from wires, plus website ad are the cheapest ads selling for few hundreds of rupees today. you think you can pay a journo and maintain a website, plus make profits from this?

Digital reading is BIG and will continue to evolve — BUT MEDIA HOUSES NEED TO MAKE MONEY FROM DIGITAL first! No apps (since all are free and no one wants to pay for digital content) and no ORIGINAL NEWS website is making money in India … a few B2B websites might but not B2C sites. Go meet a few website owners who produce original content and then come back to discuss the potential.

I am yet to come across a company (even the smallest digital business/ .com owner that I meet) who doesn’t want publicity on the hard copy and would be happy to see his story only on out website.

Value of print media, (it is argued) is declining, and I AGREE but for corporate India written word + brand of media house is still the primary reason for sharing news. For PRs, getting publicity in leading newspapers and magazines (International and national) is considered as performance. For Digital news medium to succeed, someone has to figure out a way to make money first.

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It is the (corporate) client (who is the main entity paying money here to PR companies) has to evolve (in favour of digital platform) and that’s NOT happening even for the digital business like ecom sites. They dont want JUST web publicity, they want the works in print, plus their colourful profiles in mags & B2B magazines etc etc.

Even gigantic search engines like Google & Yahoo have not surpassed the print format, she says adding:

GOOGLE is not a news generator … it is an aggregator. Even google needs news/data/content from some place … and that place is content producers like MEDIA HOUSES … I am a tech writer and I know how Google makes moneyand sites earn money from google.


Priyanka Joshi rests her arguments in favour of print:

PRINT goes along with web — hand in hand and that’s not changing …

Chaitanya Tapase, a group member who also works for a publishing (print) house holds quite a contrary viewpoint on this issue. He confidently believes that print platform will cease to exits as the world goes digital. According to him:

 the entire concept of print might become irrelevant if we keep moving towards a digital age. the shutdown of Britannica Encyclopedia can be viewed as just the beginning of an end. if everything is completely digital, there would be no room for print anymore. We’ll also save a lot of trees, needless to say – by NOT printing so much paper!  they (Indian corporate world) haven’t realized the potential of (digital media) at the moment. Apple came up with the iAd’s concept – and it has worked wonders for them. Currently Apple is worth more than ALL European banks put together. You wanna guess how much revenue Apple made only from iAds? 😉

News websites can make millions – same as that of print.. and that is simply by putting up banners. Google AD Works wud never have been so successful if that concept didnt work. Heck, Google itself wudnt have been successful! Half of their revenues are simply on AD’s ! And their owners have their own private jet planes and landing strip. I’m sure the owners of HT and Indian Express don’t 😉

The ONLY reason why digital media is not succeeding (in India, at least) is because of the lack of penetration of proper broadband and high rates of 3G services. Once that is levelled, there is NO way that print will be able to match with the digital medium. Making money shud not be a problem, if Google has made BILLIONS just by placing clever ads here n there -ALL media houses ( in India) can. Oh, and just to put things in perspective – I work for a PRINT Media House. So, it’s not that I have any agenda I want to push. It’s just my honest opinion. People who have worked in Technology, know about it from the inside, will undoubtedly agree. 🙂

If media houses shut down print and JUST utilize digital medium, u think that will not be enough to make revenue? The same ‘concept’ that Google uses can be used for revenue generation- the same journos n editors can work n write for the digital medium right? Do they ONLY need to write for print? That’s absurd.

Print business is working becoz wealthy companies are willing to ‘buy’ estate in the pages to advertise. It could be a soap or a plane, doesn’t matter. But – when u really weigh the pros n cons about digital vs print – there is no doubt which one will be the future of it. The only question will be affordability, but with devices like Akash Tablet (no no I’m serious about it!) – we might just see a change in the way we get news, share news (oh thts something u cant do with print instantly, either) and store news for later reading. Period on that too.

I think you (favoring print) might be comparing a TOI (in print) over a website like Yahoo. But what if TOI itself moved over to the web? And when we say digital, it also includes apps on your smartphones, right? the TOI app is more used and viewed than your print medium, esp in affluent Indian society. When the rest of India catches up – print is history!

Ideator of Media Movement Bhuvaneshwari Joshi without adding her own viewpoint, but referring to many experts and opinions on this subjects encourages the interaction on this subject raised by her:

 As per the recent Pew (Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism) study: “Among all adults, newspapers were cited as the most relied-upon source or tied for most relied upon for crime, taxes, local government activities, schools, local politics, local jobs, community/ neighborhood events, arts events, zoning information, local social services and real estate/housing.

One constant in all of this change has been that high-quality journalism flourishes even in the worst of times. The most encouraging words from the Pew report, in a summary by Amy Mitchell and Tom Rosenstiel, are that we continue to look to traditional news outlets — and locally, newspapers — for the information we need about how our communities are operating and to keep a watchful eye on government. (Read more here:

Bhuvaneshwari also cites another example (an article by  in CNET) of print being dominant on digital:

It’s still a print world
Not only are publishers’ margins better on higher-priced print books, but when bookstores close it has enormous ramifications for the industry. When Borders went bankrupt, for instance, Penguin Group was its single largest creditor, with $41.1 million outstanding.

And even aside from financial considerations, publishers’ entire reason for existence is bound up in print. The major publishers are, quite simply, the best companies in the world at getting print books from authors to readers. Most of the tools at their disposal for making a book a hit are tied to a print world, from buying front-of-the-bookstore placement (yes, publishers pay for that) to book tours.

As the exponential growth of e-books has slowed, some publishers are even whispering their hopes that perhaps the rate of e-book adoption will slow further and print will be viable well into the future. (read more :

Aminah Sheikh , staff writer at MINT, another print journalist from a national print media believes that if everything goes digital (especially news than)  “news becomes the privilege of the rich” only! She adds:
1) new media doesn’t make for our (journos) salaries YET !! 2) Print will always stay, not just cos the first thing one picks up is a newspaper for the transition (being illiterate to literate), BUT also cos consumption patters are changing (as we all know!). Having said that, for fast quick news updates one seeks new media. BUT news analysis still go with newspapers/magazines. The very basic, fundamental point is – LARGE part of our population can’t afford buying a computer, forget bout the other new media mediums. so thereforeeeee PRINT lives on !!
New Delhi based, Khwahish Varma, who is conversant with English, Hindi & German Print Media says :
(print) will stay on forever…Just like 24×7 News channels could not Stop newspaper from declining so in the same way , online news mediums wont be able to stop the march of PRINT MEDIA…..Social Media Sites like Facebook and Twitter have become important source of information but still the newspaper have that unique charm left which makes u hooked towards newspapers:):)
Champ Alreja Founder Director of disagrees  with the advocacy in favour of print medium. He confidently says:
Definitely, over the next decade, print will be only in interactive forms. Ads could be 3D, Paper Art, Better use of QR, simpler, more call to action. And, for sure they won’t be mainstream media anymore. Neither will companies won’t spend on print unless they can measure a clear direct RoI.

Sandepudi RambabuShalini SinghTripurari Nath Tiwari , Hitesh Motwani , Utpal SaikiaNaresh Bhalla , Ankit TutejaGautam MahtaniNaina SharmaPromita Mukherjee , Deepansh AgarwalKunal Anand , Sumit GhoshPrasoon Kumar GhoshNavneet Anand,Shubhendu NathTanni Mandal  &  Sulekha Wani are some of the group members also the C-suite dignitaries, Bloggers, Feature Editors of print media and Founder of India’s ‘healthiest’ PR houses who expressed their to/for or balanced views on this issue.

 Nevertheless, the Ideator of Media Movement doesn’t wish to curtail this interaction, hence after regular intervals (does a King Khan –  ‘picture abhi baki hein, mere dost’.. &), she pokes them all by posting on the groups wall :

This discussion is still in progress.

Media folks can join the discussion by joining the group “Media Movement”
 (courtesy: Media Movements & Bhuvaneshwari Joshi)

The India Social Summit 2012 – journalism is social ? tweet in 140 words !?!

A print journo @ India Social

It’s THE media… or medium, depending upon how you look at it. It’s the future, though statistics assure me that it is not the only present. I can breathe a sigh of relief. Being a journalist who loves the print medium more than online (there… I’ve said it!), it was reassuring when it was collectively agreed upon by the experts of the New and Social Media domain in India, that print and long-form writing is not dead (yet… but then that’s a distant yet). I currently do not have to look at a career change. Yay!

It’s not easy being part of the cusp generation that has grown up having seen the old-world print-centric journalism and is currently living among the New Age Twitter-savvy, information super-highway kids. My heart is in print, while it’s expected to be connected online. Especially so, if one is cooped up for two straight days in two rooms filled with mostly (and ironically) middle-aged media experts and amateurs who’re discussing the all-important future of media and this ubiquitous phenomenon, or even parallel universe if you please, that is social media.

The India Social Summit 2012 in New Delhi was a conclave of people who live simultaneously in the virtual world. It’s the kind of place one would imagine a Marshall McLuhan or a Claude Shannon or a Warren Weaver, had they been alive today, sitting around much-less-fancier tables discussing the “hows” and “whys” of (social) communication media and methodology. Akin to most of those present—in the audience or part of the panel—they too probably wouldn’t have known where this Social Media was headed, how would it impact our lives—and by that virtue, the world—but they would have all agreed in unison that this proverbial change is definitely looming large… Honestly, put it in that perspective and one suddenly feels all important! I might have been in the presence of greatness!

The questions, though, remain…in an economy-driven world, how do we monetize this social media? And, in a more sotto voce kind of a way, how do we manipulate people to our benefit?

Although the first question was raised over and over again, just one (whom I managed to hear) actually went ahead and called out the elephant in the room by referring to the latter.  The always-entertaining-yet-thought-provoking chief belief officer of the Future Group, Devdutt Pattanaik, went out and said it in a non-sugar-coated fashion: “Communication is manipulation”.

Yes, indeed. No matter how many times everyone spoke about “being relevant”, “reaching out”, “engaging”, “conversing” with one’s audience/followers/fans, the bottom line was—how do I “manipulate” them to choose me over everyone else?! And, as a corollary, how do I make money out of that?

So, quite unsurprisingly, the second-popular buzzword (phrase?) at the summit just had to be ROI. Return on Investment. “I know I have to put in money in this Thing. I know I can’t ignore it. But what do I get in return and how soon?” Commerce. Monetization. Simple.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s the way the world works. The interesting thing, though, was that after three days (of which I attended two) of intensive brainstorming by media experts, I don’t think anyone had quite figured out the answers to those questions. No one could say WHY Kolavari di had gone viral. No one could figure out HOW one Aakar Patel column could make four out of 10 words trend in India. No one could stand up and confidently say THIS IS HOW it’s to be done. No one knew WHERE this phenomenon called social (as the medium is called by the “cool” people) was headed. And every time anyone mentioned a social campaign or idea that they’d tried, the almost immediate question was: Have you monetized? If the answer was a rare yes, those around would just have this look of concealed envy as they mentally debated whether it would be inelegant to ask “how?”, or in the case of a more Proletarian “no”, everyone would just slowly drift away seeking those answers elsewhere.

So, as a print journalist who had recently been introduced to this strange, intangible world, I tried desperately hard to crack this formula of how to make the “relevant” people “listen” (one’s editor did, after all, mention making it a criterion in the appraisal system of our integrated newsroom!). As I cluelessly wandered around a world where referring to each other by one’s Twitter handles rather than by one’s real-world name was more natural, trying to absorb everything that came my way, and live-tweeting (I actually went as far as downloading the Twitter app just for this) the event, at the end I still walked away with a general feeling reminiscent of Isaac Asimov’s Multivac: Insufficient data for meaningful answer.

Having said that, there were still quite a few quotable takeaways from the event. Here are a few:

First, some good laughs:

  • It used to be “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours”. Now it’s “You like my Facebook page, and I’ll like yours”. — Rohan Jha, Sony Music
  • Narad ke bina marketing nai kar sakte (Without the spirit of Narad, it’s hard to capture the essence of marketing). — Devdutt Pattanaik, Future Group
  • Shopping malls exist to give us aukat (significance)…it’s a social service industry. — Devdutt Pattanaik
  • Tata Nano…it’s the cheapest car for the poor people. I don’t earn money to be poor. Rs1 lakh to buy poverty!? — Devdutt Pattanaik

On a serious note:

  • Social media is almost like “The Opium” that makes you forget the crushing isolation of contemporary India. —Anisha Motwani, Max New York Life
  • For a person engaging through social media, escaping and seeking cushion behind false identities gives a sense of empowerment to share his enlightened opinion to the world.
  • 4Cs model for effective scale up in social media: content, conversations, community, commerce.
  • You are not alone: A live event is a virtual stadium. — Sanjay Mehta, joint CEO, Social Wavelength
  • No one can predict what will go viral, virality is relative. — Rohan Jha, Sony Music
  • What works (in the social space)? Content that is honest, unexpected, original. — Rohan Jha
  • Sponsored tweets are yet another form of advertising. — Samir Pitalwalla, Disney
  • Communication is manipulation. — Devdutt Pattanaik
  • The journey from I don’t care to I do care is what’s the story today. — Shivnath Thukral, Essar
  • The future of reputation is all about listening and then engaging. — Shivnath Thukral
  • If in social media you’re unidentifiable, unapproachable, unsociable, then why are you on social media at all? — Shivnath Thukral
  • It’s not about how many people “like” your page. It’s about the FP (followers vs people who talk about you) ratio. An FP ratio of 0.03-0.05 is average, need to do better; 0.06-0.08 is decent, can do better; 0.09-0.3 mean you’ve done a good job; and if it’s 0.4 and above, I’d be interested in the brand! — Arun Nair, Mahindra Holidays
  • A “like” is an opportunity. — Karthik Nagarajan, Group M
  • If your idea’s good, people will share it. — Sandip Maiti, Experience Commerce
  • Internet blurs the lines between amateurs and professionals in content dissemination. — Gautam K. John, Akshara Foundation
  • There is democartization of content, and we have to reintegrate (strategy) according to that. — Madhavan Narayanan, Hindustan Times
  • Content is king, but Attention will be empress. — Madhavan Narayanan
  • A brand is really a brand, an inanimate object, until enough people start caring about it. — Gitanjali Sriram, Naked Communications Media
  • (In the social space) invite interaction. Allow people to share control. Be brave! — Gitanjali Sriram
  • Over time, media will be driven by technology and not by content…(which is) the biggest casualty of all this. — Suhel Seth, Counselage India
  • Social Media is actually a chamber of hollow echoes. — Santosh Desai, Future Brands
  • Social media amplifies and accentuates what traditional media puts out. — Santosh Desai