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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Trivialities zindabad

Let me post an observation about a subject that I normally shy away from: media triviality.

Every now and then an editor gets up at seminars and public meetings to tell everyone of the "meaningful" social interventions his publication is making. They will tell you how distasteful politics has become, how public life is an ego game of the netas and how the "real" issues are being unaddressed.

There were two developments in the election campaign that I thought was significant.

First, the BJP released a well-researched policy documented on its policy on Information Technology (see It raised many important questions on digital sovereignty and the use of "open standards" software.

Imagine my utter surprise on discovering that this thoughtful intervention was by and large ignored by the mainstream media, with an odd exception or two. The only aspect of the launch the media found interesting was the fact that Arun Jaitley arrived 30 minutes late.

Two days later the CPI(M) released its election manifesto. I am no fan of the CPI(M) but it is the most important party of the Left and runs state governments in three states. I expected the media to dissect its approach to the economic crisis and its perceptions on foreign policy in a post-Obama world.

Once again I was disappointed. Most publications dismissed the election manifesto in a few paragraphs.

The media laments the absence of ideas in politics. When political parties focus on policy, their interventions are blacked out. It is time media professionals stop being so utterly sanctimonious about politicians. They too are part of the problem of an imperfect democracy.


NK said...

Dear Mr. Dasgupta, what a pleasure it is to discover your blog! I consider you to be one of the best Indian columnists. I read all of your blog entries today and was kinda disappointed that you don't update your blog too frequently. Your blog entry, How flattering, is weird. Though Ram Guha is your friend, I consider him to be a pseudo-intellectual. It is sad to see that you are tagged along with that guy. I regularly read your columns online in The Pioneer and TOI(let). I hope you can write freely in your blog without having to worry about whether the particular content would pass the 'secular' test of MSM.

Coming to your current entry, I just do not understand why doesn't some BJP sympathizing fat cat start his own TV channel or take control of NDTV or IBN etc in a hostile takeover bid. There is a huge market for a right-of-center 24/7 English/Hindi news channel. Someone can become a billionaire easily. The lies and propagandu of MSM has to be nailed. The sooner, the better it is for BJP and for my forward looking & progressive friends, who are honest but do not have the time and patience to research a news and get to the bottom of it.

venkatesh said...

Mr Dasgupta,

Valid point. The blogosphere has been very active in analysing it though. It looks ambitious but great thoughts. The BJP has dont a great job of communicating directly with its contituents at least with those who have access to internet.

Swapanda, you are a few of the select journalists who is still unbiased. You may be a BJP supporter, but I have seen you criticize the party as well. Why dont you start a TV channel. I had made the suggestion yesterday as well. It may be something that will be a lot more profitable than writing and more importantly you will be able to influence the quality of the media. Cmon Swapan Da we deserve a better media.

Saurav Bhasin said...

who cares about the Media?. Does Mayawati who is currently by numbers the most popular politician in India even give a single interview to Media?.

Electronic Media has an impact in western countries where it has a penetration rate of more than 100%. Elections in the western countries are won and lost by Television channels.

In India, Electronic Media has a penetration of only 10% and 90% of it is in Urban Media.

A rural Indian worries about his ground situation. If he is able to repay the loan before he grows his next crop!. If he is able to get a Borewell close to his small area of land.

He hardly cares what Rajdeep sardesai or Barkha dutt say!