The power-packed second session of NewsNext 2010 featured eminent panelists like Dev Amritesh, Senior Vice President – Marketing, Dominos India; Nandini Dias, COO, Lodestar UM; Barkha Dutt, Group Editor, NDTV; and Shazi Zaman, Editor, MCCS, come together and talk about reality of news content versus its perception. The session was moderated by Jehangir Pocha, Co-Promoter, NewsX.
Pocha commenced the session by noting that the news channels were getting collective as all of them were aired through the same medium.
Barkha Dutt noted that there was a lot of channel bashing that was happening nowadays and there were two ways of looking at it. She stressed on the need to separate reality from perception as TV news was a naked and real time medium and split second decisions need to be taken. “Any slip of the tongue or error gets caught immediately, and errors do happen. It is like living under a microscope,” she pointed out.
Dutt further said, “But TV reporting has its pros too, and the biggest one is that it has a far greater impact than any other medium.” According to her, good TV professionals learnt three things that made for great news pieces for the channels. Firstly, if they were government or policy related, then they had to be covered as they affected the viewers’ lives. Secondly, great pictures, because television was a medium that was all about visual and that was what set it apart from other mediums. And lastly and most importantly, making a connect with the viewers.
Pocha seconded this thought and said that he had never come across a story in the newspapers that had not been sub-edited by at least three to four people. Here Shazi Zaman noted that distinction needed to be made on what was good for the people or of interest to the people (‘jan hit’ vis-à-vis ‘jan ruchi’). According to him, everything was ‘front page’ in television and hence was visible prominently.”
Meanwhile, speaking about sponsors, Nandini Dias pointed out that media channels did not see news channels with the same perspective, but saw each channel as a distinct brand. “I don’t think advertisers pay attention to credibility. They just see the numbers,” she said. Dias continued that for a company to have the best recall value on a channel, it must have at least 25 top spots on that channel. People, according to her, did not necessarily make a connect between a programme and its sponsors. But this was not the case for title sponsors as they were like owners of the brand or the programme.
Making his observation, Dev Amritesh asked, “Whose perception are we talking about? Whose reality are we talking about?” He stressed that there was need to look at the whole business from a consumer angle. He then went on to talk about a ‘fail safe system’ and a ‘safe fail system’. Amritesh further said consumers saw a brand across genres and found no association between programmes and their sponsors.
Reiterating what India TV’s Rajat Sharma had mentioned in the opening session, Pocha observed that there was a general lack of talent in the lower tiers. “There are no schools or institutes that offer formal training and education in reporting,” he said. Pocha added, “We are a growing nation and the rate of growth is phenomenal, but I cannot understand why the standard of expectations for the news industry are so disproportionate.”
Zaman concluded the session by saying that people and viewers of the news channels felt that they themselves were a part of it. They felt as if they owned it somehow. And in life, one criticised and analysed what he or she believed to be his or her own.
(exchange4media.com will carry more news on the NewsNext 2010 sessions tomorrow, September 3, 2010, as well. Do log in.)