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Mixed Media: Exposé time for print (& Did news journos get taken in by IPL glamour, missing out on facts staring in their face?)

27-April-2010
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Mixed Media: Exposé time for print (& Did news journos get taken in by IPL glamour, missing out on facts staring in their face?)

It’s been a glorious week for Indian media. Glorious, because there has been much action across the country, and the media – especially print – has come back with a bang. For a while now, breaking news of national importance has ceased to be the constituency of newspapers.

An Indian Express does come up with some super reportage, but its readership (or even circulation numbers) is abysmally low to create a larger impact among the people of the country. However, it’s been at it, and in the corridors of power in New Delhi, it’s decidedly the first read. As it has always been.

Over the last few months, microblogging site Twitter has become the essential source for all journalists. Most film and glamour stars are on it, and they report their every movement – from waking up, going to the gym, the food they eat and going to bed. It hasn’t come down to the juicy bits yet, but don’t be surprised if some of it is strategically revealed before an all-important film release.

When the Lalit Modi affair got murky, even the otherwise soft Economic Times talked tough in its hatchets on Modi. Most of the info was obviously sourced from enforcement agencies and government sources, but that’s no rocket science: these are the people who regularly leak such information.

I was particularly happy to see the Outlook’s expose on phone-tapping rocking Parliament. While there is an urgent need for print media vehicles to be future-ready and re-engineer themselves, there is nothing to beat a done-to-detail print report. Given the way news television has fashioned itself, one can’t really expect the indepth investigations in short and snappy bulletins.

In many ways, the entire dumbing down of news started in print, and when a leading member from the frat was so successful with it, everyone followed suit. There was an interesting comment in this leading member’s pages last week, titled ‘In Bad Taste’. Some of the points made are valid, though I was quite surprised to note the edit say: “Surely, such copy is meant to titillate, rather than inform or educate. Commentary that’s about offering up scapegoats or kicking people when they’re down isn’t just in bad taste, it detracts from the main issue: finding the source of the problem and fixing it.” There are some references made to a few headlines, which a simple Google search would reveal the source.

Hmmm. It’s interesting to see a paper that screamed ‘60 & Getting Sexier’ when the country celebrated 60 years of independence pontificate on smart headlines. A bit much?

There has been much debate amongst journalists about how the news media missed exposing Lalit Modi, quite like how it didn’t see the real person behind a Ramalinga Raju of Satyam.

For one, it would be incorrect to compare Modi’s IPL doings with those of Raju. Not yet. However, I would think all of us in the media knew of most of his linkages with the teams. The problem is that barring a few, most in the news media were so awestruck by the unique combo of Bollywood, corporate and cricketing star power, that they simply didn’t think there could be any wrong with the IPL, even though as we look at some of the info that’s being reported, a lot of it was staring in our face.

I refuse to believe that it’s got anything to do with the huge advertising monies flowing into the coffers. Hardnosed journos don’t quite care a fig about where their sales and business folk are making money from. I think it’s just a case of media (and everyone around) getting taken in by all the shor-sharaabaa.

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