Monday, July 9, 2012

The Union Of Snakes


Listen carefully: “..And when the twelfth largest company in the world controls the most awesome, god-damn propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth on this network…  So, you listen to me. Listen to me! Television is not the truth. Television's a god-damned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We're in the boredom-killing business. So if you want the Truth, go to God! Go to your gurus. Go to yourselves! Because that's the only place you're ever gonna find any real truth. But, man, you're never gonna get any truth from us… We deal in illusions, man. None of it is true! But you people sit there day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds. We're all you know. You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning to think that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you. You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube. You even think like the tube. This is mass madness. You maniacs! In God's name, you people are the real thing. We are the illusion”. Those are confessions and rants of a has-been but reincarnated TV anchor to his live audience. *

The Union of Snakes
Somewhere in a corner of Delhi is a building that houses a union. It’s called the Editors Guild of India. As far as I know, it doesn’t have any website or any information for the public. Once in a while the members meet, have coffee and lunch, and confess their sins and then go back to their regular world of creating illusions. You see, habits have a very strong gravitational pull about them. So they met again on July 6, 2012 to confess their sins and seek redemption. Speakers were editors who were wondering how to address various challenges to the media including paid news. I must make a small correction here. What they are referring to is the ‘news media’ and not any other form of media. Hmm! That’s like snakes in a pit discussing how their oil can be better refined for their snake-oil distributors. So let’s sample a few:

Shekhar Gupta: Anchors in the electronic media on the manner in which they have gone from "becoming inquisitors, have now become judges and executioners". He then cited reporting on the Adarsh as an example of how little the editors cared to cross-check facts which led to "a mythology being built…. senior journalists were embracing the government" and "speaking for the government". Ah well, there is no better mythology in recent history than SG’s Raisina Hill army concoction, a stale one too. It’s revolting to listen to a man who embraces the govt more than any other and whose paper survives on ad doles by the govt. He urged members not be "seduced by the government" by accepting RS nominations or becoming part of any govt panel.That sounds like Moses himself talking doesn’t it? With what moral authority does the man speak? I believe journalists should not only decline RS nominations but not accept any govt awards like the Padma during their active careers. Shekhar is guilty of that too. Forget accepting awards and nominations from govt. the media snakes actually dole out awards to politicians and ministers, the ones whom they are supposed to keep a watch on. How can the watchdogs be rewarding potential crooks? And still claim objectivity and fairness in reporting is their motive or goal?

Here’s another gem from SG: "Indian journos are, afraid of their shadows, waiting for regulation". Simple fact is, no amount of regulation can ever be a substitute for the conscience of an editor or a reporter. Self-regulation is the mythical nonsense that these snakes offer as substitute while selling their soul to the devil at every opportunity. Rajdeep Sardesai, another of those editors, quotes SG: “journalists’ downfall is being caused by arrogance, greed and incompetence”. I wonder which part of that quote doesn’t apply to Shekhar or for that matter any other editor. If Rajdeep really understands that quote he should be looking at Sagarika Ghose on his own channel – arrogance and incompetence personified. In response to being scoffed at for his Raisina Hill blunder Shekhar and his team filed a 500 crore defamation suit against others. And talk about bad timing. SG makes this statement when veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar in his autobiography reveals about him: “He had become arrogant and abnormally affluent”. Abnormally affluent? Shekhar must feel like a schoolboy bunking classes after that remark.

Raghav Bahl, Network 18, said the media needs to regulate the content by itself and does not need "content filters", and criticized the way the media was "purveying virtually by rote half-understood government language. "Government is god, is the stance journalists are taking and end up magnifying what is a wrong hand-out by the government department" he said, putting the CAG report "in that category". Really? Talk about clever trickery by Bahl. Of all the govt departments, the one department that still retains a high level of integrity and trust by people is the CAG. The reason why Bahl cites the CAG report as a “hand-out” is because his channels somehow did not manage to prove the charges in the 2G scam were inaccurate and couldn’t be dumped by Rajdeep & Co. This is as third-rate a snake-oil sales pitch as you’ll ever get in a union meet. And as the rant in the opening paragraph indicates; a giant investment by a corporate giant is the best form of content filter that Raghav Bahl would endorse. Time will tell how Bahl’s media outlets will report on this corporate giant. 

Raghav Bahl? That's a laugh. Like politicians, media barons too think people have short memories. Here's an extract from Girish Nikam, which till date remains a mystery that Bahl has never answered:

What does Raghav Behl, the MD of TV 18(CNBC TV 18 and CNN-IBN), have to say about Manoj Modi (right hand man of Mukesh Ambani) claiming (on June 10,2009) in his conversation with Niira Radia that he told(threatened) him(Raghav) “your organisation is corrupt…. Even factual stories you don’t print about ADAG and you will work for us. I want to know who is the source, Mukesh(Ambani) ko personally attack karega toh main manoj modi hoon, chodega nahin kisiko.——-Raghav said in order to put pressure on me(Raghav himself)— send me(raghav) a legal notice”...... Did Raghav Behl ask Modi to send him a legal notice? If not true, did Raghav Behl get a letter from Modi, making such threats, as Modi claims in this tape and repeatedly asks Niira Radia not to disclose about it to anyone?
In one of the conversations(on June 13,2009) .......Niira Radia remarks that “Sebi investigations is on against Siddharth(Zarabi, Economic Policy Editor, CNBC TV 18), Udayan(mukherjee, anchor and MD CNBC TV 18)....they are getting their wives involved in the (stock) market), and the SEBI investigation is on”. She also goes on to say that Udayan Mukherjee “files the highest tax returns among journalists…… he pays Rs.6 crore as income tax, and he doesn’t even earn that much”. Now what has Raghav Behl and his colleagues named here done about these obviously serious charges? Is what she is saying true? If not what action are they contemplating or have taken? So much for Raghav Bahl's self-regulation.

After a lot of motherly talk about propriety, not pandering to govt, govt is not God and not eating hand-outs from govt, who do they invite? Well, they invite a minister Salman Khurshid and Opposition leader Ravishankar Prasad. Khurshid, the man known best for his smooth double talk! Inclusive growth and sustainable development are the two most abused terms in the 21st century by govts all over the world. So the minister, fond of quotas in every other domain, called for an "inclusive, collective approach" while debating on the criminal aspect of defamation. There you go: “Inclusive”! He said civil suits in defamation could be effective in dealing with the criminal element of defamation. Hmm! Let me interpret that for you. Whenever our current govt mentions ‘defamation’ it mostly refers to offensive material about the Gandhis or cartoons about the Nehru-Gandhi clan. Bad taste and offensive content may not be healthy but they’re certainly not criminal and most content that Khurshid, Sibal & Co. want to filter won’t exactly amount to defamation in a court of law. But he hopes the Union would get the hint. That’s another verbal hand-out that has passed over Raghav Bahl’s head I suppose.  

Do these snakes have the guts to face the real issues instead of spurious issues like regulation? Here are some important observations by Ajit Mohan: “The Rotten State of India’s Media”, in the WSJ December 2, 2011. Excerpts (Emphasis mine):

What is broken about the news media in India is self-evident on the front pages of the dailies in the mornings and on the nightly news on television in the evenings… Frighteningly, the situation is even worse on television channels. Most news channels just do not do reporting anymore. What counts for reporting is usually a small snippet of a roving ‘journalist’ talking to a few randomly chosen individuals on the streets of Delhi and Mumbai for their take on the big controversy of the day. This then segues to what has become the preferred format of all channels: a panel of six to eight ‘experts’, usually spokesmen of major political parties mixed with out-of-work politicians, newspaper and magazine editors, and the day’s representation from the roving celebrity class of lobbyist-PR agent-commentators (whose reason to be on the panel is never quite clear), ranting at each other while struggling to have their screeching voices heard above the incessant screaming of the anchor. All this while the viewer struggles to keep up with the multiple, disjointed layers of scrolling headlines perennially sliding on the screen below the screamers…

So, how did we get here? For a start, the crisis in Indian media does lend credence to the emerging wisdom around the world that objective and independent journalism can only thrive in a non-profit environment, perhaps with the benevolent support of wealthy trusts and individuals. Most major newspapers and television channels in the country are owned by for-profit corporations that understandably have an emphasis on the bottom-line. These organizations invariably have other business interests and relationships that may make objective journalism within their newspapers and channels difficult and inconvenient. Many media outlets are disproportionately reliant on their advertisers – a recent analyst report estimated that nearly 75% of print revenue in India comes from advertising – thus, the temptation always exists to pander to them, especially when these advertisers are the subjects of the reporting. The temptation must also exist to punish those advertisers who choose competing outlets. This drift towards seeking easy ways to pander to audiences and advertisers is exacerbated by the culture of incestuous self-serving relationships.

Go fix that!

I can go and on but I think the ‘real us’ get the message from the snakes every single day. The days of straight and honest reporting have long been buried in every news channel and newspaper. Honest reporters would be an oddity these days. Still, the last thing one wants is any govt intervention or regulation of the news media. It will take another huge Radiagate or a monumental scandal of the media to break to really see any true reforms. Till then the union of snakes will keep peddling snake-oil through their distributors and networks. As the anchor rants “We are the illusion”!

*Excerpts from the speech “We are the illusion” by Howard Beale from the movie “Network”
Quotes in this post are from NYDailyNews and FirstPost.
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11 comments :

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. The movie Network of '76 is very relevant for the states of current Indian media. At least, now people are beginning to see the true face of media. When the internet & social media gaining strength with each passing day, media guys have to discover new and new covers.

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  3. Where do you find this ability to pick wonderful simile 's - This blogsite can complement Wren and Martin - as a good place for examples for every single figure of speech (Honestly)
    How can the watchdogs be rewarding potential crooks? Wah! Mutual Scratchback understanding. Padma Award for you, Some media driven "TGI" kind of award for you

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  4. Quite perfect is the salutation **Union of Snakes** - is the Media indeed! A perspective par excellence. Media is a warehouse of all the unsorted stuff that comes flying out from a dustbin upset in a high wind. Nothing else.

    They are unwanted. They are wasteful. They are paid. They are canards. They are corrupt. They are socio-political criminals.

    Yet they are pretentious of their pseudo-secular-wine drinking-upper middle class belonging - a sort of status they have bestowed upon themselves - for the decomposition of morals, ethics, culture, politics and everything that is genuine. Period.

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  5. God you are too good! Keep up such wonderful writing. As Suresh mentioned how on earth do you manage to pick the right movie or a book extract ! May your tribe increase and flow to the MSM!

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  6. Hey Ravi, what a brilliant writing again!

    It shows your keen observation on MSM and their dirty game to keep their abusive, arrogant and incompetent “Opera House” running. Please keep it up your writing. It will be inspirational to others in the future.

    I kindly request you, if you could write at some point about
    How individual can register their protest in the future IF he/she thinks that content on media is biased and hearting national sentiment? Please *outline some strategy* in your blog to handle these irresponsible journo.

    Great News:
    Due to increase pressure and significant patriots presence on social media:

    1. Recently, a blogger called “offstumped” has removed some of his blog contents. He was involved in malign practice and directly attacking on a leader like Dr Subramanian Swamy who is inspiration icon for many youths and patriots.
    But, due to Patriots protest and quick response, the blogger has learned a great lesson and edited his blog. However, he wasn’t courageous enough to APOLOGISE which is really a shame! I do feel pity for him. (Source: http://blog.offstumped.in/2012/07/07/internet-hindus-troll-wars-swamification-and-viratry/)

    2. Also, regarding ABPNews “Namayana” case, similar history has been repeated. Later, ABPNews has sent out a personal apology to each individual who has protest via email.

    Many thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Very True, True Seeker. As much as we tend to blame the #PaidMedia or #MSM, we have bloggers like Offstumped et al, who do exactly what #MSM do. Intolerance, biased opinions (as against facts). The agument is that blog is their personal space but let them position it that way - not as a general opinion of enthusiasts like us.
      And removing an offensive part, with not so much of a whiff of remorse makes such people less credible. Problem is these kind of Masqueraded Media Watchers, who bring to nought otherwise exceptionally good work that is done by Ravi (Mediacrooks). The MSM just need to quote such blogs to dismiss this work.

      Mind you, Mediacrooks was the first person who took the first potshot at that Kiddish attempt to Malign Dr Swamy by Offstumped. And another Mutual Scratchback blogsite lent space for an otherwise out of place blog. So he was ethically arm twisted into that removal.

      Breathe of fresh air and honesty and accuracy with due diligence is what makes Mediacrooks.com a Multiple times a day fixture in my schedule. Everything is played with straight bat, Chinaman, google, left arm, right arm and even under arm bowling is fended here with a straight bat. No veiled reference or cross bats. My Respects for this wonderful effort

      Delete
    2. Thanks Suresh for such a wonderful reply.

      I completely agree with you regarding all mentioned points. AND

      I do hope, you and Ravi will keep continue your smart work with all other patriots to “eliminate every possibility of their malign propaganda.” And, please be sure the day is not too far when all abuser and arrogant media will see Tihar.

      Thanks again for your reply.

      With love n warm regards

      Delete
  7. Wonderful Analysis.. The flow is characteristic of the undercurrent of bias

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  8. Did Raghav Behl really say that about the CAG? CAG is govt for him? What bull!. Hmm, CAG has given a report on KG Basin, right?

    ReplyDelete

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