Thursday, September 23, 2010
Indian Media, Commonwealth Games and Sainath...
An amended text of an email exchange with a friend: Journalism is a demanding vocation. As appealing as it is, it lays your soul open to the world. Unlike most professions that are becoming micro-specialized and super-skilled, Journalism marries two diametrically opposite skills.
First - Judgment of the external world – all the contemporary events, people, perceptions et al. As a Journalist you are required to see, assess, and judge the world with all its hosannas and gravitas; it’s not easy especially so as you are required to do all that being aware of your own biases and prejudices. You are required to be gregarious, extrovert and open. Any wrong call anywhere in this process, you’ll end up looking a fool. The other skill is writing – how very distant it is from the first. Can you think of any other act that can be more intimate and personal for a human being ? ( Hmm , sex you may say but sex is motor, not cognitive i.e not exclusively human) So, whatever you have seen and assessed, you have to reflect in your own mind, arrange the facts, perceptions and arrive at a judgment. Then you have to express it clearly so others can see what you have seen.
Indian media – We all know the writing / presentation in Indian media is above average for a race whose language is not English. But it is at the judgment they are so poor. It’s not that they refuse to see it, they quite simply can’t see it. My intense abhorrence of them stems back to this - their utter lack of judgment. And not just that, their Indian sense of completeness: they are perfect and beyond mistake.
Many a months back when I passed through India there were enough reports to raise concerns about the shoddy preparations and siphoning scams involved but media failed to mount any pressure whatsoever to get the job properly done. Instead they were all busy covering M S Dhoni’s wedding or yet another utterly unremarkable cricket series in Sri Lanka.
Incidentally as it happens – the weekly I had read in transit in India was the first weekly to carry an article about the games scam. Here are the links for the archives of the three national weeklies:
India Today This is the one I had read. August 2 edition. That’s 8 weeks before the kick-off.
Tehelka Cover Story August 28. Think of it, this is the group which congratulates itself on investigative journalism.
Outlook None that I can see. And hover over April 12 edition. It sounds of singing praises about the game.
Kalmadi and co are old hacks. They’ve built a career sucking off public money. I hold the new Indian media equally if not more responsible. The first report of any mismanagement and corruption came in summer, when the whole infrastructure was scheduled to be finished before summer. Millions had been allotted over more than five years ago and the Media accounts for the public money just two months before the event. But then Indian media is nothing more than deadlines, plagiarism and scratching backs. It is an assembly of semi-educated dimwits who can’t sit down and think. They neither have any influence over the legislature above nor can they touch the masses below. They are an enormous unaccounted waste of ink and bytes.
You have to bear in mind this is not an event that is to be held in a distant no man’s land. These people - the journalists and the politicians, both are mostly based in Delhi and would have been seeing each other regularly – both professionally and socially. Today no one speaks of what media owed the people. If Kalmadi and Co didn’t do their jobs properly so didnt the media. Slagging off Kalmadi is totally useless, leopards and spots. He should have been disciplined long back by building political and public pressure around him. The Media didn’t. Now they just ‘report’ the happenings. Usual Status quo. They deserve each other. Though it’s not something to be proud to state, I don’t hesitate a minute to say I really wish as many countries withdraw from the games. There are many ways of learning and for some the harder way works. It’s just how it is.
Also find this wonderful article about P Sainath during his recent visit to Canada.
Finally, this is a bit dated but still relevant thoughts by perhaps the only man in India who understands the meaning of the world Journalism. Not that I endorse all of his views but I admire that he is serving no one but himself - a fundamental requirement to be taken seriously in journalism. His anger is plain obvious.