Today’s Media – Whom to trust

Be a critique of what you watch or read in media or social media, or find another moderator to help you

Wow the Indian Media

I have been watching the Indian media for quite sometime since I returned from abroad. I have seen it in various forms; newspapers, television and social media. The thing that struck me is that it excels in design of commercials that are worthy of jealousies from abroad but it fails to derive benefit from propaganda of the political type. They fail to achieve the trustworthiness of their views and opinions on politics. Their views represent a glaring fact that they are sponsored either by a political party or some business mafia or congregate. How I wonder sometime, how they meet the requirements for a larger population of the country of the younger groups. I mean of the people less than 35 years of age. They undoubtedly provide a good and adequate, rather extensive, support for the sports (Cricket) and music or dance.

But, what do we do about the content

I grant the media the variety it needs for supporting different languages and regions, and I can tolerate also the divide between the standard and the high definition channels. But I am unable to grant it the authenticity that I require for the support it provides for its content. It bombards me  24*7 with its repetitive, weather-beaten and unimaginative content. Even when the anchors shift from one channel to another they carry with them their style and stereotype, disrespecting the channel norms and reputation that the channel struggled for many years to build. I understand that some channels which do not fall into the category of sponsorship of the powerful get laid by the money power of the advertisers. So whom to trust in media, the channel or the presenters.

Other countries have made significant efforts and built a painfully acquired reputation for their television channels, BBC, CNN,  Al Jazeera, Sky TV, DL and others. Now they enjoy that coveted distinction. What made them earn this name and reputation? Not the authenticity alone, for which we all certainly look up to them but the variety of their content. Content that suits all, young and old.

In India on the other hand, we see a lopsided approach towards faiths, religion, crime, sports (cricket), dance and music – in a deplorable attempt to gain the TRP, the Television Rating Point. In the end, every one says, “There is nothing worthwhile to watch on our televisions. May be we should get the Tata Sky.” Aiming for the foreign channels and Hollywood movies.

What distorts the interpretation of the sponsors is the fact that TRP is not universally and exhaustively measured. It represents only a little segment of the audience rating. Yet I wonder why it scores over the other criteria of popularity. To give us arguments against the TRP; what stops the National Geographic channel to score over the Kapil Sharma comedy show.

Something more cynical

For the last few days, I have been contemplating on how and how much we are obsessed with watching TV within a day. Are our left and right brains still active? And do they both work satisfactorily and equally, or is there is a totally different stimulus operating on them?  The left side that works scientifically or mathematically is probably dormant these days because the entertainment and creativity aspects of our life are well taken care of by the right side.

But when I think of the news coverage, I am even more confused. How does and why does our mind read or view the news. What final effect the news have on us. Now that I pay subscription to set top box, I come across this predicament. Is the feed we get from the channels really genuine? What is the guarantee that it is not tainted by the politician, corporate or even the media’s? Is it free from all biases?  How strong or stronger is the paid news syndrome now? And why is the government not rectifying this anomaly. Who decides what news should be shown and what should be kept hidden? Not the editor, certainly.

The log lines really hide the channel content

When the channels attach a log line to their news coverage such as Fast news, 100 news, Super fast news, Breakfast news, Midday news, Prime time, I for one get confused as to which time of the day should I watch the news, because irrespective their log line, the news are the same.

And then there are Truthful news, Real news, News without distortion, and so many other titles. I wonder, if all the other news were not true or unimportant, why were they broadcast in the first place? And most of the time the news is simply repeated even if a channel claims it to be ‘The Breaking News’. So watch any channel any time … you will never be out-of-date with news.

Much has happened and is perpetually happening in the media world today. It has divided itself into top level; the conventional or controlled media, and unbridled or anarchic social media.

Welcome the Social Media

And now we have in our kitty the social media. A bit of hope that we at least know the people who post news, breaking news or hidden news. We still do not know who out of them is reporting genuinely and who is reporting a spam? But don’t be alarmed. People are eyewitnesses to various events and sometime they decide to share the experience with others. Under these situations, they are operating in the spirit of citizen reporters. And we welcome those who adopt this mode of reporting.

The role of the Social Media moderators

It takes quite a lot of time to judge the genuineness of citizen reporters. For example in my contacts only 4 or 5 out of 2000 contacts report something worthwhile and authentic or trustworthy. You could  choose to be a member of a group that promotes authentic posts and discards the useless-ones. Authenticity is an attribute of the group manager. Hopefully he doesn’t fall into the category of an interest group.

In short the advantages and disadvantages of anarchist social media and censured conventional media are very interesting. These difference will rule the roost for some time, I think for a lot of time, to come.

Can we then appoint a moderator for the social media just as the old time Editor was in the conventional media? We hope and expect the group manager to become a moderator, like an editor of the conventional media?

Yet another hype

Trending versus branding

There is yet another thing we must understand. What do you think is the difference between a “trend” and a “brand”? Who do you think sets up the trends? We need not be enslaved by the corporate in this respect. In the social media it is we, the authors, who post trends. We should take over this responsibility and fulfill it properly, and not lose this opportunity. We are still considered authentic, at least by our friends!

For example, a perfume launched by a celebrity is made popular by trending, and the vulnerable masses driven and masked by these messages, go in for this trended product. Or a film actor is trended for a few months before his movie is released. In contrast with branding, which lives for a longer time and creates a lasting impression, the beauty of trending is that these snippets are short lived but they achieve peak sales for the duration that they live.


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