Role of Media
On day two, at Young Indians summit, there was this session called
Role of Media in Transforming India. Very interesting session.
I was looking forward to Tarun Tejpal's (Editor,Tehelka)
take. Tarun wore a Denim and Cotton and looked at ease. On the
other side was NKRam, (Editor, The Hindu), stiff upper lipped and
I read a lot about NKRam in the columns of Varsha, Francoise and
Rajeev. He is a classic Nehruvian socialist according to them.Two
good looking NRI babes were on the dias too. (YI has this policy
of 'Equal gender participation').
Tarun started his speech in a strange accent. Its a kind of British
mix with Northern (Very Hindiish) India. Tarun went on stressing the
importance of the role of Media, especially in a democracy, especially
in a corrupted country like India, especially in an emerging nation
like India. He informed how he and his team sacrificed their lives in
bringing the ugly truth out about the Indian defence deals. He said the
ideal role of media is to act as a check for this function called
democracy. Then Tarun started an attack on a big media house.
(Times of India, of course, every one knows it).
He informed us, how a news paper should not survive on Ad revenue
alone, how a news paper should not concentrate just on circulation
(which in turn is a consequence of depending on Ad revenue) alone,
how a newspaper should not concentrate on popular news alone (which
in turn is a consequence of looking for more circulation).
He thundered that we Indians are cheap. We spend hundreds of rupees
on movie tickets but are not willing to pay another buck for quality
Two things struck me. I am sure Tarun is a well read man.
Concept of free market. Indian Psyche still lives in socialist era.
Every one is telling everyone how it should be like and what it should be
like. The government, the media and the leaders. (Ok, lets not even
step into Vivek Oberai's upcoming model village in Tamil Nadu).
The simple fact of life is, what is good for you is bad for someone.
Free power to farmers is good for poor farmers, bad for the power
sector and the economy. Censorship is good in the short run, very
bad in the long run.
Deciding the right content of a newspaper and right price
of a news paper is not for individuals. It is a dynamic evolution from
the market. Market decides it. Not you Mr Tarun.
Respecting other people's choice and taste. Why is someone who
reads Page 3 of TOI inferior to someone who can finish the crosswords in
The Hindu? That is another Indian signature. This is right and that
Another fact of life is, ultimately, it all boils down to profitability.
Media needs funds needs profits needs circulation/viewership/readership.
Now, what is circulation? It is the choice of the market.Dont argue with
it. Go with it. Otherwise you are doomed. The world has seen too many
On the other hand, NK Ram elegantly (read: Lots of vocabulary, that
half the people sitting there will never understand and never find
any usage.) expressed the role of The Hindu in reporting the charge
sheets on Kanchi peetathipathi dude, communal riots of 1983, recent
Gujarat riots. He informed us how Hindu fought with the system to
fight for the cause of equality and diversity. He deplored the heinous
hindu caste system, flesh selling news papers and supported women
He agreed with Tarun on newspaper pricing. He told news should be
responsible and not popular.
What I read about this guy is all true. There was no need to mention Gujarat
riots and the arrest of the leader of a Hindu math. How come newspapers
never mention (especially the socialist types) what started Gujarat riots,
what started operation blue star, what started the exodus of Pundits from
kashmir and heinous purchase of human beings into a certain religion type
aka mass conversions into Christianity in the states of Assam, Andhra pradesh
and Tamil Nadu?
At the end of speech, there was a question hour. Lots of schools (from all
over India) sent their kids to this summit. They are all teens. One teenage
girl in a neatly pressed suit from Delhi raised her hand.
This question is for both Tarun and Ram, on the day Sania mirza entered
round two at so and so Tennis tournament there was also this teenage guy
from a poor family from south who won an international chess title at
Both of you ignored the chess dude and printed Sania in full color on the
front page for entering round 2. Can you explain.?
There was pindrop (an Indian slang) silence on the dias. Later Ram explained
why Sania is a symbol of new emerging Indian confidence. Tarun simply
said that Sania sells.
Tarun's reply was atleast honest and pretty much summarized the role of the
The role of media in a free society is not to shape it but to report it.
Thanks teenie. I lacked the balls to raise my hand.
Later on the NRI babes told everyone how they are trying to teach women
in rural India (Anantapur District, Andhra Pradesh) how to use computers.