Sunday, September 06, 2009

With great power comes great responsibility

.. So said Spiderman's grandfather...

I know it's a film line, but it's damn good.. It sounds cheesy and filmy, but it's something that gets lost in our day to day fast life..

Every time I read the Times of India, I am reminded of this line.

This is today's front page headline in the Pune edition of Times.. Pune's so-called leading newspaper..

It has all the ingredients of how not to report.. Starting with the headline.. The one-way did not claim the little child's life, it was the bus and the bus drivers... The bus driver hit the scooter ahead of him while trying to overtake another bus, so how is it the fault of the one-way? And is it really front page news? The Leader guards the Reader, it says.. How, is quite another matter.. Power of the Press is only possible when the Press acts responsibly..

The Times is slowly denigrating to a quality worse than the evening tabloids... As I have written in the past, it hurts me when the Times falls to such levels.. It's not so much that they publish news without a soul.. They are now a business, but the Times is slowly becoming a case study for what happens when you lose your integrity..


BlackNeutral said...

Hello there !. Glad you spoke up !. I was very much taken aback by this change in the quality of TOI.The newspaper has lost my respect.Probably this loss of integrity may be due to the marketing war existing between the publishers, which affects the editorial content.

Today Times of India outsells Indian Express, which is far much a better newspaper in terms of quality of the news we get. I say this because I go to the nearby news stand on sundays, at ten in the morning, only to find that TOI papers have long been soldout.I happily pickup the Express, which used to be still there. Yet Express is still traditional, the way I have known newspapers. But I am not sure what it will be like in the future, anyway.Strange, the now generation does not like the old school style.

I am not sure whether you have read the fiction "The fourth estate" by Jeffery Archer. It talks about the war between two newspaper barons fighting for market, who by no means care for the tradition or the respect the newspaper holds in the hearts of millions and go about printing news which people like to read and gossip around. Who is to blamed for this, the people or the publishers ?

Anonymous said...

I'm finding it hard to believe that it took the Punekar cognoscenti the dawn of 2009 to realize TOI was going down the tubes. I left India in 2001 and I had already started feeling uneasy about the color photos on Thursdays and center-fold ad's (worth their weight in gold at the time, no doubt). Every trip home after that I've seen this 'newspaper' steadily navigate the downward spiral into 'tabloid-ity'.
I quit being sentimental about it long ago (although the nostalgia of those college mornings with TOI and mom's chai and Shrewsberry does still linger) but i can't resist being troubled by it for one reason: For a great country with an *educated* populace greater than the entire population of the US, can't we even give ourselves a respectable newspaper?? Can't we have a New York Times or a Washington Post or a Boston Globe of our own?

Although I agree about the TOI-IE dichotomy that BlackNeutral talks about, I think it cuts deeper than that - it betrays a certain absence of standard. If TOI is profitable, then they are popular - which means they are giving us what we ask them to give us. WE want to know what Shah Ruckh Khan thinks about his IPL team's latest performance or if Angelina Jolie will visit Mumbai nxt month.

So, I think what it comes down to is standards: We teach our kids to 'learn' math and physics and logic so they can become great mediocre engineers and programmers and we'll follow it up with expensive tuition classes too .. we are very committed to that! But how often do we find a parent trying to find the translation of a Kalidasa or a Tagore? What, other than the 'Solitary Reaper' do we attempt to teach our kids about Wordsworth or does Tolkein ever figure in our upbringing? If we have a whole country growing up on dumbed down passages from some sorry novels called 'lessons' and copy-pasted material from Discovery of India masquerading as 'Indian History', why will we ever crave the quality that TOI once represented?
Why to we wanna know Hritick Roshan's dinner plans? - coz we just don't KNOW what it's like to subliminally learn the nuances english grammar in the lines of an impeccably written news report or get lost in the lines of a folk song that just described in the most intimate sexual detail the body of the danseuse, and yet sounded a million miles from vulgar!

This is perhaps more than i ever wished to write and you ever wished to hear. But I read at one of the places here that you have a daughter now, and knowing you she's certainly not in the danger of receiving the cookie-cutter education/schooling that perhaps I went through, but I thought I'd still give a shout out to the whole upbringing issue.

You most likely have no idea who this is and won't remember me even if I told you ... so I'll spare you the trouble. I'll just say we go back long way. (Max Mueller Bhavan Jugendkurs '93 and there on)

All the very best.