Friday, September 14, 2007

Where are we headed?

At the risk of letting in even more people on my identity, today morning I was a moderator (along with a close friend) at a panel discussion with journalism students. Of course, several topics were raised, and on the whole despite being rather paranoid about how the event will go off, it actually went off surprisingly well. I went a whole hour and a half without saying 'F***', which is, given my recent tendency towards abusing everything, quite a record. Also I managed to pass 90 minutes without either being cynical or pompous, another record of sorts!
I was disappointed to learn that many students do not follow international media trends as much as they should, particularly a rather elementary understanding of the internet, those students who had grasped the concept of how the internet is changing the way the media is functioning though were very well clued in. Fair enough, blogs aren't that big news, but for students of mass communication, I do believe that the internet should become proper course material - these are kids who will be working in the media as the internet does begin to dramatically transform lives in India and they should have an idea about what is happening out there.
The conversation did swing towards 'sting' operations and the ethics of sting operations, and of course, the 'non-sting' that was carried out recently. None of us on the stage, and this included a person who is pretty good at 'hidden camera' work, believed that what happened was good and also agreed that certain guidelines need to be followed. But, that said, with the costs of establishing a channel coming down and the only way for a channel to stand out being sensationalism, how on earth can one control it? What is happening in the Indian TV news sphere is fascinating, and a TV news channel is seen as a profit centre. The cost of establishing a national channel is what - Rs 25-30 crore, and a local one say around Rs 15 crore? Given the economic boom, ads are not a problem and nor are getting enough viewers to sustain yourself. Actually, unless there is an economic downturn things really won't change.
The problem, I feel is getting enough editors - good editors and particularly good people in the 27-35 age bracket are at a huge premium. People like me actually, and the good ones, and I do know quite a few are in many cases going through a massive crisis of confidence - I have far too many 'Why the f*** are we doing this?' conversations nowadays. It is great to talk to some senior people, or in my case different senior people, ever so often just to get an idea what goes on their head. Of course, I read the discourses like Rajdeep's today, but these discourses aren't conversations. I personally feel that there is a disconnect between the three generations of journalists in the media - the seniors, the middles and the juniors. Nobody gets anyone else and they hardly spend time talking to each other...
On another note - I saw NDTV Good Times and must declare it is a complete Travel and Living clone, but lets put it like this - a bad clone. You know, kind of like Mini-Me is to Dr Evil in Austin Powers...

1 comment:

Renovatio said...

I've almost stopped reading newspapers altogether. I browse through express in the mornings at college, but for the most part get my news through a number of rss feeds I'm subscribed to, and I've been pushing a lot of my classmates to do the same. I haven't met a lot of other media students outside of my own college, and the few I have met have a lot more 'book' knowledge than the practical knowledge I'm happy my college gives us plenty of.
Reading your post, I'm going to keep an eye out for other media students. I did meet a couple of Jamia kids at one point at the last Open Frame at habitat, and found them critiquing the editing of the childrens' programming, as well as chastising the directors (especially the Norwegian one) on how 'un-indian' the stuff they were showing was.