Archive for July 23, 2006

TIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGING…

“…Slow one now will later be fast,

As the present now will later be past,

The order is rapidly fading…

And the first one now will later be last,

As the times they are a changing.”

– Bob Dylan.

In the ever changing milieu, the TOI has become a constant in the lives of millions in India and around the world. It is a kaleidoscope which daily rearranges the colorful fragmented reality and provides a definitive perspective with a keen understanding of the pulse of masses. Established in 1836 as the Bombay times (it retains the name a daily entertainment supplement) and the journal of commerce as a bi-weekly, the daily edition was started in 1850 and in 1861 it adapted the name The Times of India. Its publishers M/s Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd are the proprietors of the times group, a large media conglomerate which promulgates various platforms in media and entertainment.

The newspaper today sells 2.6 million copies daily, and has an average issue readership in excess of 7 million, which makes it by far the world’s largest English-language broadsheet newspaper. Its success can be warranted to aggressive marketing strategies and a loyal readership. The role of TOI in shaping the opinion of urban readers is undeniable.

It has continued to evolve with time adding colour and regional flavour to its content. The broad-sheet was trimmed significantly which made it more convenient to read and also its format is easier to follow for the discerning reader. The Mumbai Mirror was launched on 30th May 2005 in a tabloid format and its flamboyant and salacious publishing style catering to a younger demographic has managed to capture the imagination of readers interested in quick snippets of news as opposed to in depth analysis.

Also the various supplements offered along with the main sheet, makes it an ideal family read, which offers something to everyone. Its ability to adapt and internalize the local essence in its content imparts a unique relatable character which easily percolates into the daily consciousness of a reader. To garner support for social concerns, from all quarters, has been its forte and is indeed commendable.

The TOI has come under sharp criticism for its bullish tactics in order to sustain its complete monopoly on the advertising market. Its controversial Medianet division which places “advertorials” at a fee, with a legal rate card available at its office, has been widely condemned, leading to a raging debate in media ethics. Also, its language has drawn considerable flak from purists who find it crass and sub-standard, with obvious glaring mistakes in grammar and editing.

Its strategy of flooding the market with 100 pages daily before DNA and Hindustan Times entered the Mumbai market to captivate attention, is hardly the hallmark of a leader secure in its competence. The tendency to ascribe to a popular opinion is reflected in its emphasis and placement of such articles. Recent controversies such as the suppression of independent media by serving legal notice for libel, case in point being the “Mediaah” weblog writer Pradyuman Maheshwari, a noted media critic, has mired its reputation. Sensationalism seems to have crept in with an undue focus on frivolous issues. Its pro-establishment stance strongly undermines the validity of alternative opinions, deflecting from the tradition of dialectics expected from a national newspaper.

The lines between news and entertainment have blurred in the publication which must be restored to maintain structural integrity of the paper. Also, it is the leader that protects the readers, so it is important that it does not indulge in self-promotion of sister brands. The readers buy a newspaper for its news content so it is necessary that it adheres to the code of free and fair journalism. It must prove it befits the title of being the leader not in marketing and sales but in the quality of their editorials and content. The TOI has a long standing tradition of producing world class journalists which must not be compromised.

Even with its credibility questioned and embroiled in controversy, TOI still remains a staple for many, proven by its iconic popularity. The future of media may be “Me media”, which caters to an individual predilection, but the strength of a newspaper, the daily amalgam of cacophony of life, lies in its ability to consider all viewpoints and deliver a just opinion. Let truth prevail.

An interesting and informative analysis of the Mediaah weblog incident by Mark Glaser for the Online Journalism review who aptly recognises the necessity of protecting independant media may be read at the following link.


FREE MEDIA

STOP SUPPRESSING INDEPENDANT MEDIA

It is an outrage that the government deems it fit to censor or shut down any open ended independant media platform citing the age old reason of protecting “public interest”. Who’s interest are you really protecting?

A list of the sites that the DoT has allegedly banned in India reads as follows:

§ http://www.hinduunity.org

§ http://www.mypetjava.mu.nu

§ http://www.pajamaeditors.blogspot.com

§ http://www.exposingtheleft.blogspot.com

§ http://www.commonfolkcommonsense.blogspot.com

§ http://thepiratescove.us

§ http://www.bamapachyderm.com

§ http://www.princesskimberley.blogspot.com

§ http://merrimusings.typepad.com

§ http://mackers-world.com

§ http://www.dalitstan.org

§ http://www.hinduhumanrights.org/hindufocus.html

§ http://www.bloodroyaltriped.com

§ http://imagesdearchyahoo.com

§ http://imamali8.com

§ http://rahulyadav.com


Also a couple of websites, which are a must visit, where information and ways to bypass the ban is provided at:

http://groups.google.com/group/BloggersCollective/browse_thread/thread/eda3b667cf54bd29/1cc92d446d7b9e06#1cc92d446d7b9e06

www.groups.google.com/group/BloggersCollective

http://censorship.wikia.com/wiki/Bypassing_The_Ban



Courtesy Mouse Trap – Peter Griffin (STOI)

MUMBAI ROCKS

Mumbai, the city of chaotic symphony, which celebrates the very essence of life, was stunned into silence last evening. The seven blasts that rocked the city were a reminder o the gruesome uncertainty that we live in. The target of fanatic ire this time is the lifeline of Mumbai, the railways, the aortal vein which pumps the system with teeming millions, exploded mercilessly within a short span of 11minutes, dousing a wounded heart in smatterings of blood and tears. The images are still vivid in my mind, the smell of putrid red filling my lungs and the stench of horror embedded in my spirit. Life goes on.

The Mumbaikars tenacity and resilience to get back on his feet even after a morbid disaster, such as this, which speaks volumes of his necessity to be alive as opposed to just exist. His strength and spirit not broken yet, he walks tall with his head held high. He knows he has survived to live another day in order to make the best of this life, a gift to fulfill his destiny. Everything becomes normal.

This is somewhat disturbing to me, the fact that everything becomes normal. The ability to travel by the same railway service barely 12 hours after the bomb blast is a hallmark of Mumbai’s inner consciousness, the determination not to be bogged down by a brazen act of cowardice and return to normalcy would no doubt take nerves of steel, a commendable trait indeed. But is it “normal” for a city, a society to expect and internalize the dreadful fear of losing one’s life as a routine necessity? I watched on the news, a young gent, obviously repulsed by the surrounding happenings, summed up the reality of the matter when he said that the city will be open for business tomorrow, “Bus thode time mein sab thanda hojayega!” Has our explosive past desensitized us collectively as a society? Or is this just an act of machismo, a feeling of falsified bravery, of not being afraid? Maybe, it is purely a necessity to live and survive.

Yes, it is paramount that we remain calm and not react impulsively complicating the situation further more, but the importance of knowing the answers seems to be lost. “Pakistanionay kia hoga…” (Pakistanis might have done it…) is enough for now, to subdue any necessity for further reasoning, a convenient response to hurl their anger and angst at.
Not many would agree, but we have diluted our inherent outrage with time only to be reminded again, a somber resignation to the system and to fate. The people involved in this heinous crime are no doubt a part of a bigger motive of causing harm to Indian economy and inciting communal violence and should be prosecuted, but the past record of comprehensive timely action is demoralizing. When there is a constant deterioration of infrastructure, homeland security, rural economy and governance in general, to expect something substantial seems to be naïve. The effect that it has in the psyche of an individual is disturbing. The thought of our collective destiny, as a cohesive unit, is long banished for singular existence and growth. Although the faith in our innate humanity remains, its competence in betterment of the society in general lacks conviction. The reflection of which can be seen in this engulfing numbness that has seeped into our consciousness.

Martin Luther King once said, “If I knew the world was going to end tomorrow, I would plant a tree.” These words reverberate in my mind as I look outside my window, a in the serene calmness of dawn and watch a small boy accompanied with his mother adjust his overburdened shoulders walk towards his school bus with a smile.

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tunes without the words and never stops at all.”

Emily Dickinson

VOICES

I hear voices, I look around. There is no one. I stare at the monitor, endlessly, trying to comprehend the silent voices blinking in front of my eyes. It didn’t make sense and yet it did. Little black marks etched in pseudo-reality, reaching out in anticipation. Just like a ramdom mass of ants, scurrying about in fear of being trampled upon. A limitless dimension, an escape, where words are only meant to cloak the harshness of an abrasive mind compounded with the desire to forsake reality. But it can’t as it is compelled to exist inspite of knowing better. Will their cries be heard in this chimeric infinite? Blink and it’s gone.

I hear muffled sounds, conspiring, creating a warp from which i am isolated. An alternate world, one similar to mine, only I do not exist. I try to find its source but fail yet again. Am I caught in a parallel realm of reality from where everything seems so ambiguous and absurd? Maybe it is me who can’t hear the voices, maybe the noise in my head is too loud. Maybe.

I tentatively close my eyes. The chaos blinds me before it subsides, like the ebb and flow of the vast ocean making a sublime reality, concrete. I can see now. I see a teeming mass foraging in the derelict recesses of my mind, feeding on the angst and insecurities, bound by shackles of impetuous alienation yet free in their concomitant existance. Lead by a bleeding heart which fails to see the outcome and yet is persistant on its path, in search of dellusionary glory. I felt the warmth of a tear on my cheek which escaped its obdurate bonds fulfilling its destiny. A sea of darkness takes over followed by nothingness. I lost my preordained fate in a drop of tear.I open my eyes, I can’t see.

I talk loud just to hear my voice, the way it sounds, its peculiar resonance echos in my skull before being let out. It seems different from the last time, like a stranger’s voice asking for directions or a voice raised in protest, trying to make a point. I am bemused by its extrinsic nature. It changes it’s pitch as it pleases, determined to stay different from the previous, evading scrutiny whenever it can. A self evasive voice which doesn’t want to be heard or so it thinks. I scream but I can’t hear my voice. Maybe I never had one.