India Uncut

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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Media coverage of the cloudburst

This post was first posted on Cloudburst Mumbai, a CollaBlog set up to deal with the aftermath of the cloudburst in Mumbai.

Mumbai was again hit hard by the rains today, but you wouldn't know it if you looked at the Indiatimes website. At the time of posting this, they mention the rain in Mumbai in just the sixth headline from the top. The first two are about cricket, but the headlines that stand out, because they are in bold text, are the third and the fifth one. And these are:

Countdown: India's top 20 socialites
Global girls: half-Indian, fully famous

I point this out because it evokes one of the important questions I think we need to ask ourselves at this time. Many of us have pointed out the ineptitude of the administration during this crisis. I think we also need to ask if our mainstream media (MSM) have let us down. While some of the coverage has been good, time and again in the last few days, we have been served up with stories centred around celebrities, and I think the news most of us want to see from our newspapers goes beyond Marc Robinson's trauma at having to wade home after a pedicure or Amitabh Bachchan's not having had a bath in three days. Or the "grumpiness all around" that comes from not getting a copy of the ToI.

Most of the bloggers who are part of this blog [Cloudburst Mumbai] have expressed similar sentiments in the last few days,and I do not believe that we are in a minority, and that the millions of people who subscribe to these MSM outlets actually prefer celebrity-oriented stories over good old-fashioned reporting in times like this. On the contrary, I think most people feel as let down as us, but have no way of expressing their feelings, and not enough choice (though that could be changing now). We are all, essentially, being taken for granted by MSM. And they no doubt believe that if a few of us vote with our wallets, it will make no difference to their bottomline.

So are they right? What is there that we can do, in practical terms, that will make a difference?

The question above is not meant to be rhetorical. Comments are enabled in the mirror of this post on Cloudburst Mumbai, feel free to give suggestions.
amit varma, 10:30 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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