India Uncut

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Where's the teeth?

Amrita Shah, examining "a deep disillusionment among those in the media", quotes Ian Jack in a piece in the Indian Express. In an interview with her, Jack had once said:
I think very good journalism which changes things — journalism at its best, in fact — has to have a note of outrage in it. [Such journalism has its roots in] a Westernised, liberalised society in which things like corruption, cruelty and massive inequality stand out. In a society (India) in which massive inequality and corruption do exist in an everyday way, it’s difficult for a newspaper to campaign against it.
The problem, in other words, is not with the newspapers, but with the readers. We have become so apathetic, and so accepting, of the shit around us that we're not interested in reading about it any more. Pretty page 3 pictures and gossip about how Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan are allegedly fighting with each other are more juicy, and attract more eyeballs, as the jargon goes. So that's what the newspapers give priority to. (Another factor, of course, is that India lacks an intellectual culture, as VS Naipaul once said. More on that later.)

Shah ends her piece on a note of hope, though. She writes:
We are on the cusp of a communications revolution. Given the high costs and epic scales involved in running today’s newspaper and television channels, it seems unlikely that any except the brave few will be willing to take risks, to shake the status quo. Perhaps, then, we need to alter our expectations from the traditional media and expect in the coming years the teeth to lie elsewhere.
Will the teeth lie in blogs? Maybe. The audience for blogs today is too limited in India, but that is certain to change in the years to come. And my prediction is that blogs in the Indian regional languages will proliferate, and will be at the cutting edge of India's journalistic renaissance. Fun will happen.
amit varma, 12:40 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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