India Uncut

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Just another consumer product

Ayaz Amir writes in Dawn:
It takes a good two hours in the morning going through a stack of Pakistani newspapers. It takes about half an hour to go through the leading English dailies that you get in Delhi. I have had to read them — newspaper-reading being a habit that members of the tribe carry with their luggage — these past three or four days (invited to Delhi for one of those seminars...what else? which worthy subjects are discussed) — and I can say with confidence that I don’t know what’s happening in the rest of the world.

You read them and you get to know more than you probably would want to about happenings in the film or fashion industry. But if you want to know a bit about events in the rest of the world you would have to seek some other fountain of knowledge.

You can’t blame television for being chatty and entertainment-driven because that’s how television sells. But you would expect newspapers to be slightly different. No such luck with Indian papers which, driven by the great forces of the market, have been dumbed down to the point where they are indistinguishable from any other consumer product. Small wonder if they are marketed in the same way and as aggressively as, say, a brand of washing powder or the latest cell phone from Nokia or Samsung.
Amir is absolutely right when he writes that that the "Bollywoodization of the Indian media" has come about because of market forces, because that's what the majority of the consumers want. And any change for the better must come from the market as well. I don't see the market changing its preferences anytime soon, which means that the minority of discerning readers who want more will have to turn elsewhere to be satisfied. That opens up a niche for whoever wishes to fill it, and is able to serve that need well. Who will that be?

(Link via Secular-Right India.)
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