Wednesday, July 07, 2004


It was just a simple discussion in my class. But well it turned out to be something else. Something that disheartened me completely. I am sad...period.

It was a discussion my prof initiated about MEDIANET. Well for all who are wondering what medianet is all about, lemme brief u guys a bit. MEDIANET is a creation of Times of India. It is an arrangement by which anybody can pay a fixed sum of money to get artciles published and having their picture on their front page. (Height of vanity, aint it!) This report will explain it all.

Medianet was an open secret atleast among the journalistic fraternity. But well, Mid-day kind of bought it out in open.

Mid Day has since found out that a front page photograph in Bombay Times is priced at Rs 1,254 per square cm. This means a 240 sq cm photograph on the front page in Mumbai costs Rs 3,00,960. The rate gets progressively lower with more insertions. The straight Q/A feature, also on the front page of the Bombay Times, is also up for sale. The 160-sq-cm article is on the lower part of the page and called the anchor in journalistic parlance. So if you want to be interviewed for that section, be ready to shell out Rs 1,91,520.

So all u junta reading Bombay Times, Pune Times, Ahmedabad times, Bangalore times etc. well whole load of articles are paid for and that's y they are in the newspaper. Well no other reason. Pure commerce......! Keep an eye on the front page photos. If u happen to find a small ENCIRCLED "M", then that picture is paid for being featured in the Bombay Times.

There are many things to this which i feel strongly about.

1) Journalism involves reportage of facts. Unbiased reporting......if I can add. newspapers in india cannot be regarded as totally unbiased or totally non-prejudiced, they more or less adhere to that. The presence of an article in a newspaper fulfills the basic duty of journalism. informing people. The basic work of a journalist is to report, collect facts and present it to the public. Well s/he is paid for doing that. His/her views wud definitely come into picture, Journos are human beings after all.

But when a newspaper demand money for publishing an article................its sick. I mean it is not journalism. It wud be something else. TOI publishes paid articles as if it is it's own article with the journalist's name (byline) too. Well u then just fooling people, arent u! if thr is a restaurant serving fukol food and u praise it sky high just coz the restaurant pays u like an awesome sum of money, pray tell me U JUST PLAIN FOOLIJNG THE GUILLIBLE PUBLIC. Ok.....this is a very frivolous example. but I am giving this example b'coz BT is known to be an entertainment and lifestyle newspaper. So the example given was something related to newspaper. Another example which i can give is, imagine a product pays to get itself featured and the newspaper agrees to it. the product might be bad, but since the newspaper is endorsing it...(mind u not an ad, its an article, thus credibility factor increases, many people might definitely buy it. There is a clear distinction between advertisements and editorial. Please for god's sake don't try to mix it up which is precisely what TOI is doing. These kind of paid articles are now referred to by a new term, "EDVETORIALS"
I used to think newspapers have like the sole authority and the POWER towrite influence people, public opinion. But well......suhc initiatives only make a huge, big joke of what journalism stands for. I know newspapers have to make money. But well, what we see now is a total mockery of well..... ETHICS ......HAHAHAHAHA....of journalism. and well the saddest fact of my life is..........TOI has the maximum circulation amongst the English reading dailies.

What happned in my class was which was shocking for me atleast was that majority of them didn't object to medianet. While some thought it was an excellent marketing strategy, others thought its, just Bombay times and not Times of India. gimmick..well i thought I was attending a journalism lecture. Huh! Ok...u start with bombay times........then u go to the main TOI too. Greed knows no boundaries........

It is reported that TOi earned like an 20 odd crore in the last yr. What a price to pay just to earn 20 crores when u otherwise earn like so much more than that! U just get bitched about everywhr, loose ur reputation u've earned for so long.......well...really sad!

What real saddened me was that some of them actually defended medianet saying that who cares....Its stoopid entertainment news anyways. So what if it is entertainment......the rot has begun and if it is not stemmed, it sure is bound to spread. And when u have the future journalists not flinching their eyebrows at this development,it is really really sad. It's just that nobody gives a damn. if this is what the future journalists are gonna be, its a sad prospect to even imagine. I don't think that they have imagined what dangers Medianet holds. i am sure it is not gonna stay within the limits of BombayTimes. it sure would extend it to themain supplement too. Well, any tom, dick or harry would be able to put forth anything they wanna see published just by paying money.

To be a journalist has been my highschool dream. I am kinda idealistic (it doesnt help at all) and have big dreams and hopes of doing good work. I would hate to compromise on journalistic ethics. It frightens me to think what the journo world holds in store for me in wake of developments like this. Will an idealistic me ever find a footing? I know, reality is often different. So many things change. But well, I wudnt prefer to compromise on ethics, atleast. It is a scary proposition for me. I am all confused and jittery. *Sigh*

P.S. any journos reading this, please comment!!!!


PseudoFreud said...

Hello came thro' aNTi, nice and useful info...was always wondering why has the TOI quality declined so much!

Shobha said...

I, Me and Media!

BlogBack Closing 13th October 2005.

Its a fact that once they start prioritising news on the basis of money… the output will be pure bullshit. The whole idea seems ridiculous…and I wonder who will pay money to read advertisements!! Seriously hope the trend stops…and its good the issue is out in the open now.

2004-07-07 21:20

I'm not a journo, even though I trained to be one… took me only one year to be completely disilusioned. The trick is to work without judging the organization. Whoever said you need to join the TOI? Work with the news mags… or move to broadcast.

The only way of being happy with your chosen profession is to be non-judgmental about their profit motives. Do whatever you can in a good and conscientious mannerand forget about the commercial considerations. You have it in you to succeed, but do not let dissonance to distract you. We can change the world, a little by little.

2004-07-08 09:12

yeah u once told me about this before. just shows that log paison ke liye kuch bhi karte hai.Its sad to hear that Times of india..trusted & read by millions across the country is doing such crap.A best example..theyve started this new column called "young uns"
which appears regularly on BT page 3..featuring all college socials and
they write about college students partying hard all nite as if they are some big celebrities or actors.Who cares what these bastards do anyways? Another example..TImes Music..the crappiest music company..anybody cuts an album with them..nobody buys or even listen to their songs!
Anyways great post Shobhi..hats off to you!

2004-07-08 09:54

:) Well! will tell you what MediaNet really is sometime soon..for now..Keep your ideals intact and work towards your goal. Work for what you think is right. And rule no 1 of journalism: A good journalist looks at all possible angles and investigates all possible sources to find out the truth. Moreover there is never one possible truth. So be curious, find out..never accept what is given to you. You'll make a good journalist, I know that:)!

2004-07-08 13:19

hmm yeah i heard about bombay times taking money for its articles too!!!.. as for BT i dont think it makes any diff..cause they are after all an entertainment paper…but if the habit has spread to TOI then thts very sad!!!.. ive been reading TOI all my life.. and to think they are not reporting facts is quite alarming!! but it makes sense now. .. i felt tht the quality of the news reported by TOI had become very sub standard in the last year or so… hope they get back to their old ways…

and…is it just me.. or are the TOI journos also very very biased towards the BJP!!.. atleast when they were ruling.. and all their articles seemed to almost propagate the party's views… wot say!?

2004-07-08 16:26

todays paper!!.. TODAYS. theres this article about some dude from somewhere…god knows who… at some party!!..sheesh…limit hota hai yaar!!. me n my sis have been regular readers of BT too..and tht was like the last straw!!.kuch bhi dalneka!!.. once they were interesting…and entertaining even!!..but now they are goin way outta track…another eg..woudl be tht write dude..who seems to show he deosnt like media attention very much …but still manages to give atleast one interview per month… and also has a nice large picture in a "pensive mood" on the front page!!!..HORSE SHIT!!!….

2004-07-08 16:28

Thanks for the info Shobha - Me hadnt heard this before. Yes, it is indeed a sad fact that something like "medianet" had to come into existence. I dont see it any different from offering a "bribe" to get ur work done. I mean, paying for seeing ur stuff published on page one. How abt trying some hard-core, serious, authentic writing in order to achieve that ?? Any takers ?? I hope there are quite a few…

2004-07-08 19:20

I once counted 12 articles in a single day about Sehwag's wedding - ranging from comments about the "lovers" from the neighborhood mithai-waala to his wedding wardrobe to his honeymoon plans and was so sick about the whole thing. Now I sorta understand how this "over coverage" might have happened. Hmmmm..

2004-07-08 21:49

Ashwin: the issue is out in open, but nothing's changing Ashwin! TOI is the one laughing all the way to the bank.

Toro: Do I give an impression through my article that I am really wnana join TOI? Well Idon't want to. The main issue that made me write this was the attitude of majority of my classmates who actually found nothing wrong with the whole concept of Medianet. I hated that. I really did. :)

Vigs: Hahahahaha! "FURTURE OF PG 3" HEHEHEHEE! Don't even talk about that!

Deeps: Hie deeps, Would sure luv to have more dope on the damn medianet. :)

Andy: Yea, TOI is not a newspaper. It is a habit. and it is this compulsive habit of ppl that TOI is cashing on! BT……..uske baarein mein baat nahi karenge to acha :)

Anti: Well, to my knowledge, the medianet exists only in the city supllement and not he main TOI. Which part of the paper did u read the article? Main TOI or city supllements?

2004-07-09 01:07

I want to take this subject from a different perspective here. Why charge for articles? At the end of the day even the journalist and the newspaper have to make money? haina? and if the government cant provide with enough funds ..they have to start charging for articles?? just a different perspective.. Its all good for everyone to say its sickening and so on, but maybe we should for once think why …and exactly why they are charging for articles! See its all good to get emotional and say "its not journalism" but we tend to forget that to survive everyone needs income, maybe some misuse that by overcharging, but the fact remains…they are doing it for a pure reason of making a profit! I dont like agree with them charging for articles..but hey maybe we should think from their perspective too…

TOI is a joke..and I think ive discussed this with you earliar. But people still read it…so well they cater for there readers…and they are cashing in! …

2004-07-09 06:55

Ridhish: The other perspective which u r saying is not something I wud agree with. There is something called advertising Ridhish through which Newspapers earn lotsa money. And pray tell me, y shud a government fund a newspaper? Newspapers in India have long been independent. If u wanna earn money, advertising gives u ample of scope to earn, no need to encroach upon the editorial space. Not everything can be sold Ridhish! I mean not everything can be commercial. There is something called journalism principles and I'm happy most of the Indian media abides by that.

2004-07-09 11:12

Sad reminder that in the end money wins. Sad…but true

2004-07-09 11:55

Shobha what makes u say that most of the indian media abides by that? Acchaa so you are telling me our media writes by principle? yaar thats not true…our journalist write what will get them most readers, that doesnt exactly mean its writing with principle…an actors wedding is given more importance to a soldiers death, and it happens in the media…it still does…so where are the journalist principles..i have strong views here…i mean come on…read the news…they will be more worried about some masala news then some thing concrete…I'm sorry I will refuse to agree that "most" of indian media abide with principles! And its not that i dont read indian newspaper..i chattofy every indian news paper everyday! and i can see what is given importance over what! The issues is greater then you have outlined in your post, its about what indians want to read too…and maybe you should explain further to what you mean by "Journalist Principle" …..i'd seriously like to know! :)

2004-07-09 12:46

Shobha what makes u say that most of the indian media abides by that? Acchaa so you are telling me our media writes by principle? yaar thats not true…our journalist write what will get them most readers, that doesnt exactly mean its writing with principle…an actors wedding is given more importance to a soldiers death, and it happens in the media…it still does…so where are the journalist principles..i have strong views here…i mean come on…read the news…they will be more worried about some masala news then some thing concrete…I'm sorry I will refuse to agree that "most" of indian media abide with principles! And its not that i dont read indian newspaper..i chattofy every indian news paper everyday! and i can see what is given importance over what! The issues is greater then you have outlined in your post, its about what indians want to read too…and maybe you should explain further to what you mean by "Journalist Principle" …..i'd seriously like to know! :)

2004-07-09 12:50

Vidya: Sad but true!

ridhish: Well…….Indian media is witnessing a dumbing down phenomenon. I agree things news coverage is not all that great. But well wait here……….what TOI does is something extreme. Lemme repeat…EDITORIAL SPACE IS SACROSANCT AND IT CAN'T B SOLD. its like incest if u wanna a comparison.

I am not talking about the misreporting and mistakes here. Thr will be another post on that if I feel so. When I said most of Indian media abides by that, I meant other than TPOI, I am not aware of any publication which sells editorial space. That's it.over n out!

2004-07-09 12:55

Shobs, I know this is going to sound very partial to you. Since you know where I work. And I am not working there because I get a nice pay packet..I am working there cause I like the newspaper. And Like I said before, you'd be only fooling yourself if you thought only ToI is responsible for the dumbing down phenomenon. There are newspapers that are doing worse things that this one. And I being an insider, know that. As for ToI selling sacrosanct news..honey, news is only as sacrosanct as its readers. The reaction you got from the class of yours..represents a reaction from the mass…do a survey…they'll tell you scams are ok…ministers with tainted career graphs as serial killers are cool! and life goes on. As for celibrity coverage..Even the Guardian does it. England and US is obsessed with celbs. We (Indian media) compared to them are pretty much focused.
And honestly, do not make the mistake of thinking one newspaper or news channel is responsible. Society as a whole is responsible. And like said Truth is subjective always. What your truth is…might be someone else's lie.
Well, you can't sue the whole society for being materialistic, can ya? Ok here is food for thought: Do you know why all these newspapers are becoming so anti-TOI? The answer is the same old "money" ToI is leading..the others want to crush it down…so slander it. I wonder if people who want power are better than people who already have it?
And trust me: It only gets worse as you go in deeper.

2004-07-09 13:20

Deeps: I read other newspapers too. I am not denying that. Just pissed with TOI for selling ed space. that's it ya! Well if we have to talk abt sad reporting, then the list is endless! God, i think i give out an impression of a foolish idealist wannabe journo! heheheheee!

2004-07-09 14:08

Sam: Wishful thinking ya!

2004-07-09 17:19

I am not gonna defend medianet.
But it does sound like the word "advertisement" plainly rearranged to me.
For ads to, they put all false stuff to hype it up, make it colorful ,dashy, with nothing being true, and nobody to verify if a five star restaurant I am advertising is just a cook sitting in a hut.
I mean, its just the same thing.
U end up paying similar amounts too.
Point is, how do you know any of the articles posted in the journals are true. Just the name of the paper, or the fact that it appears in paper. What if I start my own paper with a pseud name, and start printing articles that have the least credibility?
There are a lot of issues in that.

2004-07-09 18:45

i've heard about this about a couple months back.. but hell, it's not like i particularly look up to newspapers as the voice of God, or something.. I know what the media is at..The Times has more ads endorsing itself than any actual news stories.. and it's all just a crazy race to be better than the next paper around… and it doesn't mean giving out more reliable information at all.. I've seen these front page headlines completely warp the original truth just to suit their own publicity measures..a good example is mid day.. nothing but a sleazy tabloid..

oh.. I 've got a lot of rants about this now! but i wont' get started :P but the bottom line stays this: read the newspapers..but just the daily comic strip. That's about the most truthful info you'd get out of the entire paper :P Otherwise, it makes a good read for fiction

2004-07-10 09:44

so get a gud piece of bloggin after many days…kudos to u…and everytime i pick up da paper myself i feel like shootin each of these journos myself….like wat crap way had they reported da budget this time….its just by usin some flick tht they r tryin to sell thmselves…get some masala news….like some 3-4 mths back i rem…u had 4 main articles same each day…iraq…iim..and there was one two issues….and everytime is was same…also recently u had euro cup cheer girls in TOI front page…now wat sort of cheap journalism is tht…nyways myself have caught up with two wrong news items in Mulund Times…da concerned female reporter wasnt even aware wat she was writin abt…and she just cup copy pasted things frm da internet….guess she was just tryin to sell…anyways indian media…is hardy reliable…and just by puttin a false all gud image to the public they sell themselves….now every yr they make a hue and cry abt placements in all colleges and how ppl r just bein recruited….they even have beeen puttin up worng figures for both iims and solution…PAPER PADHNA CHOD DO…AND BT…USME TO BAS PARTIES….FEMALES SPORTIN CLEAVAGES…THT TOO PPL 100 ODER PPL WUDNT KNW…GUESS WAT THEIR CLAIM TO FAME IS…JUST THAT THEY GROOVE ALL NITE…

2004-07-10 12:24

good piece of write up
unfortunately for any company to run - they need money - and TOI is no exception, as somebody else pointed out, present day generation including ur classmates are cool with a lot of stuff, they are more practical, they move on. You have a choice, you have a lot of choices, if not TOI you have smething else to choose from.

2004-07-10 12:49

hi shoba,

i may be wrong, but my views are tht the rot has not just begun, its there in every industry, every country and it is not surprising to me. All newspapers make money through this, here in uk, as far as i heard, around 40% of first page is 'paid for' news or ads. If you remember, Google was under scrutiny, when some companies paid them for making their web sites to appear at the top of the list during search of particular keywords. Supermarket industry is the best example in US or UK. If pepsi pays more, their drinks will be kept in the first shelf at the top and other low branded drinks at the bottom or in the less visited part of the supermarket.

The worst thing is, you cannot blame the newspaper as all 'paid for' news are genuine. Be it coverage of Lakshmi Mittal's daughter's marriage over a period of 7 days or shewag's marriage…the editor will say, priority of the news and where it should appear is decided by the attraction of the news and there are no hard or fast rules to where an article should appear. Supermarket will say, we have arranged the products based on the amount of sales for a particular product. No one can question them. Within the last one year BBC and few others apologised to readers for some of their misleading information, but they said because of some pressure or overlook on their part. I cant think of someone not doing such kind of BUSINESS, even though, i accept, i cant prove in every case, because most of them happen in the name of business deals or marketing. I guess you will have to face it when you start working as a journalist or every other person in any industry. Let us read every page of the newspaper to filter out the junk news or taste different products to choose the best we like, without going by the name brands… but thats far from reality :P

2004-07-10 12:52

Sat: Well, I am not gonna discuss about advertising here and it being moral, untruthful and stuff. these were ur words….."Point is, how do you know any of the articles posted in the journals are true. Just the name of the paper, or the fact that it appears in paper. "

This is what I am trying to say. People believe the printed word. too much credibility attached to it. One can be cynical but still people do belive it. That's a newspaper's power. What TOI is ding will sure bring a huge dent to the credibility which newspapers are usually associated with. I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT QUALITY OF REPORT PEOPLE. mY ISSUE IS WITH SELLING OF EDITORIAL SPACE! peace! :)

Ash: Mid-day is a tabloid. tabloids aren't meant to be taken seriosuly. But u know what, it is worrisome when I see tabloidasation of a national newspaper. tabloids arent me,ant to be taken seriosuly babses….their main existence is based on senstationalism. I am not even going into the misreporting thingy..coz there are loads of them. Maybe another post for that :)
Yea…cartoon strips are the best! :D…Also, dont loose hope, there are still good newspapers. Indian Express, hindu for that matter. Try them out.

2004-07-10 20:24

Sush: Hahahahahahaha! All those pluses suck haan. Dont even bother reading them. theye xist coz tht brings awesome money. heheheheee! Thanks anyways. Budget In TOi was such a joke. hehehehe! I remeber they had some facts dis[played alongwith some sleazy southern filmy heroes and heroines. i cudnt for nuts understand y was it added thr. It dint make any sense! Very funny..chk it out and have a hearty laugh!

Hari: Thanks. I am happy I have lot of chocies. But then it just disgusting when a national daily resorts to practices like this. i mean, its like the lowest u can stoop.

Shanker: Newspapers have to earn money. So ads are must :) Comparing supermarket and newspapers is well…..ummmmmmmm………kind of strange for me atleast. They are 2 different parallels. Thanks for dropping by though. keep visiting.

2004-07-10 20:35
Capriciously Me!:

Hi shobha, I am reading this post of yours long after you have posted it…but I read a related article about journalism in the US where the networks are showing the citizens what they want to show and not what is happening…just partisan coverage…it is very disheartening to hear stuff like this! well, i have never considered TOI to be gud journalism…they only wanna sell what they have for money…i will prob be depressed when "the hindu" and bbc start doing stuff like this. until then, this was all anyway just GK!!

it was nice to read someone who thot along your own lines :)

2004-08-07 02:48


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