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. Well....marketing 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!!!!