The market, media, and the great dumbing down

As the TV channels go through the same motions in an election season—predictable opinion poll by predictable pollsters, followed by predictable panel discussion with predictable panelists and predictable cliches, followed by predictable conclusions—Malvika Singh asks a not-so-predictable question, in The Telegraph, Calcutta.

Is the media’s task to supply what it thinks the public wants, or is to shape what it should want?

“When confronted with this question of supreme superficiality laced with high-voltage ego, media men and women explain away their inadequate rendering of events by suggesting that ‘the people’ want the mirch masala and the sensational, not substantive information, and that they are, in fact, reflecting the level and interests of the public.

“Is that what, say, the school curricula should do too? Should university lecturers dumb themselves down for lazy students? Should novelists and storytellers write junk because there is a market out there for the sub-standard? Should Bharatanatyam dancers do the hip-hop? It sounds so frightfully absurd that it merits no discussion when one is told that ‘the market wants it’.

“Surely, the challenge is to shape the market with facts, ideas and wonderfully crafted entertainment based on great stories?”

Read the full article: The endless babble

Also read: Is Modi media biased against Rahul Gandhi?

‘Indian TV is like nautanki, a real-life soap opera’

‘Regional TV better than English news channels’

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4 Responses to “The market, media, and the great dumbing down”

  1. Deepak Says:

    So what else should the channels do? Keep running hatchet job programs against Modi like undie tv and eye-bee-hen do? People are fed up of paid media propaganda. Media has totally lost its credibility, everything it does will be seen with a jaundiced eye.

  2. Anonymous Guy Says:

    The market is important in a place like India. Dumbing down is needed for millions who wont even follow the news otherwise. Try teaching advanced calculus in a rural school, or playing classical music to the same crowd.

    The ivory tower journos can create a niche for themselves, if they have great stories and wonderful whatever. Nothing is stopping them.

    And in fact there are small pockets of excellence in many sectors in India. They will grow and find a place for themselves.

    To paraphrase the author: To look down upon the Indian media from a pedestal is distasteful.

  3. narayana, narayana Says:

    The media’s main responsibility is to state the facts, the news as is: without distortion, without bias and without fear of its owners or the government in power. The facts themselves play a big role in moulding people’s mind.

  4. Anonymous Guy Says:

    The main ingredient needed to replicate UK’s BBC (UK) or PBS and NPR (US) is money.

    Well thought out, researched and produced programming is expensive. It also needs to attract and keep the best young talent.

    In the West an aim of such public broadcasting services, is to try to reduce the vested interests of entities which fund it. The funding comes from different models:
    – a licensing fee imposed on the public (BBC),
    – directly raised from public contributions (PBS and NPR)
    – funding from loans and grants which ostensibly are from entities whose main cause is not publicity or financial gain (PBS, NPR, Al Jazeera).
    – Some stations accept limited advertising mostly from local small companies which cannot muscle their way into the content of the programming.

    How will this happen in India?
    – Government funding will lead to a propaganda machine like doordarshan.
    – The Indian public will not contribute financially towards public radio and TV, for various reasons.
    – Indian corporates will not set up foundations for greater good since they never really retire and their children typically inherit the institutions they build. Any funding they provide will come with strings attached, which will be pulled when the time comes.

    If there is an internal need, things will change. Till then celebrity-socialite-journalists have to be happy watching BBC and Granada Television(?) and wishing they were born a white person in England. Even if we did manage to produce something, viewers who watch BBC and the like will still prefer the foreign stuff.

    So as in many other fields, we are stuck with what we deserve.

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