The Anchor: 10 media evils we’d like to see banished this Dassera

05 Oct,2011

By Pradyuman Maheshwari

 

It’s Dassera tomorrow, a festival that symbolises good winning over evil. Here’s my list of 10 media evils that I would like to see the end of. You can say that some of these are predictable since I have written about the issues in the past, but they are genuine evils. Banish them!

#1 Corruption

The 10-letter word is not just a preserve of government and politicians. It exists in plenty in corporates and the private sector. Our business included. Bribes to get sales deals through, generating revenues by way of money payouts and favours. Sending media buyers and clients to see the FIFA World Cup or Wimbledon tennis is nothing extraordinary these days. Nor is selling of magazine covers, or newspaper or website stories, in lieu of monies very surprising. Ditto with awards: money or just for old times’ sake. Har ek friend zaroori hota hai!

#2 Paid news

This has been institutionalised by certain publications even if it’s for just for lifestyle, glamour and brand launch news. It needs to stop, and a dubious disclaimer won’t do. Paid News is prostitution of editorial space and I don’t have to spell out what its practitioners should be called.

#3 Industry fiefdoms

Trade associations are supposed to help the lowest common denominator, but in the media we have a situation that some of the aasociations have become fiefdoms and people hardly mentor or help the weaker players. In fact they often attempt to crush them.

#4 The ratings race

Revenues happen only if there is proof that your product is read or seen or heard. Nothing wrong with it. But some newspapers are rumoured to go to any extent to fix things. And channels see nothing wrong tweaking storylines for better numbers. Ratings ke liye kuch bhi karega!

#5 Dearth of talent and disparity in salaries

There is need for dramatic change here. Some wings of media and marketing are paid fantastically, others pathetically. Journalists, for instance, are very poorly paid in many establishments. Ditto with staffers in Tier 2 cities. The media needs to attract quality talent and offer great content. Both are critical for good content. Alas, I don’t see this changing in a hurry.

#6 Abuse of Intellectual property

In Indian media, copyright is mostly defined as the right to copy. Our media companies are fortunate that legal action takes its time or never happens. Else a few of them could be giving the more high profile criminals company in Tihar or Arthur Road. The discipline has to start from the ground-up. Googled pictures must be a no-no and only licensed content must be used.

 

#7 Fake ads

It’s not as severe as other issues here, but the fake ads that advertising agencies craft to win awards are not on. Yes, they are a given these days and some leading agencies patronise the practice. But there has to be a way to end it. Perhaps some introspection?

 

#8 Content sucks

The self-regulation mechanism has been set up, but I think some of our channels, especially a few newswallahs, could do with a drive to improve content. And a news channel must air news and possibly some kutta-billi stuff. Not the other way round.

 

#9 FDI blues

Foreign direct investment in radio was hiked to 26 percent last week and in news channels it’s restricted to 26 percent till date. However, GECs can be 100 percent owned by foreigners. And creative and media advertising agencies too can be fully owned by non-Indians. Given that ad agencies influence media buying decisions and hence can in turn influence the media, why not allow full FDI in news and radio?

 

#10 No Ethics!

It’s a dirty word in most media organizations. Look at how many have a Code of Ethics, and insist on employees (and the promoters) agreeing to practise it.

 

 

The views expressed here are my own and are not endorsed by MxMIndia.com

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