When the media got it right

07 Oct,2011

By Ranjona Banerji

The death of Apple founder and innovater extraordinaire Steve Jobs dominated TV headlines on Thursday and front pages of newspapers on Friday morning. Jobs acquired cult status soon after he launched the Mac in 1984 and bucked the giant corporate hold on the world of the computer. At the time, stories about him and his band of doping, way out anti-corporate merry geeks abounded. Soon after, he left Apple to found Pixar animation and also made his mark there. His return to Apple in the late ‘90s however was to a different world and it was here that his old reputation melded with his new creations and made Jobs into a giant icon. It can very safely be said that the media control of world opinion played a massive role here. From a small – if highly respected – cult figure for a few fans and aficionados, Jobs and Apple became highly sought-after bastions of the tech world. Ironically, his co-founder Steve Wozniack can currently be seen on BBC Entertainment, on an old series of Dancing with the Stars, a programme which specialises in making B and C grade celebrities dance.

GK Chesterton’s aphorism that journalism “largely consists in saying ‘Lord Jones Dead’ to people who never knew that Lord Jones was alive” however does not apply here, as it so often does. Sometimes the media does get it right and undoubtedly Jobs was a pioneer and a rebel. His untimely death from pancreatic cancer at the age of 56 may instead prove the other wise saw that those whom the gods love, die young.

 

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Dassera being a holiday, the rest of the TV day was dependent on the never-ending fascination with the Omar Abdullah mysterious custodial death case, the bail application of Gujarat cop Sanjiv Bhatt and the latest leg of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement in Hisar, Haryana. Unlike TV, newspapers are now openly telling us about Hazare’s connections to the RSS and BJP, bolstered by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s declaration in his Dasera speech that his organisation did support Hazare’s fast at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi in August. The fact that Hazare and his team – Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi – are on an anti-Congress campaign in Hisar also makes the connection clear. But where TV continues its blind hero worship, newspapers continue to do their job and present all sides and angles.

 

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A little spat developed between Infosys mentor Narayanamurthy and India’s most populist writer Chetan Bhagat when the former criticised IIT students. But much as the media tried to go to town on this, it soon became evident that public interest was limited. Narayanamurthy took it no further and it is possible that the rest of India has other things to bother about.

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