Gouri Dange: The Media Menu Card

23 Nov,2011

Talking of paid news, it’s interesting to see how it all works. Meaning the modus operandi. Not just the big-ticket paid news where political parties and heavyweights slip big bucks to large newspaper and tv corporations.


I’m talking about the mere-mortals path to godhood via the media. Well if not godhood actually, at least the pay-your-way route to your five-minutes-of-fame. Everything’s on sale, going by Media Menu Cards that doctors, lawyers, academics, business people, sportsmen, performers et al have been getting via email over the last couple of years. They are sent by big papers and small, national as well as local and some tv channels too.


Here’s a sample menu card, with the cunningly worded introduction.

Dear So-and-so

Your contribution to society is a matter of pride for us. It would be our pleasure to feature you and your achievements in our paper. Your valuable opinions are also solicited on matters of importance in our city. Please contact Ms X or Ms Y (note, they are interchangeable, the first is a journo and the second is an adgirl from the publication) after going through the contents below.


Page 3 package

Rs 4,000/- + taxes for parties

Our Deliverables : Your presence at any Page 3 event, and/or your and your spouse photograph.

Rs 8000 + taxes (photos to be provided by you) for family wedding

Our Deliverables: Event will be reported, pictures of you and any important guests will be featured.


Opinion-maker package

Rs 8,000 + taxes
Our Deliverables : Your views solicited and quoted in stories relating to your field of operations.


Conference reporting package

Rs 5000+ taxes (local); Rs 8,000 + taxes national; Rs 10,000 + taxes international. (with photo to be provided by you)

Our Deliverables : When you attend a conference as a speaker/delegate, it will be our pleasure to report your contribution to the proceedings.



Rs 5000/- taxes

Our Deliverables: Successful emerging from surgery or illness will be reported, along with pictures (our photographer will be sent).


…and so on and so forth, you get the point! There are these packages offered foreign trips, awards, donations that you make, stuff that you publish, charitable visits that you undertake to cancer-struck kids and slums…all of it can go up there as news, if you tick the right choices in the Media Menu Card.


That last one is my favourite – I mean I had never thought of coming out of hospital as news, unless you were a loved leader, or a jailed corporate type pretending to be ill, or had climbed Mt Everest and were in hospital for exhaustion. And one would imagine that the ordinary person wouldn’t particularly like to be shown wheeled out of somewhere. But it looks like there is some valuable brand-enhancement to yourself by being hospitalized. Go figure! Perhaps the hospitals involved are also being contacted as we speak, for their frontage to appear in the papers, at a price. But hell, everything is on sale, so why not!


While I haven’t been offered this Media Menu Card myself (what, I’m not a potential news-client? My money’s not good enough for these people?), I and other book writer friends have been offered similar menus, by bookstores. Not the ordinary corner bookstores that invite you to actually talk about book; and not the ones where I have launched all my books without paying a penny. But a few other new entrants, that go by lofty names. Their ‘bill of fare’ goes something like this. On an ascending scale starting from Rs 8000 right up to Rs 25,ooo (this was last year, perhaps the rates have gone up in a year), you are offered packages like:


> venue

> seating

> sound

> f&b (tea and cookies for 40 people)

> art work for invitation card

> invitation to our databse


Write out a larger cheque and you can get

> media presence

> venue

> seating

> sound

> f&b (tea and cookies for 40 people)

> art work for inviation card

> e invitation to our databse


Then come options where you pay for the book to be stacked on the cash counter. Perhaps they haven’t thought of it yet, but they could easily offer you a package in which a stack of your books accidentally falls on people’s heads.


And then come the more expensive add ons that maketh or breaketh your book, they say:


> Your book banner up for 4 weeks in our store


And the crowning glory that is within easy reach if you’re ready to fork out more mullah:


> All of the above facilities for your book, PLUS it is placed on our bestseller list for eight weeks running.


Somebody pass me the antacid, this menu’s a little too rich for me.

Post a Comment 

3 responses to “Gouri Dange: The Media Menu Card”

  1. N. D. War Haul says:

    Wait, wait — I’m not getting it! Newspapers are offering good money to ORDINARY folk to come up with good copy?? Well, not really, really ordinary folk. I’m ordinary folk but you, Gouri, are at least a minor celebrity by virtue of your column. But even so, what’s in it for the newspapers? Just a fresh writer’s output? Please explain. Because my mouth is salivating and I’m about to join a creative writing class to be ready for that e-mail to make me rich AND famous!

    • Gouri says:

      No, no, Mr War Haul – YOU pay the newspapers money, so that they can create ‘news’ around your achievements. read more about the more serious and larger manifestations of paid news on the mxm site itself, appeared 2 days ago.

      • War Haul with Blinders Removed says:

        Aha! I knew the great Indian journalistic tradition wouldn’t stoop so low as to PAY Joe Schmoe to make news. The great Indian journalistic tradition is only stooping so low as to TAKE money from Joe Schmoe to make news.

        Still sucks raw eggs, though.

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