Mid-Day Delhi & Bengaluru closure a shame

06 Dec,2011

 Ranjona Banerji

 

The day started with the sad news that Mid-Day was closing down its Delhi and Bangalore editions with immediate effect. Undoubtedly the owners have their reasons but it is still a shame.

 

Having worked with Mid-Day many years ago and also having been part of a publication which shut down years before that, I can feel the pain. Commiserations to all involved.

 

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Part of Tuesday on television and twitter was about Kapil Sibal wanting websites like Google and Facebook to screen “offensive” content on the internet. Outrage broke out on all levels. So far, except for China, no government has had much success with patrolling or reining in the internet, so good luck to Sibal and the government. Initial reactions have been largely over the top with twitterers and TV commentators rushing to protect India’s democracy, Article 19 A and so on. Without irony (actually irony is conspicuous by its absence on Indian television), Times Now rushed to Varun Gandhi to get his opinion on free speech, he of course, is known for an infamous hate speech.

 

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Kudos to Mumbai Mirror on its story that “fans” were paid Rs 300 each to cheer for Hollywood star Tom Cruise, who was on a Mission Impossible promo visit to India. Since almost nothing in the media appears to be real, when it comes to entertainment, why not pay for a few people to cheer? The whole celebrity-entertainment culture appears to be a carefully constructed falsehood – and the media is an integral part of this.

 

Sadly for the PR genius who came up with this scheme, the death of cinema stalwart Dev Anand pushed Cruise off the main Indian news pages and segments. Also, isn’t Rs 300 a bit cheap for a star as big as Tom Cruise?

 

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Congratulations to film star Aamir Khan and his director wife Kiran Rao on their new baby. Good for them that they told the world it was through an In Vitro Fertilisation-surrogate process, thus giving untold free publicity to the expensive IVF process and its doctors. But is this headline in Hindustan Times’ HT Café appropriate: “Baby Boy! Produced by Aamir Khan, Directed by Kiran Rao’?

 

Cleverness gone too far, I think.

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