Anil Thakraney: Lazy Indian print media

14 Dec,2012

By Anil Thakraney


One would imagine that the print media in India is on the ball in an effort to put out fresh content. Now that the internet is very busy writing its obituary. But some recent examples indicate to me that our newspapers and news magazines are still in a state of slumber. This must change very fast if print wishes to be around for a longer time than expected.


First, the magazines. I was completely disappointed by the manner in which Thackeray’s death and Kasab’s hanging was covered by the news mags. The editors might well have been aware that both the stories had already been sucked bone dry by the internet and later by television and newspapers, and they had been covered from every possible angle. What was therefore needed was some serious creativity from the magazine desk to supply red hot content to their readers. Instead, the same old stuff was regurgitated, the same people were asked to write the same opinions, even the already overused pictures were repeated. Absolutely no attempt was on display to tell us that the editors were trying to think differently. This is amazing, really. Isn’t the death of Newsweek a shrill alarm bell for these people to get their act together?


And today morning as I write this post (Thursday), I can’t help but feel that the ‘glowing’ tributes in the daily newspapers to Pandit Ravi Shankar were hastily put together, only because the story had to be covered. I can even visualize the editor quickly deciding on the person in the team most likely to know a bit about music, and then ordering him/her with this: “Listen, put a huge spread together. Get some quick quotes and write the biography’. And, of course, the result was dull and boring. No new insights on the legendary man, no interesting copy… a crime when you consider that the man lived a totally happening life on both, personal and professional front. These were like huge obit ads disguised as rich tributes.


Now compare the Indian work with this extremely interesting tribute to the musician in the New York Times. (See link below.) And you’ll get an idea of the lethargy that pervades our print newsrooms. Lethargy that shall one day cause the desi print media’s premature demise.




PS: And as if to push the hurtful point further, here’s a fantastic letter contributed by a reader in the British Guardian. Even this little prose tells us much more about the master than all the tripe we read in our dailies. Time to wake up and smell the coffee, people.



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