Jul 20, 2010

Indian Media - Does it report responsibly or does it just sensationalize?

(This is an entry to BlogAdda's contest 'Is Indian Media misusing its freedom?' sponsored by Pringoo.com)

No serious news follower would have missed the expose carried out on a self-styled god-man by a leading Tamil entertainment channel. A late night crime reporting show that it was, brought out the hidden life of the god-man and showed his non-celibate side being in compromising positions with a yester-year leading actress. For a show that is at 10:30pm, though we don’t expect non-nature audience to be viewers of this show, it was indeed scandalous on the part of the new channel to air an almost X-rated video footage on national television. And the following day, the channel lost it totally. The footage of this tape found its way into the most watched news bulletin in Tamilnadu and by the Tamil speaking population across the globe. Following this, this footage made its way into every other news channel in the country. Whatever may be the gravity of the situation, there are indeed some ethics that a television channel would want to follow, in at least censoring the segments that may be X-rated. Was the channel working towards the expose of the god-man genuinely, or was it working towards sensationalizing a not-so-important issue and gain target rating points (TRP) to boost its advertising revenue? This is a question that even a non-MBA graduate can answer.

26/11/2008 is a date not many people would be able to forget. The Mumbai attacks on this day made it to the news channels all over the world, with some major reporting all around the round. The media sure had its moment of glory, by capturing the footage of a terror-accused, something that even the police couldn’t get. But, what was disappointing about this reporting was that it was also probably one of the most irresponsible reporting by the Indian media. The blasts had disturbing images of dead and charred bodies, injured people and more importantly that of people, whose loved ones were dead in the blast. The news channels didn’t show any responsibility in censoring out these disturbing images on national television for a while. Also, just to gain TRPs and once again sensationalize this national disaster, all the news channels began interviewing the victims of the blast and the loved ones of the dead ones in the blast. The last thing that some one who is in such a situation would want to do is to explain what happened inside the hotel where the blasts took place. Whatever happened has happened, and we need to take steps to get these people to lead a normal life. Instead, the news channels only ended up grilling the already depressed minds of these people, just to make their own bread and butter out of these victims’ grief. It was also a very disgusting sight that the editor/owner of one of India’s leading news channels brushed aside a witness’ statements, just because it was not sensational enough for him to air it on his news channel and moved on to the next witness. What responsible media would have done and should have done is to help the help people in the blast area get back to normalcy, and aid in the police and army’s rehabilitation efforts.

A Hindi movie made based on a popular and best-selling Indian ‘novel’ garnered a lot of attention in the media and amongst the public. The reason – the book’s author was unhappy that he was not given enough credit for his contribution to the movie and that the film’s producer and director took credit for the story. The author raised a hue and cry about this situation, resulting in press conferences given out by both parties – the book’s author and the film’s production team. In one of the press meets, the film’s producers lost his cool at the media and asked a reporter to shut up. And this was enough for the news channels to magnify this issue and blow it out of proportion. At the end of the day, we are not too sure who gained from this – whether it was the producers of the movie that made more than Rs. 350 crores, or the author who found a new fan following. But surely, the media houses which kept track of every single movement that the two parties made, thus made sure that the viewers have their eyes glued to the screen, as thought there was a natural calamity, and eventually made idiots out of the idiot box viewers.

Off late, a news item that’s garnered national attention is not that of any national calamity or disaster, but that of the marriage of the captain of the Indian cricket team. The Indian cricket team skipper married his school friend, and this was enough to have our news channels splash pictures of the bride, the groom and the many link ups that the captain had. After all, a wedding is a private life event and anyone not invited to the wedding should respect the privacy of the bride and groom parties. Instead, the media goes into the details regarding who was invited to the wedding, who made it to the wedding, and more importantly where the couple first met and how their relationship blossomed. This was the exact same situation that happened when a former Miss World got married to the so-called first family of the Indian cinema, or the actress who made it big, thanks to her Big Brother win due to the racist slur got married to a London millionaire. I am sure the Indian public deserves better food for thought, than the generic gossip that cricket and Bollywood have been churning out for decades.

There’ve been many instances apart from these where the media has misused its freedom of reporting, expression and thought. These include instances where a former prime minister of India voiced out curse words against the current chief minister of Karnataka, the publishing of photos of a dead model in compromising positions with her significant other, or creating a ruckus thanks to intentionally misread celebrity twitter statements. Sadly during an election, the opinion polls of each of the news channels show a different figure thanks to the different political parties that they are biased towards. (This is the case not only in our country, but also in the so-called developed nation, United States of America.)

Thanks to the mushrooming of TV news channels every day, it seems like anyone with a good command over English, an opinion and with some financial backing can open a new channel of his own. And to maintain their position in the TRPs they end up resorting to cheap gimmicks. This needs to change! The news media in India needs to understand that the thoughts of the Indian public have grown beyond what it sensationalizes, and responsible and unbiased reporting is what the public demands.



Jul 13, 2010

Moments of Madness

(This blog was one of the winning entries in the Moments of Madness contest by BlogAdda.)

Trying to categorize moments of madness can be quite challenging, especially in the life of a person who provides entertainment to his friends around, with his unintentionally funny antics. Listed below are a few of the trivial events in my life, which have brought the retarded nature in me to the forefront, and made me get amused at my own doings.

Cart thieves

A graduate student in US, who does not have access to a car to go to the nearby grocery store invariably struggles in carrying the couple of gallon-cans of milk, juice cartons, watermelons, along with other stuff, back home. Usually we pick up things from a market that is open beyond midnight, the best time for us poor souls, and walk all the way back home carrying them. A few stores would let us take the carts back home and pick up the carts the next day. But a few stores that weren’t generous enough, would have a magnetic sensor in their carts, and the cart would not move past the stores’ interiors.

A couple years back, myself and another partner in crime bought half the items in the store and not being able to carry the stuff, tried to lift the cart across the wall and miserably failed. This was a disastrous experiment and I vowed I would never try it again. But, 'laziness overcomes any vow'. Once again, we (a group of four this time) were there and as usual swiped our credit cards away to glory. I tried an age-old tested experiment on the cart then, just for fun. I lifted the cart’s front wheels and just pushed the cart, which stood, on its rear wheels alone. The trick worked, the cart wheels were not locked by the magnetic sensor.

Later, when we were on our midnight trip to the store once again, each of us took a cart to try the trick, and the trick didn’t work. The cartwheels were stuck. But my accomplice in crime saw a unique thing. It was just the front wheels that were locked, that too only from in front. So she gave us the ‘Nobel Laureate’ idea of pulling the cart backwards. And the cart moved with ease. Even though it meant complicated handling from our side, it did save us that day from having to lug back the groceries home.

Jump to (from) death

The time was 12:40am. The store that we frequent closes at 1am. It is only past midnight that, either me or my good friend would end up discovering that our houses will soon be drought-affected and we need to get some basic food. Basic food in some cases also includes watermelons, ice creams, flavored yogurt and more, thanks to the wonderful 45 degree centigrade summer weather we are in.

That night, to fight against the impending drought, we decided to make the trip to the grocery store. It was also a known fact that a goods train that would run longer than ten episodes of ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’, would pass near the store, thereby blocking access to the store. Hence we hurried up and walked towards to the store, only to hear the train engine from a distance. The Usain Bolts that we are, tried to run towards the track hoping to cross it before the train arrives. And we were probably a couple of meters away from the crossing, and we saw the train approaching, slowly though. Just like how a hungry monkey jumps to catch its food, no matter what the circumstances are, we just ran in front of the train to cross the track, with no thought of what might actually happen. And when I next opened my eyes, we were there, present on the other side of the track. And we looked back at the train, and it turns out that it had stopped midway. You surely can imagine the look on our faces then!

White Water Rafting with a White face

Once on a trip to the Great Smoky Mountain national park in Tennessee, we had dedicated an entire day to trails, hikes and white water rafting. The not-so-adventurous person that I am, didn’t want to venture into white water rafting. But my ever-persuasive friends (who doesn’t have such friends?) somehow convinced me into this. Upon reaching the spot and paying for it, we were made to sign an agreement that read: ‘I am responsible for my life, and severe injury or death may result in case of unforeseen circumstances.’ My heart skipped a beat, and I wanted to get away from them there as early as possible. But, I put up a brave face and got into the bus that took us to the river, where we were instructed on how to row and also provided some safety tips.

We got to our raft where our instructor made the five of us sit in appropriate positions, such that the raft was balanced. Two of the braver friends made it to the front, followed by the girls, followed by the instructor and me. Apparently, the level 3 and 4 rapids were the most common ones that day, and my heart skipped another beat (though I later learnt level 5 and 6 were the harder ones). Having heard horror stories about the instructors having to abandon a drowning rafter, in order to save the rest of them on the boat, I made up my mind to hold on to the grip on the raft. Wait – there was no grip or handle on the raft, all that I could do was to lock my foot inside the raft safely. Having done that, we embarked on our journey, and our instructors gave us good instructions, and we had a good time. There were three instances were the raft was about to capsize, but it ultimately didn’t happen. But my friend in front lost quite a bit of her hair, as a result of me trying to hold on to it for grip. And the end of the rafting trip, I vowed I would never ever go on one again. This nerve-racking experience was sufficient for a lifetime! The pictures taken during the rafting showed me as a white-faced coward, much to the amusement of my friends.

Good deeds Eclipsed

Recently, I was at the cinemas with two other friends to watch ‘The Karate Kid’. Walking towards the theater from the parking lot, we saw a girl in her teens trying to get a few chairs out of her car, and she requested us for help. Assuming the chair was for her old parents or handicapped friends, we helped her carry the chairs. On the way, upon enquiring what movie she was going to watch, I got to know it the teenage girls heartthrob Robert Pattinson starrer Eclipse, the third installment of the Twilight Series. I got a suspicion then, since the first show of the movie was not going to be screened until midnight. We continued talking, and took her chairs along and she pointed to her friends who were waiting there in the line to get the tickets. And who were the friends? Two other girls who surely were Twilight fans, and were munching away pop corn and chips to glory. That was the moment! I was mad at this girl, not for having made us carry it, but for having made us carry it for these two useless friends. And I got another reason to hate the Twilight series!

Final moment of madness

It was 11am. I’d just then woken up, for the nocturnal person that I am. It takes a while for me to get out of the bed and head to perform my mandatory morning chores. But on that day, I was fresher than ever, and I wanted to get the maximum out of the remainder of the morning, in terms of work. Heading to the restroom, and realizing after a flush that the water tank in the restroom is not getting filled up, is not the best thing that could happen to a person on a Monday morning. I open the tap in the washbasin and I get the coolest breeze of air that even my air-conditioner has failed to produce. And you surely can imagine the moment of madness then! I will not get into the details of the events that followed, but I sure realized that, it’s for a reason that people have said –‘early to bed, early to rise.’

This blog is in response to the BlogAdda contest ‘Moments of Madness’ sponsored by Pringoo.

I am Man

I am Mad
I am Mad

Jul 11, 2010

Old wine in a new bottle, hoping it ages better!

I started writing my blog in 2006, and blogged regularly in 2007 and 2008, before taking a hiatus in 2009. And in 2010, I am back, thanks to the wonderful contests by BlogAdda and IndiBlogger.

It was meant to be a personal blog, and I had my name and sister's name together as the blog URL. However as time passed by, the blog seemed to cover a lot more thoughts than I'd imagined it to cover. Hence I'm renaming the URL of my Untitled Blog to Untitled-Thots.

And by doing this name change, I've lost all the comments that have been posted on my blog. Especially the few recent blogs had a lot of comments, thanks to better readership via BlogAdda. I am hoping those comments are restored by Google soon. Else, I shall take this as a clean slate and blog better and a lot more! (Google/Blogger restored the comments recently!)

Thank you for visiting my blog!