ArpitGarg's Weblog

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Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

NDTV: Stop crying wolf

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prannoy-roy1.jpgNDTV’s founder is being investigated by CBI for a financial crime and the channel and its reporters are out their crying wolf. Coming from the organization (read news channel), which always pitches for investigation on corruption and criminal issues, it’s sad to see them so rattled by an investigation. If there is nothing to it, the channel will come out scot free.

From their own admission, an old associate of NDTV has filed the complaint, which is now being investigated by authorities. Why so much fuss? It’s sad to see NDTV releasing a statement that businessmen duping millions are going scot free but the channel is being targeted out of the turn unfairly? I mean are you serious? What do the other crimes have to do with NDTV investigation? This sort of defense used to come from crook politicians, right?

Law should be equal for all. Is the owner of a news channel any different from a common citizen? NDTV sure thinks so. How dare you investigate us? We have free and fair judiciary. If you are innocent, why so scared? Why associate it with freedom of press? Only crooks do that, from my experience.

More than the investigation by CBI, the response of NDTV and its ilk has saddened me. A news channel should be above reproach and open to any and all investigation. Only then can it raise questions against the culprits. If a news channel would seem rattled by investigation, would seem fishy.

I suggest NDTV not to waste the “freedom of press card” when they themselves are being investigated. No one will have sympathy for you. Let investigation continue. What you can do is, expose the Govt. and its ministers. Expose the corruption. Indulge in good media work. Also would urge the NDTV reporters not to cover for their bosses. How do you know they are innocent or guilty?

Crying foul will not help here. Time for some good investigative journalism, not propaganda.

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Written by arpitgarg

June 6, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Posted in Media

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CNN’s of India gave rise to the Fox News of India

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barka-rajdeep-arnab.jpgArnab’s Republic is on air and is already being called Fox News of India. For someone like me, who regularly tune in to CNN and Fox, I find some merit in this argument. Let me state at the onset that I don’t prescribe to the divisions of left, right and center and believe these lines have been created and preached by smart political parties to remain in power (both sides of the spectrum).

Having said that, just because I don’t prescribe to these, it doesn’t mean people don’t follow it. Voters across the world have been transformed into hard right and hard left by politicians, to create their so called voter base. In India Congress party ruled the country for the first 50 years and hence was able to imbibe its center-left ideology into all walks of life. Only center-left people (who believed and who aped) got backing at each and every step and rose to the top. Similarly, back channel funding, quick approvals were given to media channels that backed the prevalent ideology.

The radicalization of media on the center-left grew to an extent when it became all too obvious. Center-Left got called intellectuals and everyone else stupid or radicals. I have called this decade as the ‘decade of the right wing’ across the world. In line with political resurgence of the right in India, Republic TV has taken shape. Had the doors not shut on people with a particular ideology and they were not mocked and shamed in existing media, Republic might not have been born.

I find youth of India leaning more and more towards right and that’s not a good thing. People should be able to subscribe to ideology on case by case basis. Not everything in any ideology can be correct, not everything in any ideology can we wrong. I blame the obscene stranglehold of one particular side for far too long for this. They have oppressed and mocked the other side, which has fought back and how. People witnessed logic going for a toss even when corruption after corruption was unearthed and still the dynastic politics of national and regional parties was celebrated by existing media. People found existing media in bed with existing dispensation and people felt wronged. Hence they turned to the other side in anger. And angry decisions are rarely right.

Other side is not completely rosy too. They too will try and proscribe that they alone are prefect and existing center-left cabal is the devil. The fact is that devil lies in people and not ideologies. Slowly you will find politicians, media and intellectuals jumping the ship towards right, because that’s where the fat is. This will go on until the time people will be fed up with their propaganda. And then the Left wave will strike back. Such cyclical phenomena have been a fact throughout the history.

Present moment is one of the best times for channels like Republic to take shape. I just wonder if it would have been possible without the CNN’s of India.

Written by arpitgarg

May 12, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Posted in General/Society, Media

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Media bias and why it is bad

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media_bias.jpgIndia had its first brush with power of media with Jessica Lal murder case. Govt. and Courts buckled under media pressure. Public supported the campaign whole heartedly. The case had all the ingredients of a pot boiler made for television. It garnered TRP’s and served justice. A win-win.

Media backed Anna Hazare who shook the roots of Indian politics and gave us Arvind Kejriwal. Kejriwal’s anti-political diatribe was tailor made for claps and whistles. People lapped it up (at least those who could afford cable television), resulting in a resounding win.

Last half decade or so Arnab Goswami took media activism to another level, equalling US journalists. In US, journalism is too bi-partisan. Two major political parties reflecting two differing ideologies have their own propagandist media apparatus. Last decade or so has given India the same. Media, which used to be a stronghold of Congress, got rivals in BJP. Today the field looks evenly distributed.

But the bias in media has turned out to be bad for society. To be true, it’s not just the bias, but the biased people earning millions and prospering is what irks common man more. It’s not mere coincidence that oldest and largest democracies are headed today by individuals who rode the anti-media wave. Modi called media news-traders, his people called them presstitutes. Trump has called media all sorts of names.

6-8 years back, in India, media was this promising child with high credibility. Currently, it’s credibility is as bad as that of US media. Biased towards one side or the other.

Earlier media used to shape the politicians and politics worldwide. Nowadays politicians shape opinions about media. Ironical isn’t it? In India it would be a first in modern times that PM and Govt has more credibility than media. And it’s scary. I’ll tell you why.

Media is one branch which has the power to keep the legislative in check. It talks directly with public and informs them if executive is doing anything wrong. And public does the rest in the next election. The loss of credibility of media will hit this balance hard. With corporatization of media, the problem is bound to get much worse. Media bias is the new form of crony capitalism and quid pro quo. Scratch my bacl and get favorable coverage.

Whatsapp, facebook and youtube channels have come up as alternate media. They berate main stream media just like I have been doing through this post. Some like the_young_turks have got a huge following and along with that subscription money. It was nice initially but as the current US election showed they too became biased and carried out their own propaganda.

It’s very important for media to curb political leanings. If media persons want to be political activists, it’s their right but they should quit the profession first. If they can’t curb this inherent bias, they should not go on air. Rise of fascism is preceded by a biased media!

Written by arpitgarg

November 30, 2016 at 5:09 pm

Donald Trump: Why pollsters got it wrong

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poll_wrong.jpgPolling (just like risk calculation in businesses) is as much a mathematical calculation as it is an art. You need to have the sense that few have to get it right. In last 10 years or so, it has become more of mathematical model than anytime before. Just like the 2007-09 financial crisis which brought to fore risk calculation model errors, similarly the current election result has brought to notice the polling model errors.

Trump campaign used to attack polls as fake and political hit jobs regularly. For my analysis I want to assume the intentions behind polls were pure. So why did they get it so wrong, barring a couple of polls (which can be owed to chance). I believe the polls had severe model errors, which didn’t took into account a lot of factors.

Just like 2007-09 when polls failed to take into account correlation risk across geographies, the polls failed to take into account the anger among the electorate. Also Trump was a new phenomenon, who was not someone one would like to say one likes, but was bang on message and policies. That created shy voters who did not admit to pollsters they were voting for Trump.

Polls also failed to take into account the contempt the main stream media had for Trump. So much so that anyone saying he/she supported Trump was bashed not just on social media but by mainstream media pundits too for being a bigot. I remember one of the Kardashians had to roll back on her comment of voting for Trump after the backlash. Would she have voted for Clinton? I very much doubt so. When bashing of a candidate becomes an acceptable thing and anyone supporting him is touted as a bad person by responsible people in media, it becomes difficult for one to admit the support anymore.

The anger, the shyness gave rise to the errors in legacy polling methods.

What polls also failed to take into account was the contempt for the media. Gallup poll which has tracked trust in media for last 40 years or so, found the trust to be the lowest in 2016. Two-thirds don’t trust media. And that same distrusting media was out to get Trump in full force. Media distrust fueled Trump support.

All these factors have to be modeled into polling methodology in future. The change election with a flawed candidate with an appealing message, the anger in the populace, the creation of shy voters and the bias in the media were few of the factors that broke the polls this year.

Hope the pollsters learn from these errors and evolve for better.

Written by arpitgarg

November 9, 2016 at 5:34 pm

Posted in Media, Political

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I get why Arnab did what he did.

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arnab_gowami.jpgArnab Goswami has quit. I have been away from blogging for couple of months. But the suddenity of this news, made me come back out of the exile. People are having/will have different reactions to the story. For a lot, Newshour@9 was like a much needed fix and they are bound to have withdrawal symptoms. The much competitive news space will bring cheers to the rivals, led by News18 and IndiaToday.

I read a post at FirstPost, a right wing digital print of News18. The writer (Bikram Vohra) was puzzled as to the motives of Arnab. Did he do it for more money, ambition? The writer speculated that Arnab will fail just like Oprah, Joey and inc. Well first all Mr. Vohra, you will not get it yet. Maybe down the line, but not at present. Right now your ambitions might be to write to more articles for your employer, get more fame, get more money and maybe get a studio show(Or something similar). For a lot of us (you and me both), what Arnab has achieved would be the pinnacle of all what we wish to achieve.

In that sense your article makes sense. Your article is bang on for mediocres but not for pioneers like Arnab. Your article might be true for majority of normal people (who are good people), but not for the leaders (who are few). You quoted few examples who fell but at least they dared to jump. There are a lot more who would have fallen and a few who would have flown.

Mr. Vohra, for a mediocre like you (and me), making sense of Arnab might be tough. After all he left the job that was your (and mine) ultimate dream. What more could he want, you ask? The world, he answers. His contemporaries envied him, they would envy him some more. I get why Arnab did what he did. Hope down the line you get it too.

Written by arpitgarg

November 2, 2016 at 11:15 am

Posted in Media

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NDTV and the fight for TRP’s

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ndtv_advt.jpgI said this in the past and I will say in again, there is a cut throat race for TRP’s among News Channels. Earlier we saw Ravish Kumar doing a blank screen against the Channel that is getting TRP’s and now we see Barkha Dutt doing the same.

I don’t like Barkha and Arnab equally hence I will try to remain unbiased in my analysis. Why Barkha Dutt wrote what she wrote. From the days of Nira Radia tapes, which Arnab have used time and again to hit at paid journalists, Barkha Dutt have not been able to hit back. Barkha Dutt was the most prominent journalist to have been named in those tapes. No other News Anchor apart from Arnab went against these people. The rivalry was sown that very moment.

Slowly Arnab ate away the TRP’s and hence the Advt. revenue of other News Channels. NDTV was a major casualty in this. Low TRP means less money. Therein lays the sudden outburst. It does not lie in Arnab shaming her for Radia tapes, it does not lie in pointing out Hafeez Saeed naming her as a well wisher, and it does not lie in calling her anti-national. It lies in the TRP and the money.

That Barkha Dutt has to write a blog to put forward he point of view is a sign enough as to how many people watch her show. Few years back she was the one who used to set the primetime news agenda. Nowadays hardly anyone watches her show. It is the frustration. Arnab would be grinning ear to ear. He likes any and all publicity. If people talk about his show, it is a win enough for him.

It’s sad to see a leading News Channel going down the barrel. But it happens with time. Some survive, some perish. I think Arnab’s success lies in the fact that he chooses topics based on what will get more TRP’s. NDTV and Barkha on the other hand have not been able to get out of anti-RSS, anti-BJP ideology and a lot of times end up losing TRP’s as they just can’t give prominence to News that goes against that ideology.

All said and done, the clash has the potential to bring out dirty laundry of media out in the open. And who would not relish it!

Written by arpitgarg

July 29, 2016 at 4:49 pm

On Mallya’s friends: Suhel Seth and Harsha Bhogle

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You might know Suhel Seth and Harsha Bhogle. I chose these two people coz first one is a self-proclaimed holier than thou and authority on calling out other people and second one has been playing victim card and has been hailed as a nice poor guy.

It amazes me how ‘scratch the back’ and ‘self-sustaining’ club these people have made within elite and media circles, that nobody is calling them out for what they are. They are aiders and abettors to the crony capitalism. In fact they are product of this very corrupt system that they seem to portray they are not part of.

seth.jpgFirst let’s come to Suhel Seth. He comes on TV debates and fakes authority on social and political issues. He gives gyan and lectures people how they should behave. He is a socialite and metro elite. Recently there was a controversy in London when Mallya attended the same event as Indian High Commissioner. You know what that event was? That was the Suhel Seth’s book launch. People like Seth who are in bed with people like Mallya, then come on TV and lecture others. What is sickening is they are allowed to let away due to the quid pro quo group they have created.

bhogle.jpgNext is the Harsha Bhogle, the nice guy. He played victim for being kicked out of commentary contract. First of all that was a temporary contract. Second he wouldn’t have got the contract renewed for so long had he not been part of the cozy club himself. He reaped the benefits of quid pro quo for so long and when he was at receiving end, he played victim and his friends carried that charade along. Anyways remember that video that went viral which Mallya’s son made in London, wishing RCB all the best for IPL final. There was guy sitting with Mallya in that video, you can hear Mallya junior calling out Bhogle’s name in that video. And then Harsha Bhogle is hailed as the poor victim. Really!

The least we can do is not hail these people and show them their real place. Else they keep exploiting the system and keep preaching us how not to do it.

Written by arpitgarg

July 7, 2016 at 2:49 am

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