This post was actually motivated by Tech Crunch write up my Arrington (now under AOL) about the biases in Tech Media. In a no holds barred salvo against the tech journalists, he has laid bare the dirty secrets of “journalism”. Of how the mainstream media is subservient to deep pockets.
Arguably, it holds for India too. We have our own Radia hooking up with the journalists to fix up the system. Of course, it cannot be generalized but barring a few who provide some sauce for thought content, most of them are brain dead dodos. More on that later.
AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher, the chief whiner about our policy, is married to a Google executive. This is disclosed by her, but I certainly don’t see it as any less of a conflict than when I invest in a startup. And yet she whines. One of her writers, Liz Gannes, is married to a Facebook consultant. She covers the company and its competitors regularly. She discloses it as well, but it isn’t clear whether or not her husband has stock in Facebook. That’s something as a reader I’d like to know. And regardless, it’s a huge conflict of interest. I think someone will think twice before slamming a company and then going to sleep next to an employee of that company. Certain adjectives, for example, might be softened in the hopes of marital harmony.
This is not all. He squarely puts it up here:
I have little hope for this industry until the last of the old guard have finally been put down. They do NOT control the news. They do NOT control opinion. They do NOT get to say who gets to write content and who doesn’t. And they do NOT get to rant about their ethics when they constantly fight against simple transparency.
The central issue is about conflict of interest and bias in reporting. We all have biases and opinions about everything. Heck, this blog is full of rants and sometimes useless opinion. However, these biases (in my opinion) are targeted towards a greater common good. Because if companies can swindle away thousands of crores in 2G scam and pay the same amount upfront for the 3G (described euphemistically as “price discovery”), the same could have been easily rolled for laying state of the art fiber to home networks. Or roll out community Wifi’s even on a pilot basis. But it hasn’t been done.
This rant by Arrington does not place him above the pedestal; rather he is little upfront about the investments he has made in the start ups and his staff covering it. Of course, it would be the next big thing whipping up a hysteria on the blogosphere or in the mainstream media. It may not be work always.
Hence, we are talking of a contentious issue that has no easy solution placating everyone, namely the bias. I have spoken out against the Indian media and anyone sane enough can easily pinpoint it’s dumbing down. The statistics are loud and clear. The print media thrives on numbers and reach. Curiously, the Government has allowed massive inflows in the cross holdings which means that a newspaper also runs television networks as well as the radio or any other vehicle to disseminate “information”. It has made them to grow into huge dinosaurs swallowing up any dissenting opinion.
The same goes for their “web properties” as well. With aggressive cookie based targeting of it’s “customers”, this media is slowly building up it’s online profiles of it’s consumers. While this may sound like a paranoid looney, fact remains that my privacy is violated.
Nevertheless, this brings me to the fall of Business Standard. It has done nothing to raise anyone’s heckles about it’s questionable policies. However, again, in my opinion, it seems to have been hijacked by “research firms” and multitude of “analysts” jumping in the fray.
The mainstream media has “cornered” the “news”. They don’t generate the news. But then how do they put a “spin” on the news? How do they “dress” it up ? The more important question: Why do they do what they do?
(The image is used without “permission”; in case of copyright claims, please contact me from the form above).
This “circle of trust” from the people who send out selective leaks tends to grow the mainstream media’s stature “organically”.
Insiders get access to execs for interviews and background info. Leaks and gossip. Vendor sports. Early versions of products. Embargoed news. Extra oomph on social networks. Favors that will be curtailed or withdrawn if you get too close to telling truths they don’t want told.
Of course, most of the conferences organized by mainstream media ends up as a jingoistic farce. With awards given for “best coverage or best advertising spin” as well. It helps to scratch their backs and gain “mileage”. Well, unlikely to be mentioned in bold letters that they have a conflict of interest.
This brings me to the last part of the article. I had been in touch with two journalists from Business Standard. I took pains to upload my RTI application, picture them and send them across. I was also told that they would keep me abreast of any developments following the write up on Broadband (I am too lazy to link to the crap). From what I could make out was that it was a juvenile write up from a person who had no fucking clue about what “domain specialization” really is. Nevertheless, most of the mails have gone unanswered; as if in a dark hole, to their email ids.
Does this signal the fall of Business Standard? Nope. Because it would still make money on it’s print circulation. It does not understand the web as a medium and has gross incompetent people to make it stay afloat. But it’s fallen in the trap of the “circle” that has been alluded to above.
A sad day for a brilliant newspaper; because I owe a lot to it.
- Is it OK for AOL’s Techcrunch Editors to invest in companies they write about? (zdnet.com)
- World’s last typewriter factory has just 500 left (Business Standard) (seattlepi.com)
- Mobile Number Portability: Some numbers (broadbandblog.in)
- The AOL-TechCrunch Investing Controversy (kara.allthingsd.com)
- The cesium deception: Why the mainstream media is mostly reporting iodine levels, not radioactive cesium (thepearlsofwisdom.wordpress.com)
- Typewriter Myth of the Day (geeks.thedailywh.at)
- The Absolutely Outrageous Partisanship of the Mainstream Media- Liars For Obama (truebluenz.wordpress.com)