Your Slice of History

Like thousands of others, I too got the idea of picking up a dead-tree edition of a newspaper to preserve the moment of Obama’s victory. I drove out to the local Starbucks at 7am and picked up a copy of the New York Times. I was glad to see his name in a large 96-pt type headline. Kottke tells us that NYT has used this large a font on only four other occasions – moon landing, Nixon resignation, 1/1/2000, and 9/11. I’m glad I got my own copy because copies are now sold out and are selling on eBay for more than $100. The Times has promised to sell more copies from their online store but the site is down right now or you could get a scanned copy here. The Chicago Tribune front page is impressive too. In case you’re interested in taking a look at how other newspapers declared this news on November 5th, you might want to check out this video:

Investigative Journalism in India?

Does India have genuine investigative journalism? Media outlets, like FM channels are scarce and almost heavily regulated by the government. Foreign media outlets aren’t ‘allowed’ in India because they would simply out-compete with the national conglomerations. Changing stream for an instant, I also would like to comment on lack of local or regional media as compared to elsewhere in the world. Of course, the Bombay Times or New Delhi Times color supplement of its parent concern doesn’t count. Local media outlets are supposed to cater to the regional needs; give you news on your neighborhood and your city. We have the occasional page devoted to City News but definitely there must be more happening in a city the size of Bombay or even Pune to fill more than a solitary page. Regional newspapers have long fulfilled this need to some extent yet we haven’t seen a drastic increase in their credibility and most of the times, they are known for sensationalism; for e.g. Navakaal which is published in Marathi. Font 36-size headlines almost everyday makes the term Headline redundant.

Returning back to the issue of investigative journalism, we hardly trust the newspaper to report original stories. Most of the stories unfortunately are rehashed reported news from AP or Reuters (or a cut-paste job in TOI case). Tehelka introduced the way of investigative journalism by doing some great exposes; but sadly most of it was lost in the hype and sensationalism (that word, again!). Do we unconsciously associate original investigative journalism with sensationalism? Or maybe it is redundant to call exposes sensational. The recent revival in the Watergate scandal with the outing of the insider source, Deep Throat brought about a fresh round of debate on investigative journalism in America too. Somehow I always thought America does its share of such journalism sometimes even to a ridiculous extent. There would be no greater justification for introducing additional sources of news than to expose the nexus between mainstream media and the corporate/political world. They essentially feed off each other giving rise to a classic case of conflict of interest. The media cannot be expected bit the hand that feeds it future stories and we don’t essentially demand any more from the media anyway.

Bloggers can form an independent source of honest reporting and also produce original op-eds but who reads blogs anyway (in India) apart from bloggers themselves. Why are all intellectual and political dialogues restricted to the armchairs around the country? Don’t we deserve more accountability from our society? The written word ought to have a stronger impact than it does right now. I feel that the sword is way stronger than the pen today. Things should change soon.

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