Blogging: Mainstream Media Develops Cold Feet


“The show tries to see the other India – the corporate circle, and what it thinks of politics and the upcoming elections,” Barkha Dutt told me when I stumbled on her, while she was waiting in our office cafeteria to interview the then chairman of our company. That was three years back, when opinions of the ‘other’ India – that had nothing to do with the upcoming elections – still mattered. Not that those opinions were going to revolutionize Indian politics or anything, but they just seemed to matter – as an opinion.

But things seem different these days. The country’s celebrated journalists are developing cold feet at the very decibels of noise created by the ever-increasing number of bloggers, and they have been equally vocal about it. Barkha Dutt writes in Hindustan Times:

Log on to the Internet, and you will be stunned to discover how many bloggers – anonymous, or otherwise — have worn their obvious bias on their computer screens. Some even write about wanting to “leave India if Mayawati ever became Prime Minister” – all this without a trace of irony or shame. Their delusion is not just offensive; it’s positively frightening.

So opinions are called delusions today, huh? Sagarika Ghose (from CNN-IBN) wrote sometime back:

Scan the blogosphere and you’ll find several vicious armchair 20-somethings vomiting out defamatory and bloodthirsty sentiments about strangers who they would, it would appear from their blogs, like to murder.

What’s the big fuss about an educated Indian voicing his personal opinions in his personal space, reaching out to his community of readers? If you are worried about misrepresentation of information, do bear in mind the readers are equally educated to understand what’s sensible and what’s not. Blogs don’t push information down your throat. People read a blog if the writing interests them, otherwise they keep away.

While, at one side, the Mainstream Media talks of free expression, on the other side it shudders at the opinions expressed by bloggers, and how vocal we get about it. Edit India quoted Barkha Dutt a few months back on how

bloggers can write anything including gossip (even about honourable people and their private lives!) and the blogosphere functions without any watchdog.

An opinion is an opinion is an opinion. And it is highly unfair to say I shouldn’t call someone a jerk in my blog, because the MSM doesn’t have the freedom to call him a jerk on television. All the more reason why so many journalists take to blogging – they have their own opinions which can only be expressed in a space personal to them. Bloggers are not over-opinionated irrational cribbers, but many bloggers also give an utterly mature and completely rational explanation on their stand. Opinions are like assholes and everybody’s got one, but it doesn’t necessarily mean everybody has to be one. (OK, I’m defamatory. Sue me.)

There have also been cries of blogging taking over journalism, but nothing can be farther than truth. Bloggers do enjoy the freedom that journalists – bound by so many other threads – do not, but there is no way blogging can be a competition to journalism. They are as different as mammals and reptiles; and as important for the evolution to sustain. If anything, blogging is complementary to mainstream media; and these are standing instances – CloudBurst Mumbai, WorldWide Help, Tsunami Help, Mumbai Help and many such!

Journalism and MSM have a far bigger role to play. Bloggers are their window into what goes on in the minds of the Indian next door – those thoughts and feelings that would otherwise remain confined within the walls of his middle class home. Rather than fearing bloggers, MSM should understand the importance of embracing and complementing them. And the country’s foremost journalists like Barkha Dutt should be the first to understand this, rather than passing nervous comments making stereotypes of bloggers.


7 Responses to “Blogging: Mainstream Media Develops Cold Feet”

  1. 1 Mahen

    Hmmm, I like the Asshole analogy ;-)

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