Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Media influence...

The newspaper in my house, which I routinely read through in about 1 minute and throw in disgust is a complete waste of my time. I consider stopping its subscription, but it is too much of a force of habit and it takes a good 4 minutes for my computer to boot and connect to the net for me to read the news which is nearly impossible in early morning rush hour.

Coming back to the newspaper, of late, much to my chagrin, it has been shilling for the not so young scion of a popular(?) political party under the perverted title of youth. Each day dawns on me, with his cheerful visage lighting up pages as part of a holy trinity or a solo mugshot, always smiling at the state of people like us. Now of course, youthful (under 40) smart alecs like me, know better than to be influenced by one person with keyboard writing about another underqualified, undeserving person aspring to be our leader by virtue of his birth place. (How different is that from one person with keyboard writing against such a person?)

Let us get this straight. Rahul is in this place because he was born in the particular household which happens to be leading the largest dynastic set up in India. Very recently, India helped Nepal (by looking the other way) in dismantling its king and making way for an ostensibly democratic set up. Yet, after we integrated some 500 princely kingdoms sometime in the late 1940s, where are we? We are in a situation where a regent is warming the throne for the heir apparent, apparently. 500 princely families went, to be replaced by one? Sheesh.

Of course, if it is not Rahul, it would have been Kumar or Sachin or Supriya or Poonam. Or me. Except that my dad was born to my granddad who in his mighty position had as much influence on political life as much as load shedding had on grazing buffaloes (and that is overstating that by a factor of 100). But I digress, as usual.

As I sat back on my armchair, I was transported back to my younger days. (Actually I sat through a 30 second clipping of Congressi heritage and found one worthy of blogging). Newspapers love to think they wield influence.And they did - once upon a time.

Those were the heady days when Rajeev Gandhi was supposed to be the change we were seeking. (Honestly, the guy had his heart in the right place). And then, Weepy was supposed to be the change we were seeking. But there was no change.

And then I realized, that the newspaper is not seeking to influence me at all - I am beyond influence. It is seeking to 'influence' the first time voter (or second). It is wooing the youth - not people like me who have cinder blocks for their heads (got this from an interesting exchange on our mail group) and hence, hardened opinions. And I recall people in a call center vigorously discussing the latest crap in Bangalore Times at work. But, there is a difference.

Unlike the heady days of Rajeev, todays youth are not just into one newspaper. (I wasted my youth on one newspaper, boo hoo) They are also into orkut, facebook, internet and blogs in the cities. (Of course, even in villages, in between the power cuts, if the village cybercafe works while the broadband network is up, the people in the villages do nothing but surf the internet - but they are smarter - not many of them buy newspapers.)

Also, unfortunately, many of those fortunate to be APL have a cellphone. So, there is a massive opinion thread around here. (Did you say TV? Yes of course. Remember electricity. Also remember voting in villages is slightly different.)

While newspapers may drown in their echo chamber in the cities, there is no saying which is the echo and which is real. Which is why, while we can believe in any number and any party it does not matter as long as you cast your vote.

1 comment:

Mayank said...

Great article. Couldn't have agreed more.

And if the media is still holding on to the illusion that they can influence voters, they jsut need to look at the results of the past 2 assembly elections in Gujarat. Despite the vitriol that was printed against the incumbent CM, the CM has held his sway on the people.