April 7, 2007

Is this media ‘silly season’?

Those in the media know of, what is called, ‘silly season’ when hard news is hard to come by and reporters contrive news stories to keep themselves in print. When I set up a media blog with young friend Anand Balaji we would remember to sponsor an award for the silliest story of the season, comprising a citation plus a basket of Ooty carrots.

Among nominees for this category would be this Page One story in The Hindu (Bangalore) with the headline – ‘How safe are IT professionals working in booming Silicon City?’ Isn’t that a mouthful for a newspaper headline? The recent murder of software engineer Manoj Kumar has thrown up this all-important question, says the story, and cites statistics to substantiate the reporter’s statement. Readers are told there have been three such murders (software guys) in the last two years.

The news report speaks of “a notion that professionals from (IT) companies are increasingly becoming soft targets for criminals”. This is bit of a stretch because the suspects in all the three murders are said to be first-time offenders, not hardcore criminals.

The Hindu story is bylined. I don’t wish to name the reporter, as the focus here is on the story, not the reporter. It is not the reporter alone who can be held responsible for this silly story. The sub-editor (do newspapers still have one) who is accountable to the published text has evidently not exercised his news judgment The guy who gave the headline must have been particularly blank-headed to have come with something so bland as the ‘how-safe-is-it’ headline. And then the late-night editor, or whoever decides on page one stories, must have been hard put to it to find anything better for the page one bottom-spread slot.

1 comment:

anand balaji said...

Dear GVK Sir,
I had quite a laugh, but am saddened at the scenario. I'm alarmed that The Hindu's standards would plummet thus. But then, why should one blame the newspaper when it's the reporters and subs who are to be held responsible for being irresponsible!

I have my daily dose of merriment as I go through the pages of Vijay Times, my ex-employer. The bloopers are there for the laughing (if there's a phrase such as that!) on every page.

The best one was this headline that appeared a month ago in bold font on the business page : "Rising from the ashes like a Sphinx"
Can you beat that? Whatever happened to the poor old Phoenix?

Just goes to reiterate my belief that journalists today are those minnows who are in the profession for want of landing jobs as pizza deliverers! They inflict great harm with their half-baked knowledge and poverty of ideas.