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26 December, 2005

The Importance of Numbers


The power of the media lies in its reach; it's a power derived from the belief that if a large number of people know about an issue, someone's conscience (or shame) will force its way through the rubble of accountability and lead to action. Repeated questioning and efforts by the media to keep an issue alive are important tools to this end. But while we know conscience and shame don't always find a way through (politics is a convenient example), numbers are everything.

Of course, if you don't have the numbers and are a small, little-known website, or if your GRP's are declining, then you need to do something drastic that forces the other (often bigger) players to take notice and jump on to the bandwagon while you take the credit, albeit deservedly. But, but, but - numbers are everything.

My first reaction to this post by H.R. Venkatesh on the IBN Blogs was to feel sorry for Sepoy Shukla, not as much because of what was done to him, but of what Venkatesh did/didn't do. The sepoy's story:

Shukla, frustrated at not being alloted living quarters, had dared to question his superiors, who were allegedly sub-letting their own quarters to civilians to make that extra buck. For his troubles, Shukla was beaten up and charge-sheeted. He was also given temporary transfer orders to Jammu & Kashmir.

Shukla said he wasn't even allowed to complain to his superiors' superiors and had been ordered not to leave the company HQ.

The sepoy wanted the story to be aired on TV, but unfortunately CNN-IBN was not on air yet. It seems that he mistook Venkatesh's suggestion to seek an Aaj Tak/NDTV reporter as being brushed off. Eventually, Ventakesh took the sepoy's sound bite and with the sepoy's best interests in mind, informed the army spokesperson. Venkatesh ends the post by saying:

Shukla may have received justice. But just as easily, he may have lost his job. If only we'd been on air then...

I'm going to be a cynic and say that I think the sepoy may have lost his job, since what his superiors were allegedly doing was illegal. The spokesperson might not have taken the news seriously because at that time, the story wasn't backed up by numbers, which denied his conscience the necessary fillip; Sepoy Shukla probably suffered even more.

*

While on CNN-IBN - I love the idea of reporters blogging on the CNN-IBN site. For long, there has been a cold war between the MSM and the Indian Bloggers, and this is a step in the right direction. Truly - if you can't beat them, join them. Better still, make them join you. It almost seems as if an MSM rule is being broken here by bridging this gap, but this is a positive and healthy move, and seems pathbreaking. Also, I sincerely hope the idea doesn't die out, because the story behind the story often doesn't get told, and blogs give issues a sense of permanence that 24x7 TV can't provide. TV, however, has its advantages because (Indian) blogs still lack numbers.

Crossposted at Mixed Bag

9 Comments:

Blogger wise donkey said...

so why cant the story be followed up now? i fail to understand.

well i did read and comment on some ibn blogs, but they suddenly disappear from the site, and even when another post of that blogger is posted, the previous post is unavailable.

hate it when you ask something and the blogger doesnt care to reply.

or worse, the blogger could have replied but the ibn would have removed the blog from their page.

**
on blogs which are on official company site, do the journo-bloggers really have freedom?
i doubt it.

28/12/05 10:42 pm  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

so why cant the story be followed up now? i fail to understand.

I saw comment on the post, and agree. I guess thats where the editors come in (I really don't know) - they probably decide which story they pursue and which they reject.

hate it when you ask something and the blogger doesnt care to reply. or worse, the blogger could have replied but the ibn would have removed the blog from their page

Heh. I'm yet to receive a response to my post. But let's not assume too much. Maybe he's busy on another story. He hasn't blogged since.

From what I've read so far, they seem to have a lot of freedom, except that it seems as if they can only post about their own beat, or on the IBN experience.

I'm more interested in how they end up, say, three months from now. This is probably just a novelty rush.

Oh! Word verification code: newxub :D

29/12/05 12:41 am  
Blogger shyam said...

wise donkey: the previous posts are available on the blogger's page than the blog's homepage. The section (and the entire site for that matter) is still under active development and honestly, the current layout is too crummy to give everyone decent enough display and yes, there is no display for the previous posts from the full entry page, that sucks. We are working to fix it, it will take a bit of time, it is a tiny team that we have and too many loose ends to tie up, so do be patient with us and you can take my word for it that you'll find more success with complaints here than the old days at o3. BTW, HR's blog url is here and I see that he's commented on it. I'd also sent him the link for this post. But, once again, do accept my apologies, we'll fix it soon.

The Unrest Cure: I have not seen him around for a bit, so I assume he's been busy, but I can't speak for the man.

Freedom is very much there, at least until now since we have not had any problems with what's been posted. There are official guidelines, but that does not specify anything about writing just about IBN or their beats. What it does specify is not to pick fights, disclose confidential information etc, it is harmless enough to be even posted here. Nobody's being pressured into anything, which has its negative sides too, too many single entry blogs on the page now; like you said, it would be interesting to see how it fares three months down the line.

29/12/05 1:28 am  
Blogger wise donkey said...

oh a response :))

the unrest cure ok:)

codey
thanks for the link, i was wondering about it.
after all we are talking about a person's career here. and i was imaginin what if i had been the sepoy, and how i deal with the consequences etc etc...

"old days at o3" lol. that stunned me.
guess its a small world and i have to be less shrill:(

29/12/05 5:38 am  
Blogger shyam said...

wise donkey: I don't know about shrill, but it was sort of good fun to sit by the sidelines and see all the bickering that went on there. Surprisingly, a lot of real people actually use o3!

29/12/05 10:56 pm  
Blogger √úbermaniam said...

Just goes to prove that bloggers will get some kind of power only when they work with MSM. and if taking on MSm is one way of trying to work with MSM, so be it. We've got to stop looking at things as an Us and them situation. Then again, like Pepsi and Coke, maybe the future of bott forms of expression lies in taking up an Us and them stance. Never mind. Nice post. And am sure it'll get lost in the many, many nice posts that will surely come this way. SMS reporter. Very nice.

30/12/05 2:37 am  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Just goes to prove that bloggers will get some kind of power only when they work with MSM. and if taking on MSm is one way of trying to work with MSM, so be it.

Hey, interesting point. Taking sides amounts to politics, and I don't think a community as diverse as the Indian Bloggers will let that happen. While there have been instances of herd-like behaviour, even 80% compliance is unlikely.

In the interest of free speech, bloggers shouldn't think twice about commenting on an issue related to CNN-IBN, even if they've chosen to (apparently) support bloggers.

Nice post. And am sure it'll get lost in the many, many nice posts that will surely come this way. SMS reporter. Very nice.

Thanks. :)
(SMS Reporter is where we, those who aren't registered members of this blog, mail in our posts)

30/12/05 7:30 pm  
Blogger shyam said...

In the interest of free speech, bloggers shouldn't think twice about commenting on an issue related to CNN-IBN, even if they've chosen to (apparently) support bloggers.

I second that :)

31/12/05 12:16 am  
Blogger wise donkey said...

now whats this? :)
http://informer.indiatimes.com

2/1/06 9:06 pm  

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