Monday, March 15, 2010

Media insecurity over new media

Agent Provocateur: Don’t block the ‘Internet Hindus’
Usual Suspects: Virtual jihadis threaten www

Both Kanchan Gupta and Swapan Dasgupta came out with their views on the newly coined term 'Internet Hindus'. While Kanchan Gupta is more accommodative, Swapan seems to have gone overboard liking it to 'virtual jihad'. But the bottom line is, irrespective of the ideological orientation, the media persons are getting worried.

We have often discussed how the leftists control the media. On a few occasions, we discussed about the absence of right-wing intellectualism in all but the internet space. So why is the media getting worried about this miniscule presence of rightists and nationalists? In fact, I would go on to say that a lot of the internet activity is driven by national interest rather than an ardent support for BJP. It is only incidental that BJP happens to the party which is more aligned to our national interest and the rest of the parties are various shades of anti-national parties. A gross generationalisation but I can live with it.

What the media is terming as 'Internet Hindus' is actually 'Internet Nationalists'. The survey results which Kanchan Gupta refers to also points out to this. But because the leftists want to indulge in ritual hindu bashing, they picked this convenient term. Whatever terminology they chose, it wont matter because they just cannot moderate the internet space and they cant withstand the rising tide of public resentment towards media. Coming back to the question, why is the media upset by national activists on the internet?

Our journalists, who are shaping public opinion, have a certain set of motivations and limitations:
1. Ideological blindness: First and foremost, guys like N.Ram just dont bring any great value to the discussion table. If we cut the prose, there is hardly any political insight they bring. I am not saying they lack the ability; it is just that they are ideologically blinded to give any fair and balanced evaluation of events.

2. Insecurity: Journalists need to worry about job security. They need to stick to a certain slant in reporting if they are to survive in the industry dominated by leftists.

3. Lure of sinecure: Most media outlets work as an extension of the ruling government for fear of reprisal. But some journalists sell their wares in expectation of a sinecure job. For example, Harish Khare did this by endlessly praising the dynasty and he was duly rewarded by the congress government.

4. Lack of talent: Journalism was not a good career choice for long. Things might have changed significantly now but it failed to attract talent. So barring a few exceptions, there is pervasive mediocrity in the industry.

5. Poor understanding of technology: Most media people are trying to understand and catch up with technology but they are not still not quite comfortable with it. While this in itself may not be a problem, they are definitely holding some suspicion towards the internet because it is disrupting their existing business model. They are also trying to carry their vast understanding of the traditional industry to relate to the new medium. Unfortunately, this is not how you approach  a disruptive technology.

Let me pause for a moment and address Swapan Dasgupta's suggestion to moderate the internet to cut off the poison keyboards. I have great regard for Swapan and I have repeatedly stated this on this blog. But, I have to point out that this suggestion by Swapan betrays suspicion or old style tactics to a disruptive technology. Sorry, Swapan, you got it all wrong here.

6. Accountability: Media has long been acting with hardly any accountability. This is still the case in traditional media. When the media is trying to embrace the new medium, suddenly there is an extraordinary demand for accountability.

The internet audience is working beyond these boundaries. They are challenging the journalists in a level playing field. Our mediamen are not used to their views being questioned. Remember Vishnu "Minaret" Som? And they are not ready for a debate because it means they have to get out of their comfort zone.

The internet audience is demanding enlightened national interest. They are demanding more accountability. Most of them are already highly successful in their careers. They are not dedicating their time as activists for a few bread crumbs or some perks to pep up their lifestyle.

But here is what I think upsets the accomplished journalists the most. The highly successful among them have worked hard, established good networks and built a reputation in the old media industry. But when moving to the new medium, they find that all their past has come to nought. Because on internet, eventually it boils down to ideas. Name can only give a good headstart.

Wrong ideas will invite censure from the faceless readers. It is silly for the media people to lump the readers (another example of old media habits) as "internet hindus" and try to deride them. This is reactionary and definitely not the right approach. Just as a good number of these peoples participate in various discussions on the internet,  a more diverse worldwide audience is likely to indulge in debates on Indian matters. And then, this title "internet hindus" will sound as ridiculous as that other communist hallucination called "hindu growth rate". It is important to look beyond such artificial categorizations and recognize the internet for what it is.

Internet is more participatory than the old media industry. This is a huge difference from old style when you consider that the rules of engagement are vastly different. Our media people have failed to recognize and understand both these aspects. They are realising that uncensored reader response is not as flattering. And they are getting upset that their tried and tested tactics are not working here to good effect.

To me, it appears as if this issue is not about "internet hindus". In many ways, our media people are stumbling along their way to the new reality. They are not liking the ride and hence complaining. The hard-wired leftists as usual are blaming it on hindus.


Xinhua Ram said...

Whatever be the conclusion, the much maligned Hindu has found a new weapon in the internet. He is no longer a doormat to be trampled upon. Having said this, I should caution Hindus to limit their use of this new weapon. Too much of victimhood will make them more like Muslim community - no one really benefits from it.

As per Swapan Dasgupta, he is a known Anglophile, a typical Macaulay product, who had no reason to be aligned with the BJP other than to steer it towards western style capitalism.

Hindu Fundamentalist said...

Nice comment. As long as we refrain from calls for violence, I think a fair amount of debate can occur. I agree that Hindus must realize the internet potential within such boundaries.

I have been reading Swapan Dasgupta even when he was writing for sify. As far as I can recollect, this is the first time I noticed a discord. I did let him know my opinion. :-)

Pilid said...


Did you follow the debate on The transcript is here. Same issue came up. Frankly, I think this IH issue is a little overblown. Not sure why anyone should care about the label.

Raj said...

more power to guys like you. keep up the good work.

Hindu Fundamentalist said...

Thanks for the link. Swapan's response is more along the lines mentioned by XR. The views expressed by him are so different from his articles that I am guessing some chinese hacker got into his computer. ;-)

The discussion itself was less about IH. People talked about economic upliftment, right-wing intellectualism, etc.

I didn't want to address the various issues connected with internet activism. So in this post I only spoke about it from a media perspective. I will probably write more about internet activism in a future post.

Anonymous said...

When Swapanda rubs shoulders with the likes of Prannoy Roy and Rajiv Sardesai perhaps he wants to make sure he is not tainted in the least with the label of Hindutva and look sophisticated and acceptable to his "secular-intellectual" peers of the old media establishment.

This seems to be the dilemma, in general, for those classified as "right-wing". In the good old days (when Hindutva was not the buzz word) they invariably got the CIA-capitalist tag.

Anonymous said...

Chindu cannot fathom BJP giving office-bearer posts to muslims and tries hard to belittle that.

Wonder how many muslims in CPI-M politburo? ( One - Mohd. Amin ). But NaxalR would rather not talk about that...


bjp_supporter said...

Some comments are wondering about Swapan. I think he had a conversion experience around May 2009. That is pretty hard not to notice.

People have such conversion experiences all the time. not that there is anything bad with that (said Seinfeld style). for example, a character called 'periyar dasan' had a conversion experience recently on a visit to saudi arabia. happens.

my tip - ignore Swapan.

Anonymous said...

It seems this (ex)-Periyar dasan is vehmently denying that he had taken money to become Dr. Abdullah!

In the case of Swapan Dasgupta it may be in kind (one of those Padma awards) or some sumptuous posting as awarded to Chidnu's own H. Khare.

Venkat Ramanan said...

Excellent article - one of the best I've read on CBCNN. Keep up the good work author!!

Yep Swapan's image makeover was very visible around May 2009 - was election just a coincidence??! ;)

The mainstream media for sure is rattled by the new age media. Look at how the burkhas and sagarikas never miss a chance to take a jibe at the bloggers and twitters. burkha even tried to ask for some regulation for blogs instead of asking the govt to remove regulations on them....!!

B Shantanu said...

Great post HF!

Raghu said...

I don't care much for Kanchan Gupta or Swapan Dasgupta.
Kkangress and Commie scum might have coined the term and raised the issue because:
1) They are getting back as good as they give, or worse
2) The online Hindu is intelligent and savvy,
3) He has a prodigious memory (due to the large range of writers
4)He may be influential and well connected (being in the forefront of various fields)
5)He is definitely influencing a whole new generation of youth
6)The Commies are losing the 2 states where they had a foothold and which they have almost irreparably damaged, at least intellectually/ culturally.
7)An increasing no. of people, like me, completely disregard all the biased, blindsided ELM (Newspapers and TV).
8)The Mozzies and the Xtians are properly dissected and exposed in various online fora.
9) There are several international websites which actively dismember Xtians and Mozzies and support Hindus.
So there!