A number of readers disagreed vehemently; a number thought the blog was a waste of time; a number thought I was posting for the sake of posting, having nothing to say on anything.
I’m going back there; to why the omission of Aircel and Dentsu bothers the hell out of me.
I need to trust the newspaper.
The environment throws up an almost infinite number of stories each day. The editor and the editorial team have a finite number of pages at their disposal and have to sift through all these zillions of news items and decide on which of these is most important to their readers.
They decide, and they have the right to decide, because they know more than the average reader. They believe that I need to be kept informed of certain discussions in parliament but not of others. They decide that certain sporting events matter, but not others. They decide that I need to know about certain crimes committed in the city and in the country but not the rest.
You get the drift.
That’s a lot that the editor and his or her team decide on.
And I keep reading various newspapers and, based on what each one delivers to me, I like one more than the others.
Fundamentally, I trust one more than the others.
My views on myriad things are shaped by news media that I trust. From movies that I watch, to restaurants I dine in, stocks that I invest in, builders that I might buy a property from, politicians that I vote for, all these decisions are based, significantly, on news sources that I trust.
If the newspaper I trust tells me that the best candidate in my constituency is John Doe, I will be inclined to vote for John Doe. And if John Doe and his party are voted to power, the newspaper has a large role to play in the very formation of the government.
That’s a big, big, responsibility that the newspaper has.
That’s why I need a newspaper that I can trust.
I need to be sure that the decision of the newspaper to promote John Doe is based on the editorial team’s unbiased opinion, not influenced by any factor other than their knowledge and their judgment. I need to be sure that the editorial team is ignoring other candidates only because, in their judgment, the others do not deserve to be recognized and promoted.
I need to stay confident that, when the newspaper says a political party is good, the opinion is based on editorial judgment, not based on the party’s ability to pay for the space.
A number of readers have said that the Aircel story is no big deal, that all of us know that such treatment is common practice in news media, not just The Times of India. I agree. I have written, in these very columns, that every single news product has a Medianet equivalent.
And I rave and rant, because I want to go back to a time when one could trust newspapers and news television completely.
The need to trust news sources is paramount because of the role that they play in a democracy. They are there to keep a check on the mishaps that we may see in a democracy. It’s not for nothing that they are called the fourth estate.
There are a lot of realities in new journalism and in the way newspapers and news television are run.
One of them is the Aircel story.
It’s a reality, but that doesn’t make it right.