Monday, December 19, 2005

the buffalo herd chakravyuh

A friend once explained why smoking up was good for the brain using Cliff's famous Buffalo Herd Theory from Cheers.

In the wake of Chakravyuh, I am left wondering if these repeated stings are only improving the politician herd's working efficiency by eliminating the weak links. It is only
the small fry that these stings attack - the Bangaru Laxmans and Shakti Kapoors of obscure marginalia.

Also the method is bound to lose its charm both for audiences and for the actors very soon. And clearly, Chakravyuh is aiming at boosting TRPs, for they ran promos of Watch out for Chakravyuh! (Imagine the poors sods who wondered, like the rest of India, what the show was about, only to find themselves starring in it the same evening.) I don't mean to imply the earlier Tehelka sting and Duryodhan (I refuse to discuss the Shakti Kapoor sting) had only lofty journalistic ideals when they conducted their operation, but an operation of this sort relies purely on the surprise element for its success. So to overuse the method (about which I have no qualms, as long as the issue is worth my time) will surely lead to its demise, for targets are likely to be on their guard.

In a way, it's like a guerilla force attacking i the same place at the same time repeatedly.

Moreover, the method is likely to lose its charm for audience (just how long can you watch oversmiling politicians on a grainy recording with scrambled sound output?) and driven, as most media is, almost entirely by TRPs, the method is clearly headed for a hasty end.

Another grouse I have is that not enough attention is paid to the process of target selection. Being excluded grants absolute immunity. The method might be easy prey to the politics of vendetta.

Honestly, my interest in this sting thing is flagging.
What happened to serious journalism? (And I am fully aware I sound like an old fart here.)
I consider editorial insight to be, above all, an ability to put things in perspective.
How important is this issue here?
I mean not the issue of corruption itself, but the fact that it exists.
Isn't that what Chakravyuh really established?

Ok so there is corruption in the country. (My, who would've thought that?)
Now what?

How about some constructive suggestions? With the audiences still hooked onto the issue, any suggestion will be hard to ignore for a legislature already on the backfoot.

Perhaps suggest an Ombudsman who will look into financial status of government personnel. In a way, the Ombudsman will carry on with the work of the EC, after candidates have been elected. Or
an independent permanent commission modelled on the EC, which will have powers to investigate into financial transactions in all walks of life. (I believe the Enforcement Directorate does this right now, but I am not clear on that count. SEBI, of course, has jurisdiction on stock market related transactions, including underhand dealings.)

The issue brings me to the larger question of media control.
Governmental control is out of the question.
Advertising revenue induces the media to go easy on corporates.
Vinod Mehta openly admitted to going easy on corporates.

Advertising revenue also forces the media to aim for higher TRPs only to boost up ad revenue per minute.

What are the solutions?
I don't know.

The Internet is, of course, the most cost effective medium today.
Or a reasonable ad-space-to-articles ratio, in print media.

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