Yesterday. The ultimate heist. 4 of India’s most dangerous criminals meet in a shadowy bar in Delhi (Bar-ista)—-the sinister Vulture , the recurring 2.499999 and 2 other people whose name we cannot divulge. And there was another man—a mysterious figure calling himself James. For those who have seen the legendary “Chamiya” , this name inspires terror. Those who have not seen it, you are better off not knowing.
Today. The Times of India comes out with an expose. Yes they may have missed the match fixing scandal, the shadowy defense deal. Hell they may have even missed Shakti Kapoor’s “Aooo sharmao mat” come-on line. But never too late to start—-so here it is. MSM goes under cover to bust a Blogger’s Meet.
Confused? Don’t be. Delhi Times reporter James aka Ranjan Gumnam sorry Yumnam pretended to be a newbie blogger and attended a Delhi blog meet. Deep undercover, he asked some questions and came back and wrote a less-than-complimentary piece in TOI. I shall link to his blog first where you can check out his justification and his piece. [ Note: A single post blog reminiscent of a few “we love ponytails” blogs that sprung up with one post in October.]
There are a lot of things I could do. I could take Ranjan’s justification for his post and point out that for someone who goes to great length to demonstrate what a pedigreed blogger he is (having been associated with a portal no less) its a bit hypocritical to accuse the 4 bloggers who showed up as “self-important”. I could also point out the hokum he uses to justify his technology post but his “technical” arguments (re: splogs) have been taken apart here. I am not going to point out the ridiculousness of his so-called sting operation because it’s so self-evident. I am not going to point out his lack of objectivity (an MSM term, I am not sure how many journos would know that–paraphrasing James) and the lack of balance.
So why this post? Because James you need to be told something my friend.
Firstly, dont blur the issue. We, bloggers, know how insignificant we are in comparison to MSM people like you. Our traffic ranks nowhere close to what TOI gets and face it , management institutes with crores of advertising money wont give us a dime. So yes, we know we are of no concern to the MSM….of use only when one of you needs to write something fast and are looking for some insignificant net floatsam from which things may be lifted (or inspired using Anu Malik-speak) without due credit. Hence we are not fools to not realize that TOI has no deep agenda against us. If they really did, they would not have sent you to do the expose.
So what this actually is is payback on your part. I understand that it’s not a nice feeling when someone googles your name and what comes back associated with it are words like “clueless” and “dolt”. And reading the relevant posts, it’s not rocket science (especially for a bunch of people of whom half are IT professionals) to realize the absurdity of what you pass of as “technology reporting”. But then again, my blog may also be considered absurd by you so that’s not really the point.
The point is how you have misused your position in the media to carry on your personal battle of vendetta. How many people attend a blogger’s meet, whether one person calls himself an “elite blogger” (let’s assume he did) is not news. It’s not an expose. It’s just plain stupidity. I hope that being a big porter (blog–>blogger, portal–>porter) , you can understand that.
The second point. You make the point that the Indian blogosphere is nothing compared to the US blog-world which has much more influence. There can be strong points made for and against this conjecture but before we do that, there is a wider issue at stake. Let’s assume the desi blogosphere is junk.
Now ask the question: How do Indian newspapers (MSM) compare to US newspapers? When was the last time the New York Times had Robert De Niro’s birthday on its front page? When was the last time Washington Post debated whether Paris Hilton’s videofootage is fake or not? When was the last time you opened LA Times and found at the right hand side of your screen a picture of a busty blonde in a push up with the caption “July Babes”?
Besides Tehelka, which newspaper in recent memory has shown balls to go after the real bad guys? So before you point fingers at others, do some self-introspection. I am not just targeting one particular newspaper….most mainstream news outlets (with some notable exceptions) are glorified scandal rags that report on lifestyle and spicy politics and what Bipasa Basu’s future acting assignments are.
Which brings me to what ties together bloggers in this incestuous bond of mutual backslapping. It’s the fact that we have not sold out. We may be small, we may be insignificant but we are not for sale. We do not peddle editorial space, we do not use advertisements inside news items (unless its promotion for a new Mithun movie) and we do not kowtow to advertisers with big purse strings. We do not bring out paid surveys declaring certain management institutes as No 1 on very shady criteria. We may be quirky and opinionated and offensive but we are honest. The reason for that is maybe because , as you derisively pointed out, half of us are IT professionals (question 1: which ass did these figures come out of? question 2: are IT professionals not qualified to write ?)—-hence what we write does not earn our bread. Thus we can afford to be “independent”.
And its precisely because we are small and insignificant, that we remain temptation-free. Maybe if I start getting 1 million hits a day and Rajanikant calls me up with a role in his forthcoming movie as a backup dancer, I may say “Mithunda sucks”. Maybe if Rajsingh Dungarpur sent me a year’s supply of Hyderbadi biriyani, I would say “Sourav Ganguly needs to go”. The fact that not many people read my musings enables me to say what I want—I have no constituencies to pander to, no advertising revenue to maintain. This is why I like other bloggers and other bloggers (I hope) like me—because we shoot from the hip and political correctness be damned. All of us know what we are worth (next to nothing) and guess what, we like it that way. And that’s also what keeps us likeable.
When we see that one of these independent voices are being stifled either by men with ponytails or being lampooned by a guy called James, then we leap to his/her defense. It’s tough for people like you to understand—-people for whom the world is measured by “Can we afford to piss off these people?” It’s called camaraderie, it’s called mutual admiration and respect–unsullied by commercial considerations.
In conclusion, the day we really become self-important, we run the risk of morphing into you.
A really scary thought.