Changing Media.....

It is the same rat race. All over again. First, it was the radio. The TV came and ate it up. Then, it was the TV programmes of DDK – vying with each other. Chitrahaar, Buniyaad and Humlog were the masters – all other programmes, including the news, were holding only secondary position. Then came the TV boom, and Boom!

Boom! Boom! Boom! – it is still going on – the satellite channels, the cable TV channels, the dish channels and what not – everyday, the Indian viewer goes through the excruciating pain in his head when he is given another choice of one more TV channel. Choice! They scream.

Suddenly, TV was passé. It was Radio FM – Radio Mirch, Radio Masala, Radio Spice, what not. Then, the TV industry started branching out into capturing niche audiences with special programmes. The average TV viewer was zapped by a host of TV shows, and what should he/she watch so that they can tell in their office that they watched TV the day before?

Then, suddenly, it was the cellphone – and texting – it became the new fad, that even recipes were exchanged over cellphones – Then the IPODs exploded over the Indian subcontinent. The blinding flash is still on – and youngsters are still wired.

Computers and Internet, have always been in the background, never really challenging the positions of TV or cellphone – till the laptop boom.

So, now, we are still in the grip of TVs, Cellphones, Laptops, and Ipods.

Suddenly, the blog fever had hit the country. There were blogs on everything – Blogging became the new pastime, much to the consternation of journalists and writers. And now, blogging is passé. It has been pipped by Facebook and Twitter.

It will not be long before Twitter and Facebook are replaced by some other more popular media. The race goes on…..

Obituary has already been written to the Hoarding, (Can one ever forget the United India and Amul ads) – Some media like the Giant Balloon, Cinema Slides, kiosks, pamplets, etc are still in various stages of their demise.

In all this, the most important factor is that no single medium, has ever been able to sustain its share, except the newspapers, to a large extent. Even though the character of the newspaper industry has changed over the years and competition has really cut into the industry, the durability of newspapers have largely been more dependable than magazines. The need for DAILY news is something that can never be easily replaced.

The battle for attention between various mediums will go on – the real decider, is not a single individual – the collective society has to decide which medium will last, and which medium will go.

Be it blogging, magazines, TV, or social media, the the flexibility cycle of various media will keep changing the equations. And in India, the challenge of PR and Media consultants is to identify the target audience out of this maze, which is becoming increasingly difficult. Organisations are resorting to SMS and texting to communicate with their customers rather than advertise in any media. Target audiences are increasingly becoming fragmented by various factors – even social media like facebook or twitter become niches and to get attention in this scenario, is definitely a challenge.

In this challenge, Media is increasingly becoming irrelevant. Organisations that resort to increasing their standard of service, or product, have better chances to get profits these days. And how does the product/service get advertised?

WORD OF MOUTH!  Strangely familiar?


34 responses »

  1. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Thanks Nadi!

    Sonal, you are right. But those boys must be students or unemployed. As you get into the rut of earning an income these social fora gradually vanish out of your routine!

  2. nadi says:

    interesting article, Om.
    liked your comments, Geetashree.
    🙂 Sneha- funny, but scary too

  3. Dear Om,

    Media has been there from time immemorial whether by word of mouth or the innumerable mediums of communication that we have today. It is how best we use them to our advantage and not become slaves to them is what finally matters. I am sure you will agree.

    A good article on the media and its influence in society.

  4. Geetashree Chatterjee says:


    Bengalis are famous for their “addas” wherein from the mundane to the metaphysical gets discussed and debated upon vociferously. Unfortunately, with passage of time and the jet pace of living , the same has also dwindled to infrequent “catching ups”.

    Adda used to be an avenue of community gathering, social interaction, meeting up with old friends, brainstorming with colleagues, chatting up with relations and everything else under the sun which denoted human contact and communication. Most of what I have learnt in my formative years has been by listening to these family addas.

    Now these addas have been replaced by “virtual” friendships on the net which is now considered a better option as they are not “contaminated” by across the table intimidation (personal touch).

    It would be for a Sociologist to figure out the appropriate nomenclature to this process of “passive” socialization.

    • Thank you, Geetashree Madam,

      I think the “adda” of Bengal WAS there in every other state/region of India too, albeit in a different name and form. I feel so sad to use the word, “WAS” instead of is!

      But yes, only a sociologist would be able to properly tell whether social networking on the net has replaced adda/ or is the new form of “adda”

      Be that as it may, it really feels sad, no, when one looks back at the WAY things have changed over the years? I remember that when I was small, our joint family met for every occasion – big or small. But now, every one is busy in his/her own life, cocooned in his/her own nuclear family, and meets only for the death anniversaries of our parents! I often wonder, as to whether technology alone is to blame, or is it a combination of other factors like more wealth or busy corporate life. But whatever it is, the realisation that we have missed out on all the social interaction (esp within the family – these days, a family eating together AT HOME is becoming rare) dawns on the individual, only when he/she retires, and by then, it is usually too late. I speak more from personal experience here, Madam, from what I have seen in the lives of many of my relatives/friends.

    • Sonal Shree says:

      Allow me to drop in a line here, Om. Geeta,’addas’ are still there. I forgot to put that in my blog. In the evening, I can see group of people sitting and talking in those addas in Salt lake. Its almost semi-circular, isn’t it?

  5. Ilangovan.R says:

    Yes. Of course we miss all – the warmth of a healthy hand-shake, the humane touch of souls, the extravagant indulgence in affection while sharing in person and the unique feeling of staring at the dark sky at quiet nights for forging the oneness with Nature.
    Laptops and mobiles have become our partners. I Pods have become our friends. Deciet becomes our trait. Morals in our lives have been tampered with. Erraneous justifciations have become the `in-thing’.
    Valuses got eroded. The great Indian Inc is going awry – with no warmth and responsibility. U have to force them to undertake Corporate Responsibility Scheme.’
    A mother takes pride when a starnger gives her a lewd look when her daughter comes calling `mom,’ shocking him It is an ad. It could have been treated differently if u want to drive home the point that she is looking young since she uses their products such as ……
    The coprorate and media houses bully u to make u belive all wrong things… Take for example `Enthiran’ and its ad blitzkrig. Otherwise it would have been a flop. You pay ur har earned money to watch their channel. Unfortunately we are at the receiving end. The great Indian bears all Ignominy and goes on with no shame and self respect. Good Luck.

    R. Ilangovan/Salem

  6. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Very contemporary issue. The flux in the modes of communication perhaps can also be seen as technological and socio-cultural development which are as fast as the process of human alienation. We get tired and bored very quickly these days and need a constant variety to keep us entertained or so called ” informed”.

    However, I agree with you that our good, old newspapers are still going strong……its mass popularity lies in it inexpensive availability though as you rightly said the format has changed considerably to attract and retain the interest and attention of the urban readers, an outcome of competition from other media(?)

    But more relevant is the type of information being dished out and its effect on the general masses.

    I am not very good at social networking though one has to keep abreast of the latest to remain updated. Its interesting to observe the modern trends and thought processes through these sites though one may not staunchly conform to them.

    • Thank you, Geetashree Madam.

      The desire to keep up with the Jones next door, has become more of a need than a want because society makes “keeping abreast” of developments a must for social interaction of any kind – be it personal, or social networking. I for one, believe that the individual should have his/her own choice in deciding HOW to keep themselves informed! I still remember the fasttrack news capsules that were available for the busy executive, where the newspaper would have served as a viable and cheaper alternative.

  7. Varun Reddy says:

    Actually, while reading this article, the first thing that perhaps struck me were the words “Choice! They scream!” I had seen the TED talk by Mr. Barry Schwartz titled “The Paradox of Choice” and it was perhaps one of the few talks that I enjoyed thoroughly. We, in the modern society, are inundated with choices. Yes, it has gives us access to more and more, but I sometimes feel we are being showered with data which is not even relevant, and we lap it up because others do the same, and we need to “stay ahead” in the rat race of life and not feel left out.

    I still remember the good ol’ days (if I am permitted to say so, after all I am only 25 years old), when we used to come home after school and eagerly wait for the cartoons from 5 to 6 pm on DD Metro, for the Sunday 2-2.20 pm show “Oshin”, for “Swabhimaan” and we even used to see the local Telugu channel. Now we have specific channels for Cartoons (all types!), Japanese TV, for soaps and we also have tons of local channels. I wish to be offered choices, not be drowned in them.

    I find the internet useful as the choices are not shoved into your face (like the ads on TVs). I read, listen to, and download what I find useful and worthy.

    • Yes, Varun. Not only the media, even for products and services, the plethora of choices leave us perplexed. And as you said, we are often drowned in choices….

      That way, yes, Internet is a bit different, although the addiction part is just the same as in any media.

  8. Sonal Shree says:

    You have really hit the nail on the head. Personal communication is strangely missing now and nothing is same as it was earlier.

    At the same time, staying updated with the latest is so important.

    Even I relish the collection of letters that my parents wrote when I was in hostel but at the same time, I equally relish the emails that they send to me. The ink of the letters are fading, some old photographs are on the verge of spoiling but thanks to technology, we can save them through tools like scan and print and digital photography.

    Surely it will be wrong to say that just because somebody is not on Facebook, I cannot stay in touch with that person. For me, the key lies in taking control of myself rather than letting other things get the better of me. If I use something, it is in moderation and thankfully I am not addicted to anything so using new technology/mode is always okay so long as I am not over doing it and it is to my advantage.

  9. vimala madon says:

    Just today some of us were talking fondly of all the stacks of letters from and about loved ones which we have been hoarding – today’s generation has no such tactile memories that they can take out at a future date.
    And just yesterday when I was telling a friend from whom I used to borrow books that I hate him for switching over to the electronic substitute kindle, he replied that he had started to buy books all over again since he found them cheaper to acquire at this point.

    • Vimala Madon Madam,

      I too, really wish that books are back with a bang, as a “fashion accessory’ atleast!

      Yes, I fully agree with you – today’s children and generation do not even know that letters were a means of communication between relatives….

  10. deepika says:

    Very true. Modes of communication are changing rapidly and we are trying hard to keep pace with it.
    Enjoyed your blog as always.

  11. Indrani Talukdar says:

    It can’t be helped, I suppose. Communication is moving faster than the human capacity to absorb it. As my father keeps lamenting, letter writing has become a thing of the past.

    • I still treasure some of the letters that my mother wrote when I was in hostel. Letters were SO wonderful. It is only the FAST pace of the technologically modern world that has made us lose faith and touch with and through letters. Sad.

  12. Safiyyah says:

    I agree with Sneha about being wary of it all, and I too am slow to change, though I use best part of these technos, if not all. I feel a bit too exposed on these social networking sites.
    In UK we are struggling with not having a human voice when we ring some service provider or the other. and Now banks and utility suppliers are attracting ppl to their custom by offering actual ppl answering their helplines and all.
    Blogs here are a means to freedom of speech, which i feel was strangely missing frm this particular BLOG; which is how it is perceived here in the UK. Maybe thats a topic for another times.
    Enjoyed reading this, as i agree on most things expressed on here.
    Thanks for sharing.

  13. Beyniaz says:

    Very relevant blog. I am one of those who are slow to change and then give in completely! 🙂

  14. Sneha says:

    I’m a little perturbed by terms like ‘popular culture’ and hitting at the media. However, I more or less agree with most of the points you’ve said here.

    I’m somehow wary of social networking sites, which you mention in fleeting. Most of my students in degree college are of the opinion that one cannot live without facebook and twitter. I was appalled at this thought. Of course, some youngsters do see light (maybe like me) and know that there was communication happening even before all these sites did not come into being. I remember when I was growing up, in mid-nineties, how the cellphone boom happened. Anyone having a cellphone was considered ‘in’.

    Anyway, things come and things go 🙂
    Will leave with what I once read. A man and his girlfriend were having dinner together. Casual conversation formed the crux of the meet was causal intricacies.
    Next day, when he goes onto his twitter account, he notices how the woman had left a tweet (the very time they were having dinner together) that “Hating the noodles I’m having…uhh…bored!”
    Now, the entire world (or whatever part of it is on twitter) knows this, but not the person who was with her then.
    This; of course is extreme…but it’s slowing seeping into many lives…and relationships.

  15. A.Hari says:

    Quite interesting Om.

    Popular media these days ‘modify’ their content to suit the ads which appear in them. Both print & electronic media resort to ‘packaging’ their contents according to the ‘needs’ of their owners.

    In this scenario, blogs serve as ‘real alternative media’ and they have even succeeded in forcing the popular media to take up several issues which were deliberately not ‘covered’ by them for reasons best known to them.

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