1. Exaggerated pride or self confidence often resulting in retribution.
2. Overbearing presumption; arrogance.
Watch a cricket match in a room full of people and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Everyone seems to have an opinion about what fielding change Ganguly should bring about next, or who should bowl or if we are batting, where to knock the ball for a single… You can hear different versions of what’s really wrong with Sehwag’s technique. Comments which will really make you forgive Sidhu or Kris Srikkanth… at least these buggers played some international cricket.
More than an opinion, everybody seems to KNOW, more than what the guy on the field would.
Similarly, just eavesdrop into a saloon or a tea-shop conversation where there’s always this huge heated discussion on who or what is better than what. Congress or BJP? DMK or AIADMK? Sankaraman or Sankaracharya? Everybody seems to know.
The most enlightening part of being a journalist is learning to just sit back and observe.
And after ten years in this job … I think I can share with you something I learnt …
Oops, Now that I’m made myself sound really old, I should cut to Flashback.
I’m not really as old, I just started when I was in my second year of college, writing for this neighbourhood newspaper called Anna Nagar Times for three months before moving on to work for its underdog rival called Metro Ads — I wrote Film Reviews every week and used to simply love ripping apart movies to bits. I did that for hundred weeks and then did my M.S in Communication to find out how much I didn’t know about movies which I blatantly ripped, to find out how badly I used to write then, to find out that I was capable of doing better and that there’s nothing called perfection, especially when there’s the deadline noose tightening around your neck. That’s also when I learnt that journalism is actually “literature in a hurry.” And when I learnt that learning reaches its finality only with death.
So, while in communication school, we learnt the job on the job. We brought out a Weekly eight-page tabloid called A.m.plus, this time with supervision from the professors who taught us. You don’t need two years in communication school, two classes will do to learn that communication cannot be generic, it has to be tailored specially to reach different classes of people.
We are a nation of more than one billion people today. There are 40,000 publications with a total circulation of less than 10 crores. Yes, only a miniscule percent of our country actually reads. And only a fraction of it actually reads ENGLISH. Now, let’s break that further down into who reads what kind of English newspapers. In a crore, about 13 lakh read The Hindu, about 23 lakh read The Times of India, about 10 lakh read papers from the Express group and so on… But even within the readers of these papers, the tastes are diverse.
The Hindu stands for credibility and authentic news coverage while The Times of India is about aggressive marketing and reaching out to more people by giving them what they want and in the best possible way. Though I don’t read, even newspapers, all that much, I like The Times of India as much as I like The Hindu. I like Outlook as much as I like India Today (Check out their diametrically opposite takes on the Shankaracharya case) just like how I love David Dhawan films as much as I love Mani Ratnam or Kamal Hasan films. Why?
Because I understand who these guys are trying to talk to. David Dhawan doesn’t really give a damn to what some art film critic thinks about his movies just like how Mani Ratnam does not really think about industry conventions and public tastes when he makes his movies. When both of them are in the business of entertainment and making money, why don’t they really care?
Because they know who they are making their films for. They know who pays for the tickets. They really don’t care what the Censor officer’s wife thinks about their movies.
The basis for all communication lies in just that simple detail: target audience.
Just like the way you talk to the auto-driver isn’t always the same as the way you talk to your girlfriend or the way you talk to your boss, the way you write or make your movie has to do with who you are doing it for.
So, the way we write for one section of the newspaper need not be the same as the way we write for another not just because the audiences might be different but also because different stories need to be told differently. By writing our stories keeping the readers in mind, we know we have better chances of reaching them than our competition.
Forget newspapers, just look around the blog world. When Kiruba writes about a peephole video he saw or when Vinod freely circulates private pictures of a leading actress (machaan Vinod, see I’m helping you reach your 220 comments), not everybody is pleased. Why? Because people have different tastes. It’s not because Kiruba is wrong or Vinod is right, it’s simply because our takes and tastes on different issues are different.
Like I said earlier, India is a country of over one billion people, each of them different from each other. But yet, they are similar in a lot of ways. But India, makes only for one eighth of the world’s population. Then, imagine how many different point of views exist.
When it is impossible for two people in a same office or a classroom to agree, when it is possible for one person to hate another in a space of less than 100 square metres, imagine the magnitude of difference in opinions, takes, beliefs and reactions to any given issue, across the world.
I wrote this blog because I came across this other blog that discussed one of the stories I had written. It generated something like 50 comments (Hmmm…that surely is one discussion-generating story for sure) ranging from the blunt (“Sudish Kamath is an asshole”) to the smart (“Reading his story is like watching a T.Rajendar film… it’s so bad that it’s hilarious” (that’s my favourite, easily the best of the comments) and some not so smart lines like “his sense of humour is like a bunch of pigs wallowing in a sewer.” (very weak, for someone criticising sense of humour, ha ha!)
I don’t know if there are more such people discussing why my stories suck (Guys, I might even agree with you, but depending on which one you’re talking about!) but this is the only point I want to make. I write, for the people of good old Madras … who read the paper that is evolving with them and with the Times (Er… sorry but that pun was just too tempting!! 🙂
Clarification: The title of the blog just means I’m trying to fight my hubris, not yours! He he!