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!
Suds, that was too much man! lovely one that! what i really loved was that bit abt ‘journo is literature in a hurry’…true and not true…but still loved it! anyway the analysis was groovy! way to go suds! catch ya online sumtime…shelob!
Either I missed something staring at me on the face or u gave the wrong link, couldnt get to read the Suderman sahasranamams, what a disappointment:(
Very touching, but I guess being a journalist in a big newspaper, you must be prepared for such opinions on your reviews as well.
And thanks for publicising my efforts to gather comments. You are GOD! Ok, maybe that’s taking it too far but it’s definitely better than a TR film!!!
P.S: Those pics are far from private. They’re everywhere, including http://www.trishakrishnan.com!!!! lol!
And don’t worry, we still love your reviews!
I’ll tell you something else that’s impossible for 2 ppl to agree upon..
Call a couple of friends, tell them a Pizza treat’s on you… and ask them to choose 2 toppings! 🙂
and thanks for blogrollin me..
Good one Sudhish. I guess there is always an audience.. even for articles we think is outrageously crappy.
sudhish – do you have a resolution to get into guniess book of records for the length of your blogs. just kidding!
Anyway, I think everybody is entitled to their opinions – that is their freedom and as long as they are within their boundaries it is fine! publishing indecent materials is certainly beyond those boundaries.
Journos….. they are the ones who first form opinions even before public and ensure public forms the same opinions as them!
thanks shelob! 🙂
The link is just the same. its the third story from the top…dated Oct.21. No bills, have thrills or somethin like that. it has 46comments. u can join the party… 🙂
Ya man, u know wat i do everytime i want a topping of my choice… i’ll tell them Baby corn… point to one of those noisy toddlers in the play pen and say… That One! ha ha!
I’m always looking for criticism, why else wud i post a blog like this? 😀 Always been ready to listen to opinions and counter opinions… Only that i appreciate it a little more when I know who’s telling me that… cuz like i said the target audience matters… i need to know WHO EXACTLY thinks i suck… and decide if I shd write another story like that… The Petrosexual story, for example, seems to be a decent piece considering it had something like 50 comments just discussing that story… personally, i wasn’t really happy with the edited version, the unedited version i thot was more wicked… u can find that in my October archives under the head. Cheapness in Chennai: Unedited.
machaan, sorry i left u out in the previous comment… couldnt keep track. u dont have to like my reviews… i dont like some of my reviews! ha ha!
and yeah, i’m always ready for criticism and just opinions… wat do i lose by listening to people, i do that for a living! 🙂
And Anonymous, that was a good observation in that last line… Journos are ppl who first form opinions and write… u got a point there but I guess they are the best people to form the first opinions considering that they’ve followed the people and issues they write about for a longer time than u would have and from closer quarters. Which is why I think having different point of views from varios newspapers and magazines is a good thing… Never read one take or buy one point of view… truth is not absolute or monotone, it has many versions, depending on where u are looking at it from. journalism is about trying to capture all those possible versions… those journos who think they know, stick to one version. Those who don’t, the sceptics, are always in pursuit of more versions of the truth…
but since most newspapers and magazines stick to one stand they have taken, it’s always wise to read multiple takes through diametrically opposite newspapers… which is why i read times of india and the Hindu and the Express… which is why i read Outlook and India Today… don’t EVER form ur opinion on the basis of one story, compare differing points of views before u arrive at yours… and remember, it isnt always necessary to have an opinion… I don’t have an opinion on politics or religion, cuz i believe I cannot form an opinion when not even half the information is available to me… i dont know who all is corrupt in politics just like I dunno if God exists or not and if He did, what happened to a She-God?
Which is why I take the safe way out and call myself agnostic, not an athiest!
it comes down to the state of mind. in a decent mood, i am amazed at how differently people think. in a less generous mood, you just feel like kicking the other guy’s butt!
Sudhish..Hate to make it sound like a classroom.. but for us journalism illiterate junta, whats the life-story of an article on a controversial/mundane piece of news.. from a reporter to the morning headline.
I don’t know if we can every say that we don’t have any opinion of a particular topic. I believe that we always have a opinion, it might be change from one to another. It’s just like Energy, It can neither be created nor destroyed but can change from one to another.
So this is called creating news.That comments section had just 5 comments out of a total of 46, talking abt u and atleast 3 were by the same person. so there r very few people discussing ur story, back to earth suderman:)
sankalp, dude, u miss the point of my blog… its not just in response to that blog I mentioned (in fact I saw that days ago), its just a reflection of what I really felt like saying… a simple theory that there are a multiple reactions and opinions to every story… and that u cant please everybody.
and to ur point about comments about me… i wasnt responding just to the five personal comments (I couldn’t figure out the identities and but what I make out of it are they’re just a bunch of harmless college kids), but the overall impact of a feature (if u remember the post itself was about my story).. 46 comments discussing the idea of what the story was about — not spending money!
and my, my, u are beginning to sound like a regular nit-picking rather nagging housewife… he he!
You had a point last time, this time… your point REJECTED! 🙂
dude… okay, when I say i dont have an opinion, it just means that I don’t think I can come to a conclusion about certain things…
For example: I might have an opinion that politics sucks, there’s plenty of corruption but to comment who’s better, I need to know a whole lot of information… so when I know that I do not have access to all information and when Im sure that there is more to the full picture than what I know, I refrain from making a comment because half-knowledge could be dangerous! hence, I say no comment, I don’t have an opinion or rather the only opinion I have is: I’m not competent to comment on that! Hope that clarifies… Cheers man!
Guru, man… different journalists have different approaches… working styles largely differ according to the nature of the beat…
a film journalist like me gets most of the information over phone and people just wanna get publicity in most cases… so life s much easier for me than my colleagues who actually do the legwork… running around, trying to get people to talk, getting the facts right, finding out what’s new, planting moles, investigating and getting the latest updates about an issue or an incident or plans which could affect lives of people.
but basically, reporter gets the story, types it, gets it reviewed by a colleague for grammar and clarity, hands it over to the city editor who checks for grammar, clarity and accuracy, who in turn makes his changes and then the copy goes over to the copy desk where the sub-editors just check it all over again for grammar and clarity and then come up with a headline and mount the story on the page along with the picture and finally the page gets approved by the News Editor.
So, features work a little differently…
The Metro Plus section is a lifestyle magazine that makes for light reading… the idea is not to bomb the readers with statistics and hardcore data and analysis but just write a story that makes for breezy reading… sometimes its just star interviews, sometimes stories like the Petrosexual one… total timepass… the magazine section or light features are where most writers unwind… let themselves loose. that’s just in addition to the hardcore news gathering most people do.
The Reviews section has a different working style… they really make sure there are no personal comments but just objective criticism… they don’t want funny comments just straight remarks with a storyline because they believe people here do wanna know what the story of the movie is really all about.
The sunday magazine features are a direct contrast to the metro plus features… they are more serious, credible, stories requiring thorough research and hence are written by really specialised journalists..
But in all these departments, reporters/writers hand over the copy to the sub-editors for the approval of the Editor in-charge of the supplement and the sub-editors sit with the pagination technicians to mount the story on the page.
Hope that answers. Cheers man!
True, the current mood of the receiver of a communication is one of the factors that determines his feedback. and a very important determinant.
And sometimes, it’s not just the mood but also change in outlook… Watching a movie like Mitr, you might think that Revathy shouldn’t ever direct…but then you watch a Phir Milenge and that changes your opinion… your respect for Revathy suddenly shoots up, you now respond softer to her future films because you know what she is capable of…
Another determinant to reactions to any communication is the human nature to contradict one-self. It is human to contradict yourself for the simple reason that we are a sum total of our experiences. Opinions change, people change.
The reason I call my blog Suderman versus Sudhish Kamath is because I like to counter the other, just to maintain a balance. Good is of no purpose in the planet without evil (Watch the Matrix)… and the sweet is not sweet if you din’t know what was sour (Watch Vanilla Sky)… to maintain an equilibrium and balance in this universe, we need many sides of the same story, many opinions and perspectives which need to be juxtaposed against each other to give a more accurate picture of what truth is all about. It’s not just journalism that is in pursuit of truth, every human activity is… be in science or religion (Watch Contact)… only the routes differ.
I had a while ago blogged about a girl who really liked my stories. Hence, it was only a balancing act to write about another who didn’t. Simple. That’s how news works. Report both sides, or many if there are. Balance. Cheers!
I am officially protesting the MCP comment abt “regular nit picking, nagging housewife” 😦
I plead guilty… ha ha!
That comment wasn’t me, just my hubris speaking tho it dint mean it in an MCP way… there are nagging housewives just like there are abusive husbands… maybe u can call that a stereotype or a cliche instead of an MCP comment!
Suderman, I love that ‘he he’ & the ‘ha ha’ comments from you. Since we are drawing up to Christmas, a ‘ho ho’ shortly from you? 🙂
it takes all types to make a world. sometimes ppl are rubbishing what you think was a rather well-written story. other times, u cant figure out why they liked that bad piece (you want to forget) so much to want to come and tell u they did. you dint ask for both! 🙂
but tell u what? we dont write to please others. if we started to, where would we start!? 🙂