Reality Check India

The Hindu on bloggers again

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 1, 2007

This time they tell us that “Blogs wont change the world

Consider one of the main points in the article, that the plight of the “blogger with low visitor count” is not being publicised.

But the complementary outcome is not widely publicised — that is, all the people who are blogging their hearts out and never being heard beyond a tiny fan audience. At this point, a blog evangelist usually states that it’s possible to be happy even with only a select group of devotees. But they typically don’t want to grant that it’s also quite reasonable to be unhappy at not getting beyond that level. Talking mainly among a small self-selected group can also lead to a very misleading impression of the reach of one’s ideas.

Does this mean the prolific-but-low-page-view bloggers (almost all of whom do it as a hobby) are unhappy ? Me thinks not.

Talking to a self selected group is the heart and soul of the way the internet works, is it not ? How do you define self-selection in the internet ? I think readers of The Hindu are also self selected.  Not all visitors to any given blog are “devotees” in the sense that they are predisposed in favour of views expressed on a blog. It is certainly true that they are interested in the subject matter. Why else would they spend 5-10 mins of their day willingly looking at things that bore them ?

It is very misleading to classify all visitors to any website as “devotees”. To give you a prime example.

There are people like me who check the online version of The Hindu almost daily, but will not pay for the printed version nor click on any ads.  Yes, I know !


16 Responses

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  1. Anoop Saha said, on June 1, 2007 at 7:32 am

    Way to go!! I stopped paying for Hindu after their bizzare reportage of Nandigram carnage. I guess they have a proofreader who gets each news/opinion item endorsed from the party.

    In context, the original article appeared in Guardian. Very few in indian MSM write about blogs. The article misses the fact that blogging is less about increasing circulation and more about putting the point across.

  2. Barbarindian said, on June 1, 2007 at 11:35 am

    Indian media has a lot to fear from bloggers. They have been enjoying an oligopoly like situation with very little policing from the public. Just wait for the fun to begin.

    I believe their cost structure will also get affected when bloggers start making fun of phrases like “cousin sister” etc. on these papers. They will have to invest in better educated columnists and an army of secondary editors to eliminate typos.

  3. Revathi said, on June 1, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    I think foreign journals that write about india are often worse than indian journals. I dont know if any of you have had this experience.

  4. Observer said, on June 1, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Typical sequence of responses to an oncoming threat:

    a. Ignore it
    b. Belittle it
    c. Co-opt it and then kill it

    But with an increasingly fragmented audience, will this work at all? People will consume more media, rather than less, and will be less forgiving of the poor editorial standards of “national” newspapers. I have definitely not been impressed with the style of writing in the Hindu and Indian Express. Cliches like “check the menace”, “investigation is on”, “miscreants were nabbed”, etc find their way into these news columns with alarming frequency. It looks like just as most movies sound as if they have been dubbed/edited in the same studio, most journalists also graduate from the same school. Points to a paucity of film schools/studios and journalism institutes. No creativity at all! No emphasis on facts and an objective style of reporting. Even I can write better news articles than some of those stringers, and I do not know a whit of “journalism”.

  5. realitycheck said, on June 1, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    >> I believe their cost structure will also get affected when bloggers start making fun of phrases like “cousin sister” etc. on these papers. >>

    lol – that is hilarious ! !

  6. realitycheck said, on June 1, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Absolutely. Nandigram is no exception. Check out their edit today about the Gujjar protests. They are ripping the police apart while ignoring reports that some young policemen had their chests opened up. The last three days, they had not carried an edit about the issue at all (almost all other papers did).

    Yes, foreign journals coverage of India is not that great either. I am more worried about the local journals because India is set up in such a way that they ask the questions to the political class.

    Here is why I think bloggers can easily embarass the mainstream media or atleast be a major thorn in their flesh.

    1. Bloggers produce content , even if they are merely analysis of news reports or other statistics. Google loves it.

    2. Too much is hidden or cannot be talked about openly in India. The more they try to hide the unspeakable, the more bloggers will try to drag them into the light. The western media is almost diametrically opposite. Every issue is dissected in detail on every talk show Fox/CNN/NBC/BBC what have you.

    Can you imagine the nonstop coverage on Wolf Blitzer / Fox / others, if an incident like the Gujjar or Nandigram happens in their countries ?

    The bloggers have relatively less to add in those open societies, where everything is discussed threadbare to the point of exhaustion.

  7. Anoop Saha said, on June 1, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    off-topic: Ignore what the police says. The police usually doesn’t wait to open fire till the chests are ripped open. That is usually their first retort. A stone thrown gets a bullet back.

    Since police are only legitimate users of force, the natural corollary is that they use it sparsely and ONLY with proper command structure.

  8. Barbarindian said, on June 1, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    I must blog this tonight, thanks for all the tips on Gujjar above. Note how CNN-IBN says BJP-Gujjar stalemate continues. At what point does a national level crisis gets center’s attention? How long will they wait, till the whole state goes up in flames?

  9. Observer said, on June 2, 2007 at 2:16 am

    This is going to get interesting when private sector reservations come into force as “social justice” champion Meira Kumar is threatening. Each category will be fighting for their maximum share. What is needed is a total rollback of reservations, a brutal and harsh enforcement of two policies, “no discrimination” and zero tolerance of mob violence. If that means a Tiananmen style massacre, so be it. One of the reasons why the BC list has swelled is because of the vote/violence-based threats.

    The only way to make caste disappear in India is to first remove all caste-based benefits, allow people to change their names, including surnames, and strike all mention of caste from all government records. This will take some time, but this is the right thing to do. Seeing some of the caste-based violence on video is sending all kinds of scary thoughts through my mind. This is our land, and it is going to be torn apart by these politico sharks who are encouraging this destructive spiral.

    This reminds me of the “Scared Straight” program in US high schools, where the children are taken to a prison and shown what happens if they end up consuming drugs or get caught driving drunk and killing someone. I hope all politicians all over India see these caste-clash videos and change their behavior as soon as possible.

    The “social justice” champions who have led to the above perversions should realize that all well-meaning programs will be perverted by the politicos should also realize that the “proportionate representation” drum they keep beating also needs to be silenced. If this “proportionate representation” crackpot theory is made into another “constitutional amendment”, all communities all over India will now have an incentive to indulge in massive procreation with most of India resembling an overcrowded rats’ nest in a few decades. I do not think I want to visualize an India containing an additional 2 billion people if everyone starts having 5 kids again. This is beyond madness. Looks like Churchill was right, the nation has been turned over to scoundrels like the Arjun Singhs, illiterate Karunanidhi, Ramadosses etc to monkey with the social engineering and other things they do not understand.

    What is the likelihood of Indian leaders realizing this? I am pessimistically coming around to the view that Barbarindian might have been prophetic with the disintegrating India theory. Back to the future, 100 kingdoms and more here we come. We are already at 30, every decade may see a few more, Telangana, MaadigaNadu, Rayalaseema, VanniyarNadu (North TN), Thevar Nadu(South TN), Chota Chattisgarh, East UP, Belgaum, Mandya, Satara, GurjarRashtra, Eastern Sind, Kutchi, Khalistan, Azad Kashmir, Ladakh, Gulbarga, Konkanstan, Bengali Assam, Bodoland, Time for the global powers to divvy up what’s left. What a sad state of affairs. Instead of developing a culture of proud self-reliant people, the politicos have doomed Indians to a bunch of dole-seeking hooligans.

  10. Reason said, on June 2, 2007 at 10:37 am

    // off-topic: Ignore what the police says. The police usually doesn’t wait to open fire till the chests are ripped open. That is usually their first retort. A stone thrown gets a bullet back. //

    Would it be okay if a stone thrown at the Police got a stone back? or a pebble? or a ear of corn?

    In the US, a lesson given to new desi drivers by their mates used to be – if you are stopped by cops when driving, pull over and KEEP BOTH YOUR HANDS ON THE STEERING where the cops can see them. If you fiddle around or reach for your pockets etc, there are good chances you may be shot – the cops there are not told to wait and judge what is being flung at them – a stone or a pebble or a bullet – before responding back.

    The police are supposed to represent the State. It was said in this blog before that State should have monopoly over use of force.

  11. realitycheck said, on June 2, 2007 at 2:43 pm


    Absolutely, in most countries a stone thrown at the police will get a bullet back. Almost all Indians who visit these countries have no problems abiding by this cardinal rule. Perhaps in India , a case can be made in favour of graded force escalation. Vajra > Tear gas > Rubber bullets > tiny bags of sand > pellets come to mind. Also perhaps states need to be more cautious – they can probably videotape conditions under which they had to step up force from one level to the next.

    In any case, it is important to remember this : The Gurjars gave their lives for a purpose, to derive benefits for their caste. Their demands may be just or unjust.

    Why did the police give their lives ? What is the responsbility of the state towards those who are in charge of projecting its control ? Does it stop with a Khaki uniform and a vintage rifle ?

    The state must either calibrate its policies so that such violence is not needed to get ones voice heard (or) they must stand by and let an untrained and under equipped police force clean up their mess the best they can.

    Hmm – we are back to nation building 101. These kinds of debates took place last in the constituent assembly.

  12. Jai_Choorakkot said, on June 4, 2007 at 3:39 am


    Great response above. Unfortunately many/most protest gatherings assume they have a fundamental ‘right to riot’ and the stone throwing at the police is an accepted part of this re.Anoop’s comment.

    Your suggestions on graded escalation of force, and video evidence of mob violence triggering the police response are all very good and not too difficult either, come to think of it, with handycams pretty cheap now. This necessitates a mindset that the police accept they have to explain /justify their actions (and are actually serving and protecting us not our political masters).

    If you can agree that police on many occasions dont really go with such a fine-tuned response, but rather apply as *much force as they can get away with*, taking into account:
    – the social/economic/political clout of the people they are about to wreak violence on,
    – the presence of media,
    – their own caste/religious identities/ biases,
    – any other factors,

    you would be IMHO *perfectly* reasonable 🙂


  13. realitycheck said, on June 4, 2007 at 7:50 am

    >> If you can agree that police on many occasions dont really go with such a fine-tuned response, >>
    Yes Jai, that is true. On the other hand, overreaction is not planned either.
    Put yourself in the shoes of a policeman on riot control duty. When you are dealing with a furious mob – for that instant – *you* are the embodiment of all evil , of all injustice, of all the corruption and betrayal of the state. You are the going to play the role of an “anger outlet”. A punching bag. A whipping boy. For that moment, the rage is going to turn on you. In the hellish mayhem, no one will stop and think about the people who create this mess. Where are they now ? Can they make policies that create such fury and then slip into their bungalows when the fires rage outside ?
    There is stunning silence from the people who created this mess. Whether it is the SEZ issue or the quota issue – they do not have the right to point fingers at the police.
    When the time of reckoning came, our political stalwarts did not think it was even worth discussing the quota issue for a few minutes in both houses of parliament ( see and ) for the voice vote in LS and RS respectively.

  14. How do we Know said, on June 4, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    I don’t really know about the others. Just that one tends to depend more on blogs for good analysis these days.

    Am not a stickler for language myself, but do feel sorry for children who are asked to use newspapers to improve their conversational English and man! What trash they are exposed to!

    Personally, i think bloggers provide a wider perspective, deeper analysis, and may i add, cheaper?

  15. Buddha Ram said, on June 12, 2007 at 5:16 am

    HINDU has its biases rather clear, whether it be political, technological or social issues.

    I have been particularly following the newspaper for a long time on its biased reporting, particularly in its financial newspaper, the Business Line of the Genetically Modified Crops issue. In this issue, HINDU is completely pro-Corporate biased.

  16. Gurmeet said, on June 18, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    Since this is a season of quotas and reservations, let the government declare low visit bloggers as OBC’s (Obscure Blogger’s Caboodle) and reserve, in fact compulsorily direct, 99% traffic towards them( since they make up 99% of all bloggers).

    Let social justice reign on the net- and traffic rain towards me!

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