Sunday, April 22, 2007

Quality of news

A while back, one of my ex-manager (who is in USA) was mentioning about how shallow the news reporting there was. An example he cited was of a cat being stuck in the tree becoming national news.

This was around 2003-2004 : and the Indian news 'industry' was shifting into full gear. Even though we had a whole bunch of 24 hour news channels mushrooming all over the airways - yet the quality of reporting was quite decent.
The subject matters discussed were interesting, the 'stories' & analysis was comparatively in-depth and the news channels seemed to take reporting as a social & moral responsibility.
Viewers got the impression that journalists were involved in this process : people who cared and wanted to make a difference in the society, expose events of importance, take up just and worthwhile causes...
So it was quite common for me to be found flipping through these channels.

Fast forward to today - and I dont watch news channels anymore. I stopped about an year or so ago when the SNR became really low. I could not take the drivel being dished out anymore. When I got to my parents place this vacation, I became aware of the further degradation in quality and standards.
Some of the 'news stories' border on media obsession, and the nonsense that passes off as 'breaking news' makes me wonder what they really mean by that phrase nowadays !
The media generated way too much hype around some of the recent events which can be utmost termed inconsequential ! Who really cares who was invited to marriage of x to y or what abc wore or what the personal feud between the father & daughter in law is ?
There are so many more important events happening in this world, in this country. Things which have a direct or indirect impact on quality of life of millions - and sadly they hardly get a mention in the frantic craze to be the first to report anything sensational.
The craze is making the media so irresponsible that, at times even basic validation of the report is not done: at times, in spite of knowing that the involved are just fishing for publicity, the media plays along since they have something 'juicy' and controversial to report.

The news channels seem to be forgetting the spirit of journalism ... and until they (re)discover that, the public would have no other option other than shallow sensationalism and 'sound bites'; and the media will lose its power and position to do anything worthwhile to the society as the fourth estate.


Blogger Moonjungle said...

Here is an idea- Man walks into news channel office with a small package. Preferably disguised as AC or elevator repairman. Sets up the package in a secluded area in the building. He leaves the building. Cut to his home.... man watches TV gets annoyed with programming, presses button and hurray an EMP bomb with a small range goes off at the news office. No more shitty news channel.

Perplexed cable operator replaces the channel with Animal Planet. Now thats quality programming.

4/22/2007 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They're not obliged to give you high SNR or "good quality" news. Firstly, they're money making organisations so they air things what sell (the fact the the mass of the population prefers the kind of thing being dished out is another sad story). Secondly (especially in the US), they have a propaganda function. They influence public opinion (since most people spend a good number of their waking hours in front of a TV or a cheap magazine). Try to see if you can get you hands on the book 'manufacturing consent'. Good read for this sort of thing.

4/23/2007 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Mridul said...

animal planet or nick :-D Good plan ! Now to get an emp ... :-P

Interesting comment (no name ? :) ).
I would agree that news channels are not there to do charity and are in the business to make money.
But the intention of how they want to go about doing this must be made clear.
All the indian news channels try to masquerade as 'serious news channels' upholding 'journalistic ideals', blah, blah.

A parallel could be made to the print media : there are news magazines, there are 'entertainment' magazines, magazines purely for 'gossip', etc.
The distinction here is clear - and is targetted at specific segments.

In the news channel case, they try to maintain a high moral ground with 'incisive journalism', 'hard hitting news reports', 'whatever it takes', 'exaustive analysis', etc (buzzwords from the channels) - and yet report substandard crap.
Either be upfront about being a gossip channel (there are a few like that btw), or try to do what you claim they are doing.

I cant comment more about how the US media works ... but then I usually have a low opinion about them except for two shows : Daily Show and Colbert report ;-)
Thanks for the book reference, will try to pick it up if I come across it.

4/23/2007 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post chetta!

4/23/2007 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger  said...

Uh, I just pick the remote and watch something else instead.

Media getting powerful is a Good Thing, though. Only if it that power can be channelized to get only good things done.

I feel uncomfortable by today's lack of credibility and responsibility of e-media.

4/23/2007 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger AK said...

good topic to pick man.. I couldn't agree more.. I don't buy the idea of channels sell what the public wants, as to an extent media decides what we watch.. with the economic growth, growth in ambitious and educated individual, burgeoning middle-class, globalisation (sigh!!!), and still a large mass of populace that appreciates the good old quality stuff dished out by Doordarshan (from World This Week to Surabhi to Chitrahaar).. I think there is a good segment of the population wants to see lesser of Boollywood - Cricket and corrupt politics. They could even have seperate channels for metros and mini-metros, make it paid even so that you may even cut down on the ads and show the stuff to the people who are concerned.. but Vipin's idea is a quick fix! Guru, you are done for man.. tomorrow they are going to trace your comment back to paranoid schizo.. and 2 snaps 1 b4 REC and 1 Now! will seal the fate.. beware!!

4/23/2007 10:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But the intention of how they want to go about doing this must be made clear.
All the indian news channels try to masquerade as 'serious news channels' upholding 'journalistic ideals', blah, blah.

If a news show started with a disclaimer saying that it's a propaganda tool and not a serious neutral show, it's suicide. They won't make any money that way. So they wont. The print media is a bad example. Take a typical "news magazine", they're advertisement vehicles and distractions. Most of what they write is totally irrelevant. If they actually printed good stuff, it wouldn't sell (since that's not what people want). Serious magazines don't really make it into the mainstream. The ones with gratuitous amounts of scandal and flesh will sell so that 's what they focus on.

In the news channel case, they try to maintain a high moral ground with 'incisive
No, they don't. They pretend to do that since it's expedient. They want to make money and sell their news (and satisfy advertisers) so they pretend to. You're deceiving yourself if you think that they're serious about it. Just like pro-wrestling. They talk about "incredible" stamina but everyone knows that it's staged.

4/27/2007 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger Mridul said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/27/2007 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger satya said...

hi mridul,

When I gave a google search for "sun microsystems" + mallu + engineer, chanced upon your blog. Seen that you are working in Sun Microsystems.

I am a Keralite working in Bangalore

For the past few days, I had been trying to find out a Keralite in Sun Microsystems, USA. I told about this to a friend in USA, but he said its difficult to find out without name.

These are the subtle details known about him:

He is from Alleppey District in Kerala, India. He was working in Sun Microsystems, USA during 2003, 2004 etc. His wife also joined for work in Sun Microsystems after their marriage. He should have been in a little senior position there. May be they are still in Sun Microsystems.

He has a younger brother who studied BE/MCA in Tamil Nadu during 2002, 2003 etc. Their father is in a high position in a government job in Kerala.

Do you know somebody in Sun like that, and can you possibly help me in this regard?

Thanks and Regards,


4/29/2007 10:59:00 PM  
Blogger Mridul said...


no idea

4/30/2007 02:27:00 AM  

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Avatar: The Last Airbender

I recently got all the dvd's available for this tv series (more info here) that I could order - I was pretty impressed with it when I saw a few episodes of it on nick ... quite different from the normal crap that comes on tv nowadays.
Just finished 5 dvd's which constitute the first 'book' : pretty engrossing stuff :-)
The only irritating part is the first couple of chapter's in the dvd which contains ad's from tv shows on nick ... but otherwise, the collection is pretty neat !


Blogger Manoj M said...

Are people (read terrible borrowers) like me allowed to borrow and watch. I envy you, you rich crack :). If you have too much money, invest in one of my movies, I will make sure you won't get it back :-D

4/19/2007 08:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second Manoj M's comment.

4/19/2007 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger Mridul said...

@ manoj
The Avatar dvd's fall in the same category as Calvin & Hobbes, Lone Wolf, etc - you can read/watch them in my house: they dont get to leave it :-)

As far as funding goes - I am dead broke from all my 'purchases' - with more on the way !
I am yet to collect about 10 japanese movies from the shipping folks - a few of them you might totally love btw ... guess ? ;-)

reveal thyself !
And request denied :-P

4/19/2007 11:40:00 PM  

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Too strict, too loose

Some spec's are marvelously defined - neither too strict, nor too loose : not sure how they do it : it has just the right amount of abstractions and constraints. Same with some well designed api's.
A common way to identify this would be if both the power user and a novice can both work well with it.

But from what I see, they are a rare breed.
From a spec point of view (which is what triggered this post), when it is too strict - it cripples innovation and does not allow easy extensions to the base specs. If they are too loose, all sort of interpretations come into play which are not consistent with why it was designed that way: leading to potential for abuse, fragile implementations and lack of adequate interoperability (except maybe for the very basic feature set).
Premature assumptions in a spec lead to long term heartburn ... especially after a spec gets widely implemented/deployed : changing anything significant will meet with too much resistance !

Relying on 'common practices' and 'usual way to use' are great way for others to start and are very useful in the short term, but IMO if expectation of how an implementations work is based on these - then it can & will lead to fragility.

This post is targetted at a specific set of observations I have been making in past few weeks and the insights I learned from them : and no, I am not going to specify exactly what they are :-)


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Monday, April 16, 2007

Customs ...

It is so painful to buy things online ... pay the price, wait for delivery and since they (amazon here) happen to deliver it from outside India (which is not always mentioned), I get screwed by a pretty insane duty - 40+ % for movie dvd's ?!
I have had these sort of things delivered before ... and only when it comes through DHL do I get shafted so badly. One thing for sure ... probably no more Amazon - but definitely no DHL for sure.


Blogger Manoj M said...

Eda, why don't you ask somebody coming from US to bring it? As far as I remember, Movie DVDs when brought in by a person doesn't have duty.

4/17/2007 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger  said...

Most of the DVDs are available in CMH road footpath in the evening at 50/- :-)

Jokes apart, I think if you're going to buy it from US anyway, just get someone to carry it for you.

4/17/2007 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Mridul said...

I see a good collection online and I cant resist the temptation to get it immediately :-) More so since I just cant seem to think of waiting for another couple of months or so to get it !

As can be see, planning for the future is not my strong points :-D

4/17/2007 07:41:00 PM  

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Vishu again

Wish you all a very happy and prosperous Vishu !
All I can say is, feast at grandparent's place was phenomenally good !


Blogger Biby Cletus said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4/16/2007 08:30:00 PM  

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

What a guy !

James Clark, has touched most of our lives ... usually without us knowing it, in more ways than one. Going down his bio makes me let out a WOW !

(We use his xp parser in our server btw).


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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Coming of age ?!

At times, I am known to make provocative, ill thought out/ill conceived, controversial statements.
Though I rarely regret making them, friends definitely do have a blast having me around and picking holes at what I say :-) (What are friends for eh ?!)

One of the 'golden oldies' is something I said in first year of college within the first couple of months I think : and this has been repeated, quoted and passed around - with multiple interpretations & variations over the years since then.

It was related to a discussion we were having w.r.t marriage - what is the right age to marry ?
If I recall correctly, out of the blue I made the comment 'Eda, you should marry only after 27 - you will not be mature enough for handling the responsibility of marriage until then'.
And voila, did I not have the flak for that - immediately responses were like
'Mridul will wake up on his 27th b'day and say - I suddenly feel mature : let me marry !' to more unprintable ones.

Vipin's idea yesterday was that we will go stand in front of Devatha plaza ('cos of our usual eating place - casa picolla) and he will proposition to girls walking by : I know a 27 year old who is mature enough to handle responsibilities of marriage, are you interested ? :-P
The reason for this ? I turned 27 this week ...

And no, I dont regret making that statement : and yes, it was inaccurate - I feel I should have said 30 :-D


Blogger Unawoken said...

Happy birthday dude! Hope you had lot of fun!

4/07/2007 04:16:00 AM  
Blogger Mridul said...

That was quick ! Thanks :-)

Fun ? Not any ... had work :-)

4/07/2007 04:18:00 AM  
Blogger  said...

(belated) Happy Birthday!

27 and still unmarried? Uh :-)

4/09/2007 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger AK said...

hey man.. b'lated wishes.. when is your bday by the way?.. i think you were quite capable of 'handling' :) the responsibilities of marriage years back/.. back from the days of REC

4/09/2007 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Mridul said...


If I have my way, I would remain unmarried for quite some time to come ;-)


No public legpulling man :-P
You should know better than to say things like that !

4/09/2007 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger AK said...

sorry :)

4/09/2007 09:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy BirthDay

Nadir Shah Tiwari, Rakhshanda Khan, Dipti Dhalokia

4/10/2007 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger Suneel T. Chandra said...

belated wishes,
Happy Birthday.

hmmm... now I know why I'm looking a different Mridul today. Believe me! I guessed it quite right. Don't miss tomorrow's flight, go home and let the damn thing get started ;)

4/13/2007 12:25:00 AM  
Blogger VKM said...

Many Many happy returns of the day..belated..
You dont need to be mature to get married !! :-)

4/19/2007 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger Mridul said...


Thanks :-)
And about the second part: speaking from observation about our friends ? >:-)

4/19/2007 11:42:00 PM  
Blogger emanish said...

Many Many happy returns of the (belated) day !

4/23/2007 12:22:00 AM  

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Now I know !!

Watch these : 1 , 2 read this.
How stupid can people become.
This and similar stuff is what is getting taught in USA in schools it seems !!
I used to think that the debates in Scott Adam's blog about intelligent design vs evolution was all for fun and the people concerned knew that.
Never in my wildest dreams did I really believe that there would be 'perfectly sane people' with a scientific bent of mind believing in wholescale con job like this.


Blogger Unawoken said...

I haven't yet checked out the things you refer to, but I will when I get a chance. I assume it's about teaching evolution vs. intelligent design.
This goes into the "Two Americas" and "Red-Blue divide" section. Yes, teaching evolution has run into organized resistance, at least to the extent of needing to 'balance' it with teaching 'alternate theories'. The level of support for this idea depends on which part of America you look at.

4/06/2007 02:19:00 AM  
Blogger Mridul said...

What I find surprising is that the only reason for the opposition seems to be 'cos it is against the religious scriptures.
And so half ass attempts are being made to create alternatives which preserve the relevance of god in humans coming into being.

It is sad indeed ...

4/07/2007 04:21:00 AM  
Blogger Unawoken said...

Yes, but there is this huge mid-America mainstream sentiment that the 'liberals' are having their way with the direction America is heading, where there is no place for traditional American religious beliefs. This has become sort of a rally cry for conservative (not in the fiscal sense any more) Americans to attack perceived 'liberal establishments', and evolution is one such.

4/07/2007 04:48:00 AM  

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