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Category Archives: Media

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Media and ‘celebrity’

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The word ‘celebrity’ is becoming overused these days and its misuse has emptied it of its real meaning. It’s time we found out who’s a ‘celebrity’ in true sense of the term. Media has been indiscriminately using the term for a long time, beating the trumpets of public figures who’re far from real ‘celebrities’. A real ‘celebrity’ will always stand by his or her values and beliefs rather than his or her celebrity status.

Let’s take a look at what today’s ‘celebrities’ are advising.

While endorsing a drink, Amitabh Bachchan urges people ‘to try it’ knowing well it has hardly any health benefits. Everyone knows it contains sugar which is deadly and contributes to obesity, a serious health issue across the world especially in the developed country.

Similarly, Shah Rukh Khan has been endorsing a popular soft drink on TV. The company had roped in Ranveer Singh, Chiranjeevi and Mahesh Babu as its brand ambassador until 2021. The question also remains: Does SRK himself take the same drink often? Or, will he ask his kids to take it regularly? I’m sure the actor maintains strict physical and eating regimens.

Another US-based beverage maker has recently appointed Ranveer Singh as its brand ambassador and also unveiled a new campaign targeting younger consumers.

Hrithik Roshan, the brand ambassador of another soft drink, urges consumers to take a particular drink. Kiara Advani has been currently endorsing another soft drink which had been earlier endorsed by Katrina Kaif for more than 16 years. All the soft drinks available in the market are detrimental to health. Drinking such sugar-sweetened beverages will have various impacts on health. These range from increased chances of tooth decay to a higher risk of heart disease and metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes.

In contrast, Cristiano Ronaldo at a press conference at the European Championship (2020) had snubbed Coca-Cola. He had pushed aside two bottles of the popular soft drink placed in front of him. His message was: “No Coca-Cola”. The gesture had a dramatic impact. The company’s market value had slumped $4 billion.

Obesity, a major reason of which is unrestrained consumption of soft drink, has become a serious health hazard in the US. Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates have tripled in the US. Today, the country has some of the highest obesity rates in the world: one out of six children is obese, and one out of three children is overweight or obese.

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted between 2019 and 2021, about 6.4 per cent of India’s women and 4.0 per cent of men aged 15-49 are obese.

On February 14, 2021, less than a month after former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly had been discharged from hospital following his second angioplasty, an edible oil firm was back with a new ad featuring Ganguly.

Real celebrities are those who’re good human beings, those who work tirelessly for the welfare of mankind, who never ever resort to unethical ways and whose hallmarks are honesty and integrity.

I recall Sachin Tendulkar’s “Playing it my way—My autobiography” where Sachin’s father Ramesh Tendulkar, an acclaimed Marathi poet, critic and professor, made a profound remark. “As a parent, I would be happier hearing people say “Sachin is a good human being” than Sachin is a great cricketer” any day.”

Can we think of any ‘celebrity’ now who’s ready to imperil his stardom to advance a social cause just the way American singer Harry Bela Fonte did in 1956? He had joined Dr Martin Luther King Jr. in pursuit of loftier goal, leaving his career ambitions.

He had served as one of the lead organisers of the USA for Africa “We Are The World” single, raising $100 million for famine relief in Ethiopia. Belafonte had worked ceaselessly for breaking Hollywood’s racial lines, and used his stardom to change how Black characters were portrayed.

Media’s ‘celebrity’ worship has been doing irreparable damage to society. Newspapers pages, especially entertainment/sport pages, are awash with photos of ‘celebrities’ who are far from real ‘celebrities’. Growing up with such a notion of ‘celebrity’ and ‘celebrity worship syndrome’ will be disastrous for our kids and society.

It’s time media focused on real heroes who make a tangible difference to the greater good of our lives.

Do you know?

There are 39gm of sugar in a Coca-Cola can.

35gm of sugar amounts to about seven teaspoons of sugar?

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When will Indian media come of age?

Has anyone noticed the media frenzy in India that began more than a month before the World Cup football began? Has anyone seen that front-pages of all Indian newspapers are awash with soccer stories?
You’ll come across this madness in India only. It’s not the first time that we’re witnessing this madness (there’s no method in this!). We are familiar with this fatuous infatuation with sport which comes every four year.
Unfortunately, India’s football ranking is woefully poor (India currently ranks 97th). I wonder why Indian media has been going overboard year after year and carrying soccer stories on front page even though our country couldn’t even qualify now for the Asian Games.
Aren’t there news worth reporting on front page? Can’t these stories be reported on Sport page? It reflects Indian media’s mediocrity and sheer immaturity.

Times of India front page on July 9

The Telegraph front page

Ananda Bazar Patrika (a Bengali newspaper published from Kolkata) front page

I’ve traveled in Paris when the French Open was underway. I was in New York when the US Open was going on. But, I’ve never come across the media’s such infatuation with sport. Le Monde, New York Times or Washington Post never reported sport news on their Front Pages during the French Open or the US Open.
Those who watched Japan-Belgium tie will agree that Japan had played an unbelievable game. They lost in the dying minutes of additional time. It was a heartbreaking defeat for Japan. A win would have secured the team’s first-ever advancement to the World Cup quarter finals.
But, the next day Japan Times, the leading English paper in Japan, didn’t carry the news of their country’s heroic efforts in the World Cup on its front page. The news was reported in Sport page only.
I wonder what Indian media would have done if India did the same thing. All pages of newspapers would have been filled with sport news!
Look at The Guardian. Even after England qualified for the semi finals after 28 years, the front page of The Guardian didn’t carry the news as lead story.
A nation’s mindset and maturity may be measured on how its media think and what kind of role it plays. When will Indian newspapers come of age?
Are you guys listening? Grow up, Indian media.
Footnote: I was disappointed to see that Indian newspapers didn’t carry the news of Japanese team’s sportsmanship and fair play the way it should. FIFA General Director Priscilla Janssens tweeted a picture of Japan’s spotless dressing room after the defeat, praising the team and their fans for their tidy-up efforts and manners and also writing that the team had left a ‘thank you’ note in Russian for the hosts.
Look at the Indian media. They’ve underplayed such sterling gestures by the Japanese players and fans. Shouldn’t Indian media highlight the news? This should have been on the front pages of newspapers.
We should learn from the Japanese people. We should learn from their dignity in defeat.

Bullets can’t silence brush

As I write this Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo announced that the lights of the Eiffel Tower would be shut off at 8pm (local time). Meanwhile, armed French police have been scouring forests in north east of Paris for the two French-Algerian Muslim brothers suspected of mounting the deadly terrorist attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 persons, including 10 journalists dead.

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Where death fears to tread

I was reading a story in The New York Times. It’s about a place they call “The Island where people forget to die.”
The place is the island of Ikaria in Greece.

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Newsweek closure not a threat to print journalism

I was deeply saddened by the news that Newsweek, one of the most internationally recognized magazine brands in the world, will cease publishing its print edition after nearly 80 years. The weekly current affairs magazine’s final edition will hit newsstands on December 31. The decision to go all-digital underscores the problems faced by newsweeklies, as more consumers favor tablets and mobile devices over print in an increasingly commoditized, 24-hour news cycle.

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Indian media: Sport-fetish Page 1

Watching front-pages over the past two months in countries like US, France, Singapore and China, I have a feeling that Indian media is unduly focused on sport.
Don’t we have other newsworthy items to feature on Page 1?
It baffles me why Indian newspapers are taking up so much of Page 1 space for Euro 2012.
I’ve seen Le Monde in Paris while French Open was underway. But, the paper never carried French Open on Page 1…
I have read New York Times, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and even Boston Globe while travelling in the US earlier this month. But never did I see Sport taking up Page 1 space!
When will Indian media come of age!

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