NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 2005
NEWSLETTER, September 2005
EDITOR: N. Watson Solomon (aka Nirmaldasan)
Issue No: 67
Welcome to another edition of the Journalism Online newsletter. Thanks for the tremendous feedback to my article 'A Decade With The Hindu'. Only one reader tore me apart for that piece. You will find his response in the feedback section.
Regards. Nirmaldasan, from Chennai
IN THIS ISSUE...
* thought for the month
* editorial: media aesthetics
* guest column: a look at market-driven journalism
* report: a folk medium and the message
* creative pulse
* media humour
* site update
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
In 'Sight Sound Motion: Applied Media Aesthetics', Herbert Zettl writes: "Irrespective of the scope of your communication -- be it a brief news story, an advertisement, or a major dramatic production --your overriding aim should be to help the people attain a higher degree of emotional literacy, the ability to see the world with heightened awareness and joy. All your aesthetic decisions must ultimately be made within an ethical context, a moral framework that holds supreme the dignity and well-being of humankind."
EDITORIAL: MEDIA AESTHETICS
Content is king in any medium. The tale, the narrative and the plot
are the most discussed elements of the aesthetics of film and
television. The major image elements of light, space (2D & 3D), time
and sound seldom call attention to themselves; and yet only they
shape the context in which content reigns. Media aesthetics is that
branch of study that looks at media as structural and aesthetic
Herbert Zettl's 'Sight Sound Motion: Applied Media Aesthetics'
throws much light on Marshall McLuhan's famous equation 'the medium
is the message'. Zettl shows us how the image elements can clarify,
intensify and interpret events. He writes: "A thorough grasp of the
five image elements will help you establish an aesthetic vocabulary
and language unique to the medium of your choice -- a language that
will enable you to speak with optimum clarity and impact -- and with
a personal style."
Zettl takes us on an interesting journey into various aesthetic
fields, the first of which is light. With suitable examples he
discusses the organic, directional, spatial/compositional, thematic
and emotional functions of chiaroscuro lighting. We also understand
the nature of shadows and how light and colour can be used as
dramatic agents. Zettl also introduces us to the forces operating
within the screen. We have glimpses of the dynamics of volume
duality, figure-ground, psychological closure and, among other
things, the various types of vectors. We also learn the different
types of shots as well as the lenses that make these shots possible.
Two very useful chapters are the 15th and 16th on continuity editing
and complexity editing.
Zettl's formalistic approach in defining, describing and classifying
his terms of discourse is valuable. What is more valuable are his
emphasis on the art-life integration and the conviction that media
aesthetics must have 'a moral framework that holds supreme the
dignity and well-being of humankind'. Since the image elements can
be manipulated to etherize a gullible audience, it is the media
consumer who needs to be more familiar than the media producer with
Mr. Chandrashekhar Vishwanathan (vcshekhar@...) writes: "Dear
Editor, This magazine is really and truly your mouthpiece. You do
not publish anything against The Hindu even though you know it is
true. I think this is a mouthpiece of The Hindu. Newspapers today
are in the hands of a few families who make crores of rupees out of
the sweat of poor reporters and subeditors. Their dogs live in airconditioned kennels and drink bournvita, horlicks and bisleri water. If they drink corporation water they die. Newspapers exist to make money for the owners and not to disseminate news. News is highly manipulated by the companies with money. This is obvious to most of us. God bless you. May you continue to be a mouthpiece of big money."
The editor responds: "I am conscious that this newsletter behaves as
though it were my mouthpiece. I am not wholly to blame. Readers
prefer to lurk and seldom write for the newsletter. In these six
years of Journalism Online, I have only stopped a few articles
because they were in bad taste.
"I am at a loss to understand how this newsletter is misunderstood
to be the mouthpiece of The Hindu. Journalism Online, of course, praised The Hindu when the daily celebrated 125 years. But it is
apparent that Mr. Chandrasekhar hasn't read any of the editorials
that criticised The Hindu. For instance, 'The Hindu Redesign' which
appeared in the May 2005 issue of the newsletter. Let me assure Mr.
Chandrasekhar that Journalism Online, though it may lavishly praise
where praise is due, will not hesitate to crack the whip when the
A Look At Market-driven Journalism
By Prof. S. Ganesh
-- The writer is a lecturer in the department of media studies,
Hindustan College of Arts and Science, Padur. His latest book
is 'Introduction To Advertising'. --
Market-driven journalism is gaining prominence in the country and
this is because people do not want civic journalism -- a journalism
concerning politics and civic issues. Majority of the middle class
people like market-driven journalism because it concerns themselves
and their livelihoods. Daily needs of the people would be covered in
market-driven journalism and this is what the people want.
In India, like in the USA., people are fed up with politics and they
want only issues concerning themselves directly. But there is a hue
and cry about this in the USA and people are reverting back to civic
journalism. In civic journalism, there is more of local politics and
issues concerning the local area. In a city like Chennai, people are
not only fed up with local politics but also with national politics as well.
Sun TV has been practising market-driven journalism by way of
highlighting and promoting 'top' schools and colleges for students
to study in. There are also news stories in Sun TV concerning the 'best' medical doctors in the city and the treatment provided by
them. These are the classic examples of market-driven journalism.
Such programmes are very popular.
But market-driven journalism is prone to misuse. Any television
channel can misuse it by accepting commercials from an advertiser
and report favorably in the media. This danger is inherent in market-driven journalism and there is a need to establish standards and
guidelines to check this malpractice and free market-driven
journalism from market pressures. Considering all this and more,
market-driven journalism is likely to replace all other forms of
journalism in the days to come.
A Folk Medium And The Message
The power of the electronic media is never in question. But the
second year B.Sc students of electronic media in the Hindustan
College of Arts and Science, Padur chose a folk medium to drive home
a three-in-one message.
A streetplay titled 'Full Circle' was performed on college campus on
August 3. Scripted by Shylaja and Rinto, the play revolved round the
problems of suicide, ragging and drugs. Running across a thin line
of connectivity, the play ran in sync with the rambling minds of
nervous freshers and their energetic seniors.
Coloured headbands and scarves swayed to the beats of a drum. The
vibrant performance of the actors, including Jinu, Shine, Anand,
Swathi, Anubabu, Robi, Manuraj and Sherwyn, won a round of applause
from the audience. Manu Philip and Joyston took care of the folksy
make-up and face paint.
Streetplays boil down to one basic reaction, which is empathy. Whether or not the college students empathized and understood the
message of the play, only time can tell. But the audience was
-- Reproduced from The Spark, issue dated August 16-31, 2005 --
Anger On Faultline
By K.S. Subramanian
The wall of sea water roars
down in unsatiated appetite,
mashing all on the way;
Anger on the faultline
brooks no favours.
Many affrighted cries were
swept away; convulsive sobs
of the living choked in the
entrails of hopelessness;
Relief may or may not reach
them; where to retrieve the
roots from disembowelled sand?
Or to relive the agony of
renewal, the irreplaceable
loss of the dear ones?
On the trail of the mutilated
coastline the debris reveals
dessicated memories; the
orphaned stare at the bleached
skyline; smelling the stench
eagles circle high, darkly
eyeing the emaciated dogs;
vandals reap a windfall
out of sightless death.
Hearts open up in a tide of
compassion for the disconsolate;
Today's danger could return
in the morrow.
The joy of living expires in
the unforeseen tunnel of death;
And the despair of loss
By Leo Tolstoy
-- reproduced from 'The Wisdom Of Children' --
Volodya, a High School pupil, 14 years old.
Sonya, 15 years old.
Misha, 8 years old.
Volodya is reading and doing homework, Sonya is writing. The porter
comes in with a heavy load on his back, followed by Misha.
Porter: Where shall I put this load, master? It has almost pulled my
arms out of their sockets.
Volodya: Where were you told to put it?
Porter: Vasili Timofeevich said: 'Put it in the lesson-room for the
present till the master comes himself.'
Volodya: Well, then, dump it there in the corner. (Goes on with his
reading. The porter puts down his load and sighs.)
Sonya: What's that he's brought?
Volodya: A newspaper called 'The Truth'.
Sonya: Why is there such a lot of it?
Volodya: It's the file for the whole year. (Goes on reading.)
Misha: People have written all that!
Porter: True enough! Those who wrote it must have worked hard.
Volodya: What did you say?
Porter: I said that those who wrote it all didn't shirk work. Well,
I'll be going. Please tell them that I brought the papers. (Goes
Sonya (to Volodya): Why does papa want all those papers?
Volodya: He wants to cut out Bolshakov's articles.
Sonya: But Uncle Mikhail Ivanovich says that Bolshakov's articles
make him sick!
Volodya: Oh, that's what Uncle Mikhail Ivanovich thinks. He
reads 'Verity For All'.
Misha: And is uncle's 'Verity' as big as this?
Sonya: Bigger still! But this is only for one year, and it has been
coming out for over twenty years or more.
Misha: What? Twenty lots like this, and another twenty?
Sonya (wishing to astonish Misha): Well, what of it? Those are only
two newspapers. There are thirty or more of them published.
Volodya (without lifting his head): Thirty! There are five hundred and thirty in Russia alone, and if you reckon those published
abroad -- there are thousands.
Misha: You couldn't get them into this room?
Volodya: This room! They'd fill up our whole street. But please
don't keep worrying. I've got an exam tomorrow, and you're hindering
me with your nonsense. (Reads again.)
Misha: I think they oughtn't to write so much.
Sonya: Why shouldn't they?
Misha: Because if it's the truth, they shouldn't always be repeating
the same thing, and if it's not true, they oughtn't to write it at
Sonya: So that's what you think!
Misha: But why do they write such an awful lot?
Volodya (looking up from his book): Because without the freedom of
the press we shouldn't know the truth.
Misha: But papa says that the truth is in 'Truth', and uncle Mikhail
says that 'Truth' makes him sick. How do they know whether the truth
is in 'Truth' or in 'Verity'?
Sonya: He's quite right! There are too many papers, and magazines,
Volodya: How like a woman -- always frivolous!
Sonya: No! I say there are so many of them that we can't tell ... Volodya: Everyone has his reason given him to judge where the truth
Misha: Well, if everyone has a reason, then everyone can judge for
Volodya: So your great mind has pronounced on the matter. But do
please go away somewhere and stop interrupting me.
1. August Editorial: Sources Anonymous
2. Nirmaldasan's A Decade At The Hindu
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