Dear Mr. Vir Sanghvi

Dear Mr. Vir Sanghvi,

I read your blog post on “bloggers and tweeters” with great interest, for I am also one of those people who blog and tweet.   You do both too, I notice, and some may think it is ironic that your own views were in the form of a blog post.  But perhaps you believe that blogging should only be done by journalists?

At_Computer_silhouette_LCDLet me introduce myself – I am one of those pseudonymous bloggers you mentioned, you know, blogging from the darkness of my room in my ivory tower.

You ask about me  and other anonymous bloggers :

I will wonder: just who do you guys represent? Are you speaking on behalf of viewers and readers? Or are you just another anonymous elite that feels emboldened to pass judgement on the rest of the world from the darkness of your rooms?

Perhaps you don’t understand this, but I speak for just myself and no one else.  I have not been elected by any one to represent them or their views.  What’s more, I am not even a self-appointed representative; I don’t delude myself that I speak for some silent majority of people who may or may not agree with me.  I didn’t even realize I needed to be “emboldened” to blog, is speaking out something that should fill me with fear ?

You defend the media obsession with TRPs by saying:

When bloggers tell you that TV channels are only interested in TRPs, what are they saying?

In effect, they are saying that TV channels are only interested in reaching as many people as possible.

And why is this a bad thing?

and also

Or, look at it another way. If a programme gets high TRPs, then this means that lots of ordinary people have liked it. The ordinary people may be right or wrong to have liked it – I pass no value judgements here – but the fact that they liked it is a reflection on them, not on the TV channel. So, why blame the channel? Why not blame the viewers?

Did I read that right? The light may be dark here, but  Mr. Sanghvi, are you really saying that any programme with high TRPs (or potentially high TRPs) is fit to be broadcast?

If so, here are a few categories of content that will get very high TRPs.  Celebrity gossip sells – I mean rumors, paparazzi pictures, speculation about “famous” people and so on.   Another category that is very popular among some people – porn.  Soft porn, suggestive photos, lingerie clad models – these are very popular in a certain segment.  But you don’t have to take my word for it;  I don’t claim to speak for your audience.

But tell me, Mr. Sanghvi, if your audience research suggests that celebrity gossip and soft-porn will  increase your TRPs, will you include them in your programming?  If adding hard porn and graphic violence will help you tap yet another segment and increase your TRPs even more, will you add them too?  Please tell me, I would be very interested in your answers.

I believe that the news media’s job is to educate and not to titillate, but again, that is just my personal opinion.  You are free to disagree.

You also say:

Such is the arrogance of the blogging elite these days that even when it attacks journos, it is effectively dissing the vast majority of media readership and viewership.

I’m sorry, Mr. Sanghvi, but sitting in my darkened room, I didn’t realize that attacking journos is equal to attacking readers.  I suppose then, by the same logic, attacking politicians is equal to attacking the voters who voted for them?  Maybe you should stop saying anything against any elected representative then – you don’t want to disparage voters, do you?

Perhaps you should darken your room too, Mr. Sanghvi, the light is blinding.

Other opinions on the topic :  Amit Varma, Rohit.

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55 thoughts on “Dear Mr. Vir Sanghvi

  1. Personally, I think Mr. Sanghvi committed a social harakiri with that article of his. He was one of the few media person I used to hold in high regards… sadly, not anymore after reading that article of his. I really didn’t expect him to take the Barkha Dutt high ground 😦

  2. All this consternation against Twitter and bloggers arises from loss of control and reduction in his elite status. The more he rants, the less significant and influential he gets. He’ll realize this sooner or later or as Kuhn said it best, we just have to wait out until his tribe dies out.

    • I think there is very much a place for both journos and bloggers to co-exist, and if anything it will only make reporting better. But yes, ranting against bloggers is not going to get journos anywhere – I think they need to understand that bloggers are here to stay.

  3. Beautifully put! I remember Mr. Sanghvi preaching Aamir and VVC in a recent article.. and then this one.. How can they so full of self-importance.. Its all about having some Grace Mr. Sanghvi..

  4. Very nicely put, Lekhni! Esp the last bit about voters and politicians. Sanghvi’s style is easy to read but he’s full of pomposity, has been that way for a long time.

    • But it doesn’t have to be a competition – now newspapers have bloggers writing columns too. You’d think journos, of all people, would welcome a multitude of opinions.

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  6. Are many of those who blog and tweet beginning to believe they constitute a secondry elite(New)

    Remember this is the elitist, self-righteous snob who wrote the above

  7. I was so moved by Vir Sanghvi’s post, I turned on the light in my blogging chamber. I was so blinded by the light that I couldn’t see the three bats that rushed at me screaming “elite”, “elite”, “elite”.

    -Neo

  8. ha. somebody who swills wine on tv shows and hobnobs with erstwhile maharaja families calls poor bloggers and tweeters “elite”? Who is out of touch with the real world. The “high and mighty” of the media sure do throw around words like they do on-air and think that they can get away with saying anything. cos they are the paragons of virtue.

    • The good news is – we have a free press. The bad news is – a member of the free press wonders how bloggers are “emboldened” to speak our views 😦

      • i didnt even get that far 🙂

        i was too caught up with the haughtiness of “I will wonder: just who do you guys represent? Are you speaking on behalf of viewers and readers?” the sheer pompous nature of those lines, as if journos are the sole representatives of the people and anyone putting forward their views on some blog on the interwebs is committing a crime!

      • I’m not even sure that journos are supposed to represent anybody. A magazine or a newspaper, sure – it represents the subscribers and readers, but an individual journalist or columnist can only speak for himself/ herself, right?

      • There are two type of things, a view and a news. View comes from one’s knowledge and perspective. News comes from resource, fact and non-biased reality.
        Journos should stick to their right of delivering news and should not interfere/pass judgement on bloggers right to give his/her opinion. Simple.

      • I don’t have a problem with journos giving their opinion, as long as it’s clearly distinguished from their news reports. But unlike news (which, as you say, there can be no argument about), opinions will vary, and I don’t understand how having a different opinion makes a blogger “arrogant” 🙂

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  10. Isn’t it ironic that Mr.Sanghvi wrote this article on his blog? If anonymous bloggers are the elite, then what is he – the common man because he chooses to reveal his name when blogging and writing in newspapers? To me, the elite are a small dominant and privileged group who can influence society through power and wealth…Journalists have power to influence people through their articles and therefore are a part of the elite…Last I knew, Mr. Sanghvi was a journalist, TV presenter and a blogger – all positions that have the power to influence, and so, he is also a part of the elite…

    • Yes, I mentioned that irony 🙂 Yes, your definition of “elite” is exactly what I would have defined it too (I’d also attribute achievement and excellence to the elite), and yes, Mr. Sanghvi is definitely part of the elite. It’s less clear to me how an anonymous blogger can be elite.

      • I guess he used the term ‘elite’ as an insult since the elite are supposed to be arrogant and out of touch with reality…But then who knows what he meant since the entire post is quite idiotic…

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  12. “…an individual journalist or columnist can only speak for himself/ herself, right?” Same as a blogger.
    But the old media and the new media are not in competition, in some ways they are doing the same thing – even if they use different medium.

    • I agree, I don’t see why they should be in competition, given that even the top bloggers in India don’t have anything like a magazine/ newspaper’s readership and anyway, they only provide content online.

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  14. Mr. Sanghvi has now turned a corner in his journalistic career. And has tuened it for the worse. He has attained that rare state of Nirvana which “other media elite” bestowed upon each other – as has his employer, with a fat salary, no doubt.

    Mr. Sanghvi, the “common people” of India rarely have the good-fortune, or probably misfortune, of reading your diatribes, they read newspapers in languages other than the one you phublish in, and in many cases, don;t read at all.

    On another note, I wonder which “common people” Mr. Sanghvi is trying to reach with his arguably elitist Discovery Travel and Living show, which, as the press release goes “will host a journey across Asia bringing viewers stories that highlight pan Asian cuisine, drinks, luxury and destinations.” Common people, Mr. Sanghvi?

    Wake up bud, you’ve hit the bottle too hard.

    And my last question, why bother to defend yourself or attack the integrity of “emboldened losers” if you firmly believe no one is listening to them or reading their posts? Surely it’s not frightening you…

    • Good point. But going by Mr. Sanghvi’s logic, though, if the Discovery Travel and Living show does get high TRPs, then by definition it is not elite because a number of “ordinary people” like it. It doesn’t matter even if the show depicts “elite” vocations like sushi-eating and wine-tasting (if that’s what it does, I haven’t seen it).

      • This is what his new series is about : Traveling the entire expanse of Asia, Vir will showcase the continent’s lifestyles ranging from its beautiful spas and massages to grand heritage and boutique hotels to cuisines and variety of drinks.

        So yes, if the programme is for the common people, Vir is modern India’s Marie Antoinette. “if they can’t have water, then let them have single malt!”

        The man doesn’t understand that he’s addressing a whole new audience with his blog and ‘croaks’, and these “emboldened” fellas are on the web for the very reason that mass media – including his newspaper, has failed them.

        ‘Nuff said, maybe we should just let him rant and mutter in peace.

      • I completely agree with the feeling that mass media is increasingly failing its readers. There is only so much fluff that a newspaper can print before sinking to the level of a tabloid. You may get higher TRPs, but you will also turn off a lot of people who want “serious”, analytical articles, and those readers may turn to blogs. There’s no point attacking bloggers for this change. Besides, who knows if the increase in TRPs will even be long-lasting?

  15. I don’t know if you have but check out his latest blog post/article/whatever explaining his dabbling with the new media. You’ll then realise how ‘clueless’ he is wrt the entire world of the internetz. In his own words too if i may add. No wonder hes scared of the ghosts in the attic.

    • Oh yes, I read that article, and I was particularly amused by this quote: “My site is still very much a personal operation (the most hits we’ve had for an article is around 30,000-odd, which is not bad for a personal site..” In my books (but perhaps not in Mr. Sanghvi’s ?) that statistic would make him an “elite blogger”.

  16. Nicely written with the right amount of sardonic touches.
    Vir Sanghvi and the likes he champions for (B Dutt and others), though good on occasions, have generally gotten away with a lot of dubious things. Their politics is mostly questionable. As media persons they get rattled when the searchlight is turned on them.

    • I don’t know about Vir Sanghvi’s politics, but I do believe that if a columnist, a journalist or a reporter has any specific political beliefs, affiliation with any political party or contributes to it, he/she should make that link public, and add it as a footnote to each of his/her columns. They should not give readers the mistaken impression that they are independent.

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  18. I would suggest Vir Sanghvi to read Clay Shirky’s “here comes everybody” – Clay basically writes that the profession of the journalist is an artificial construct – primarily because of the high entry cost earlier – the cost of owning a printing press and the cost of distribution

    When the costs collapse – the profession of journalists is under threat – as there is no special body of knowledge that separates a journalist from a “lay person” unlike a doctor/accountant/lawyer

    Shirky draws a parallel with the profession of the “scribe” that vanished in the 15th century because of Gutenberg’s printing press

    Interesting times 🙂

    • That is a very interesting perspective. Journalism schools still teach investigative journalism and writing skills, but unfortunately the first is dying and the second, well, you only have to read the spelling and grammatical mistake-filled reporting that appears on most newspapers and magazines these days 😦

  19. I quite frankly don’t think there’s anything wrong in what he has written. He does start off by saying that traditional media too is sort of elitist, doesn’t he? Surely we can’t for a minute believe that Indian blogs are a fair representation of what the entire cross-section of Indians feel, can we? That makes us elitist, no?

    Also, nowhere in his blog does he exclude himself from this definition. Sure, he’s elitist too. After all, he is an Indian blogger, having access to a medium that 96%+ of his fellow countrymen don’t.

    We frown on India TV and all – they are too low brow for us perhaps. But they do have a viewership, don’t they?

    My only problem with TV journos is that they take themselves too seriously. And with that single blog post, VS seems to have somehow managed to show that bloggers do to.

    • No, bloggers don’t become elitist because we don’t represent a cross-section of people, because all we can do is represent ourselves 😀 For that matter, there are a billion different opinions in India, how can anyone represent every single one ? 🙂

      I’d hate to take myself too seriously, and I haven’t seen any indication that other bloggers do. Vir Sanghvi and bloggers can disagree on TRPs and still have a civil discussion, right? Why does he feel the need to hurl gratuitous epithets like “arrogant” at bloggers just because they disagree with him?

      He did take pains, though, to tell bloggers he does not consider them “sad losers who escape from their pathetic little lives by spending hours abusing other people on the net”. That makes me so relieved and happy, I tell you, it made my day 😛

      • “For that matter, there are a billion different opinions in India, how can anyone represent every single one ?”

        Which is why traditional media, being so popular, must be a better representation of what Indians want (as compared to blogging).

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  21. I am not a a blogger and rarely tweet, but I really feel sorry for Vir Sanghvi. He was a very good journalist when at Sunday, but has completelyt lost the plot now.
    Sadly it happens to a lot of people who are in the limelight in media, they begin to actually believe they are what the media is making them out to be. I’ve never read a posting so full of contradictions !

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