“My statement has been misquoted by the media”

(This post has been updated. Last time I had to abruptly end it and I could not even put a sentence saying it was not complete. Also I received a mail from a media person, who wanted it as a comment. I am adding it here along with my reply.)

Haven’t we heard something like the title of this post very often from politicians. Well, I always thought the politicians were invariably evil. But for the first time in my life I sort of sympathize with them. Even if not always, they might just be right quite a few number of times when they say they were misquoted or their statements misrepresented.

The media attention that was poured upon me during placements at IIML (this was in absentia) and on and after convocation has revealed some of the bare truths about the way media works… And next time I would really think twice before making the newspapers a source of data and facts. I do not intend to be paranoid myself or make one out of you, but then if this is how it works, you got to be careful…

Anyway, for all those who have read some of those stories about me, I think it better to offer some explanations. As I have mentioned even earlier several times in this blog, I have made an unconventional and risky choice and if you give me credit for that I would take it. I had signed out of the placements and instead took up a job with a Software start-up. But due to the stories having been spun and come out while I was not there in the campus during the placements, and then the hurry of making a story fast, the difficulty of ensuring that you have competent reporters has credited me with more at times. I feel uncomfortable being a centre of attention for the things I have not done.

  1. I have not started on my own. Despite the clarifications that I offered, somehow it did not sink into media’s heart and pen. I have joined a start-up started by other people. They aren’t even my friends. They are very senior people and are Americans (not NRIs).
  2. I never rejected any offers of overseas placement, of salaries of 10 lakhs+, of whatever else… Why? Because I never got any offers. Why? Because dear readers, I never went for the placement process. Companies do not make an offer out of the air. And why did I not sit for the placements? I did not see any reason why I should. The process is torturous, I had already made my decision and I do not think that success in the recruitments process is the best way to prove yourself.
  3. Of course, I intend to do certain things for Bihar, but I do not have a ready-made plans. There are certain ideas I am toying with, but am not in a position to discuss them as of now. Also any implementation is at least couple of years down the line. I need some level of experience before I can jump into any of these things. So, all the mails sent to me for that purpose have to wait for a meaningful reply.

And now about the “media-work”. Some of the factors that make lousy reports which I have observed are (not all may always be applicable and the list can be substantially longer, but here is what I saw)

  1. Hurry, Hurry, Hurry – The biggest curse of media. They do not even have time to listen. Result? They mis-report, they make things up etc. etc. There went all my clarifications about not start up on my own down the drain.
  2. Prejudices and Stereotypes – Couple of Bihar/Jharkhand channels and Doordarshan wanted a video report/coverage. The focus of both was a girl from Bihar topping IIML. And all of them wanted a shot working in the kitchen. Why? They wanted to inspire people and show that I have achieved success despite being a gharelu ladki (a girl next door)!! Well, I do not know how to cook and I refused any such shots. They were pretty disappointed. But then you know, their would be more cooperative people in the world than I am. Further these prejudices make them put words into your mouth. This has happened just so many times… Like one of the newspapers reported my mom as saying “Jaya beti nahin beta hai!!” (Translated: Jaya is not a daughter, but a son.) Now this is most outrageous. My mom would not have a statement like this and if she did I would have immediately gotten her to take it back. If it is not obvious why, let me explain it. When you try to equate “achievements outside home” with “being a son”, the implicit assumption is that the daughters can not do it. But then this is a fashionable statement to make in the quarters that the news paper served I trust. Intellectual rigour is not exactly the need of the hour for them.
  3. Pre-formed stories: One would like to think that when someone is being interviewed, it his or her views that the reporter wants to bring forward. In some of the cases (not all, I accept) the reporters seemed to have come with an agenda and would try to put their words into your mouth. When the attempt was explicit, I could avoid it though. But again, my guess is that it may not be possible for everyone to do it.

That said I am not here to start a campaign against media. And it isn’t really any anger that I am expressing here. It is just another of the experiences of life I thought I should share on the blog. They have their constraints and limitations. But given the role of information dissemination they play in the society, in long term its worth re-thinking media model. I do not have a solution as of yet.

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About Jaya

Jaya Jha is an entrepreneur, a techie, a writer and a poet. She was born and brought up in various towns of Bihar and Jharkhand. A graduate of IIT Kanpur and IIM Lucknow, she realized early on that the corporate world was not her cup of tea. In 2008, she started Pothi.com, one of the first print-on-demand publishing platform in India. She currently lives in Bangalore and divides her time between writing and working on her company's latest product InstaScribe (http://instascribe.com) with a vision to make it the best e-book creation tool. Blog: https://jayajha.wordpress.com Twitter: @jayajha Facebook: http://facebook.com/MovingOnTheBook

17 thoughts on ““My statement has been misquoted by the media”

  1. I am a regular reader of your blog and really loves the way you write. You have made us proud. These media wallahs are always in search of some scoop. If they dont find one they orchestrate one. Its how there job goes.
    Anyway keep rocking boss and keep writing also.

    Mihir K Jha

  2. We, here at Bharat Uday Mission have also seen the same trends of press. We were not misquoted much because of stricter media policy(we get to know first what is being published before it is published).
    But then, the fact is that, in the age of cut-throat competition of press, they also require spices. And they want to show what sells.

  3. As you talked about stereotypes, people love stereotypes just to reaffirm their believes. Newspapers publish what people want to read. I dont know whom to blame.

  4. Hey Jaya,

    Got to your blog from Diwaker’s. Regardless of all the media bashing, I believe you have taken a wise step, going with your instincts.

    Good luck for everything!

  5. Thanks a lot to you all for your wishes and encouragement.

    Thanks a lot Shantanu. But I have not faced any media bashing πŸ™‚ On the contrary they have praised me for more than what I have done. And that is my problem πŸ™‚

  6. This is a mail I got from one of the media persons. He was trying to put it as a comment but seemed like he faced some problems. So, I am pasting it.

    inconvenience is deeply regrated.

    through me(pushyamitra from hindustan, bhagalpur) from all media persons who disturbed u.

    but one thing, i would like to say before concluding this. this is ur frist bitter experence n u should learn to live with us. (manage us). because we are always working in such manner, in hurry, in seach of scoop and in hurry to make some one hero or villion. u have to face us much more times(more then 1000 times), i think this and pray for u too. ur gussa only shows ur immeturity, be meture like a good manager.

    (write about ur bihar stay too)

  7. Pushyamitra: Its nothing about individuals. We are all a part of the system and are bound and constrained by it. So, no issues there.

    And I can see why you call it my “immaturity”. I am used to hearing this in not just this, but several other contexts. But I disagree. Somehow, in our society, if something has stayed a certain way for a long time, not accepting it is considered immaturity. Maturity need not mean resignation. You can be mature, understand things the way they are, the reasons for why they are like that and still dispute them, disagree with them. Yes, when the disagreement is done without understanding the reasons behind the current system, then it is immaturity. Not otherwise.

  8. Hi jaya,
    Well your anger is valid. I donot want to add any comment on it.
    But, seeing through common man eye, they will never known the reality behind the screen. And most interesting fact is, they live by it and enjoy it too.

    So even if the news was distorted, fabricated or moulded, as long as it is creating some +ve vibes( positive ripple effect will be the right word) in the mass, it should be acceptable. As long as the news is inspiring “Bihari/gharelu ladki” standing in kitchen to be next IIM girl, it should be accepted.

    Keep writing & Smiling
    Ram Manohar

  9. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1455221.cms

    He appreciated the 2006 topper Jaya Jha for showing courage to go for her own start-up and asked everybody present on the occasion to give her a standing ovation. “Believe me, one day you will be delivering the convocation address as I am doing today,” he said.

    Did that really happen or is it another media-spun tale. I see the same thing in Indian Express site.
    If so, you cant really blame them for saying that you are starting a startup.

  10. Well, I had a wrong impression of what exactly happened, so thanks for clearing it up Jaya πŸ™‚ Appu – thanks for the ToI links. Btw, your role in the startup will be managerial or of a s/w developer?

  11. Apurva: This did happen and that’s why I offered a clarification later in the Press Conference that had only three people – the three people who were awarded medals… But alas 😦 As I said the stories got fabricated while I was not there – so I had little control over what was going on. Khair, let’s leave it… Nobody’s a loser. I am more concerned about how this rush to dramatize sometimes distorts the facts. This wasn’t an important one really, but something else could be.

    Ram Manohar: There is a problem in that gharelu ladki stereotype. I absolutely do not want parents to expect that their gharelu ladki should do all the housework ever since she grows up a bit and then achieve academic excellence too. This expectation of super-womanness is not something I would ever endorse. May be there are people who did manage it. I haven’t. So, I would find it criminal that my story should be used to convey any such message. I had my set of struggles and I had talked about that. But may be that wasn’t so much of masala.

    Anyway, its over and done with. Hero(ine)ism of few days. Hopefully, will harm no one in long term πŸ˜€

    Shantanu: It is like what you would expect working in a start-up to be like. A bit of everything. However, not coding and accounting. Consider it a mixture of Marketing, Program Management and other General Management activities.

  12. Sad that you had to learn it hard way!
    But as you said, a few days of hero(ine)ism is not bad after all. πŸ™‚

  13. Urs blogs has always given me another eyes to look at the world.

    This time Media. I would have never ever would have thought that misquotation of a Neta’s quotes were Genuine.

    I had read urs blog about urs job and reading it from timesofindia.com and orkut forums had somewhat apparent incoherency in them. Now that’s cleared

  14. Hi Jaya,
    I came to know about your blogsite while searching “Navodaya Darbhanga” word on google. Yesterday I went through some of your blogs for hours as they were beautifully penned down and even made a comment on Guestbook.
    But gradually I came to know your about your whole academic profile.

    Here is a humble request from myside. Some of us are associated with a website of Ex-Navodayans http://www.navodaya.net through which we try to help our jouniors from Navodaya in planning their career-path. I would appreciate if u could spare some of your time and contribute to our effort. I do not know think anyone would be better than you for this work. Your presence on the site would be a great motivation for all of us.
    Waiting for your reply.

    Thanks and regards,
    Ajay Kr. Thakur

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