(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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.