The mainstream media guidelines I seem to have missed...

Last Updated: Thu, Jul 18, 2013 09:42 hrs

1. Attack Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi at every given opportunity. If no opportunity exists, make one. Even half a phrase will do. That gets you your circulation and TRP coverage so make sure to do it all the time. It also helps hiding the real stories of the country which are such a pain to research and present and nobody is really interested any way. Also remember that Modi supporters are either rabid Right-wingers or social media enthusiasts. Would you want to be described in such a manner?

2. Praise God Sachin Tendulkar at every given opportunity. If no opportunity exists, make one. Praise may be the lead. Criticism may be the lead. His performance may be the lead. His non-performance may be the lead. Prolong his retirement plans as much as possible so that the stories and news bytes continue.

3. Don't do ANY story on Congress President Sonia Gandhi! You are mad to even think of doing an informative story about her. Investigative stories about her are out the realms of imagination. Just convey all her statements and emotions… like her “unhappiness” in particular.

4. Since both Congress and BJP are communal in nature, just put a veil on the Congress to balance everything out.

5. Don't even think of doing stories like that so called 'development' journalist P Sainath. He has his own niche and should not be disturbed and he has copyrighted that field.

6. The previous generation's trivia is most likely to be this generation’s lead story. That's the key to boosting circulation and TRP ratings.

7. There are just two viewpoints in this country today: The Congress and the BJP. Take both the absolutely downright useless views of their spokespersons and you're done for the day. You've covered all possible angles. (It's much easier too!)

8. Social Media is the enemy. Social Media is the enemy. Social Media is the enemy.

9. Yesterday we called them critics, but today we call them trolls. Critics don't exist, but trolls do in the millions.

10. If it ain't a plant, then it ain't investigative journalism. It doesn't matter who is planting the story. All plants are welcome… Congress, BJP, police, CBI, IB, bureaucracy… they may be settling scores with each other, but we get our scoops or exclusives or whatever else you call it. We are the finest gardeners in the world.

11. The public don't like to hear bad things about certain celebrities like Salman Khan. We should respect the wishes of the public. Like he may be doing downright crappy movies and there may be a mountain of cases against him, but since he is doing well at the box office and has a huge number of fans, just leave him alone. Holy cows are holy cows.

12. Yesterday Ishrat Jahan was a terrorist and today she's as innocent as they can get. Now didn't the great George Orwell write about such U-turns in 1984? Go ahead and be Orwellian! Like we celebrated fake encounters from the Punjab problem in the 1980s to the killing of underworld dons in Mumbai. But we can change that overnight.

13. When the BJP is at the power at the Centre, call yourself anti-establishment. When the Congress is there, call yourself pro-establishment. At the regional level, try to be pro-establishment no matter which party is in power. Attack them only when they are about to fall to claim 'balance'.

14. If there is some popular sentiment going on in the country which you don't like, don't fret at all. Instead of giving it 100% coverage, just give it 50%. Totally rubbish it in the remaining 50% coverage saying that you are giving a 'balanced' view. That way you get to have your cake and eat it too.

15. Use the word communal regularly and you will be called secular. Use the word caste regularly and you will be called inclusive. Use the word poor regularly and you will be called a social champion.

16. Pakistan is the enemy. Know your enemy. Know your enemy well. Give all its celebrities like failed dictators as much coverage as you can. General Pervez Musharraf may be a pariah all over the world including Pakistan, but make him feel like a king in India. Even though Imran Khan didn't have an iota's chance of becoming Prime Minister, give him wide coverage.

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. 

He blogs here

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