Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.
Reader Mani Shankar writes in to point me to a post by Vir Sanghvi in which he hits out at people “who blog and tweet”. I have three things to say about it:
1] Sanghvi criticises bloggers and blogging… in a blog post. Is there not a little bit of dissonance there? If he is blogging, he is a blogger. And yet, his criticism doesn’t seem directed at himself.
2] He attacks a straw man and generalises madly. He’s upset because some bloggers “complain that the media are only interested in circulation and viewership (or TRPs)”. (He doesn’t link to any of them.) He finds this criticism invalid, so he generalises about how bloggers “regard themselves as an elite.” Which bloggers? All bloggers? Me also? Him also?
This is as silly as my attacking the writing skills of Indian journalists because some journalists mix metaphors. It would be fallacious of me to generalise in that manner, and far more productive for me to link to a specific journalist whose writing falls in that category—as I did a few days ago with poor Bobilli. Should I have generalised about Indian journalism on the basis of Bobilli’s writing?
3] Finally, when people (bloggers or otherwise) criticise the media for chasing TRPs, they are effectively criticising them for catering to the lowest common denominator. Sanghvi attacks them for feeling this way, and calls them an elite. But hey, wait a second, what about when journalists criticize politicians for the exact same thing? As when Sanghvi himself writes:
If we are led by the lowest common denominator then that is where we will remain in the community of nations: at the lowest level, without any hope of catching up with the rest of the world.
The “elite bloggers” Sanghvi mocks presumably hold the same sentiment about our media. Can Sanghvi not take his own medicine?
There’s another response on Sanghvi’s post over at Retributions.
I think this is by one of those “pseudonymous bloggers” Sanghvi is so upset about. Heh. Correction: The post is by Rohit Pradhan, who’s not been pseudonymous for a while now, I’m told.
Also read: An old piece by me, “In Defence of Blogging.”
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