One would imagine that the Indian Readership Survey commissioned by Media Research Users Council (MRUC), a registered not-for-profit body of members drawn from major advertisers, advertising agencies and media owners is completely above board.
According to the MRUC website, the IRS maintains “standards of integrity, fairness and reliability in media research” but overnight, as it were, its most recent findings seem to have enraged the media to the point of disowning it. As things stands, the IRS is the only currency of readership that exists and hence all advertisers and advertising agencies rely on the data to make informed choices with their media investments.
Now as many as eighteen publications have contested the IRS findings. And what are these findings? One is that there has been a decline in the readership of many newspapers. There has been seen an overall drop in newspaper readership across languages with as much as 45 to 50 per cent decline. It sounds almost unbelievable.
One point has not been made clear, though. Is there any relationship between “circulation” and “readership”? The former means the number of copies actually sold. The latter is the number of people who maybe reading one single copy. This means that the circulation maybe steady and may even have increased but because of the increase in the number of nuclear households, the readership has come down. Does the IRS survey indicate that the number of nuclear families may have increased cutting down not on circulation, but on readership?
For an advertiser selling his wares, it is the readership that matters more. Perhaps the IRS must make this clear. But if readership is falling it can only mean that more and more people are spending more time watching television news channels than reading papers. This is a dangerous development.
In the first place it is one thing listening to ‘news breaks’ and quits another reading a newspaper or weekly. The latter provides more information and background to news. The former may provide ‘more’ news but is short on backgrounding. There is, as should be clear, a marked difference between information, knowledge and wisdom. In the second place, reading enhances one’s cultural standing. A reader has access to literature which cannot – and should not – be downgraded. A well-read person any time commands more respect than one who is merely brought up on ‘information’.
An interesting news item has appeared in some papers with the Press Trust of India (PTI) as the source. According to the report as many as 163 Vedic ‘pandits’ who were brought to the US from north Indian villages have disappeared from the Maharshi Vedic City in Iowa during the past one year! The PTI quotes an ethnic weekly Hi India as saying that the Vedic Pandits brought to the US lived in pathetic conditions and were paid less than 75 cents an hour.
It would seem that before the Pandits were invited to the US they were asked to sign a contract whereby they were promised a compensation of 50 dollars. There is no full report on this subject as yet. Has everyone forgotten the Devyani-Richards episode?
Nothing is more sickening than the personal attacks made against Modi by Rahul Gandhi. A strong and healthy critic of the young man is Tavleen Singh who is recognisably part of the Delhi social elite.
Writing in The Hitavada (February 2) she has come to the conclusion that he has not been “taught the history of the Congress Party” and that before giving another interview “he would be well-advised to take a few lessons on politics, economics and most importantly, history”. As she put it, “He may discover that he is not indispensable to the Congress Party and certainly not indispensable to India.”
About the most stupid thing that the Congress has done recently is to recall the assassination of the Mahatma and accuse the RSS of being party to it. The RSS was long ago absolved of all charges against it but to resuscitate that event now shows how totally lacking in ideas the Congress has come to. Every poll – and so far there have been three major ones – suggest that the Congress will get the beating of its life.
As The Sentinel (January 26) of Guwahati noted “the UPA-II could go down in history as the most indecisive and weak Government the country has had” and that says it all.