Paint it YellowTOI-bashing is a legal bloodsport now, especially the gore-filled theatre of Pune Times of India slashing. Allow me to play that today. The last three editions of the PTOI have had a new feature - that of the off-the-record photo, that suggests at hidden liasons and vices in so-called stars. Yesterday, it was someone clicked with someone else and suggestive guesses being made, the day before it was someone clutching someone else's hand and being focussed on, today it was Tanuja smoking a cigarette. Who really cares what these people are doing in their lives? First it was PTOI clicking people at parties etc. Now they're supposedly shooting people at unguarded moments and posing it as an "exposé". Two things: either those people don't know they've been captured like that (or perhaps they're in cahoots with PTOI and are ok with the publicity) and secondly, how is it in anyway worth being printed?
I hate it when these media guys insidiously slip in such small features. In general, they claim that "this is what people want to read", and that improving sales are evidence of that. That's a very vague argument. No one seems to have proven a direct relation between this kind of content and the sales. But when such new features are introduced, I'd like to know what immediate effect PTOI claims it will have. Do people rush to buy the paper because some minor celebrity is shown doing something somewhere which may be worth some gossip, but only to a few? I cannot picture anyone going "oooh! Tanuja smokes, I have got to have that issue which broke this astounding story". She might do a lot of other things, who cares? The problem with such things are that they start off being minor, but to sustain it, the newspaper will keep pushing the boundaries, little by little. Then they will say that "but that's what people want to read". I'd like to meet someone who buys TOI in Pune mainly for that supplement.
We have never had a full-blown Hearstian kind of media coverage in India where you clearly know what to expect, which ends up forcing the newspapers to stop pretending to be a broadsheet along with casual gossip. In the US & UK, it seems like the lines are more clearly drawn and you pay for that you want. Here, you have to take everything, like it or not. It's not really "everything" anymore, as white is being slowly replaced by yellow.
I'm to blame in some respect; as a subscriber I never challenged my accustomed habit of reading the TOI all these years. Thoughts of disgust at such things are always tempered by an inertial feeling of "let me ignore it" and TOI "is like that only". For the first time, I'm really wondering why I'm paying for a five-page supplement, all pages of which have the same page number.