UNTOLD STORIES FROM 25 YEARS OF TELEVISION NEWS
The current book under review is from NDTV, in part a chronicle of its 25 years journey so far, and in part a telling series of stories from these 25 years, ones that bring us face to face with many queries, questions, hard truths, uncomfortable realities as well as stories from under-represented genres. This book is also a management case study – albeit a rather longish one, one that I would recommend each and every person in Industry anywhere in the world read. This is, to top it all off, a standing lesson in the trendlines in the Media, as well as the how these developed over time, making it a powerful value addition to anyone in sales and marketing!
The collection of stories is tastefully done, and with strategic thought; you get a lovely read, one that triggers your mind into questions, realizations, learnings, entertainment and fun all in the same volume, making it a true rarity. This book is a collector’s edition, one of the books that belong in the must read category, and in the library of every Indophile, every Indian non-fiction reader and everyone related with Industry and the Media. The language is fluid and easy to comprehend, and the content is well laid out, properly edited and presented in swift read format – not too detailed, not too crisp.
You get a ringside view to NDTV and its entire journey – which is a management lesson for many a company and industry. You can feel the passion, and the commitment of the company; its adherence to values and its employee friendly atmosphere. These are the two factors that are most critical to success in any industry – passion, and valuing your employees; and this shows in what I would like to refer to as an excellent case study for business management professionals. This is the way you build a company! There are deep learning to be had nearly every experience: the launch, the implementation, the new products, the daily grind in first a new and then subsequently an older company, and of course especially the way hurdles are overcome.
For people not from the Media trade, one of the biggest take-aways this book brings is a fascinating look at the Television Trade from the inside, what makes them tick, the many many minutiae revealed and/or discussed in the book, the way the people and the Television programmes operate, the background of the shows we see on the screen, how they are planned and many other small and large aspects. That is what makes this book a truly fascinating read, and an entertaining ride. Perhaps the most important is a fascinating and riveting closing chapter that deals with online media, its launch and the issues it faced…
The best topical articles, apart from the points discussed so far, that make this book extra special are the ones on Kargil – the first an account of the Kargil War Coverage & the next Kargil Ten Years Later; From Jessica to Nirbhay; Ravish Kumar; the simply awesome Gaza Notes article; Lutyen’s Journalism; Centre-State Dynamics; and the one article that is to me head and shoulders above the entire book, bar none : the one titled Whose Side Are You On… a deep, searching and hard-hitting article on journalism, reportage and the personal aspect from a journalist’s eye.
BEHIND THE SCENES
I mentioned above that the book takes us deep into Media territory, giving us a ringside seat and a fascinating internal look at the mystic world of Media and particularly Television; it actually does far more than that. The book rates so highly not just because of the points I have mentioned – but because it takes you into the mind of a journalist. You as a reader, for the first time, get a peek into the mind of the journalist, the men and women we all watch on TV everyday. For the first time, we get a feel of the emotions, thoughts, debates inside the minds of these people; we get a peek at the challenges they faced and the minutiae behind the epochal stories that we remember so vividly, like the ones given above in the preceding paragraph.
QUESTIONS AND REALITIES
The other aspect of the book is that it forces you to face a series of questions, some small, some large; some of minimal importance – while others being quite critical. This is done not through rhetoric, but through had evidence, leaving little scope for argument; these are field observations, some of which I myself have noted with disquiet, though on a much smaller scale and on a much lesser dimension. My only hope is that these are the exception and not the rule. Let us hope so, hope that this too shall pass, that we are in a passing phase! I will not like to prejudice the reader as to the content, so let me leave it at that; read for yourself, and make of it what you will is my view on this. Suffice it to state that these are evidence-based, and not opinion-based. These are points all of us have to ruminate upon for ourselves in our own minds… kudos, NDTV, for a brilliant first book! Rated 5 stars out of 5!