Handling Information Overload and Dealing with Misinformation Workshop By Faye D’Souza | Journalism School
She’s a journalist and an entrepreneur. Spent a long time in business news, 5 years with CNBC, was with the Times group for 11 years. Worked on the launch of Mirror Now- a citizen driven channel. Reflected on self after being placed on gardening leave and then decided to stick to journalism.
Many youngsters don’t have access to a TV and even if they do, they don’t trust what they watch there. They don’t watch the news, read the news etc. End up relying on the internet and sifting through the internet before finding out about some news. Not finding out about things that have happened if they’re not trending.
Even the mainstream TV will do the same amount of deviation. Something that was “the breaking news” at 2 PM is also shown as “Breaking news” at 6PM.
A possible solution could be News Apps but they are algorithm based. So you end up reading similar content.
Faye’s new venture believes in delivering news with
- Credibility: Only delivering doubly-verifiable stuff.
- Dignity: Treating the subject matter (person/issue/story) with dignity. Also treating the viewers and the speakers with dignity.
- Respect: Treating you and your intelligence with respect. Not doing sleight of hand with the viewers. Inviting only the experts to comment on the particular issue.
News mantra: Making the audience angry or scared to get them watching.
- News is like vegetables: you gotta eat it everyday and it’s not exciting!
- During an economic slack- The marketing budget goes down, people stop giving ads. The channels get desperate as the real customer is the ad giving company- not the viewer. You are the commodity, not the customer.
- When money for news channel ads dries up for all legitimate businesses, it comes from the Government! “Janhit me Jaari”, tender notices etc. Only the newspapers and channels that are nice to the government get this money. So, there’s no incentive to do mainstream, ethical etc journalism.
- Eg: When Sridevi passed away, Faye couldn’t find evidence of Sridevi’s murder. As a consequence, she didn’t run that story. But that was not the case with the other channels. They got TRP out of it and no one apologized to her family for ruining her legacy.
- Faye’s aim is to build a transparent newsroom. To ensure that TV news is ruined!
AK: How should an Econ prof try to increase the demand for quality journalism?
- Younger generation is more sensitive, involved and concerned. They instinctively know that they want something better. We just need to make them aware of the existence of a product. Demand already exists. Supply needs to be figured out.
Praneet: You had an amazing episode with Varun Duggirala on the future of journalism where you talked about the “subscription model” being that future. Do you think we will witness that exponential growth in India? And also, what are your views on the tech world changing the old, traditional media?
- Advertiser-driven journalism is falling apart as everyone at the top of the pyramid has started figuring out what’s wrong with it. Newsletters etc are coming up which have a smaller set up and they also make communities which fund the service.
Murali: Content aggregators are the next newspapers and news channels? (splainer.in)
- You need curated content so that you can get the verified stories instead of wasting time on the info overload.
Youngsters in journalism
- Find a good editor who will lay the foundation (of ethics, skills etc) for you and then you can get started. It’s a great time to be a journalist as the older people’s skills are becoming redundant.
- A good editor will set the ethics and beliefs which you will carry with you forever. Don’t settle for a big brand name, go for the quality.
Praneet: Over the past few years, The major institutions of power in the west (Media, Corporate and the govt) have increasingly moved towards the left, resulting in the oppression of free speech, cancel culture etc and in India, all those institutions lean towards the right, STILL resulting in the same thing!! What are your views on these opposite ends of the spectrum converging towards the same outcome?
Any form of extreme is bad news. Journalism should not take any sides. The point of journalists, judiciary and the investigative agencies is that they should be neutral.
- Don’t do a job which is not honest.
- Being favourable to the government leads to better access to ministries, data etc for exclusives.
- Research (questions for a qualitative mapping of the country): Making people watch relatable content so they like it and get hooked to it.
- Channels who would ask good questions would get calls from ministries asking to pull down these questions!
- The Government also crushes the corporate India.
Anshi: The model that you work with doesn’t involve traditional advertising methods. And news in itself has a very shaky relation with reader trust. So how do you intend to spread the reach of your company/channel to the individuals on demand side?
- Faye’s venture is a membership driven model. It’s a community of people who care about the same thing. This also adds value to service.
- Unless people are allowed to chew information, they cannot make their opinions.
- You don’t have to side with any front. Things don’t always have to be black and white.
AK: About supporting a decision based on who made it vs what is actually being done.
- Breaking things down to understand. It’s important to understand nuance. There isn’t enough time given for you to think things through. Separate the activity from govt, the govt from politics etc. Information is often leaning to the sides but you need to read enough to make opinions.
Isha: Have you ever been stifled by people in power for saying things that might put them in “bad light” ? If yes then how do you deal with that kind of pressure?
- In order to pick up a story, be receptive. Trolls, online abuse affect but learn to separate constructive feedback from trolls.
- Faye’s “Badge of Honour” when she received a threat from a Union minister! The seniors asked her to turn that threat into a moment of pride that she did her job well and questioned the wrongs of the GoI.
Soumil: How important is the personality of the journalist in a news piece?
- It matters slightly more on the TV than in the print media.
Gandhar: I’d read somewhere that there is a law that regulates the amount of ad time on a news channel, despite that Indian channels are littered with ads. Why don’t we have a cleaner broadcast like the BBC or CNN?
- 24 mins for content, 6 mins of ads. People use parts of the screen for ads. Optimising the screen space in case of the Indian channels!