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Media is increasingly turing page-3. Trivialisation and farcification is the trend. Seriouis issues are being dumbed down. …

Media is increasingly turing page-3. Trivialisation and farcification is the trend. Seriouis issues are being dumbed down.
I made this presentation at a seminar on this issue in Viswa Bharti, Westbengal, India last year.

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  • 1. Is Media going Page 3? Mrinal Chatterjee Professor, Indian Institute of Mass Communication(IIMC) Dhenkanal 759001, Orissa
  • 2. Origin of ‘Page-3’
    • The origin of Page 3 is in the Sun newspaper. The page was launched in 1969 with a partially covered picture of Ulla Lindstorm. This was just after Sun was taken over by Rupert Murdoch. There were evocative captions such as ‘News in briefs’, ‘Ample assets’ and ‘Bottom line’. Gradually it became a trend.
    • Page-3 came to mean unabashed celebration of personality cult, promotion of crash consumerism.
    • To many media pundits it symbolised gradual trivialization and tabloidisation of mainstream press leading to dumbing down the serious issues.
  • 3. The Big Question:
    • If ‘going Page 3’ means unabashed celebration of personality cult, promoting crash consumerism and tabloidisation, trivialization, dumbing down the serious issues, - yes, media is going Page 3. With breakneck speed. And with a gay wanton.
    • Of course there are notable exceptions; but they are just that... exceptions.
  • 4. Causes
    • There are two sets of causes really, one from the media angle, one from the media-users angle.
  • 5. First, from the media angle
    • From being a mission Media is business now. Since it is business, it has to cater to the want and need of its consumers; more to want than to need .
    • Hence it gradually aims at lowest common denominator.
    • Entire approach changes. Serious issues are gradually pushed out. The ‘dumbing down’ process is in place.
  • 6. Causes, from media angle..
    • Advertisement is becoming more important. With media becoming more capital intensive, and the product selling at less than the production cost, advertisement revenue is becoming more crucial for survival. The stake is becoming higher.
  • 7. Causes, from media angle..
    • Gradually what media needs is not readers or viewers; they need consumers for the products advertised. This role reversal determines the content. Media no longer needs people who would think, they require jombies, who would only consume.
  • 8. Causes, from media angle..
    • The media have, as P. Sainath puts it, “lost their compass, and with it, their compassion. What Prabhat Pattnaik, one of our foremost economists, calls, ‘the moral universe’ of the media has changed a lot for the worse.
  • 9.  
  • 10.  
  • 11.  
  • 12. From the media-users angle
    • The most cogent explanation for why journalism in the public interest has lost leverage was offered by Polk Laffoon IV, the corporate spokesman of Knight Ridder. “I wish there were an identifiable and strong correlation between quality journalism … and newspaper sales,” he said. “It isn’t …that simple.”
  • 13. Why does it happen?
    • We, the media users seek entertainment in all forms, shapes and sizes and information that we can use for our personal gain.
    • Serous issues bore us. We do not want to delve deep into the issue. It is easy not to be involved. We want light reading material, pretty picture to ogle at. And then get on with our mundane life.
  • 14. Why does it happen?
    • We need idols. And we now want them well dressed, well heeled. Page3 personalities fulfill this need.
  • 15. But, what is the problem?
    • Many ask: if media is going page3, let it go. That is what people want. And what is the problem yaar ?
    • Apparently there is none.
  • 16. But look closely
    • The process is changing the way we look at serious issues.
    • There is less space for serious issues and even lesser for its analysis.
    • Media is supposed to set agenda, and in this way a totally skewed agenda is being set.
  • 17. There is something more serious than this
    • This trivialisation process is eating into the vitals of healthy socialization process.
    • It is stunting the humanizing process and triggering a sinister dehumanising process. It is promoting ‘I’ culture. It is promoting a shallow, ‘all body - no soul’ kind of existence. It is a negation of what human civilization stands for.
    • There lies the big problem.
  • 18. Is there a solution?
    • Yes there is.
    • It lies in two levels: at the media consumer level and at the media content producers’ level.
  • 19. media consumer
    • The larger public must play its role.
    • How? Here is a check list:
  • 20. Solution: media consumer
    • Exercise your right as consumer. Demand issue-based content.
    • Write letters to the editor. Voice your opinion in whichever forum you can have access to.
    • In a market-based economy no producer can ignore its consumers.
  • 21. Solution: media consumer
    • Shun Page-3 type materials. No supply can sustain without demand. Just plug the demand. Supply will automatically dwindle.
    • If mainstream media fail to deliver what you want, there is no dearth of alternative media.
  • 22. media-content producer
    • Remember, “at the end of the day, the media remains a public trust, which alone justifies its status as the Fourth Estate. Its prime asset is credibility.”
    • Forget this, and media will lose its credibility.
    • Credibility is the fountainhead of power for media.
  • 23. media-content producer
    • Serious issues need not be presented in a boring way. It can be made interesting reading/viewing.
    • All it takes is application, imagination. And hard work.
  • 24. media-content producer
    • Serious issues still have takers. Youngsters are still drawn to the profession by idealism.
    • There are scores of journalists who are working against enormous odds to bring to light stories that matter- to millions of underprivileged people. It gives them the satisfaction of doing something worthwhile.
  • 25. So...
  • 26.  
  • 27. Thank You. [email_address]