Monday, April 17, 2006

We buy headlines!

Sunday afternoon and I'm flipping channels when I spot this on the ticker of CNN IBN: Nobel Laureate Kroto visits Amity campus: says Amity students most exciting he has ever met.

Yeah, right. I mean sure Kroto must have visited Amity and made some pleasant remarks about the students but to see this flashed on national television under the heading "Edu News" is a bit much. And this, on a channel that says it is serious about journalism and will do 'whatever it takes.'

Of course, it's an advertisement - just like Medianet articles in Bombay Times - but surely you can't put such information out on a ticker under the heading "Edu News". Imagine a ticker ad bought by Narendra Modi or Uma Bharti. If you wouldn't book misleading "ads" issued by politicians why are educational institutes exempt? Because they should not be.

Especially in the light of:
1) Students sue Amity
2) This site recently put up by folks claiming to be Amity's own students

But the issue is not even how genuine Amity is. The issue is that advertisements must clearly APPEAR to be advertisements on a news ticker. Otherwise they will be mistaken for news - and that would tarnish the reputation of the channel as a whole.

And oh, the same 'news' was running on Star News as well. But then, one doesn't really have very high expectations from that channel!

Lastly, for all I know Google Adsense is going to deliver an Amity ad in the space right above this post. Such is the irony of life... But you clearly know it's an ad, right? That's all I am asking the powers that be in television to ensure.

Correction: I saw the ad again and it does say "advertisement" on the right hand corner. However "Edu News" is far more prominent on the left hand corner and this apparently is the handiwork of the advertiser and not the channel.

However, as a viewer I still feel misled. As a publisher and media owner I am the last one on the planet to suggest channels should not make money from ads. But in certain cases one does have to intervene and specify what is acceptable and what is not.

It's a classic marketing vs editorial disagreement and I've had more than a few in my own organisation and others I've worked at. Like I said, it's a question of expectation. I trust CNN IBN more than most other news channels and hence feel the need to point this out!

Lastly, education has to be treated in a manner different from other 'consumer products'. It's one thing to see an exaggerated claim from a cosmetic product (at worst you lose a hundred bucks when the cream does not make you thinner, fairer or Miss India). But an investment in education is time, money and one's future.

Of course, it's upto students and parents to do the due diligence before joining any course. But some amount of responsibility falls on the media as well because despite what a few bloggers may think, people do believe what they perceive to be 'news'.


  1. If Google Adsense displays an ad which you don't like, there is some sort of feedback mechanism whereby you can say that you don't want this particular ad on your blog.

  2. Rashmi,

    I saw this Ad too - and I think it does say "Advertisement" right next to edu News, no?


  3. Sharad - is that so? I missed it and so might a large number of viewers. I still don't see why it should be billed as "Edu News" because the moment you see the word news you don't consider that what follows may be an advertisement.

    What's more statements of fact on a newsticker - even if preceded by the word advertisement - will read like news. In case of offers or discounts or "buy insurance" you know it's an ad. In this case if you switch to the channel *after* the word advertisement has scrolled past - how would u ever know?

  4. infact that ad has been appearing on CNN IBN for more than two weeks

  5. Do you really trust channels these days? The other day there was this big Bangalore thing happening on CNN IBN, and in the midst of this discussion on all the priblems with the city, Rajdeep had time to felicitate Anil Kumble. I think all these channels have either sold out, or are desperately marketing themselves

  6. another diploma mill supported by our politicians to make life more miserable for us normal students who dream of making it big and who dont have brains of IITians(2% of total applicant selected- correct me if i am wrong)

  7. I think Sharad is right here. Besides, I think it was a bit harsh to post such an article based on a not-so-well understood factor.

    No magazine can actually prevent an Ad which just looks like an article of the magazine. Even dailies like Hindu you can find advertisements which seem more like an article. The whole google text ad revolution worked that way. Although it's an advertisement mentioned it's likely to gel in with more and more website as it's plain text. To add to it Google lets you customize how the ad looks - what color etc etc which makes it look more like a component of the website.

    Coming back to this case in particular the words Edu News was part of advertisement content. And hence, blaming the channel is not a great idea.

    No running advertisement in television industry ever mentions while it's playing that it's an advertisement. No program when it breaks "visually" suggests you that the next thing you are going to see is an advertisement and not promoted by the broadcasting company. I would argue that even that's misleading. The famous ad by Smiti for a herbal tea ad was as if it was a program by the channel as it ran for a much longer time than any ad would ever run, even a public service ad like Polio programs and aids awareness.

    Having said the above, I think most news channels in India are not worth a watch. That is if their goal was ever to "deliver pure news". That;s the reason why guys like me depend on Digg or similar technology for good news content. User Driven. Search based. This will happen in television industry too.

    On a totally different note, I have been considering some improvements in the new media industry as such. Television in particular. Now that content is digital and carries Meta data - ads should also contain meta deta. And I can tell by Box that hey when meta-keyword="Pepsi" skip ad. meta-moviecast="aishwariya rai" skip channel while surfing. Ah, just examples, okay :)

    The ads shown on your blog as disappointing as ads seen on television as tickers. But everyone has the right to make money. For some disappointment is that they see ads without telling that they really are ads (clearly enough) and for others seeing an ad on personal blog of a well respected inspiring writer. I saw an ad on the homepage which read "Diet to stay fit" - and thanks that google told me it's an ad. a space i never expected would head wonderful content below.

    Sorry for a long comment. Comments can be deleted, unlike ads ;)

    Shalin Jain

  8. An AD by a MBA school.

    What can you expect ?Truth ?

    Come what may,they will promote their schools aggressively& with a cut-throat instinct(it may have lies, so who the hell cares?) and they view an Institution as a "corporate" ...prospective students are "market" for these guys....

    It is upto the guys who join there, to decide.

  9. Rashmi,

    I completely agree with you. I also saw that bit about Amity on the ticker and was puzzled. It dies not look like an ad and is wilfully deceptive. BUt I hold the channel responsible because they must have realized that before we did and still took no steps. I guess things move faster nowadays. It took TOI a century to sell out completely and transmogrify into a rag but CNN IBN? It took 3 months!

    Congratulations Rajdeep.

  10. Hi ! Rashmi

    How about writing a piece on Directors of leading MBA Entrance classes getting (read buying) time on news channels to broadcast "CAT Analysis".

    Isn't that advertising? Isn't that misleading?

  11. First of all, I also agree that it is harsh on a channel to be condemned like this, 'coz it is already beaming that news under the heading "Advertisement".

    Imagine a ticker saying,
    "I strongly condemn the statement given in the media saying "IIM-A are the most corrupt B-school in the country" says Narayan Murthy".
    Imagine you opened the TV when the ticker was already at "IIM-A".
    Who would be held responsible for this misinterpretation? Of course, not the channel.

    Also, students today are much more aware and mature to be swayed away by such silly promotions.
    With all those B-School rankings coming out on all the major magazines, these things matter less.
    But u never know if those rankings are even sold out.In tht case, who would be held for misleading.

    U r losing it out, Rashmi.
    Come up with some better topics, n content.


  12. Rashmi, I too felt disgusted at this ad. And those who say students today are smart, I meet so many parents who do not know what AICTE is and really do not know how to use the internet, let alone know about blogs and digging for news from there.

  13. In a world where even the next door guy is going the American way, Go does this unbelievable thing. Iam from Pune and for the past 3 months was in Mumbai for some projects. I believe me i never ever felt like switching to another radio station then Go. I believe there are more cross-cultural students in Pune as compared to Mumbai. I don't quiet agree with you Rashmi when you say that this new Go pattern would work in Pune. Infact Radio Mirchi has already a mass following, so this something different thing actucally works for GO.
    Unfortunately, the Pet Shop Boys won't be too pleased. "Go Wesssttt " ...ooops Go "back to Eassttt" (and play hindi songs). I've already signed the petition.

    PS: Hey Congrats Rashmi, i'll be making a beeline to chat with you on Just Another Feather in an already feathered cap ?? say what ??

  14. Reminds me the launch ad of in "Times Of India" way back in those dotcom days. I cant recall the content but I cant forget it took away the whole of page 1!!!

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