“Today it’s Kasab, before that it was the Sena supremo. You guys in the media love to go overboard,” a ‘train friend’, Vivek Dholakia who I’d run into with his group, said soon after I boarded the train at Jogeshwari. By the time I got down at Bandra, I was barraged with questions on the media’s approach on everything from the 1992-93 riots, the great deluge of 2005, 26/11 and what have you.
As a TISS student, my field work supervisor had gone to great lengths in her first meeting explaining the merits of feedback. Perhaps it was her willingness to pay for snacks and tea for us bhukkads, I kind of looked forward to feedback.
As a journalist, a star-marked question in the assembly or suo motu petition based on a news report you’ve worked on always feels great. Yet, like most media persons, one always looks forward to what people have to say. Particularly feedback from readers/viewers. Who by the way seem to have their own ideas on what they will react to and to what extent.
For example, the most feedback I’ve got (and keep getting) in recent times is to a trend story on manscaping which talked about how men are choosing to wax their privates. Though I did this story in April this year, I am still getting mail on it. Soon after praising the story, most people want to know of a salon in their area which will provide the aforementioned service. Last week, a particularly persistent reader from Pune not only wanted directions to a salon but was keen on writing about his experience when he found it.
Feedback however takes on a new high (or low) for television journalists. Forget the issue you are reporting on, viewers seem to have the strongest views on your hair, clothes, make-up, double chin, paunch and (as in the case of one Hindi anchor) even nostril hair!
Such feedback, available for all in the office to see on the intranet in the channel I worked for, often became the source of entertainment. On a break from logging tapes overnight, a sleepy colleague ‘T’ decided to read feedback and began guffawing. Curious, I went over to check what he’d found. It was a marriage proposal for an anchor (and columnist) whose dimple this Belgaum viewer seemed to be besotted with. After a whole paragraph praising her looks, he’d said, “Madam, I will die of sorrow if you do not marry me,” and generously shared his “residance” number.
T decided to call the gentleman from the landline at that unearthly hour posing as the anchor. The conversation conducted in a shrill put-on falsetto on speaker phone, had all of us rolling over with laughter, particularly when T explained the gruff manliness in his voice as a result of too much ice cream while on assignment in Siberia.
Will I get feedback for this?