Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Paid news: Type 'Academic'

The need for advertisement initially was felt by people who sold products. Companies took it to a new high with the advent of television. Nowadays, a film star or sports personality is paid in crores (1 crore = 10 million) and given the title brand ambassador. The current war among film stars is as to who gets more brand ambassadorship(that's what I call it). Anyways, coming back to the point, everything is getting advertised today. From products manufactured by big multi-nationals to oil made by your local guy.

Then there is the self advertisement kind. The first thing that comes to mind is of matrimonials. Matrimonials are endemic to this part of the world. For those who don't know what it is, I can advertise myself and get a bride or groom, marriages being arranged. So, I specify my age, occupation, religion, marital status, caste, height, weight, colour of skin to how handsome/beautiful I look and anything that is even frivolous like 'film star looks'. I remember reading an advt where the guy said 'HIV -ve' and another which said 'aristocratic lineage'. Remember, India did away with monarchy in 1947, but some as they say still live in the stone ages. It amuses me no end and is my favourite pass time on sundays. I always wonder what 'aristocratic lineage' means and amuse myself thinking that maybe his forefathers were the kings cooks, dhobis or carpenters(please, take no offence, but I can never rein in my wild imagination. Maybe I should have a post on this ...... shall think about it.)

After that came advertisements of people who wanted to be employed. They found it a good way to find a job by advertising themselves. Sometimes, however I got the notion that they were boasting like some of those in the matrimonial section.

Then came elections and politicians as you know can work beyond your imagination. They spent crores passing of paid news as news. Newspapers had columns written about these politicians as being great and saviours of mankind. No one, not even a film star would think of doing it. Politicians did.

Now, there is a new kind. The academic boasters. The education section of the paper, I always thought is a place where educational institutions (schools, colleges and universities besides coaching centers) can advertise themselves by sending a writeup about themselves. Most such concerned courses given by the institutions or school day and sports day activities.

Day before, to my amusement, I found a column speaking about how a colleague of mine was awarded a PhD. The column said that so and so was awarded PhD from this university and the work was done under the able guidance of so and so. I was first shocked. The first thought was wow, did she do great work to come in the news paper. Having just woken up, sitting and sipping my morning tea with the paper, my brains started working a little late. I then remembered that I had attended her pre-phd viva as well as part of the final viva and there was nothing exemplary or phenomenal that it would find mention in the newspaper. So, was wondering what made it to the news. Was the work implemented in some real world set up as it is rarely done. No, atleast I had not heard about it. So, then what was it that brought it to the papers.

Then I remembered the term. 'Paid news'. Advertising self. I know not what to write. I am stuck for words about this kind. I also remembered about two girls who advertised their pre-phd presentations through SMS, by sending messages glorifying themselves as those who started an unknown club attended by hardly 20 people on the whole. I laughed then and I laugh now.

Did academic greats like Einstein gain popularity by academic brilliance or through publicity. Okay, okay, not everyone can be an Einstein or an Edison. But then, even Venkatraman who got the nobel prize for Chemistry this year spoke about how work speaks. Now, now, not everyone can be Venkatraman, right. Okay, so then what do we do ? Advertise the self.

Maslow's hierarchy speaks about the needs of a human being. Man initially wants basic needs to be fulfilled. Then as he moves up the ladder, he yearns for a place in society. But he spoke about it as something you achieve by hardwork. Like what Bill Gates did and is doing. First he made money, enough for himself, then for his children, then for his retirement too. After that, he started looking at securing a place in his society, the computer world. Once he achieved that, today he looks at giving back to society and runs the foundation. He is doing it because that is what makes him happy today, not recognition but the feeling of doing something great. 'Self Actualization' as Maslow called it. No, I am not going to talk about Microsoft. So, that is the hard way and what Maslow spoke about. Forget it, I can't do that. So what do I do ? Find a shortcut. And today's shortcut to fame is, 'Self Advertising', I guess. Basking in a little limelight, even if it is self created. Am not hurting anyone, am I ? Then, what's the problem ?

But then, so many people receive a PhD. It's nothing great. Whether you learn your subject of study fully and clearly or not, one thing a researcher learns for sure is how little he knows. How his contribution did not even make a scratch. How, there is so much to learn and discover in this world. How his contribution has not helped mankind in any way. All it did was to get himself a three lettered degree which might help him get a tenure if he continues to work hard. So, then what is this all about ? Someone tell me.

1 comment:

bg said...

oh... i just know of something much better... a four letter thing that only few ppl explore to it's best... it's called life...