Gossip, news, or insight: What will you pay for?

Back in the 90s, the probability of coming across the good, the bad, and the ugly online was a simple ‘X square’, where ‘X’ is a superset of all the things online.

We have come a long way from then.

What started with The Dot Com Bubble in the mid-90s paved the way for establishing a whole new industry around technology in the early 2000s, making ‘information’ one of the most valued resources of the early 21st century. Access to information became the key to drive growth in the IT and other industries across the globe.

The smartphone revolution and Internet penetration have made sure we have access to a seemingly endless feed of content at our fingertips.
While Google’s Search engine was launched to help us efficiently navigate through all of that, it gradually but surely became the catalyst for the ‘trend-based’ content that is plaguing the current news industry.

We now live in a world where we are bombarded with information of all sorts every day. This often leaves us oversaturated, desensitized, and attention deficit.

As we start to care less and less, it’s easy to overlook things. That’s when the lines between the inherently distinct forms of information – news, opinion, rumor, fact, and fiction — start to blur for us.

While the lack of ingenuity is concerning in general, the biggest blow is served to those who are strictly in the business of delivering factual information like data journalists or even historians.

It’s like looking at a news report on estimated food grain loss due to impending locust attack in North India, with the same lens you see a speculative piece on celebrity breakup based on a trending photo. The optics are discomforting.

With the emergence of many news publishers (broadcast and digital), the competition to retain its viewership is getting harder. Thus it is necessary to put together content with the latest necessary information. Well, ideally it is equally important to deliver authentic and balanced news. But, it’s not an ideal world.

Since it takes money to run a newsroom and no one is willing to pay for news, even when they, many ‘straight news’ publishers have armed themselves with a ‘trends desk’ that churns out several listicles a day.
There is nothing inferior about listicles.

In fact, listicles could be a brilliant format to ease in complex subjects like personal finance management or Dalit Feminism Movement. But surely no one is interested. Personal finance is good SEO around Budget and Dalit Feminism won’t be trending until a Dalit woman hits the headlines.

Drake’s latest Tik Tok challenge for the win.

When journalistic content struggles to find its identity in the current volatile media space, it is convenient for misinformation to slip in. From deliberately spreading false information during COVID 19 pandemic to rumor-mongering to instigate lynching against Indian minorities, the Fake News machinery is a serious threat to legitimate sources of information and people’s lives.

While media houses (domestic and international) grapple to fact-check the rising number of fake news every day, polarisation has heightened in society, with many refuting mainstream media’s credibility.
Credibility is a major news value and researchers have used various measures and statistical procedures to understand relation between media credibility and viewership.

The pressure of round the clock news is already compelling news publishers to compromise on credibility and run after ‘breaking news’. An assessment study conducted by Center for Media Studies in New Delhi (CMS credibility tracking study press release available online) showed that even though the viewership of news channels has gone up, their credibility hasn’t.

President of the USA, Donald Trump’s use of ‘Fake News’ to refute the American media has only made things worse for media everywhere.
When encountering a controversial issue, the word ‘truth’ becomes subject to circumstances of each party involved. It’s no longer about who has the facts right, but what facts rightly fit our echo chambers.

And, we can thank some of this behavior to Facebook’s ‘News Feed’ that ranks stories based on a user’s likely preferences through a computer-controlled algorithm. In simple words, FB shows us what we like (read most engage with), filtering out what we aren’t fans of, creating an illusion that the world agrees with us.

We like and share the news we agree with, post the surveys and studies that conform to our views, and pass off those who challenge them as the insignificant minority or trolls. The result is this collective failure of a world that can’t face our realities with a pinch of salt.

How does one escape this bubble, then? Since going offline and becoming hermits is out of the question, we can start by listening to those we don’t agree with, instead of blocking them out.

The echo chambers and opinion bubbles have forced us into having a one-dimensional understanding of the world that is wanting of insight and nuance.

We must also bring the emphasis back to getting it accurate. Accuracy isn’t as simple as getting the facts right. The level of verification and authentication required differs from story to story, subject to subject. The requirement for accuracy for a factual entertainment or comic story will vary from that of a historical documentary or current affairs.

Experts, researchers, data scientists, storytellers, publishers, broadcasters, and the custodians of the fourth estate must take a fresh look at the business of information, fix what’s broken, and optimize existing resources to fill the insight need gap.

Social media engagement and views are good indicators of how content has performed. Using existing data and the algorithms would help with it, but absolute faith in numbers may blindside us.

Let’s ask ourselves: What is the last piece of news, blog, or opinion piece that has been shared on my social feed? Have I paid anything for it?
Ultimately, it comes down to what we value. When content makers identify ways for information to add value and help us grow, people pay a premium for it.


Jujutsu Kaisen comes on Netflix this October; Official trailer released

The much anticipated new horror-fantasy anime Jujutsu Kaisen just dropped its first full-length trailer and fans can get enough of it.

The 1.30 min long trailer, streaming on the studio Toho Animation’s official YouTube channel promises a dark storyline, with lots of action.

When and where to watch Jujutsu Kaisen

Anime Jujutsu Kaisen is set to release in October 2020, across MBS and TBS network’s 28 stations in Japan, along with digital platforms like Netflix as clear from this tweet.

Mappa announces staff and cast for Jujutsu Kaisen

Photo: Yuji Itadori from Jujutsu Kaisen (Credit: Toho Animation)

The announcement came from its production house Mappa’s official Twitter handle, along with a fresh list of staff working on the project and cast for its voice actors.

  • Yuuji Itadori: Junya Enoki
  • Megumi Fushiguro: Yuuma Uchida
  • Nobara Kugisaki: Asami Veto
  • Satoru Gojou: Yuuichi Nakamura

Sunghoo Park is directing the series, while Hiroshi Seko has taken charge of composition and script. Tadashi Hiramatsu is designing the characters and Hiroaki Tsutsumi, Yoshimasa Terui, and Arisa Okehazama will collectively be responsible for the show’s music.

Gege Akutami’s Jujutsu Kaisen

Photo Credit: Screenshot/ Toho Aimation

The anime will be adapted from one of the best-selling horror manga of the same name, which is serialized in Weekly Shounen Jump since March 2018.

Shueisha releases its individual chapters, while Viz media is responsible for its English translations.

It tells the story of highschooler Yuji Itadori and his friends at the Occult Club, who end up unearthing a cursed rotting finger and supernatural horrors are unleashed.

The TV anime adaptation of Gege Akutami’s (in)famous manga series ‘Jujutsu Kaisen’ is expected to be one of the most eyeball grabbing releases to hit our screens this year.

Given the cult following surrounding the manga, often crowned ‘GOAT’ by its fandom, it is surprising that fans are comparing this to the likes of Tokyo Ghoul.

Keep an eye on this section for the English translated trailer of the show.


BTS’s Jungkook visited Itaewon: BigHit Entertainment apologizes

In what you would call a ‘daebak’ situation, K-Pop world’s god-tier idol Jungkook from BTS has admitted to being in Itaewon a couple of weeks ago, violating social distancing norms during COVID 19. 

“It is true that Jungkook visited Itaewon. He did not go to the problematic place where the patient in early May had the confirmed case, and he went about a week beforehand.

He followed the government regulations and voluntarily got checked for Corona-19, and we decided that it was not our place to interfere in his personal life.”

BigHit Entertainment’s official statement read.

Why is this such a big deal?

BTS’s Jungkook, NCT’s Jaehyun, Seventeen’s Mingyu, and ASTRO’s Cha Eun Woo found themselves in a soup when news publication Dispatch claimed they went to ‘Itaewon Clubs’ during Golden week holiday (April 24-May 5).

This, in spite of advisory for social distancing, was repeatedly being made. The four idols apparently started at a restaurant and went to two different clubs in Itaewon. 

New coronavirus cases hit South Korea in Itaewon

Earlier, several new cases of coronavirus infections were reported to spread from Itaewon clubs in South Korea. The government had asked those who had visited the concerned Itaewon clubs between April 24 to May 6 to self-quarantine themselves for 14 days.

Although the four idols had tested negative for Coronavirus, ASTRO’S Cha Eun Woo took part in all off the band’s comeback promotions, disregarding the self-quarantine period, if Dispatch’s report is to be believed. Jaehyun also MC’ed for ‘Inkigayo’ on the 26 April, 3 May, and 10 May.

Naturally, this raises question regarding the artiste’s civic responsibility and their agency’s poor handling of their schedule that jeopardises other’s health.

BigHit Entertainment Apologises for Jungkook

While Jungkook wasn’t reported to have attended any event during the aforementioned quarantine time, BigHit Entertainment, which represents BTS, issued a statement explaining his stance, and also apologized for their poor handling of the situation when the news initially broke.

We have no excuse that we placed the artist’s personal life before we were able to emphasize the importance of social distancing. We bow our head in apology.

Jungkook visited the restaurant and bar with his friends on the night of April 25th. Afterward,  he did not have a cough or a fever, and his results came out negative. He is also deeply regretting how he did not follow social distancing measures seriously.

BigHit Entertainment

Labels representing the other three artists involved in this scandal are yet to make their public statements. Keep an eye on this space for further developments.


Oricon: Japan loves Star Wars over One Piece during lockdown

Oricon’s latest sales numbers are out for April 2020 and there is an unexpected twist according to their fresh ranking.

Going by Oricon’s latest sales stats, TV anime Demon Slayer unsurprisingly managed to retain its number one spot as the most loved franchise in Japan.

It was followed by an unexpected entrant on the list. Disney owned sci-fi extravaganza Star Wars found remarkable success among Japanese fans, making it the second-most-loved franchise.

The final installment of the 9-part long movie series titled Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker released last year in December. All episodes of the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars also dropped on Disney + last month.

After this unexpected departure from non-Japanese production, anime 5-Toubon No Hanayahome took up the third spot on the list based on the manga’s sales. It is followed by the all-time favorite anime One Piece on the fourth spot, and the stage-play Touken Ranbu at 5th spot.

There is no denying the fact that the entertainment industry has taken a major hit during this coronavirus pandemic. In Japan, apart from the live-action dramas and movies, several animation projects had to be either canned or delayed. 

But that doesn’t mean video consumption has slowed down, with millions under lockdown. In fact, it is quite the opposite, if Oricon’s numbers are to be believed.

Oricon is a Japanese enterprise that providing market data and ranking information for music, video, books, and more.

The complete list of the top 20 franchises and their sales performance is available on Oricon’s official website.