2 July 2008

Ethnic Indians arrive in global media scene (Adventures through the glass ceiling?)

First, a bit of tom-tomming. This post is the 100th since this media blog kicked off about three years ago, when I started this to illustrate the then-largely-unknown concept of the blog to a bunch of media students I was lecturing at COMMITS, a media school in Bangalore..
It is fitting that I should hit this landmark number with a story in Mint on how Indians are rising to new highs in global (read Western) media giant labels such as Time and Wall Street Journal. The story links these appointments to the rise of the "India story" which kind of devalues the merit of the people in question-- as if to say that these people are making it big because they are Indian and not solely because they are capable of running global set-ups. I am not sure if that is the correct way to look at it.
Some of the dudes in question are my former colleagues who left Indian shores for greener pastures. and have worked hard to get where they are. There is plenty of Indian talent both at home and abroad, though some of the people in question have swapped native Indian wisdom and depth for US-ishtyle reportage which has its own charms and balancing qualities.
When I left myself for Reuters, there were those who cautioned me about the perceived glass ceiling in international media companies. I did not find any significant problem, except with occasional individuals or their worldviews that concealed unconscious biases.
I will not say there are no biases at all in Western media organisations, but I will add that Indian companies have their own biases. There was certainly a period in both information technology and media when Indians had to work harder to get to the same spot but that has changed a lot. It is an evolving world in which professional values are being increasingly recognised, though there is some way to go both in Indian and international organisations.
Some look at everything through the looking glass of self-loving mirrors and others through imagined glass ceilings. In the end, the details differ from case to case, person to person.
Now for the big question: These are big labels they work for, but will they stay big? In the "World is Flat" globe of level-playing fields, is the media industry an exception?
Bring on a guitar. I'll sing "the answer is blowing in the wind."

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