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Who’s Afraid Of MediaCrooks

How MediaCrooks came to be, why we spawned a media vigilante and how Twitter is his ultimate weapon.

Spanker Anonymous

In the early Sixties, a man of slight build and unremarkable persona walked a dozen or so steps up a rickety stage. He dragged a chair to the microphone stand and adjusted its boom arm. No one paid any attention. The man corrected his harmonica clip into place, tuned his guitar matter-of-factly and in a gruff unremarkable voice sang the songs he had composed.

That man was Bob Dylan.

Soon, he would lend that same gruff voice to the silent millions who were clamouring for a change but didn’t know how to express themselves – in the battlefields of Vietnam, on the streets of Washington, and the drawing rooms of the world.

In early 2010, a man – build and persona unknown – dragged a chair to his computer desk one wintry night in Ahmedabad. Staring blankly at the screen, unsure yet determined, he exercised his finger joints and typed the following: “Time to rein in the Indian media”.

That man was Ravinar, and his blog Media Crooks has since garnered an astonishing 1.6 million page-views. For someone not associated with any newspaper or TV channel or related to a politician or a celebrity, these are, by any stretch of imagination, remarkable numbers.

Ravinar, like Dylan, is a Swiss Army knife: everything rolled into one except the bongo drums. Even his name – Dylan’s was Zimmerman – is a pseudonym (although he tells me that Ravinar is actually an anagram of his real name – like Khabar is Barkha’s). His keyboard is his harmonica and his guitar his string of Twitter screen-shots.

http://www.mediacrooks.com/ is how he disseminates his protest songs.

The Indian media ignores him, naturally, for he goes after them with an arsenal of red-hot hammer and tongs sold to him, I suspect by a retired police interrogator. Daily – almost hourly sometimes – he engages our favourite anchors in running battles in the dusty, mud-splattered arena that is Twitterland. But Ravinar enjoys the mud bath – a veritable one-man army against a formidable opponent that nurtures and shapes the minds of millions in this country.

Have his adversaries mended their ways since he first crossed swords with them? No. Will he emerge victorious and make them see sense in the end? He just might.

In any event, the collected junta is finding this engagement riveting. A million men and women have appointed him as an ombudsman that, strangely enough, each one of our newspapers and channels should’ve appointed in the first place.

Get this: the whipped and exhausted lot who do the bulk of the oar-churning are always the first to spot the lighthouse beacon, never the masters enjoying a good night’s sleep in the deep and luxurious confines of the stern. “There it is!”, they shout in unison, disregarding the furious whiplashes, “Our promised land!”

It’s just a matter of time before they abandon their posts and jump ship. That time has come.

The Indian media – especially the electronic media – has been operating on a flawed model, one based on dodgy TRP-driven advertising revenues, shady under-hand deals, and shameless political and corporate allegiances. Not long before this model suffers a wardrobe-malfunction. Something tells me Ravinar will be there to click a merry pic.

There is a Colosseum-like feel to the Media Crooks uploads – you can almost smell blood, hear it gush out of a dead anchor’s body. Perhaps fittingly, the commentators almost always give a thumbs-up.

“What started it all”, I ask him. “Was it that you couldn’t take it any more?”

“There isn’t one but multiple reasons”, says Ravinar. “Kandahar, Cash4Votes, 26/11 reporting, Gujarat 2002, they all added up. The thought really came when I saw the misdeeds of financial channels in a program in March 2009; that’s when I registered MediaCrooks.com – but I started writing only about a year later. And no it wasn’t because I couldn’t take it anymore. It’s just that I felt I should at least write about it.”

“Have you ever been served a defamatory notice?”

“Haha! Why? No, never. And I don’t defame anyone and wouldn’t ever want to. I must add that although I criticise quite a few media celebs, I don’t see them as evil monsters and Media Crooks has no objective of defaming anyone. Readers can always differentiate facts and logic from defamation. I’m quite aware I walk a thin line.”

In the initial years, Ravinar’s posts were more rant and less rumination. He went after everyone with the enthusiasm of an infant who sees a rattlesnake in its cradle and judges it to be a mere rattler. Shake-shake, inspect, smell, fling it against the wall.

Over time, as the crowd gathered under his window, and then started to swell alarmingly, he realised an element of professionalism was obligatory – even a hatchet job needs a practiced hand! Lately, his posts are more measured and his language tempered, and he bases each article on “proof” or a factoid. This is what I think has racked up the numbers. The reading public is no fool – if they want rants, they can get it in copious quantities in the comment spaces of Firstpost and Rediff. And one rant is as good or as bad as another. But they pause to reflect the moment they see an incendiary piece that also contains some factual data.

“Proofs” in Ravinar’s case, are the hundreds of Twitter screen-shots that he collects relentlessly dawn to dusk. It is astonishing – as though he’s a CCTV camera positioned outside the anchor’s or the editor’s house, right where they can’t spot him. The thing with such “evidence” is that it is unshakable – the tweeter may have deleted the embarrassing tweets realising his utter folly, but now that Ravinar has clicked them they shall linger to torment the tweeter till his dying day.

The readers see the screen-shots and they believe the evidence – why would anyone not? Satisfied, they proceed to consume the surrounding text.

Simple. Yet devastatingly effective.

There has also been a marked improvement in the quality and style of Ravinar’s prose since his early guerrilla days of hit-and-run. When the joke’s not on you, Ravinar’s pieces are imminently readable. But I doubt if Barkha or Rajdeep or Arnab read Media Crooks. I feel that they should. After all, didn’t Akbar stroll around the bazaars disguised as a commoner?

Media Crooks now carries advertising – a little space on the right is set aside for matrimonial sites and car companies. I am reminded of the amusing scene in Love and Death where Woody Allen is hawking refreshments to pooped soldiers scattered all around a battlefield once the day’s skirmish is over.

“These ads don’t pay all that much and Media Crooks wasn’t meant to be a money earner. Media Crooks is not an occupation, although I do write regularly”, says Ravinar.

“Are there any journos/anchors in the current media space that you admire?”

“Yes, there are quite a few of them who are consistently good in their writings and on TV. It is hard to single out one, or a handful. But mostly I find print media continues to have the better lot than TV. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of anyone. I prefer going by each article or show rather than the personality.”

There is a fundamental problem of perception among Indians. The only gradation that exists for us is on the Fair & Lovely carton. For all other practical purposes, we see things as either black or as white. Anything in-between is henna-ed.

For example, those who appreciate a good UPA policy decision or see sense in an article that praises it, are tagged immediately as pseudo-secular and sycophantic. Correspondingly, a staunch critic of the UPA or anyone praising Gujarat’s development for that matter, is a right-wing, cow-worshipping fascist.

Media Crooks, I get the feeling, is right-of-centre. It occupies that rare grey area we find so difficult to catalogue. In keeping with this theme, I ask Ravinar whether media houses should state their tilt openly.

“Yes, it is good for media houses to wear their sympathies openly. I consider that a lot more honourable and honest to readers and viewers instead of falsely claiming to be neutral or independent.”

“Would you say The Pioneer and Niti Central are pro-BJP?”

“Yes they are, and I find the quality of their journalism far superior in content, in factual honesty and in the depth of research on topics.”

“Have you ever criticised Gujarat or Ahmedabad media, or Narendra Modi?”

“Haha! Good question! If I were to criticise Gujarat or Modi I would’ve been a panellist on many channels by now! No, but seriously, on Media Crooks I try my best to seek facts and state the truth. I have found no reason to criticise Modi the way mainstream media does, if that’s what you meant. I don’t criticise Prithviraj Chauhan or Akhilesh Yadav either. And why should I criticise Gujarat? I don’t criticise any state. Media Crooks is not meant to measure performances or failures of states. As for the Ahmedabad media, I don’t read much of it or watch any local TV channels. I keep the topics relevant to our nation in general, as readers are from all over the country and the world. I have mentioned in my writings that I don’t agree with banning a book on Gandhiji by Modi. I am against such bans.”

“Do you think there is freedom of the press in this country?”

“Yes there is! But our media has given enough proof on enough number of occasions that they don’t want it.”

Ravinar stands as a reminder to all those who think they can chronicle the happenings in this vast and diverse nation of ours the way they’d like to and no one would object. True, he might get things horribly wrong sometimes, but remember he’s a chronicler too – you can take it or leave it. No one in a democracy is beyond criticism and reproach. He’s merely asking the questions.

And the answers? Well, they are blowin’ in the wind.

Contact-ranga

 

Image Source: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/8126627367/]

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More from Anand Ranganathan


  • Pushpraj

    Indeed, Ravinar is one man army…Long live mediacrooks….:)

  • http://twitter.com/shylsmn Addicted

    hmmm…mediacrooks would never have been necessary if our journalists had stuck to ethical reporting – false reporting, covering up stories, blatant bias, blatant worshiping of the current crown prince /Queen … all this gave rise to mediacrooks. To his credit, he has managed to single out the issues, the biases and use sarcasm to say it very effectively.

    We shd have more of such media watch dogs if we want our country to rise above the corruption of men,morality and money that we see today!

    TY- MC/Ravinar – u r doing an awesome job!

  • qwertyrty

    Ravinar’s logic is his weapon, blog is his hand and we are his soldiers.

  • vax

    His writing is addictive and he is factual.Keep the brilliant work ravinar.

  • Nidhi bahugua

    Love and follow media crooks

    • Samk

      Me too

      • Sameer

        me too

        • RV

          me too

          • Darjeeling

            Me three

          • rahulArmy

            add one more

          • abyss

            me too [bit late … actually it is bit easy if you just follow him instead of watching a days paidmedia…

    • Indian

      me too

    • Vamsi Krishna

      me too

  • http://twitter.com/shivsBHARAT Shiv

    All the best Ravinar ji. Way to go!

  • http://twitter.com/karmicvoyage Shivanand Shahapur

    As Julian Assange says we have entered into a world of transparency, the establishment and the people subscribing to their thoughts cannot continue to fool people anymore :)

  • http://twitter.com/duvijan Vijay

    mediacrooks is asking right questions ! infact common sense ones ! Its not rocket science to state common facts but Indian media is totally corrupt prostitute to Congress (Sonia, Chidambaram , MMS ) ones. Mediacrooks is expert at putting all facts on a single page for right consumption with sattire and absolute naked facts….He represents the minds of millions

  • http://twitter.com/bharatjohnson Johnson Thomas K

    Brilliant piece! Mediacrooks is the de facto Press Council watchdog and is serving the nation far better than most of the Indian politicians. It is with a biased and compromised media and judiciary that all dictators and dynastic rulers seize power or perpetuate it! The echoes of this idea can be seen in the declaration of the emergency rule in India which was nothing but suspension of the fundamental freedoms of right to freedom of expression/free speech. This is where the job of Mediacrooks ought to be seen as the protector of India’s national interest. This manipulation and grooming of the media and the judiciary happens all across the developing world run by dictators and dynastic rulers. Without a biased and compromised media and judiciary none of the dictators and dynastic rulers could have perpetuated their rule be it in Lenin’s/Mao’s/ Castro’s/Azad’s/Mubarak’s/Khomeinies/Gaddaffi’s/Bhuttos/Indira-Nehru’s/Saddam’s>USSR/China/Cuba/Syria/Egypt/Iran/Libya/Pakistan/India>remember these countries also have a media and judiciary and a parliament but they serve only ideological or dynastic interests and not national interest! This is why in the developing countries they don’t even raise the most obvious of questions a case in point is India where the media never asked for a definition of our cardinal constitutional principles such as socialism and secularism! Is socialism and secularism a state secret? If it’s so why is it deployed in the Indian Constitution? How can a nation that perpetuates draconian colonial laws claim to be independent especially because it was through such draconian laws colonial rule was accomplished and liabilities of European colonial genocide laundered. How can a nation afford to have laws made in English when the national literacy is hovering around 70% and that too not in English! Would UK have allowed their government to make laws in a foreign language to fool the people. These are all pertinent questions I hoped our so called “independent” media would one day raise and enlighten us. They never did. At least Ravinar real or mythical is doing just that. God bless you Ravinar whoever you are! JAI HIND

  • Rupesh

    Hope he starts news channel some day.

  • Satyam Sharma

    With all due respect to the effete Newslaundry, Mediacrooks is the #1 media watch and media criticism website in India today.

    NL is mostly composed of journalists, ex-journalists or social friends of celeb-journalists in the first place, and therefore cannot be as hardhitting or damning towards India’s sick Nehru-Maino-handmaiden Congress-controlled mainstream media. Heck, half the time NL’s moral police brigade (armed with a completely warped and oversensitive sense of “abuse”) even deletes the most hardhitting and top-liked comments by people on their comments section, lest they offend their blue eyed boys!

    By contrast, Mediacrooks symbolizes the true power of the internet and social media. A common man, armed with just FACTS and cold hard LOGIC. He doesn’t take prisoners — today’s left-lib commie media is shown for being what it is. All blatant biases (in things as simple, but effective, as choice of events to cover, wording of headlines and articles, placement of news reports by media houses, etc) to complete falsehoods (too many to recount) to news censored outright are ruthlessly exposed with FACTS and cold hard LOGIC.

    And no, there are NO two sides to some stories. 2 plus 2 equals 4. No, I will not “keep your side of the story” by agreeing for an instant that 2 plus 2 equals 5. FACTS are FACTS, LOGIC is LOGIC, and if you can’t deal with that, then stick to fiction. Journalism was supposed to be NON-FICTION, one had thought.

    PS: A little bit of intelligent Google searching (using website name and/or email id) will reveal to you Ravinar’s true identity (the word is an acronym of his first and last name). He is “anonymous” only for those who are too lazy to find out who he is.

    • aam aadmi

      if you take my opinion, ananta is wrong! mediacrooks isn’t half as hard hitting as it could or should be, on the indian media ….. today’s mainstream media journalist are shameless bunch, openly biased and in bed with the famous nehru dynasty DURBAR ESTABLISHMENT…. on their payroll, on the lookout for padma awards or NAC or RS or other government berths, or for junkets or fully paid trips and five star stays..

      like you say, they are not just biased towards the sick left liberal nehruvian marxist consensus that has destroyed indian society and economy for past six decades, but are often even brazenly anti-national (but i repeat myself?)… it is pathetic even to think about what the media should be, and but what it actually is, in the country!

      • http://www.facebook.com/sharma.abhijeet Abhijeet Sharma

        I fully agree with ,but it may be due a single man doing all this stuf and not even earning money through it.but is doing a good job

    • Rohit

      ‘And no, there are NO two sides to some stories. 2 plus 2 equals 4. No, I will not “keep your side of the story” by agreeing for an instant that 2 plus 2 equals 5. FACTS are FACTS, LOGIC is LOGIC, and if you can’t deal with that, then stick to fiction. Journalism was supposed to be NON-FICTION, one had thought.’

      Bravo, man, kudos! Something for our few so-called fair/balanced/neutral journalists and intellectuals to think about! I am also reminded of the debate between Krishna and his elder brother Balram on the eve of the war of Mahabharat. Balrama was too neutral to take sides even in the epic battle between good and evil. As Krishna said, neutrality in the face of Adharma is cowardice, and not virtue. When the choice is as clear cut as between right and wrong or between truth and falsehood, Dharma mandates the neutral to join with the Right and True. As always, the Mahabharat repeatedly teaches us about the dilemmas in daily life in the real world, and how best to deal with them under the circumstances, while doing what is right for the whole and for all.

  • http://twitter.com/de_blacksmith XpressionS

    hi! thanks! to be frank, I came across mediacrooks just by chance, and started following him. over the past few months, I have been quite inspired by what he has been writing and exposing. I consider myself a part of society, who has had to educate the masses away from the manipulation of the #paidmedia. somewhere #mediacrooks has turned me into #citizenmedia. thanks for sharing information about him. am inspired to meet him some day. cheers!

  • Sam

    i am fan of mediacroocks. thank you for the wonderful article on him. he deserves this. He is truly serving the nation.

  • http://majorsrikanth.blogspot.com/ Srikanth

    the scariest part for me is following

    A. He is good and i am scared that he doesn’t have a second line leadership.

    B. He should start accepting resources and develop a parallel team.

    What he is doing is very very important. If he reads this i hope he takes up my offer.

    Way to go RAvinar. And i thank the author for writing this piece.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sharma.abhijeet Abhijeet Sharma

      very true.

      • Current Affairs

        Me too! I will put in efforts.

    • Sameer

      I am willing donate whatever I can to help media crooks running. I can be contacted at cs2007@gmail.com

      • rv

        me too. send an appeal on MC and see it pouring.

  • Ronak Jain

    Anagram of ravinar any guesses?

    • Guest

      Ask Satyam Sharma.

    • guru

      Ravi Narayan

    • Punekar

      Ravi Nar

  • MNL

    Good job news laundry!
    Ravinr, may ur tribe grow!! Best wishes.

  • http://twitter.com/ChoteBhai1 Bhrata

    My start with Mediacrooks…he is voice of million of ppl who are frustrated with our 4th pillar of democracy

  • richardws

    Absolutely addicted to the hilt to mediacrooks from the past couple of years. His style of writing is exceptional :) But, Anand Ranaganathan sir, this article about an exceptionally talented writer is also quite exceptional. I loved how you have pieced two and two together and written about Media Crooks. And kudos, to the title of this piece.. Spanker Anonymous ! Indeed sir, Indeed!

  • ameysd

    I have been reading mediacrooks for long time now. Wishing you continue the good work ahead.

  • Arunavchowdhury

    His posts have become addictive!

  • mediacroaks

    I like how you conveniently gloss over the fact that the blog and his twitter postings generally lean to the right – he gets most annoyed with anchors who speak about the RSS or BJP. He also sometimes posts tweets out of context as he did during the rape case riots – he took journalist tweets from an earlier day and made it seem like they were speaking about the india gate protests.

    • richardws

      nice try :)

  • Ravish

    Good one! Now please catch and “expose” the guy behind “Faking News” too :)

  • mango-banana-shake-man

    while i admire ravinar being an one-man army, i also feel sad. great things are achieved if we all could collectively work at making the MSM pay for its shady double games. only then the professionalism of media will improve.

  • Vikas

    Love and follow media crooks…

  • guest

    anand ji most of NL reader come for your objective articles but since this site is no longer unbiased pls do us a favour write somewhere else or start your own blog

  • Sarkari Mehmaan

    One of his best article was the “worst journalists” one in which he writes that Vinod Sharma has made the “smirk” more popular than child-molester DGP Rathore. Almost died laughing. This guy has a good sense of humor also. Wish him all the best.

  • Mahesh

    Only wish our media celebs read mediacrooks and atleast try to counter his arguments. It will help their own reputations….. If they don’t, why not assume that mediacrooks makes valid arguments against them?

  • rv

    Mediacrooks stands tallest and distinct from the rented crowd.

  • Calcuttan

    I stumbled on MediaCrooks by chance a few months ago. Now that’s the site I open first thing every day. India is being looted silly by a kleptocracy and the media is seen to be more than complicit. So what could the average Indian do, but blow steam in the comments sections via the internet? I used to comment in HT online but quite a few times but saw the comments disappear into cyberspace: knocked out by the moderator I suppose. So mediacrooks is the forum of choice now, followed by Niti Central and Newslaundry. Good work, all of you.

  • vinod

    http://www.centreright.in is another good site with factual reporting… for financial info & news … http://www.moneylife.in

  • Sheetal

    Fighters are plenty, who take the fight to the nasty opposition without any personal gain. Like media crooks, there is another in the filed of truth speaking. Can follow another honest blog at http://www.beingcynical.com

  • Ajit Vadakayil

    hi ,

    punch into google search WORST JOURNALIST VADAKAYIL

    read the last para in this post — it is about ravinar.

    capt ajit vadakayil
    ..

    • gnr

      Is this a trick to get hits on your site?

      • mack

        This guy is anti ravinar, he has talked nonsense about him in shobhade blog.

  • Shreedhar

    Ravinar is the true manifestation of media revolution, our fourth pillar was continuously eroded by these profit making media houses. you have waged a war against these crooks and you are not alone

  • The Penguin

    Thanks for introducing me to mediacrooks!

  • abyss

    He is the most unbiased “media person” in India. Please do continue and enlighten us.. mediacrooks is the ONLY media watchdog…NL should learn from his work …

  • ANONYMOUS BLUEMOON

    I WOULD AVIDLY READ #MEDIACROOKS AT FIRST, BUT OF LATE I SEE RAVINAR’S STANDS BEING ENTIRELY PRO – BJP AND PRO NAMO .. I MEAN THE GUY SAYS MOTHER TERESA IS NO SAINT BUT I HAVE NEVER HEARD A SINGLE RANT AGAINST #MODI.

  • truth_i_speak

    Respect for you MediaCrooks!

  • Anonymous

    I really do not know what this guy is.. young or old. But i can see lot of enthusiasm and youthfulness. So much naughty. Probably the “Media Crooks” themselves will like the mediacrooks

  • Chulbul Thurram

    Somehow I get a feeling that Rainar himself is biased at best, and most probably paid by the Modi team, he riles and rants against anyone who even makes an objective criticism of Modi. Either he has a pathological hatred of media and media-persons or he is blogging with a motivation and drive.

    I am surprised that news laundry writes an entirely uncritical article, making him sound like the Messiah of Indian Media, it is revealing that he finds nothing to criticise in Mr Modi or Gujrat, that he sees biases only one side, interestingly his recent posts have not had one mention of how the BJP is also manipulating the media. Nor has he written about the connections of newspapers like Dainik Jagran, Pioneer and off course the TV 18 network now.

    Read his posts from 15th to 23rd March and decide for yourself if he is not slanderous. And he is not right of center, he is as right as anyone publicly gets in India.

  • Amarnath Wanchoo

    So the two of you have started scratching each others backs. The trouble is that I greatly admire both of you so keep scratching.

  • mhndv

    Had mediacrook not been there it would have been dificult to remember duplicity that most of them had dished out. They may pretend that they don’t read mediacrooks and ignore it but they already know their image and reputation has not remained undented. He is watchdog on paid media. It would not be an exaggeration to say that thousands would be eagerly waiting for the next blog after reading latest one.

  • G Prasad

    Plz reply This …..
    This collage is only a small sample..But the end of “IntellectualMorons” (IMs) http://bit.ly/1jQR787 http://www.mediacrooks.com/2014/05/getting-back-to-our-roots.html#.U4FwEShY7fv

  • G Prasad

    “we are children of a great civilisation that forms our roots”“We ARE, who we WERE”..V cant by destroyng r own roots. http://www.mediacrooks.com/2014/05/getting-back-to-our-roots.html#.U4G_ZSg3IWv

  • Sid

    Not true anymore. He’s more of BJP worker now days.

  • nothingbutTRUTH

    You crooks ever criticized Nehru Dynasty or Janpath10 or Sonia, RaGa, Vadra?”
    Show piece of talent of truth, what Media crooks showing.
    Instead of blaming him here why don’t you give the evidence as like media crooks…
    And damn sure, you will not because you also belongs to same bunch of crooks in media.

  • BORAT SAGDIYEV

    we in kazakstan are big fannys of him, very nicee

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