Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Budget, Media and Common Men

I spent much of the last two days trying to understand the Union Budget 2015 surfing through channels and turning pages of major newspapers. Let me admit that I could not make out anything. Like me there must be many.

I wonder for whom we write. I feel our news stories must be able to communicate a clear and concise message, the crux of the thing.

Budget is a complex exercise touching almost all aspect of our economy. For this purpose, major newspapers particularly English newspapers engage a battery of “experts” to explain it for the readers. Still it leaves one major task for the newspaper to give overall picture. Most of newspapers have conveniently used all page make up tricks, like blurbs and subheading to avoid this basic task.
It may surprise, regional and language newspapers have reports that have kept their reader in mind while presenting budget on Page 1. English newspapers indulged in rhetoric talking about the budget in terms like road map and terms like never before and for the first time.
I am not here to give sermons on journalism. I am just talking about communication. Despite all talk about revitalizing economy, attracting investment and providing social security to underprivileged our friends missed the most visible fine print of the budget- it is inflationary. This is something which is most striking fact and yet most ignored aspect of the budget in media.
This may get space in coming days, but was missing on day 1. Only “Local” newspapers reported it.
Tax is the most tangible aspect of the budget. Rest is road map or something that will pay off when it is implemented. And in this budget increase in the Service Tax is the aspect that will touch all. Whether there is non Income Tax paying poor or a super rich all are affected by this.
Now with this increase in price of services, one will face what we call inflation in jargon of economics.
However, income level of all will remain same as there is no change in Income Tax. Theoretically super rich will have lesser money because of 2 percent tax introduced for this category in the budget.
And so what will be the net effect of this inflationary measure. It will pinch people more.
The problem with budget reporting is that we engage experts who are basically industry leaders. We must admit that there thinking is focused more on their issues and thus bound to miss many finer points.
Even in this, if we take newspapers and debate reports of previous years we will find that in number of cases same faces appear every year. Are we not getting same old odour instead of fresh air.

The purpose of this write is not to show off anything but to pose a question. Can’t we think in terms of our reader who is the focus of communication of our content?

And you know from where I got the direct message of inflationary budget. From common men on the street who was thinking of more difficult daily life in coming days.

I think 500 words are enough to drive home the point .

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