IndiEarth XChange: Food For Thought
Amidst the whirlwind of activity that was the IndiEarth XChange, food for the soul and food for thought were commonly served up on the daily platter of conference programs, workshops, and music/film showcases. Over the course of three days, numerous panel discussions and conferences took place between members of the Indian and international music, film, and media industries. The aim of the conferences was to generate dialogue and discussion between these three groups, focusing on practical ways forward and methods to bridge the gab between these three ‘inseparable siblings’ of the independent arts industry.
Of the many thought provoking conferences, one was titled Urban Culture Journalism: Objective Reporting or Shaping Perceptions? As the brief reads – “Urban culture often finds its expression through a variety of non-traditional forms of media – blogs, social media, online radio stations. While offering a platform of empowerment for urban youth, beyond the more traditional forms of print/visual media, is urban culture journalism specifically confined to youth culture? Is it objective reporting, or are these platforms predominantly opinion based outlets that shape the perceptions of their readers/viewers/listeners?”
This panel featured four panelists from different prominent media publications. Arjun Ravi – founder/editor of NH7’s Indiecision, Munbir Chawla – founder/editor Wild City, Anuradha Ananth – Berlin based freelance journalist/former Head of Programming at NDTV Hindu, and Mandovi Menon – founder of start up youth culture magazine Homegrown – shared their perspectives on content creation via their different forms of media, and the modern day definition and depictions of urban culture. Arjun discussed urban culture via his ethos of ‘indie rock’ journalism, detailing his approach to music coverage and the importance of passion and ‘being a fan first’ when approaching urban music journalism. Mandovi discussed the fine balance between creating interesting, unique content while simultaneously appealing to her readers – and discussed the technique of packaging content in such a way that is can be readily accessible and interesting to the attention spans of today’s youth. Anuradha Ananth questioned the short attention spans of modern audiences, and also how the medium – from her experience, the medium of television – often dictates the nature of the content, privileging certain stories over others due to their TRP ratings over quality of content. Munbir discussed Wild City’s vision of urban culture and his desire to privilege quality over quantity, citing his upcoming Magnetic Fields Festival as an example – given the fact that entry will be cut off after the 400 person limit is reached, thereby retaining the intimacy of the experience.
Audience members also had their inputs – Divya Bhatia (festival director of RIFF – Rajasthan International Folk Festival) questioned what the ‘vision’ of these platforms are, and whether there’s scope for them to be all inclusive of other forms of culture beyond niche spheres of interest. Sonya Mazumdar of EarthSync questioned whether urban culture reporting is specifically confined to youth culture – and if there can be more scope within the framework of urban culture journalism for topics that also target older audiences who share a similar passion for independent expression and urban culture. Discussions were heated and engaging, fuelling a debate that lasted just slightly over the prescribed time limit. The discussion certainly generated much food for thought, while simultaneously whetting the intellectual appetites of both the panelists and audience members.
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