A Tale of Two Paths

Let me warn you, this article is a long, but I can assure you, an interesting read! So, do not turn the page to the next article until you have read this one completely. Just do it!

When the Pathways education scheme was introduced in the summer of 2018, those who were dual members were offered a path for each of the clubs they were members of, a free path, which otherwise cost USD 20 (around Rs: 1450).  Others were not so fortunate and had to buy their way to a “great learning experience”, which they did not ostensibly, really mind, because in the end it worked both ways – It was value for money and money for value addition!

But what one must admire, puns intended, is that was a great motivational strategy, involved presentation mastery and was a decision that emanated from the Dynamic Leadership at the top of the pyramid of the Toastmasters organization! 

The Pathways education program was unique in that it combined both the leadership and the communication streams of the previous education programme of Toastmasters to provide a realistic and holistic learning experience that transcended the TM Meeting hall to go beyond, into real life.

There are 11 paths currently, including a recent and welcome addition – engaging humour.  The paths that pre-existed compelled you to manufacture humour from nothing, like a magician.  Some are. Some are not!  Magicians. Finding one’s funny bone among the 208 in the body, does take some doing.

But choosing a path, free or otherwise, is a difficult exercise for even the most decisive of human beings. For, the most decisive among us are often intuitive and hasty, and naturally prone to mistakes (that is murphy’s law), while the least decisive are the ones who have their feet on two paths simultaneously… hoping to shift forward movement at the least challenge. Then there those of us who choose their paths after much consultation and deliberation, with, as Steven Covey said, “the end in mind”.  We tread carefully, and steadily along that path, much like the turtle did… and we win the race at our own pace!  Our hope is sometimes belied by the proscriptions imposed by the law of nature… you win because I allow you to… but hope and perseverance are the best options for our journeys on this earth.

Be that as it may, the choice of paths and its aftermath comes down to our perceptions of where and what we want to be, of the difficulties or challenges the path might throw up, and our ability to deal with them, our fear of failure, or of success even in some cases, and infinitesimally, the cost factor…

Nothing illustrates this more than this tale of two paths…

There was this distinguished elderly gentleman, a retired lieutenant Colonel who was habituated and committed to an evening walk along a pre-determined path, and so every evening while on these travels, he espied a rather young and handsome but rather unkempt gentleman who sat along his path, with a bowl and a sign that read – “Help is what help does, have pity on me”.

The Colonel, having worked hard and led a disciplined life, over his seventy ears on this earth was not without both sympathy and empathy, but could not reconcile himself to the fact that this seeming perfectly fit young gentleman was literally begging for money and he would ignore him and walk on. But one day, his helpful nature got the better of him and so…

He stopped by the guy and struck up a conversation. Asking him why he is sitting here every evening begging when he could easily join the army. “You seem fit as a fiddle, young man,” he exclaimed. “I could help you join the army, where you will be well taken care of, even as you take care of the country. Look at me, I am a prime example of what the Army can do for you and what you can do for the country. Your path to glory, must be paved with hardship and sacrifice”.

“Well, I could, and I am grateful for your offer said the young beggar. But I do not want to,” without arrogance. The Colonel was taken aback but as was his wont, he went on, “and why is that young man?”

“Well, that’s a long story sir”, replied the young man.

“Get on with it. I have all the time in the world”, said the Colonel, hoping to convince him to join the services after he ventilated.”

“Ok”, said the young man, “it’s like this”.

The Colonel continued to stand while the young man narrated the story.

“if I join the army, two things can happen. I could be given a desk job, or I could be sent to the frontline. If I am given a desk job, that is fine, but if I am sent to the frontline, two things could happen to me. I could be injured, or I could die. If I am injured, its fine, but if I die two things could happen to me. I could be cremated or be buried. If I am cremated, that is fine, but if I am buried, then two things could happen to me, I could be eaten by ants and worms or a tree could grow over me. If I am eaten by ants or worms, it will not matter, but if a tree grows over me, two things could happen to me. The tree could be allowed to survive for a long time, or it could be cut down. If it can survive, well, that is not a problem, but if it is cut down, two things could happen, it could be used as firewood or it could be used to make paper.  If it is used to make firewood, that is great, but if it is used to make paper, two things could happen – it could be made into writing paper or newspaper or it could be used to make toilet paper. If it is used to make writing paper, I am fine with it, but if it is used to make toilet paper, two things could happen. The toilet paper may be used by a man or a woman. If it is used by man, fine; but if used by a woman… well I would die of shame,” he concluded.

The Colonel was stunned into silence. He had never met such a far-sighted man before. One that thought so carefully before choosing a path and embarking on a journey. He recalled his own path and realized that he had chosen his path instinctively!  Or was it destiny that guided him?

Well to each his own… but the end goal of any path we choose is happiness from having grown in wisdom…

Choose yours the way you would like to with great deliberation, instinctively or intuitively – But once you choose a path, tread it with determination and diligence until you cross the finish line…

Thank you for making Newskarnataka.com as Peoples’ Media!

Spearhead Media popularly known as ‘Peoples’ Corporate!’ that started its ambitious journey into the Media world in November 2013 from Mangaluru, a coastal city of Karnataka, is today, celebrating with you, the dawn of the decennial year of its flagship media subsidiary – newskarnataka.com. This much-loved Karnataka-focused news web portal began its operations as a Kannada news portal on this very day in 2012.  

The evolution of Newskarnataka.com

That newskarnataka.com preceded the corporate setup may be a dichotomy. But like everything in this world, the natural evolutionary process that governed its establishment and has brought us to where we are today – a media house focused on and for entire Karnataka and Kannadigas around the globe, that was intended to become, and indeed has become the voice of the people, by the people and for the people of Karnataka. It was the vision of six idealistic youth that delivered this gem, and they continue to be associated with it and its development.

Its editorial independence is unparalleled in the industry, and its integrity never in question. Its response to all its stakeholders has been one of immediacy with integrity and impartiality. It is a corporate entity no doubt, but a peoples’ corporate – for the people, of the people, and by the people (all stakeholders including its 45 shareholders, over 100 contributors, its numerous advertising partners, its individual benefactors, and of course its internal team of young and dynamic as well as veteran journalists that renews itself periodically!)

The evolutionary process – a few of us internally call it the revolutionary process – has taken us on a journey that has been creative, exciting, exacting, challenging, rewarding and at some points, disappointing. But we have always remained positive in a negative world, overcame those disappointments, and stayed the course – for both your sake and ours. 

This evolutionary process established Spearhead Media Pvt. Ltd also helped establish the company’s other media products – http://www. newskannada.com, a Kannada news portal, (newskarnataka was transformed into an English news portal in March 2013), Karnataka Today, a monthly English all colour English feature magazine launched in 2015, NK + a bilingual digitally distributed e-magazine targeting the youth of the state, NKTV on the YouTube platform for infotainment shows, NKLive to cover live events, e-learning platform, verdevice – design and digital media hub, Village TV, a social initiative and SAAMS, a media study centre. It must; we live in a dynamic, volatile world… especially in the media industry – but I will come to that later.

Blessings and challenges

There is no doubt, with India ranking 142 out of 180 on the freedom of the press index developed by the Media Watchdog Reporters Without Borders, the need of the hour for India is free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism as the country faces multiple challenges. But can the media as it exists today, in its current environment provide it?  

The media industry, all of it, but especially the news media is in a crisis of its own. Dropping revenues has forced brutal layoffs and pay cuts. Advancing technology is changing reading modes and habits. Information exchange is instant as is opinion formation. The best of leather and investigative journalism (ground-level reporting) is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacles that create a pre-determined and agenda-based narrative, rather than provide both sides of a story and its back story for informed decision-making – a journalistic maxim that has long been forgotten in the quest for eyeballs and its by-product, advertising revenue!

Be that as it may, it has been 9 years since we started out. We sat down yesterday to count our blessings and enumerate our challenges – the blessings of wonderful, talented, loyal stakeholders, and gifts of integrity, resilience and perseverance amongst our team and we were grateful. 

We then also listed our challenges –  compliance with the newly issued regulations for digital media that could turn out to be a Damocles sword if applied selectively; a  drop in advertising – the market all but collapsed after series of financial reforms and this has been compounded by the COVID lockdowns; the availability of appropriate human resources – which must be consistently paid a fair wage for fair talent; grabbing and retaining eyeballs, in the face of fierce competition from digital websites, both national and local, and of course social media and other news aggregators. 

What is required? An enduring USP

Each one of us in the industry must have a USP to sustain through the climate change – from print to radio to TV to digital Media to Social Media to OTT platforms that are taking the Visual Media Market by storm. 

Fortunately, from the start, we have had one – truth endures – and it has helped us endure over time. But the future may not want the truth as we see it, but as they see it and that will be the greater challenge. Short and quick reads with headlines that say it all. After all, who is interested in the detail of why the dog wagged its tail? That it wagged will be sufficient. For the rest, we can form our own conclusions, based on our perception of the event, which in turn is based on our experiences, mindset and inherent biases’!

What then should we publish?

There is another more serious challenge that all of us in the media industry (other than social media which is populated through influencers) face in our race to grab eyeballs and keep them – What to publish and what not to. 

Man lives by his senses and emotionally drawn to anything that tickles his senses – what does that? Fear, conflict, negligence, the unusual, David vs Goliath scenarios, failure, exercise or lack of exercise of power, comparisons, and listicles that feature the best and the worst in the world and us. Reporting these events are the new normal, while the triumphs of kindness and love of the normal kind, resilience in the face of adversity, innovation for a better and sustainable tomorrow for the next generations, alternative maps of development and people power are often ignored. 

Given the realities of our times, it is best to have a balance. And newskarnataka.com has been trying to do just that – the evidence is in our special section – the regular columns that focus on travel, women, humour, health and wellness, and the best of human nature.

The future as we see it

Your favourite media group is looking to consolidate its presence in the market over the next five years – through new visually impressive, interactive, and responsive websites, a more attractive Karnataka Today magazine with more subscribers for both print and its revamped e-edition, better and more programming on its web channels, an exclusive OTT platform and more effective presence on social media which is evolving by the day. It will also look to comply with all regulations that are thrown at it, and weave a fabric of news, views and visuals that will keep all Kannadigas, wherever they may be warm, involved and committed to our beautiful state.  

We look forward to your continued support for our quality journalism. In the meanwhile, we look forward to your continued support for the cause of quality journalism through your monetary, advertising support and of course your continued readership.

Miles to go before sleep and let’s walk together to rededicate newskarnataka.com as Peoples’ Media!

Au revoir…

Brian Fernandes

Director – Spearhead Media Private Limited