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What happened in the content world in March 2021

Updated: Apr 5, 2021

From food-delivery f***-ups to canal choke-ups, here’s a round-up for you of the news and highlights that took place in the content, writing, and media world in March 2021 and the takeaways from them all

What happened in the content world in March 2021
Teary clarification videos, bold shows, humorous digs at canal jams—March was quite an emotional roller coaster.

Image credits: (From L to R) Screenshot of video by Instagram user neetguide, Wikipedia, Joanna Lobo

March was my birthday month. At the same time, there was quite a lot going on in the universe of content, writing, media, and creativity. Here’s a round-up of 7 of them. Do ensure you read up to the end because there’s some personal news below the last one:

Zomato delivers it on time

On 10 March, Bengaluru resident Hitesha Chandranee posted an Instagram video, accusing a Zomato delivery executive of assaulting her after her refusal to pay the bill due to her order being delayed. A day later, Kamaraj Kandaswamy, the delivery executive in question, countered the allegations in a media interview. He said it was Hitesha who abused him instead of the other way round as she claimed it to be. A viral video of a crying Kamaraj pleading for a return to his normal life is also doing the rounds (see cover image #1).

A number of netizens—many of whom earlier sided with Hitesha—began favouring Kamaraj. Actors Parineeti Chopra and Kamya Punjabi, too, expressed their sympathies for him.

Amid these developments, Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal tweeted a neutral statement that refrained from taking sides. He assured support for both parties and coverage of their expenses:

Here’s a well-written perspective on how this statement got it right and how it’s a lesson in formal corp-comm writing.

The incident also brings to question promotions such as “30 minutes or free”, which are seen to put undue pressure on delivery personnel amid unpleasant weather conditions, difficult traffic situations, fuel-price fluctuations, and the ongoing pandemic. What is needed is a solution-oriented 360-degree holistic plan that prioritises consumers, workers, restaurants, and delivery partners, all at the same time.

Facebook launching a new Medium?

If all goes well, Facebook will roll out a new free-to-use publishing platform. Indie writers, journalists, and bloggers like me will then be able to build our websites and send out newsletters from here.

The integration with Facebook Pages means we can put out live videos and our Facebook Stories, too. And there’s, of course, monetisation being considered as well. More details here.

Currently, the rollout is slated mainly for the US, so there’s no clarity yet on the service’s availability on our shores. Still, there’s no denying the uptick in the trend of self-publishing platforms, especially with this development. I can sense a major disruption awaiting the publishing world. Looking forward!

Will popularity predict pay now?

In a shocking development, The Guardian revealed it has seen an email by the Daily Telegraph, which says it is considering linking some part of journalists’ pay with the popularity of their stories.

A special system will rank articles based on the number of clicks and subscriptions they drive. There’s no mention yet of the minimum target for payment.

Needless to say, staff members have objected to the plan, and so have journalists from around the world.

Professionals need to be compensated for their efforts, regardless of the outcome of their work. A popularity-based payment model will bring down the quality of journalism by placing clickbaity pieces on the forefront and sidelining the more important stories. Let’s not even get to the point about the mental and financial agony in store for talented, dedicated journalists with the implementation of such ill-conceived moves. Here’s hoping this idea never takes off.

Suez Canal leads to long traffic of memes

On 23 March, a large container ship by the name of Ever Given got stuck in the Suez Canal and blocked it for nearly a week while on the way to the Netherlands from China.

When images surfaced of a relatively tiny excavator brought in to free up the path for the 1,300-ft ship, the internet took to its usual way of expressing its amusement: memes.

The result: a barrage of jokes taking potshots at the oddity of the situation. The memes didn’t stop even after the ship was refloated.

Sharing some of my favourites.

Every freelancer’s story:

I now seek the ship in my own plate:

The stuck ship rekindled a cherished memory:

And here’s an attempt by yours truly:

Brands, too, weren’t far behind:

And CNN interviewed kids for their suggested solutions:

Can there be any more “evergreen” content than all this?

Burger King grilled

What was supposed to be the announcement of a wonderful initiative on International Women’s Day by Burger King turned into a much-condemned clickbaity campaign on Twitter.

The fast-food giant intended to award culinary scholarships to women to bridge the gap in the UK’s professional kitchens, where only 20% of chefs are women, as per Burger King’s figures. But it ended up starting its announcement thread with a choice of clearly sexist words: “Women belong in the kitchen.”

The grilling it received was inevitable, and the brand had to delete its tweet and tender an apology.

Advertisers need to exercise sensitivity and empathy while crafting campaigns for occasions as critical as Women’s Day. Here’s a list of dos and don’ts for them.

Bombay Begums irks some citizens

Image credit: Wikipedia

Netflix show Bombay Begums faced a backlash last month and got a legal notice from NCPCR (National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights) over “inappropriate portrayal” of children, including the depiction of substance abuse by minors.

The show’s critics say the Pooja Bhatt-starrer has glorified such practices, while its defenders believe the context of these scenes hasn’t been highlighted in the process.

The conversation has also veered to the quality of Indian web series, especially those where city-based modern, progressive women are painted in stereotyped ways.

Well-written, content-rich shows with plenty of takeaways, strong and memorable characters, and rich, emotional experiences are always needed. I haven’t watched Bombay Begums yet, and it probably is a good show. But even if it isn’t, is censorship or banning the solution? As far as I know, it only adds to the show’s intrigue. Too many times, I have ended up watching controversy-riddled films out of sheer curiosity, only to be thoroughly disappointed with the experience, which more or less turns out to be less than average and meh.

My solution: don’t like it, don’t watch it. It’s a better way for one to convey their displeasure, apart from constructive criticism, of course. Art is subjective anyway.

And finally, Meghan and Harry tell all to Oprah

Clearly, this one is among the biggest highlights of the month. I’m still in the process of reading the transcript in the absence of the video. I’m also looking for the full script of Oprah’s interview with Priyanka Chopra, which, too, was done in March.

What I’ve learned so far are Meghan’s revelations about the deterioration of her mental health in her marital life and the obsession over her son Archie’s skin colour.

While it’d be difficult for many of us to get sit-down space with Oprah, that shouldn’t stop us from telling our stories to the world, like how I’ve done through my book. So, pick up the pen, type away, or record a video. Or do all three if you can, but please tell your story, openly and candidly.

And now, news from the personal front:

I’m on Blogchatter!

I finally made my Blogchatter debut last month; you can start “rolling” my posts here. It’s a great platform to find interesting content and learn from some amazing bloggers. Can’t wait to explore it more!


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