The writer Naresh Fernandes in the Columbia Journalism Review on the depressing world for newspapers in India (you can put other ‘upper income’ developing country — read Brazil or South Africa especially — in there):
… [S]ince the 1990s, a new generation of newspaper owners has adopted a number-crunching approach to journalism. Many of them view the news merely as the stuff between the ads. In some cases, they’ve even attempted to ensure that the editorial content is designed to create an environment that’s conducive to attracting advertising. Taking this attitude to the extreme, The Times of India has set up a unit … that actually sells editorial space to advertisers. With uncharacteristic coyness, the unit’s Web site says that it provides “comprehensive media coverage and content solutions to clients.”
So while the readers of English-language newspapers are served supplements with titles like “Splurge,” in which they can learn all about holidays in Monaco and the latest yachts, they are denied the information they need to understand how projects like the Bandra Worli Sea Link or the upheaval on the country’s farms are affecting their lives.
… Yet despite the obvious problems, large sections of the country’s English-language press operate as though they are allies of the state in a national project to convince citizens that India is predestined to soar to global supremacy. That sentiment was highlighted in a recent Times of India advertising campaign that had as its punch line the phrase, “India Poised,” suggesting that the nation stood on the precipice of imminent greatness.
… [N]ewspapers devote their attention to providing infotainment to consumers, rather than news to citizens. … readers of The Times of India were pleasantly surprised a few months ago to wake up to a new advertising campaign for the newspaper featuring the subcontinent’s most famous film star, Amitabh Bachchan, admitting that the burst of economic growth had failed to benefit the country’s poorest. “There are two Indias in this country,” he declared in a television commercial shot on the contentious Bandra Worli Sea Link.
However, Bachchan’s scriptwriter had a novel take on the crisis: he blamed the poor for preventing India from realizing its true potential. As he potters around the 5.6-kilometer bridge, Bachchan says, “One India is straining at the leash, eager to spring forth and live up to all the adjectives that the world has been recently showering upon us. The other India is the leash.”
At the end of the long spot (which runs two minutes, thirteen seconds), Bachchan declares, “The ride has brought us to the edge of time’s great precipice. And one India—a tiny little voice at the back of the head—is looking down at the bottom of the ravine and hesitating. The other India is looking up at the sky and saying, ‘It’s time to fly.’” Bachchan then strides off purposefully across the bridge, even though the middle span hasn’t been constructed yet. But the camera, as is often the case these days, doesn’t follow him to his logical end.