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This planet is beautiful…more importantly, its eventful…in fact being eventful is what makes it beautiful. Every ticking of the clock witnesses events innumerable, some desirable, some not. To know about such events, to be informed, and to learn is the instinct and natural curiosity of the intellectual part of man. It is the media’s responsibility to bring all this information to society.
The media has in the past brought the dishonest to its knees, exposed the corrupt and nudged governments out of power. It has worked as a guardian of civilization and democracy.But why do I find a vacuum when I expect such noble duties from the media of our times? I switch on my TV in search of some raw news, neutral, anonymous and non-appeasing. I am utterly disappointed to find myself stranded amidst the gossip of Bollywood affairs, food recipes, quarrels among a few kurta-clad politicos, criminal investigation simulations by some cop-turned reporter, fast-track astrological predictions by some eminent gurus mending the lives of millions in a second, one channel regularly claims to make out-of the world discoveries. I waited for some news item for four hours, because every time in the break they said it would be the next and then they started some another one. Such is the degree of distrust for news channels that the very spirit of media as a fourth pillar of our democracy seems to be defeated. So one is disgusted. In fact the news is not disgusting, it is the ‘un-news’ disguised as news that makes us feel helpless.
Commercialization is in the air, and it would be injustice if we expect media (print or electronic) to turn a blind eye towards rich prospects. But an outright compromise with the interests of the public, in the name of commercialization, is in fact, a form of corruption.
TV news is the biggest market of these. The generosity of these channels is visible all the time. For all they could manage to dedicate to news was a pathetically narrow strip of the entire space of the screen. This strip gives legitimacy to their so called’short’ breaks for commercials, which rarely give way for the news to flash. And why do every third of such commercials claims to make you unbelievably fair in just a week or two? If these sort of commercials were sold to African Americans in the United States, there would be a justifiable uproar. Their children are taught to be proud to be black. Why are our children being taught that “fair” is the only way you can be beautiful?
Nowadays, every particular news channel has its own history, geography and economics. And these factors decide the ‘spice’ to be added to the news. The history, or the lineage of the ownership of the media decides upon whom to confer patronage. The geography decides the bias to be applied to news on regional lines. Of course, the economics decides the complete dynamics of news presentation. Even the national news channel is often termed as another spokesperson of incumbent party in power. In that case ‘good governance’ and ‘all is well’ are the only few spices used by them.
The jargon of ‘paid news’ and corporate lobbying effect on news is no longer a new term. News channels are more often commercial arms of politicians and big business houses, one of them known for the unique way of wishing the audience with a prefix specifying group’s name before the wishes. Now that should not be a problem, that’s just something like ‘branded-news’.More often, the discussions-cum-ethically eroded arguments between some politicians, suck the remnants of energy the viewer has to offer to the news. They are provided for some value addition to the news. Anyways, they end up leaving more questions than answers. All our youth can learn from them is how to keep speaking for hours, with literally nothing worth speaking.
Speaking about progressiveness, rationalism and pragmatism, these are the main culprits for fostering superstitions among the people. Dormant concepts of ghosts, spirits, witches etc. are often activated by them as a ‘contingency story’ in case they don’t land up in a good news on any fine day.
On any given day, you will be informed that the world is going to end and are we surprised that it doesn’t?
Like all this was not enough, what makes the matters worse is the metamorphosis of the news channels into daily sops wrapped in the envelope of news, serving dual purposes of being news providers as well as instruments of appeasement of low brows, with ‘news’ as pathetic as Bollywood love stories, crushes, breakups and even pregnancy predictions of celebs. Even dish recipes are also in the wide ambit of the term ‘news’.
One day I was shocked to see some people communicating to a big bellied person giving Gyan to people on telephone about their future. It was a matter of seconds for him to predict with full conviction that the person was going to get a first class in exams and a government job for sure, given he gets a costly stone for a ring to wear on his finger, studies obviously do not matter. The detrimental effect of such ‘news’ on the people is not too difficult to imagine.
There is much to say, but it’s high time for the media to shed the dust gathered due to the rapid commercialization and corruption, under its auspices and again work as yet another bulwark of our democracy, revitalizing our society with raw and unbiased news that gives them space to form their opinion in an independent and rather balanced manner. This would propel the ‘demographic dividend’ of India into an ‘intellectual demographic dividend’… ushering into India the ideals with which the Idea of India was created.