Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The Apathy of Electronic Media

Media, has been and, presently is a key part of the society. It just doesn't play an important role in disseminating information but it actually acts as a medium to propagate the society's conscience. This was quite evident in the coverage of recent Nepal earthquake crisis. But there is something else very peculiar to the current electronic media- its apathy. For instance, the Earthquake had taken a 3 month old boy's life. His dead body was lying in front of his father. It does not take great intellect to understand the grief the kid's father might be facing, yet a reporter from a popular media house, who-like numerous others- called himself to be the first one to report from ground zero, kept posing him questions one after the other. This shows the apathy of our electronic media towards the sensitivities of human life.

I like to mention one specialist's - forgot his name- quote on media- "several years ago corporate houses used to run media but now media house themselves have become corporate." Let's not get into the factual correctness of the statement. Just taking on its merit it does seems right. The way the top TV news channels operate, they look quite corporatey. The race to get higher viewership by hook or crook, the self gloating advertisements, the superstar images the anchors build for themselves to gather their own fan base- these all just show the corporate entertainment business at play.

Some may say that though they are in news disseminating industry, they still run a business and hence have to earn money. And hence they need to do the above things. And also they argue that people/public like to see such news items too. I would like to counter them with following statements. Yes, agreed they are in business. But media is not just about doing business, it is a responsibility. One must look into the role, media played during the national freedom struggle to understand this. Also, the current TV news channels do not hold any sensible debates on current prevalent issues. Debates are done on issues which they think would grab more eyeballs. And the key ingredients of such debates are chest thumping and screaming anchors coupled with equally vocal participants. There were debates when RaGa went on sabbatical and also when he came back. Such debates don't yield any conclusion- hawaa me teer dhaagne ki baat ho jaati hai bhas. Even when these news channels pick up some relevant issues they make it political by bringing in political representatives rather than experts. For instance, a debate on farmers' suicide will not have any scholars of agricultural domain. But there will be people from various political parties playing the Hot Potato game!

One last issue before I can give my concluding remarks is regarding the contemporary news presenters. It is the anchors of the popular TV news channels, who actually hit the final nail in the coffin. The self proclaimed All-I-Know anchors do not handle these debates as moderators but as judges who are hearing a case. Worse, some anchors decide the judgement before the hearings begin!!

Media is the fourth estate of the society. It is the society's conscience keeper. Thus, media cannot become just another business. Its a job with utmost responsibility. I hope there will be emergence of some new age media houses who would handle this responsibility. We need not look far away for inspiration. The way media operated during our freedom struggle can be the guiding light. The selfless work of Lokmanya Tilak, Surendranath Banarjee is a big source of inspiration. At the same time we as viewers need to be careful while choosing the news we want to see. Do we want to see TV news channel which shows "whether a TREE-MAN is real" or do we want to see a news channel which holds discussion, among the experts, about "Maldivian crisis and its affect on India". We always will have a choice, we need to choose wisely. Hopefully in future we can see more popularity to real news channels.

PS- for those who read the blog till the end. Visit these YouTube channels [1] [2] and watch these discussions. It will be quite refreshing. After all these are the real issues which Nation wants to know!

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