Indian Media

Being laid up in bed with a bad back is no fun - take it from me. You would have thought TV would be good time pass at least. Heck no! It pains me to see mediocrity thrive on tv. What is the overt difference when you watch NDTV Good times and Travel and Living? Both channels are top quality - one macro and global, the other more niche. Both appeal to the Indian mindset. My daily fix however are the sports and the news channels.

How are the news channels any different? The reason I say channels is because my print consumption is minimal (its either the internet or the tv) – print has too many facets of paid news today that it has lost its credibility with me!. So are our news channels balanced in their point of view, responsible and truly deserving of the fourth estate status?

I think our media is at best biased, sensationalism driven, and skewed towards the political affiliations they carry! Especially dangerous for the young minds in the nation who tend to easily get swayed by the ra-ra they hear on TV

But as I say this I am going to get a little contradictory too and say our media, despite many flaws, display many strengths too. Its perhaps the same need for viewership that keeps them ra-ra-ing about themselves as much equally for subjects that resonate with viewers: Racism, Politics between India and Pak, S Tharoor and his girlfriend, Ipl and Politics and the bid drama, model commits suicide, some celeb’s marriage etc etc

The even bigger advantages to my mind of our media is that they keep the corrupt politicians in check – not just the politicians also the bureaucrats, policymakers, educationalists, goons, dons etc etc. All our Polity is completely dictated in its moves by the mood on TV as a litmus test. Depending on how much attention an issue receives in the media dictates next steps very often.

In this clamour for trp’s and the din created by many channels are we forgetting the poor? The sick and ill? The old? The uneducated? Don’t they form a large portion of our universe? Who will give them a voice? Not our Polity! Not the voting system. Not the haves and the rich! So who? The only one that can indeed elevate them to a level of dignity is the fourth estate –our media - but barring an odd tv network group, is anyone else even interested in addressing these people or their plight or solutions to uplift them?

Our media is powerful. To influence opinions, swing moods, sway sentiments. But are they balanced in their reporting? I’d have to admit it’s a 50:50. Lots gets said and done in the heat of the moment but unfortunately there isn’t enough sustaining power! Some TV channels even mirror the unparliamentarian embarrassing squabbling, outshouting, yelling, accusing behaviour on TV making each of us realize what a undignified, unruly, uncouth lot we are! While some talk shows pretend to be intellectually driven other channels openly show favoritism and jaundiced personal views to either throw a panelist out of a debate by openly scorning him or slant the debate

If at times talk shows don’t end up becoming a platform for a blame game then the next attempt is to pre judge and hold people accountable before the law runs its course! O pls don’t take this to mean I am complaining- I love the 9pm Arnab News hour for its theatrics as much as I love the NDTV Big Fight – both offer popcorn entertainment and I’ll be lucky if at times I go away feeling and wishing the debate had continued a wee bit longer!

I think the Media folks are very astute. They have their fingers on the pulse of us viewing audiences. They know our need for exciting reporting (read entertainment) and they tailor to it. If we challenge them for more authentic, more right brained reporting - we will indeed receive it because we have the talent and the caliber of people who can deliver it. The point also is do we want good stuff? Are we ready and hankering for it? Or are we merely fence sitters who just like the rest of the nation love nit picking?:)


ashish said...

The present media revolution has helped people in making an informed decisions and this has led to beginning of a new era in a democracy.

gita said...

Media should encourage art, science and literature but it is focusing on astrology, rebirths, religious myths, beliefs and aliens. Now days almost every news channel telecast astrological programmes -is this our innovation?!?

sheila said...

There is great need of intelligent journalists who can help in removing social evils like caste system, communal-ism, poverty, superstition etc. It should not devote maximum time on discussing cricket and cricketers rather it should be to utilize energies on development of rational thinking of the masses. The main focus of media should be on development and uplift-ment of the society. India can become developed country with the contribution of media so it badly needs responsible writers, journalists and artists.

vimmuuu said...

There were days when the news channels focussed on what was happening in the country. These days, I feel, its more to increase the viewership. What I fail to understand is that why do they give importance to petty issues like Amitabh getting hospitalised when at the same time our country was going through an economy crisis. One of my close friend works for a well known Indian news channel and she cribs about what happens behind the scene and how certain good news or controversial articles get totally cut from the editing table.

john said...

Pardon my language pls but Indian media behaves like a pricey call girl! The highest bidder can twist and turn the story to his convenience and all the Media will do is dance to the tune of money! Our media has become as bad as the politicians they try to paint a good image of!

sanjiv said...

For those of you who live in the west of India here is a bit of information on current affairs this side of the Vindhyas (just in case you did not know) 2 large south regional political party's own their own television and news channels -Sun TV and Jaya TV respectively- and what do you expect is the content on these channels?! Correct! It is only about coverage of the respective 2 leaders! Lets now talk about the democracy of media. Its a farce! And the young think we live in a democratic word where media has an independent opinion?! Think people.

gita said...

Paid news is nothing but corruption, and it has to be treated as such. To run a robust organization, one needs quality journalists and not paid news. Getting money by unfair means is a short-term strategy. Eventually, the credibility goes for a toss and viewers are going to switch of the channels

melinda said...

I read this article on media today and found it most relevant - Aroon Purie pointed out, “There is a legitimate way of making money. Paid news has violated all ethics of our profession. Abroad, business is run without using such means. Media is very cheap in our country, where you get a newspaper for Rs 2. This makes you dependent on advertisers. There is distortion in the way business is run in India.”

Mee said...

@Ash-True to some extent, provided we are each sharp enuff to sift the chaff frm the wheat

@Gits - Indian masses are not u and me:) Channels subscribe to masses and what appeals to them.

@Shelly- Some channels are attempting to for instance focus on the 'khaps'- but they do it, more for the sensationalism angle today, rather than focus on advocacy and pressure building tactics to rid society of it. True:(

@vimmuuu- your friend is not off the mark, I belong to an allied field myself hence know (too) how convoluted our news dispensing system is. Anything that sells will be aired. If the debate on Amit Shah is hot and calls are pouring in, the channel head will differ the announcement on 'breaking news' abt a train collision - just to keep the peak on the viewership going favourbaly in their advantage! Its commercial to the core. So how is it responsible democratic journalism by the 4th estate someone pls explain that to me?:(

Mee said...

@John- nothing that you say is not true:)

@Sanjiv-like John says- we sell to the highest bidder:)

@Gita- is thr a choice today- we may have above 400 channels today- we probably consume 30 out of them and 5 more frequently out of those broad 30 choices. Now you tell me- given the narrow casting of all news/soaps/content where is the choice?:(

As regards talent- I think we have abundant and more in the country- the question is do viewers seek quality content?:) Its easy to blame media too and say they are dishing out trash- but trash is what we is bought happily by us:)

@Mel- its sadly true. Today he may say this becos he does not do paid media, tomo Vineet Jain will say smthg which he does not indulge in...all these media magnates only know "i. me, myself' you -me-the nation dont feature:) Its business!:)