TV Journalism In India: Is It Really Growing?

Posted on June 2, 2011 in Media

By Palak Bhambri:

As remarkable as the sun shines during the day and the moon at night, things happen every second. And every second is an opportunity for news writers and reporters. News channels have come a long way in India. There were times when solitary DD news used to present news in the most blatant way possible. Only giving us the ‘who’ ‘what’ and ‘where’ of an event or occurring. The viewers were left to interpret the news piece according to their respective intellects. Nowadays there is a lot of hullabaloo in and around the news to attract the millions of consumers. As per the TAM Annual Universe Update – 2010, India now has over 134 million households (out of 223 million) with television sets, of which over 103 million have access to Cable TV or Satellite TV.

News channels today have become the apt platform to showcase anything from which the audience gets entertained and which sends their cash registers jingling. I am sure everyone of us must have had those experiences in which while watching a comedy show or a reality show, the show suddenly stops and a news anchor starts blabbering. Then we focus at the channel name and get to know that it’s a NEWS channel. This has become the present scenario of almost all news channels. Some of them rope in the most dramatic anchors to host the show and some of them present it in a more solemn manner. All of these news channels try to bring a thrill factor to the programs they present so as to maximize their viewership. Headlines such as “Chajje par chaddi billi” , which presented the story of a cat which climbed on a balcony by jumping in a peculiar fashion, presented by a eminent news channel reflects the extent to which they can droop just to grab eyeballs.

News channels should understand that they serve the nation and they have a moral duty towards it. They should be aware of the fact that news channels are not meant for recreation but to inform the masses regarding problems persisting in the society. The channels which focus somewhat on issues of the public also let it subside after a while. No one is held accountable or made to realize his/her mistake. Offenders usually dodge questions and get away with it.

Where most of the news channels remain in the same cluster and add to our woes some of them break such superficial boundaries and delve into the depth of the news relating to the public. Their weekend prime time programs address public issues; moreover they also rope in common people to speak on such issues like the Commonwealth Games and its aftermath. They also address the rural problems. One such story showed a rural village in UP where houses were burnt down due to a land feud between two families. Many people died including children. The village headman was interviewed regarding the incident and also the offenders were pinned down. The grievances of the people suffered were brought out also the lack of efficient functioning of the panchayat was put into focus by the team of correspondents covering the story.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, NDTV came up with a novel idea of talking to two rural women who started a taxi service with women drivers only. These two women were interviewed by Shekhar Gupta in his show Walk the Talk. They talked of problems faced by women while traveling in public transports and how they feel unsafe in the capital. Such programs not only inform but also inspire women to break the patriarchal machinery and come out of their homes and find a niche for themselves in the world.

A recent syndrome that has occupied several news channels is, picking up stuff from social networking sites and presenting them as news. The quotes of various celebrities or any obscene video are shown as news. On the flip side with the advent of sophisticated technology and in the age when every other person owns a mobile phone, the news channels have started asking for feedback just like letters to the editor in newspapers. This feedback sent by millions of viewers helps the news channel to know more about people and their preferences.

Although the technology in India has taken giant leaps the thinking power still remains constrained and cluttered. The media is considered the fourth pillar of democracy and the nation expects that they live up to that image and stick to their journalistic ethics in the interest of the people.