Indian Media Is Getting A Facelift And It’s Not A Good One, But There Is Still Hope

Posted on April 19, 2014 in Media

By Amit Radha Krishna Nigam: 

Like Credit Suisse is the safe havens for tax evaders and more recently of black money hoarders — both of which now ‘constitutionally’ come under organized crime. I say constitutionally because although we have duly acknowledged it (thanks to people like Yoga guru Ramdev) like any other organized crime such as child pornography, child labor, underworld ransoms, drug trafficking, dowry, women molestation etc, we haven’t amended necessary laws, have not made stricter and stringent policies, and have failed to mobilize essential democratic establishments to curb and police such crimes. To add to the misery, some are trying to make gains out of it. Politicians using black money for electoral campaigns without any accountability to the Election Commission is a good yet just one example of it. A girl’s father smoothly paying what is being asked by the groom’s family, a gentleman entertaining a child beggar outside a theater and going home a little more subconsciously satisfied or a woman committing into a relation prior to a complete background check of him and his family and friends are not just sad victims, but also participants of these organized crimes.

Victims are of two kinds. Volunteered victims are the ones who suffer out of no contribution of their own, and unvolunteered victims are those who suffer and have little to do with themselves for their sufferings. But fortunately, criminals and obvious perpetrators of these crimes have no such class. They are just criminals. But let’s park this issue aside for a while, we have something else to discuss here. Like Pakistan has become a central safe haven for terrorists’ outfits and their training camps, loosely admitted by even the Taliban-fearing-India-envied-hence-Pakistan-supporting America, we now have another third pillar of a national safe haven in India.

In light of the recent developments that have happened over the last 15 years or so, one cannot deny (at least not people like me who have graduated only recently and have come out from closed college walls to become more aware of the circumstances that circumnavigate our media) the fact that the Indian print and electronic media is not anymore a completely immune system as it used to be during the good old hay days of Prasar Bharti we have all grown up watching. It is now increasingly becoming a dumping ground of allegations made against politicians, lobbyists and bureaucrats.

For instance, the new freebie in the list- Kejriwal led AAP is nothing new despite some good shows it had put in the beginning of its rally from Jantar Mantar. Kejriwal on one hand has thanked the media and in particular his friend Mr Rajdeep Sardesai to make their struggle a word of mouth all over Delhi and India. But on the other hand, when they don’t have a claim to deny that their allegations on BJP are wrong or that to prove that there is no Modi wave into which the whole country has been apparently swept, AAP throws the same plate over media saying that it’s nothing more than some media propaganda.

This seems sadder than the post-independence political chess that our leaders have been acing because it not only pushes erstwhile AAP supporters to the same spot where they were before it was formed, but also generates confusion on whether to believe the media or not. This is what the great dilemma of Indian media is. As a result, neither can it be trusted for all the content and information it shares with us, nor can it be simply discarded because elections are going on, and anything and everything can be sold. Due to these forces and the complex nature of the election battle itself, Indian media is going through a challenging phase which will at least last for another year until the new government at the center clears all doubts of ‘who is better than who’.

Though this phase of media may not last long, it can do great damage. It has the responsibility of informing the general public about everything that is happening in the country – from exposing scams, sending out weather updates, narrating to us the stories of progressive enlargement of our country, to the live coverage of ‘constitutional anarchy’.

First, let’s dissect every opinion made against the media from any horse’s or pig’s mouth so that the facts and the prejudiced subjectivity sit apart distinctly before concluding whether that opinion is correct and backed by enough facts or if it’s just another ‘gazar ka halwa’ that politicians cook over media’s image and eat it at their will. And if it’s true, then algorithmically separate that element of media, from becoming a complete picture of media in our mind. If what has been alleged against media is false, listen to your facts and understand that there are agents alone who for their own benefit and political gains are polluting its name. This would save us.

For media to come out of this predicament of proving its transparency and operations on all and every content of news, polls and surveys it displays, a complete makeover and possibly an ordeal from within is required and the primary onus of it lies on its anchors, reporters and editors – ambassadors of truth if they really want to be called themselves that way. People would continue to ask the media questions that lay buried only in history but not in minds of many, like why it was silent on Rajiv Dikshit’s or Satyendra Nath’s death. Why not even a single special report was published over unnatural deaths of Indian scientists at DRDO and ISRO? Why is entertainment so mixed with informative media that it doesn’t make a difference if you are watching Zoom or a news channel? Agreed that it cannot play the role of either CAG or CVS or of an opposition party in parliament house; its simple job is to bring out the truth but truth as Francis Bacon says “may perhaps come to the price of a pearl, that showeth best by day; but it will not rise to the price of a diamond, or carbuncle, that showeth best in varied lights.”

Media today has this heavenly ability to make any common man the Ram of his age and vice versa, but that power must never be abused. Zee and IndiaTV were recently criticised by Arvind Kejirwal for having been sold to Narendra Modi. These baseless allegations forced the channels to defend themselves against the person they had popularised. Such events are not new to this election, and have happened every now and then.

What really happened there? What had to be covered at the time of AAP’s Delhi stint was duly covered, but it was done in a magic-wand sort of a way- blowing every event out of proportion. Research and live coverage today sits at the heart of Indian media but inadequate research was done and hence it backfired. This is not to criticize the media that has time and again been a constructive pillar of our democracy, but to realize that the pillar needs more repainting and cleaning.

Thankfully, we are not in as much of a soup as it looks from distant peripheries, but still a lot of perspective cleaning is required — beginning from the industry’s direct customers and beneficiaries — the common people. Fortunately, social media — the separatist wing of Indian media has not succumbed to this fair of unjust. It is a dependable tool for the makeover of traditional media.

I know that there are people still thinking and trying to make a mark in media. They are those who believe that media is not biased in any way, nor is it inclined towards any political party by unfair means; that media is bringing more and more awareness to not just remote tribal people, but also to the tech-savvy youth like me. There are people working transparently to bring out issues of grave importance to public scrutiny— a place which should be the last operation theatre for all news before it comes out alive or dead. Unfortunately, these people are still hidden and may not be just as much influential as their devil-counterpart. They need us to support them.

Contrary to popular belief, one bad fish cannot contaminate the whole pond. This adage is too old to be retained now. Our democracy has undoubtedly become a breeding ground for such fish or metaphorically saying sharks, but there are ample reasons to believe that it also has the mechanism to clean and filter it.