The Indian media acts as an architect, slowly and subconsciously building opinions in the minds of its viewers who indulge in their construction. They are all attempting to capture the most vital resource — the viewer’s attention — and make it hostage for money. Your attention and clicks are worth billions to them in advertising and revenue.
As the digital media industry matures, it’s becoming easier for publishers to reach the point of profitability soon after opening business. Media organisations are dramatising news to help maximise monetisation opportunities. The war for attention has gotten to such a point where news is being sensationalised with all sorts of insensitive and ‘clickbait worthy’ headlines.
Television Rating Point is a method to evaluate programmes based on views, which are usually calculated on a per-second basis. The higher the TRP, higher the profit. Advertisements are a major factor as well. According to the FICCI-EY report, news channels currently occupy 13% share (amounting to Rs 3,640 crore) in the overall advertising volume. These news channels earn in lakhs per day from increased viewership.
Indian TV news channels were expected to rake up to thousands of crores during the 2019 elections. If politics can rake up thousands, then how much will a case that includes an aspiring Bollywood star, drug-fuelled celebrities and a killer girlfriend make?
A young, famous and ambitious megastar who died under mysterious circumstances — controversy and suspense created a storyline in Sushant Singh Rajput’s untimely death case. This was orchestrated by sensationalising the case; nothing gets more views than a female killer and narcotics. Since the starting of the case, we witnessed the vilification of Rhea Chakraborty as the girlfriend. The media took over the role of both the judge and jury by pronouncing her as guilty.
Rhea described the abuse she faced during the media trial — she received threats of death and assault. She said that she has been ‘unfairly targeted’. She has also been labelled as a ‘particular type of woman’ who is disliked by Sushant’s family. In India, family is of utmost importance. Therefore, Sushant’s his family dislikes Rhea, then the whole of the country must dislike her as well. Is there a gender aspect to this? What would have happened if a man were in her place?
Rhea was slut-shamed, accused of murdering Sushant, drugging him and stealing his money. Outspoken women on social media often face demonisation. Even Rhea’s family’s reputation has been tarnished; they have been labelled as drug peddlers and murderers. It reached a point where the family had contemplated suicide. Is it moral to push someone to such a point where they consider killing themselves?
News channels are supposed to show unbiased news instead of entrenched misogyny, conspiracy and an unsure narrative. The Press Council of India has sent an advisory to TV channels on the coverage of Sushant Singh Rajput’s case. It seeks to restrain the megalomaniacal coverage of the film star by the media.
What’s worse is that the actor’s legacy is now the investigation of his death. The lack of journalistic ethics or even human ethics that the media has portrayed is beyond belief — pictures of his dead body were circulating and many instances of intrusion of privacy occured while reporting on the case. The media used every opportunity to gain profit from its gullible viewers. Today, Rhea is the only name that big news houses are covering instead of the bigger issues.
The failure of the Modi government in handling the Covid -19 pandemic, the standoff with China in Ladakh, the economy and the migrant labour crisis are all issues that are screaming for coverage. The people of India need to be distracted from the woes of the Indian government and what’s more perfect than a case like this.
In case you are left in the dark by our honorary media, here is what has been happening in the country: