Media, also called as the fourth estate has a legacy of freedom struggle and has always been the face of social change. It’s not that media’s functioning has never been questioned in the past. But criticism against it is getting fierce now owing to its ‘Breaking News’ culture, yellow journalism, the sensationalization of news, irresponsible and biased reporting and an alleged binary outlook towards the government. People argue that this kind of journalism is weakening our democracy.
When I say people, I am not including those who watch these news channels. So, they argue that media today is weakening our democracy. This is laughable, at least for me.
I completely disagree with this. I mean, I am not saying this kind of journalism is strengthening our democracy but I don’t like the idea of defining media or interpreting media with some 10-12 reporters or anchors who belong to some big media houses. This is such a narrow perspective. I mean, the sample size is ineptly small.
The first news channel I watched was DD News. I was in school at that time. My father used to watch it after dinner and since there was no cable at that time, I had to watch it forcibly. Mrunal Pandey used to present news and it was boring, at least for a child. But it was knowledgeable, at least for an adult.
Doesn’t DD News exist now? It does. Then why don’t people watch it? Vidya Balan has wisely given the answer in her celebrated film Dirty Picture. She said, “Entertainment, Entertainment, and Entertainment”. We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.
Okay, you won’t understand like this. Take a typical poor content Bollywood masala movie of a superstar and compare its box-office collection with a low budget but critically acclaimed movie of an unknown actor. You will be surprised. The same is the case with media. They are showing it because people want to watch it. Again, you might not understand this. Okay, so Hindi literature talks about Rasa which connotes a concept of the aesthetic flavour of any visual, literary, or musical work that evokes an emotion or feeling in the reader or audience but can’t be described.
Now imagine, on one news channel, a reporter is telling us why Malaika Arora ignored Arjun Kapoor at the airport, while on another news channel, the reporter is telling us why Jute industries are incurring losses. What would a normal person watch? Where is the Rasa? It is obvious. What can we do if jute industries are incurring losses?
So, I was saying confining media into such a narrow boundary is an injustice to media itself. I am not that pessimistic about media because till now, I have only watched the good part of it. I have witnessed the local and regional, state-level news channels covering the recent protest by students pertaining to SSC, Railway, RRB, PSC exam irregularities. Is this not media? I have also seen Pawan Jaiswal of Jan Sandesh Times exposing the deplorable situation of midday meals in a government school of Mirzapur. This news channel hardly has 2000 subscribers on their YouTube. I really respect such kind of journalism.
Few argue that many news channels have turned pro-government. In common parlance, these are known as ‘sold media’ or ‘godi media’. But I am not surprised at all. I have no grudges against any of these reporters. I, in fact, sympathize with them. They are just puppets in this whole politics-business nexus. Except a few, most of these news channels are owned by businesses supported by the government in one way or the other. Refer to Wikipedia and find it yourself. It is unimaginable that a reporter doesn’t abide by their channel’s directives. Acquiescence is better than getting fired from the job. Isn’t it?
Having said that, if an anchor himself is the owner of a news agency and is inclined towards the government, it is certainly not a good sign. That is not journalism in the first place. There is a difference between a journalist and show-runner.
Critique of the government is always better than supporting it. I have never seen a pro-government journalist getting a Pulitzer Prize. By speaking truth to power, journalism is supposed to keep establishment at the toes.
However, some argue that sometimes, the media needs to support the government so that it remains motivated. My instant reaction is, “What?” The government has the mandate of the people in an election. It doesn’t need the motivation to function and perform its duty. People never understand that it is not the goodness of their government that the media is chanting. It is, in fact, the government’s agenda of ideological counter-conditioning of masses.
Coming back to the point, media is not just about some selected reporters and news channels. It is much more than this. Watch RSTV, LSTV, DD News, State level news channels sometimes and see the difference yourself. But for that, you will have to make yourself a knowledge gainer rather than entertainment seeker.
If you have a habit of eating junk food, don’t complain of obesity and indigestion. Try daliya sometimes. It’s good.