“Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do” -Potter Stewart
When it comes to the mainstream media today, this difference seems quite blurred. We are being given the news that is dramatic and distorted. Every news is either right or wrong, black or white. This raises the question of ethics on the part of the media. Is this kind of reporting right? Is the audience getting influenced into thinking a certain way? Is this affecting our society?
Sharmistha Bhosale a journalist, does not agree with how the news today is being sensationalised.
“Mainstream media uses sensationalism to attract the viewers. It is polluting their minds. The daily soaps are expected to be entertaining, not us. If the viewer wants entertainment, give them content related to entertainment, not make the content entertaining. Even a lot of journalists like Ravish Kumar, Prannoy Roy, Barkha Dutt have been telling us to stop watching the news. Ravish Kumar has also said that such TV channels are killing our democratic instinct. They are killing a thinking mind. These channels want TRP. In order to get these TRPs, they have blurred the line between journalism and melodrama.”
This game of TRP has indeed distorted the way news is reported. But it has also affected how the news is being consumed. The numbers suggest that the viewers might be enjoying this type of news. So, does the audience enjoy biased news? On this Bhosale says, “This kind of an argument can be used by TV channels to justify their methods.
But the audience can’t be generalized like this. This is an issue of media literacy. Some of the media people are highly educated but are hardly media literate. If this is the case with media people, then how can we expect the audience to know better? How can we expect them to understand propaganda? The media is fully aware of what it is doing. It is not the people who should be held responsible for the content. Because they are not expected to be media literate, we are.”
The recent trend of media trials is an excellent example of how literate the media actually is. This trend has taken our entire country by storm. On this topic, Bhosale says, “What I am saying might sound too idealistic, but I would suggest that people should watch this type of content objectively. The viewers should analyse and criticise the content. They should also psychoanalyze themselves. How is this news affecting them? Is it distracting them from being a good citizen or a good person?
The viewers should try to understand the agendas and strategies. They should understand how the grey shades are being neglected. This will help to make the audience more aware and they won’t be a blind follower of the channels. Again, it may sound too idealistic but as viewers, we should also try to be more media literate.”
She also mentions how parallel media is proving to be more ideal. “We can see that there are some channels that are very popular and have a lot of TRP, but they are quite unethical and harmful. Now, we have the option of parallel media. I think that parallel media is in an emerging state. Although it’s not perfect and lacks a lot from a journalistic view, it is more ethical and ideal.”
As journalists, we have always been told that news should be objective but we should also know what is right and wrong. Parallel media can prove to be a perfect vessel for this kind of journalism. I think that parallel media is biased for democracy, for the common man and for justice. I would urge the people to explore The Quint, The Wire, Indie Journal, Lallantop, Gaon Connection and other such websites and YouTube channels which are ethical and ideal as compared to the mainstream media.”