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  • Raghav Sand

News in Need of Intensive Care

The new millennium presented an opportunity for democratization of TV News in India. It was a time when television news media channels were floated by established print media houses. Round the clock news was a never seen before phenomenon. People got hooked to it from the word go. There were some qualitative offerings in the early days, but eventually commercial compulsions took centerstage.

Credibility Taking A Nosedive

It is not easy to completely misrepresent facts or spread misinformation, yet the News channels formulated effective strategies for monetizing its reach and research. There have been well documented instances when a particular News outlet chose to ignore an important topic. On another occasion, they stuck to something depending upon the political affiliations and partisan financial aid coming in the guise of advertisement money. This was a time when News channels either discreetly or brazenly took sides and became mouthpieces for corporates and political parties. The battle lines were drawn and the gloves were finally off. Soon enough, the neutrality was out of the conversation, and it became a ‘us versus them‘ street brawl.

Where Did it All Go Wrong?

It is difficult to pinpoint a particular time, but somewhere around 2008-10, the morals and ethics of journalism were tossed in the air for corporate and political motives. No one likes to be left behind and every media outlet took a shot at regional, national and international powerplay. Media houses which usually project themselves as gatekeepers of democracy, faltered in upholding the dignity and behavioural benchmarks. Power is addictive, and journalists who can also be called generalists, have reduced themselves as power brokers and lobbyists. Every time there is a story that can sway emotions and/or electoral support, it is tuned and pruned with highest degree of sophistication. Bargains are agreed upon, and truth dies a slow death. The shamelessness with which media has conducted its affairs has defeated the articles of constitution, and has inflicted irreparable damage.

Views channel

Primetime News shows are not about news anymore. This is a singular commonality in an otherwise split industry. Every night on weekdays, News anchors invite a panel of self-proclaimed and self-attested individuals who invariably have a political leaning. Some anchors run mundane and pessimistic monologues and feel nice about themselves. No topic is debated in a non-partisan manner and if office bearers of parties are unavailable due to any reason, private individuals take the onus. After all the actors have taken stage, a yelling and mud slinging match commences. The animosity and aggression take the conversation everywhere but to a reasonable conclusion.

Social media menace

Social media has always been an unregulated section of media and in the name of liberty and equality, it has further dented the information ecosystem. A handful of social media companies orchestrate the narrative and discourse of communication. They behave like jury and judge, and arbitrarily censor or promote a story. Double standard is a polite description for such actions and raking in more advertisement revenue by all means seems like the sole objective. It is laughable when these billion-dollar companies play the victim card.

Split down the middle

Our world has never been more divided on key issues and consensus seems to be for the weak. If you are looking for a middle ground and try to be accommodative, it will definitely be perceived as lack of decisiveness and conviction in thought. Rational and objective persons are feeling lost and are hopelessly voiceless. They stand at the crossroads and end up taking sides to stay relevant. In short, a well-meaning and level headed person is left with the choice of picking a lesser evil.

Our Attention is their Currency

One need not be a rocket scientist to deduce that the current system is rigged and these media houses, political parties, both ruling and opposition, and corporate bodies yield power and exchange favours; the understanding is both tactical and practical. “WE THE PEOPLE“, will get our voice back if we make better choices with respect to whom we idolise, and make better decisions about which issues form part of national and international discourse.

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