Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The good and the bad of it

Even twenty years back when the print media was restricted to a handful of newspapers and monthlies and digital media hadn't seen the light of the day it was infinitely difficult to keep in touch with the happenings of the world. Difficult not in the sense as impossible but keeping yourself updated with information on politics, sports, celebrities wasn't as easy. Now-a-days news is practically being shoved down our throats...although it goes without saying that journalism of today thrives on sensationalism more than anything else. Events are blown out of proportion all the time. Somebody falling down from his scooter on the road and getting his say, knee scratched could turn into somebody dying in a road-accident of catastrophic proportions with ample mob fury thrown in. Not literally but you get my drift right?
Gone are the principles that a news item should consist of the plain truth or fact devoid of a biased perspective.
There's also the issue of delusional thinking on the part of media people that Rahul Gandhi reverting back to his clean-shaven look is newsworthy.
Well in any case I'm coming to that later.

What's relevant is now people are more aware of the world they live in. The advent of the internet(although a minority of the population have access to it)has made it possible for news to travel lightning fast.
Satellite images came directly into our television screens/desktops, mac-books, cell phones almost as soon as the Gaza flotilla ships were attacked by Israeli commandos. Horrifying as it is I still can't help be thankful to the media(plus the technology) for this.Atleast we know what's happening in another part of the world and are in a position to form an opinion about it. And it's a well-proven fact that a strong public opinion, if mobilized, can topple the most despotic of governments or get justice for the wronged. Who can forget the Jessica Lal or Priyadarshini Mattoo cases?

The point I'm trying to make is now-a-days the people at large are well-informed. Even if somebody doesn't have the time to read a newspaper in detail, there's always a news channel or the online editions of most papers which contain a shortened version of the articles. The news invariably reaches you one way or the other.And this would've been in no way possible without the pivotal role played by the media.
However it is to be observed that the quality of news has depreciated considerably alongside the spread of the media. Sometimes an international supermodel's mole gets more attention than an important political event in our country. Or the heated of exchange of tweets(yes,virtual words not real) between the Who's Who of Bollywood gets a place in the online edition of a major daily.

Yes all of us know that celebrity news sells faster than gutkha packets near a taxi-stand but since when did journalism become indistinguishable from business?



An equally perturbing fact would be the way terrorist attacks, bloody wars or devastating accidents get live coverage for days. The journos do not rest until the last remaining, if I may be so bold enough to say, 'juice' has been squeezed out of the incident. Without genuine sources confirming the statistics most channels make up their own number of casualties. With gory images of blood-spattered corpses, relatives of the dead howling in the background...it's like reality drama playing out before your eyes. And no need to mention we,the people,lap it up.Isn't a little discretion or subtlety in such matters desirable?

Now that the World Cup frenzy is in full swing I find most Indian news channels bringing in experts to analyze what kind of formation the Argentinian or Brazilian team will opt for in the upcoming match.(And I'm not even going into the detail that John Abraham of all people is explaining the intricacies of a match to us)
Uh hello there we are a soccer-crazed nation no doubt but shouldn't we be worrying about the fact that India has never played in the World Cup so far and has like zero probability of qualifying for one anytime soon? Shouldn't the media be highlighting the pitiable condition of the Indian national football team, the lack of sponsors and government involvement?

I could go on and on since this is a never-ending saga. But I'd like to hear your say in the matter as well.
What do you think of the media of today? Are they being responsible enough or is ethical journalism on the verge of extinction?


Image courtesy: Meera Sapra and http://www.toondoo.com/

Sig 2

26 comments:

Anish said...

hmmm...the point is...no matter how much you bash the media..they are your source of the news...be it the print or the electronic media...even the internet media...so how are you saying you are well informed???it's again public opinion being formed..for example you mentioned the Jessica Lal case...you weren't present there...u have formed your opinion of what happened VIA THE MEDIA...so no matter what you say...the media is ALWAYS forming our opinion unless it's something we can judge for ourself..like sports..or arts....but news..we know what we hear from the media..we are NOT more aware then before...that too comes to us VIA THE MEDIA...so here too they are influencing our views..and let me tell you how-on the net they use subtlety....they don't directly draw conclusions..they present the facts in such a manner so that you will yourself draw the conclusion which THEY want you to draw...but since you came to the conclusion you feel more aware..which is not the case.....

And yes the electronic and news media are at fault..but they show what they show BECAUSE IT SELLS...you have to remember one thing...it's their JOB..it's not a non-profit venture...they will OBVIOUSLY show stuff which will bring in the dough....and for that you really can't blame them...if you have to blame someone blame us,the people....it is we who lap it...blame it on our country's abysmal literacy rate...they lap up what they are served...

The media lacks ethics these days..no doubt...but mostly they are good people...no doubt it's gimmicky..but that's the same in every country...not just here...rather we should be glad we have journalists like Barkha Dutt,Pranay Roy etc whose opinions we can depend on....


Very very well-written post and some very relevant questions raised...good job as always..

Samadrita said...

@Anish: Wow super long comment :P
Well you've raised some valid points as well...the main one being that WE are also responsible in a way for lapping up such news.
But even so the most of the blame will be directed towards the media for CREATING such news items in the first place.I did not even go into the topic of topless pictures of models in the gossip columns of well-known dailies.For Heaven's sake there are young and impressionable children in a family too.Like I mentioned in the article since when did journalism and business merge into a single entity?
We must remember that revolutionary terrorism was sparked off by the media once upon a time in colonial India.

Ankit said...

* who snatch away..sorry for the typo.

Ankit said...

bloody good one..*tries to take his hat off but fails as he aint wearing any* *bows*.
Another point I can add is the media is in the pockets of politicians and rich people. A leading Bengali daily blatantly shows off their support for a particular political party, despite claiming itself to be secular and unbiased. Even in the entertainment section can be bribed and utterly crass movies get good ratings. The media is here for doing business, fine. But what about honesty and integrity, eh? The blame is not on us, the blame is on them to snatch away our right to knowledge.

2dmax said...

Interesting and well written.

I think as good as the web is or spreading news, there is a lot of nonsense out there. Relying on established journalism is our only means of filtering out the real stuff.

Another issue is that even news channels and 'journalists' now-a-days not only convey information but opinions. I find the latter disturbing. Since most people do not have the time to read through the full story, they read summaries and draw their opinions. So now public opinion is based on which news channel or agency you listen to.

I know I am also a victim of this age-old tactic of directing public opinion for a particular cause. Nevertheless, I try to get a more informed view by listening for eg. to AlJazeera (pro-arab), BBC (tilted towards majority opinion) and may be some pro-Israeli news.

Oh no, this comment is getting too long ... so I stop here :-)

Chatterbox said...

All I wished to say has already been well said in the comments before mine :)
Loved that cartoon :)

Keep up the good work :D

Nethra said...

I'm not the right person to comment on this topic because I used to read newspaper but that was a very long time ago. Now, what's happening with someone, somewhere hardly bothers me. I hate all the news channels, newspapers...they mostly fake news and when they show something real, they blend it with their own cooked-up masalas.
Nevertheless, nice post! :)

Lazy Pineapple said...

I try to skim through news websites..only if something important and serious is splashed across do I stop and read it properly...I do try to catch the news...but don't spend much time on it.

I feel media blows up everything out of proportion these days...I think it is up to the readers to decide what they want to see/read...and believe :)

Siddhesh 'Ravan' Kabe said...

media was never there for us. It was just a way of fooling public. There was never an impartial news channel.

I have given up watching news long back.

Neha said...

http://www.nehasilam.com/2009/11/freedom-of-press.html

Free Publicity :P

Jokes apart, my views are in this post about media..all I want to say is that these days, newspaper's biggest and most reliable source is Twitter quotes..do you still want to ask the question about what do i think of media today?

Lakshmi Rajan said...

Media is into the business. They cover news that brings more eyeballs or in short TRP. So who wants to know where India stands in world football, right now the eyeballs are focused on worldcup and media would be extracting the best out of it, who cares about where we stand ;)

Samadrita said...

@Ankit: First of all thank you for liking the post so much.And you have added some few important points yourself.I've observed that crap movies get good reviews as well.That's why it's best to form your own opinion.And some news channels are totally in favour of one political party and keep dissing the other.

@2dmax Thank you so much for reading.Yes some channels thrust their own random opinions on us rather than help make us our own.Like I said...biased perspective.Such is the state of our media :(

@Chatterboz:Heehee yea I love the cartoon strip too. :D

Samadrita said...

@Nethra: Ah you must be a happy soul then.Shunning news channels seems to be the only viable option left anyway :)

@Lazy P: True :)

@Sid Yes news channels have started to believe themselves to be entertainment channels these days.Only NDTV shows some promise. :)

Samadrita said...

@NehaOkay will read that post of yours. :P yes twitter quotes.And even some news articles are about tweets.LAME!

@Lakshmi: Exactly.This attitude is what horrifies me the most.

Neha said...

Sammy, you didn't hashtag the word LAME? :P

ok ok, a #LAME joke from my side :D

♫ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ♫ ayu ♫ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ♫ said...

nice topic..well..everything has a disadvantage and advantage..and we cant blame others if they do "created" news to earn money,.,indeed this modernized era has given us so many benefits but of course.there are still things we might consider not good.

voicefromadistantstar.blogspot.com

Mural! said...

nice topic........ agree with CC that the first few comments more or less addressed everything, almost.....

all the information being bartered these days has been opinionated, in fact it has been so since times immemorial. know the popular saying? which goes like, "history is written by the victorious".

but yes, the news channels nowadays are preferring to cater to their consumers, their readers.......a business it has become, indeed! but this is field which can only strive for perfection in times of crises, like the newspapers of yore you were referring to...... in the absence of which we should put do with who kareena is hanging out with nowadays!

Saurabh Panshikar said...

Nothing #lame about this post...
Don't have much to say... Agree with it totally... Outstanding!

♫ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ♫ ayu ♫ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ♫ said...

@sammy:two weeks ago..the classes has been started..thus the beginning of my hectic second year college life..gotta have difficult subjects to survive with..that's why :/

Being Pramoda... said...

Hi Samadrita..

Here is my view..

Be it any profession which is very much interactive with the human civilization, which helps the human race move forward possesses the most responsibility. Journalism is such kind of profession.

Always its been about updating people with the news. But these days the heavy competition does not give them enough time to think which is the good news that can help people and which can lead people to misunderstand.

Its all about changing time at the same time managing one's own values. when the balance is missing, we lose it eventually.

Nice post on the whole.. wats up dear? It's be nice to see u back at my blog..missing you..

Quintessence Of Illusion said...

Serious words coming from a future IAS officer...
This is like a serious issue you have brought up...quality of news even quality of english has gone down..except for The Hindu...which i think "tells" not only beacause it "sells"....and another thing is that terrorist attacks didnt get full coverage is beacuse of security issues i guess....according to my knowledge media cannot provide detailed information about critical issues...there is some kind of pressure from the government....its not the media's fault
Next coming to the Indian Football Team...they havnt qualified...its fine but think of the cricket team....which gets attention even if they perform poorly.....neways very good post...liked it very much..

Samadrita said...

@Neha :P

@ayu Yes that's exactly what it is.Sometimes news is created from zilch fact and 100% colorful imagination.That's when it becomes harmful!

@Murali: Yes in fact in our state we have a news channel which is completely biased when it comes to the TMC.They'd even hold the government responsible for torrential rain.They are so much biased when it comes to supporting TMC. :S

@Saurabh: Dude glad you liked it so much.Tanks and machine guns! :D

Samadrita said...

@Pramoda: Hey there girl long time no see.You've pointed it out quite correctly that the tough competition sometimes forces journos to come up with 'fake' news.But that isn't acceptable right? :)

@Writu: Girl I'm a long way off from that =P.And thanks for liking the post..but when I mentioned the coverage of terrorist attacks I was talking of the way they are treated as reality 'masala' drama.Sheer insensitivity.

Hayaah said...

You've quite the way with putting them thoughts out! I think ive met a rambling soul mate, just reading the last 3 recent posts up here, and its quite appealing! :)

Totally agree with all that you've mentioned here, and to add to the journalism vs business bit, Id drop in another bit about even education having become a business minded set up seeing it, from where Im at. Im totally aware of this just being me going off on a tangent... dunno why i even brought it up but oh well :D

Really liked the post. Shall be back later to check out some more!

The Laughing Man said...

I try to hate the media but it does not work... fact is that one cant be everywhere to get 1st hand look at whatever is going on... and most of the places where really 'newsworthy' stuff is going on arent really places where you want to be...

So I try to limit my sources of news to those which actually provide news... or at least some form of segregation so that I dont have to hear about the latest celebrity gossip before I get to read about... say... a plane crash in Pakistan, a bus siege in Manila or a massacre in Mexico....

bbc.co.uk is a good place to start...

Puneetkumar Pattar said...

Hi, good to see your blog & your interest in the nation, politics & issues like corruption. I had been to Freedom Park, Bangalore to support the Anna Hazare team recently. I have shared my experience on my blog http://puneet3210.blogspot.com/2011/08/anna-hazare-freedom-park-bangalore.html . Do have a look. The same is shared on IndiBlogger also at http://www.indiblogger.in/indipost.php?post=72809 :) Puneet

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