- Posted August 27, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Student voices in journalism
No Nonsense News
The rivalry war between two satellite TV channels of Assam, one owned by a minister’s wife and another by an Industry giant continues, fed by such untrained minds with lack of objectivity in whatever media content churned out every hour, 24X7. The much hyped Special Exclusive follow up story revolves around a cyber crime accused a few months back that has been given bail now on medical reasons (read as mentally sick). Interestingly the same person is used as pawn by the minister-owned channel to cook up stories on prime time broadcast. It says, the cyber crime assaulted was blackmailed by a lady journalist of the rival channel supported by its Editor –in –Chief. This follows the other player bashing the minister-owned channel accusing it of sheltering and promoting cyber criminals.
What comes next? The eyeballs witness stories, counter-stories by these two players almost between every news bulletin. As if there is no other news to be reported. As if the viewers have no other work to attend. Am I making some sense about these NO-NONSENSE news producers?
The veteran award winning journalist Phalagumi Sainath has once commented, that 95 percent of regular news produced by the mainstream media in India is not news. The journalistic practice has drastically turned into mere PR practice. We have a dedicated slot called page 3 reporting, business etc. But no more serious investment on agricultural issues, poverty reporting, labor conflicts. No more. Why? Does it mean we are presumably free from poverty? Our farmer’s no more commit suicide. Or the labor section no more cries in an inflation-hit society. The media boom has resulted into a rat race between media giants running for their share of the eyeballs, no matter what it takes.
Switch to any news channel today. What we see? Yes, the breaking news. From “Boy falling into a municipality drain-hole” to “Rakhi Sawant’s starring in a new reality show to hunt her dream man”. Everything is damn breaking news. Thanks to the Bennett and Coleman and many like them who have converged into all formats.
As they grew, the local vernacular media turned vulnerable. Speaking precisely about the situation in Assam, and its neighboring states where the media industry is still in a pre-mature stage. The language presses both print and electronic media suffers from their own confines. Where the former faces acute shortage of circulation and cut-throat competition from outsiders due to unaffordable print costs. The later is plagued with untrained and inexperienced media staffs, which end up imitating the print media style of sensationalization. The whole day may fall short If we chant about their insensitive way of reporting news motivated by either political or personnel vested interests by the vernacular media. Among the few players in electronic media arena, two major names are News Live and DY365. The former owned by a minister’s wife and the later by a business man. It’s a known fact that both the players hold major share of viewership in the region while few others namely NETV, Frontier TV, Prime News, and News Times are also running in the TRP race.
The bigger question to be asked is: Why such news are produced in the first place? Ethical journalistic practice now exists in the books, not in practice. Advertisement and promotional materials packaged as news is a rhyme these news channels sings the whole day. News has been stereotyped with every incident hyped as hard breaking news. Edited footages, added visual effects and over dramatization with sound and dialogues lifted from cinema. It won’t be wrong to say that, today we only have entertainment channels. It’s just what the news channels stream, is called news.
Though the media is regarded as the fourth pillar democracy, unfortunately its absolute freedom is misused most of the time. How far it has contributed to nation development seems to be a burning question today. The thin line between fictional entertainment and news turning meager requires immediate amendment for a balanced flow of relevant information. The influx of corporate ownership has produced many “Lapdog” journalists across the society who enjoys complete luxury in the laps of corporate honchos. I believe there is some serious need for a paradigm shift in the intent and the policies of the mainstream media today.