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Twisted Indian Media

Twisted Indian Media

February 05, 2012

The new Indian god - deciding the fate and interpreting the world for all, telling us what to dream, what to think, what to debate.

Indian problems are unique. We are an over-populated nation with fractured identities and massive disparities. The national debates we have been having since Independence have changed, and the arguments around them have multiplied. Multiplicity of debates may not be seen as progress. The fact is that we are slowly turning into a bandwagon whose one wheel is being galvanized and polished, while the other has been allowed to rust into grains.

While more Indians can afford to eat in McDonalds and shop in branded marts, nearly a million farmers have committed suicide in despair over the past 20 years. On one hand, more IPL games are being played at night to tie in with the burgeoning nightlife in metros, and on the other, people are suffering from 15-20 hour power cuts in the chawls of the very same city.

The crisis is very much with us. Cosmetic changes won't make it go away. Unfortunately, we have evolved into a society that believes that problems can be solved just through arguments. Arguments do not necessarily mean an evolution in thinking, especially, when these arguments are driven by the media.

The media has become the new Indian god, deciding the fate and interpreting the world for all. This twisted approach to journalism insults the intelligence of the masses. The media seem to forget the masses are always more intelligent in solving problems than a single intellectual. In their ignorant hands, the media has boiled down to become the most undemocratic entity of India's socio-political ecosystem.

Data manipulation in newspapers has reached alarming levels. The truth is being suppressed and we no longer know what is going on in the nation. Scams are systematically hidden. For example, no newspaper has dared to cover the mining scam currently that happened Goa. It could be the biggest scam of this country - much larger than the mining scam of Bellary!

The media has simply stopped covering unprofitable leads. Take the example of the labour correspondent - a prominent aspect of old-school media houses. These days, if labour issues are covered at all, they come under the header of Industrial Relations, and they’re covered by business correspondents. This means that they’re covered by the guy whose job is to walk in the tracks of corporate leaders, and who, when examining labour, does it through the eyes of corporate leaders. In most newspapers, the idea of having an agriculture columnist doesn’t even exist any more. Having no voice for labour and the farmers 70 per cent of the people of this country don’t matter at all.

Newspapers have heavy political bias in India. In a recent survey by the CRI, among the 25 most important English newspapers circulated in India, 16 favour the UPA, 3 favour the NDA and 1 is leftist. Only 5 newspapers in India are unbiased. None of these 5 are among the largest circulating newspapers of India.

Propaganda has taken the place of news across the media. In India, you’ll hardly find any news of the seven North-East States, nor will you find accurate news from Jammu & Kashmir. Very little news on scientific achievements remains covered. We read excessive news of cricket which extends far beyond the sports section. Other sports are simply not encouraged. When was the last time we had a cover story on hockey or chess? We are served with meaningless film gossip and useless news about celebrities, which shows how much the PR agencies of these stars are paying the media. Newspapers today have turned into fashion magazines and have taken us far away from real issues.

I personally have seen youth with great potential, debate upon unnecessary filmi topics or irrelevant issues. Debate, while essential, needs to be accompanied by pointed action to effect real change. Across the world, the middle-class is up in arms against graft, ill-governance, and social injustice. Luckily, our democratic dynamics are shaped by the masses, where decisions are made collectively, driven by the opinion of people’s representatives. This shouldn't mean that the youth does not participate in real discussions - on issues that matter.

The source of knowledge for the people is the media. With a biased media, the knowledge of intelligent people becomes a barrier to them being able to solve an Indian problem with an Indian perspective.

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  • Denise
    18.02.12 03:40 AM
    Actually, it looks like the goemrnevnt is trying to do its best (worst!) Found .I agree that some of the media have been keeping the goemrnevnt on its toes. But some of them have been insane too Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai are cases in point. While I think that it's probably a good thing that our news channels aren't trying to be balanced , taking a side doesn't mean you start screaming at the top of your voice and sensationalizing a story. In fact, today they're talking about the people's anger against the goemrnevnt, but in a week, or two, I suspect they'll be the ones beating the war drum, louder than the goemrnevnt wants. At the end of the day, the question is this will we, the urban citizens, be forced to finally, finally, engage with the goemrnevnt, forcing the policies to change and services to be improved? This is a very interesting time the coming Lok Sabha elections will be the first with the redrawn electoral constituencies, with urban areas getting a larger weight in the distribution of seats. It should be an election to watch with close interest.
  • Divenita Er
    Divenita Er
    10.02.12 08:17 PM
    Well written. I work with The Hindu and disagree with certain views.
    But rightly said -- many things are often ignored
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    07.02.12 11:34 AM
    First of all, media is a business but it also claims to be the fourth estate, watch dog for democracy, whistle blower blah blah blah...

    The important thing here is to note is that these 1000s of page views are generated by a very small section of the population. The media has made a business decision to only to them, thereby ignoring the rest of the 80% of the population because they are "not their market"

    This gap between the mass media and mass reality is what Sourav is trying to highlight.

    It is very easy to wash their hands away saying it is a business but when they only report one side of the story about 10% of the population, something is seriously wrong.
  • Jyoti Agarwal
    Jyoti Agarwal
    07.02.12 11:22 AM
    @Jayanth : Not every good story receives as number of responses as the article on the agrarian crisis, but every celeb gossip receives thousands of page views. I am not advocating what media is doing. Over the past few years, media has turned into a serious business. And, just like any other business, they offer what sells!
  • Vivek Iyer
    Vivek Iyer
    06.02.12 10:19 PM
    This is greatly written.
    Leaving reality aside, I loved the way Indian advertising (that of TOI and Hindu) is getting into wars too!
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    06.02.12 02:26 PM
    @Jyoti Agarwal: Media is serving what we want is the excuse that the news organizations give to justify themselves. I don't think it is true.

    If you look at P. Sainath's articles on the agrarian crisis, they have received the most number of letters to the editors and responses than any other trivial/serious issues which were covered in TOI.

    I agree not everyone is interested in discussing the water and agrarian crisis and a section of the population is genuinely interested the celeb gossip but the newspapers have made a business decision to cover only certain events and cater to certain audience irrespective of what the majority thinks or is interested in.

    Its not like people don't care. There are enough people who care. The media doesn't care about them ;)

    @Sourav: very well written article btw :)
  • Jyoti Agarwal
    Jyoti Agarwal
    06.02.12 11:46 AM
    A great post Sourav!

    But I personally don't believe that it is entirely the fault of media."Only 5 newspapers in India are unbiased. None of these 5 are among the largest circulating newspapers of India." Why is so? This is because, we love to read gossip. We will never stick to a news channel that shows truth for more than 5 minutes, but we will spend full 30 minutes to watch the Sansani(khej)news. we all crib about the level to which the news channel and for that matter newspaper has gone down. But given an option, we choose to browse (full with nuditiy and news about celebrities) instead of

    Media is only serving what we want.
    05.02.12 10:51 PM
    You hit the nail on the head. If you believe everything in media, than you are the stupid one.

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