Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Media Menace

For the past few days, the media was full of what would happen when /if the Ayodhya verdict is announced. TV channels flashing news, breaking news, newspapers carrying banner headlines – both indulging in speculation of a future that might never happen – rather that would not happen if the media did not provoke, subtly coerce and tease the aggrieved (allegedly aggrieved) parties into violence.

The media is behaving with absolutely no responsibility. The build up for Ayodhya began a month back. What is it trying to do? Reminding the warring sects to get their weapons honed for the unleashing of violence? Is this the media’s way of ensuring them that it has whipped up feelings and has created expectations and the ideal climate for bloodshed, and so it now the turn of the two communities to meet the expectation built up by it?

In 2006 January when Arjun Singh tried to raise the reservation quota in the IITs and other premier educational institutions, the coverage of the issue by Rajdeep Sardesai and his channel was dangerous and objectionable. The visual of the burning Goswami (the self immolation in protest against Mandal) was played over and over again as though to invite some misguided youth to take cue from him. Sardesai was literally jumping around with excitement – like a predator which had a taste of blood and was waiting with excitement for some prey to take the bait.

Looking back, i feel that if the media was totally banned from the precincts of Taj –nay, if there was a total ban on reporting the updates on the terror attacks in Mumbai, the NSG would have done a much more efficient job without the media taking away the surprise element from the rescue operation. Remember, Arnab Goswami got vicious and nasty at the government’s move to block the media from reporting? and te government buckled in to the ire of Times Now!!

The Indian media needs to be reined in. it should not, as it does now, put business above the country. Responsible journalism is what India needs at this juncture. The country is going through difficult times. Media should not make it worse by giving Kashmiri separatists, terrorists groups and Maoists the free publicity they seek. Cutting off publicity for these terror groups is akin to choking off their life breath. Sensationalising their terror activities is just what they want.
I believe in the freedom of speech but if this freedom is used to help seditious groups and terror elements hell bent of breaking up India, it is time something was done about it.

Incidentally, after that entire hullabaloo created up by the media, i get a pleasant feeling that the commonwealth games are going to take place without any serious hiccups.

Related blog: Kerala – a Media Constructed Image?


  1. Really this is a serious issue, we have seen this in Madani arrest, as if its going to get a bomb exploded and communal viloence going to be spread in Kerala. But see what happened, Madani is under custody and not even his partymen now bother about him.

    Mumbai attacks was a worst scenario, the Pakistan conspirators and ISI were using TV as their strategic supporting and they were getting minute to minute picture of whats happening and accordingly they directed militants through satellite radio.

    One thing came to light after this incident was that the vehicle used by militants to escape ie from which they shoot Salaskar Karkare etc, was equipped with GPS, and police could track them anywhere, but this information was leaked by TV reporter and Pakistan used this to their plan. If they were silent perhaps Karkare etc were still alive.

    Nowadays I dont watch TV because of this blah blah, Asianet never allow anybody to utter a word they will say I will come back and move to another person which is most frustrating to viewer as well as participant of debate.

    If you watch closely TV crew in front of secretariate and record what they talk, you often hear them asking protestors to attack police then only your face will come to picture, because of media unhealthy competition we have seen a woman reporter of Asianet jumping over a wall to cover a prostitute in Ernakulam 3 year back (Thoppumpadi scandal).

  2. Media is going overboard on just about any subject they get their hands on, trying to do what, ask them, and they would perhaps shrug their shoulders. TRP! What else? But at what cost?! Responsible Journalism is the need of the hour.

  3. I DON'T WATCH TV NEWS CHANNELS! I read newspapers, which are bad enough. I'd say it a hundred times, the Indian media should be put on a leash. Not only the news channels but others too for the crappy programmes.

    One point I wish to differ - The issue of Maoists- the media has never shown the real issues behind the growth of Maoism in the tribal belts of India, except for a very few.

    CWG and hiccups? Its vomit, 100%.

  4. No one acts with any responsibility in India.Does the government have any? Do the politicians behave responsibly?We don't have an independent media.Most of the news papers and TV channels are owned and operated by political parties.They use the channels for their propaganda.
    Yesterday I saw a news item in a TV channel.The sensational news of a dog delivering its puppies in front of the secretariat. The rest of the dogs were inside the secretariat!.
    People secretly enjoy watching violence. This is the reason the channels cash on it.Who is to blame?

  5. Media actually do not care about anything other than news value. See the images that some national newspapers have on their front pages! As if they want everyone to remember the demolition clearly. They will be disappointed if people behave responsibly tomorrow.

  6. The need of the hour is ALL INDIANS not watching news channels!

  7. This is one of the most brilliant and socially relevant articles I have read in recent times. Thanks for reporting the reporting on the second Mandal movement that fizzled out, I missed it. And your comment on the Mumbai terror attack is most valid. Let’s hope the point will be used to “rein in” the media if ever it be attempted.

    But will they ever be? I tried to argue a few points at this space, but stopped because my comments became longer than the article. I have tried to give it some shape and posted it on my blog. In that, I have quoted extensively from your article and have also provided a link to yours. If you want, pl check this link:

  8. As a mediaperson myself, I salute you for this article. But, what is the solution? Fortunately, I work for The Hindu, which is careful in these matters. I also know from within why the present-day media is working up madness. I have seen extremely sensible journalists knowingly catering to the madness because they are under pressure to create headlines, climp up in the market ratings. Their career depends on that. We are extremely insecure people; you can never imagine how insecure we are. The kind of journalists you mention in your piece, the successful ones considered role models in the profession, just watch their faces closely. They are the maddest of the mad lot now serving the profession. My hope is that, in due course of time, after some serious damage is done, the credibility factor would finally become the criteria for business success.

  9. What do you have to say about the screaming headlines that followed the Ayodhya verdict? Breathless journalism on TV. The slant was very clear in practicaly all the headlines of our reputed National dailies. The Malayalam press acted with restraint though. Of course, we can gloat over the fact that we Indians have successfully allotted a birthplace for the God.

    If you saw the live telecast of the happenings outside the Court, we'd have to hang our head in shame-like a pack of street hawkers the lawyers who were all for Ram Janmabhoomi took up the seats set aside for the Judges to address the Press. No media found it necessary to discuss this total lack of decorum and restraint by the lawyers' community.

    Why,look at the latest CWG scam? They went hammer and tongs in the last minute instead of doing follow up on the preparations at least in mid 2010. Now watch them looking the other way when the Games conclude, which is supposed to be the time the Govt said they would go into the misdoings of Kalmadi and his team!

  10. @ venugopal
    thank you sir. i was waiting for your response in order to be enlightened by a media comment was an eye opener. i never thought of the media people as an insecure lot.

    yes, i agree that hindu is the sanest daily in the country with the most level headed and responsible editorial policy.

    @santanu sinha chauduri
    what a compliment! million thanks, sir.
    i feel only draconian measures can control media.
    and i think people should react. the media should be made to realise that it cant fool all the people all the time.
    visited your blog and have posted comments.

    @ deepak
    i think many have stopped watching news.

    @ bindu unny
    their disappoinment was obvious. i think we the people have matured. have learnt to see thru the games of the media

    @ dr antony
    i think the people are no longer gullible. better for the media to wake up to the fact.

    @ balachandran v
    oh for those days when i used to look forward to the newspaprs!
    maoists issue? no has to be careful these days:-)

    @ RGB
    going overboard all the time has affected its credibility.

    @ suseelan
    i think our indian media needs a total overhauling.print and visual - so uninspiring or exciting.

  11. @ bhawani cheerath
    it's very sad that we have not a single channel that deserves our attention. how do we let the media barons know that we are sick and tired of them and their behaviour, and that the viewers are not a bunch of nincompoops?
    if u can think of some way of protesting, i'll join and garner suport.

  12. This is for both KPJ and SSC:

    How brilliantly have you both written about the issue! Thanks for echoing the sentiments of readers like me.

    KPJ, you are right. Media creates taste. Noam Chomsky calls it ‘manufacturing consent’. The ‘consent’ they manufacture is, however, a dangerous one. It caters to the ‘tastes’ of the irresponsible and insensitive Indian middle class (IMC). The same class who would love to see IAF to do carpet bombing in the tribal areas of unrest. Their favorite pastime is – politician bashing. IMC would welcome a ‘military rule’ in our country, imagine! Remember the IMC talk of not so olden days of eulogizing a megalomaniac- his efficiency as an officer notwithstanding- like T N Seshan, and wailing why we don’t have rulers like him! The consent they are manufacturing is to make India ready for a Hitler. I am really scared. We all should thank the heavens that we still have politicians around.

    ‘Now that the body has arrived, what do you plan to do?’ This question, SSC, explains the whole thing. Thick-skinned morons! I, nonetheless, have this feeling that their insensitivity is highly selective. I watched B. Dutt interviewing Narayana Moorthy of Infosys, some time back. How respectful she appeared to be! The eternal cynic in me asks; was it a paid interview? Who knows!

  13. @asok menath
    oh yes you ar right about the selective sensitivity of th media. karan tarpar too is one such person - the way he gets offensive and brash and rude when he bullozes the left party leaders and the way he drools and wears a slavish smile when he speaks to some others. well it's really maddening

  14. That is exactly how I feel and have concurred with bloggers who are voicing these sentiments. Like Venugopal says, the most prominent ones are the most 'successful' ones and also the maddest ones. We need to bring a blanket ban on these jokers when such contentious issues are being dealt with. Wonderful post.

  15. The role of media was worst in case of CWG as well.They never showed our athletes or children preparing for the games, no interviews of budding sports persons, brighter side of infrastructures etc etc.

  16. Rajdeep Sardesai should have taken to cricket like his father. That would have saved us from a lot clamant reporting and perverse journalism.
    This culture of sensationalising news is typically a weakness of Indian visual and print media.Dangerously so.Responsible analytical reporting is absent. Just recall the chaotic scenes in the court premises after the Ayodhaya verdict on channels. Nobody , not even the channels had any clue about the verdict. The visual effect was left on screen for the viewers to infer and react in their own way. Dangerous on a topic that was volatile and could provoke insane emotions.

    As Balachandran noted , which visual or print media in this country gives factual report of the Maoist problem? The rise of the Maoist?The extent of their sway?Here the media is in cahoots with the officialdom and covering important facts . People who dwell deep into the background of this insurgency are labelled nuisance and anti national.
    Honest reporting has vanished.


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