PRAVEEN KARLAPALEM – 20th January 2012
Media is the eye through which a common man sees the society. As we can always be sure that our eyes show truth, a common man should be sure to trust the media to show only the truth. It is a trust which is to be earned by the media. Media is powerful tool… it’s like a double edged sword which needs to be used in a very cautious way for the right purpose. On one hand it can help exposing the ground realities of the nation and be part of ensuring the better governance, while on the other hand it can succumb to the mad run for the TRP ratings, sensationalism and loose its true purpose.
The Whistle Blowers
Media has played a key role in the recent past in exposing many scams. It has shown the nation that even the people from most respected profession in the Nation, “Soldiers of the Indian Army” can be involved in the corrupt practices by exposing the Adarsh Land scam involving top bureaucrats, defense officials which ultimately led to the resignation of the then Chief Minister of Maharastra, Mr. Ashok Chavan. It has shown the nation the ground reality of the infant deaths due to encephalitis in a state like UP whose Chief Minister was busy making her own statues and displaying them all over the state. It has done a great service to the nation by exposing the 2G spectrum scam where a mere report of a journalist, Mr.Gopalakrishnan of the Pioneer magazine resulted in the resignation of the then Telecom Minister, Mr.A.Raja and made an MP and the daughter of the most powerful person in a state like Tamilnadu, Mrs.Kanimozhi to resign and get imprisoned. These are examples of the power the media has and the impact it can have on our society.
Media is doing its bit in spreading awareness among the people on various issues of national and international importance. It has at times shown its responsibility in not giving into the mad run for sensationalism and acting in the national interest in the issues like the Cash for Votes scam where the news channel which had the tapes of the cash transactions that were made during the confidence vote in the parliament for the Indo-US nuclear deal. It did not just expose the tapes then and there but first submitted them to the investigating agency as the evidence and later exposed the evidence to the nation. This is a good gesture by the media where what matters at the end of the day are the TRP ratings.
Fueling the Mass Movements
Indian Media has fueled the movements of National interest like the recent Anna Hazare’s movement for the Jan Lokpal bill or the Baba Ramdev’s fast for bringing back the Black money. It has helped in spreading awareness not only regarding the provisions of the Jan Lokpal Bill but also the practicality of its implementation. In a nation where people are fed up of hearing about scams, this anti corruption movement led by a non-political leader got an enormous response. As the people of the nation got a channel to expose and exhibit their anger in a non-violent way and the media did its bit by seeing that the movement got its deserved coverage.
The discussions on our Television Channels have been very informative and thought provoking. It helped in pressurizing the government to act in National interest rather than play the power politics. This has brought the biggest threat for our national development, “corruption” to the center stage. These are the instances where media has done a prominent role in ensuring good governance of the nation.
Sensationalism is Essential
However, there have been some instances in the recent past where media lost its due credibility and has given into sensationalism. Most of us may remember the controversial picture of actress Kareena Kapoor and Actor Shahid kapoor released by the Mid day magazine. It may have got the magazine a huge circulation but brought down the image of media. The expose was invasion of the personal space of two adults and it was not something that the nation needs to know that desperately. There are many burning issues which are waiting to be exposed in our society than that.
We have some news channels continuously showing the clips from the reality shows on the TV where mostly abusive languages are used. There were some disturbing incidents that took place in the recent past like the assault of our Agricultural Minister, Mr.Sharad Pawar; Home Minister, Mr.Chidambaram ; Senior lawyer and a Team Anna member Mr. Prashath Bhushan. The attacks on these officials where disturbing incidents which were accidentally caught on the camera which need not be broadcasted repeatedly in the news channels. Broadcasting these videos repeatedly on the news channels not only damages the reputation of the victims but also makes the attackers look heroic. This may provoke some others to resort to such methods. There was an instant where a suicide of the man jumping from the top of a building was shown on our national television. These incidents show that some where a line needs to be drawn for limiting the media freedom.
The Done Damage
The involvement of the media in the latest 2G spectrum scam where a very senior journalist like Padmashree honored Mrs. Bharka Dutt is accused of lobbying along with the corporate lobbyist Miss. Nira Radia, over the appointment of the then Telecom Minister Mr. A. Raja has been a shocking revelation. The senior journalist is accused of trying to crack a deal between Congress and the DMK government over the appointment of the Telecom Minister.
There are allegations against Mr. Vir Sanghvi, currently an advisor of the Hindustan Times that he was willing to interview our corporate giant Mr. Mukesh Ambani in a well orchestrated manner as per the directions of Miss. Nira Radia. These are the instances in the recent past which have damaged the media reputation to a large extent. Though these allegations are yet to be proved in the court of law and the accused media personnel are denying the allegations, it has created a doubt in the mind of the common man over their credibility. How can a common man trust the scams exposed by the media if the media itself is accused of being corrupt. The media needs to come out clean out of these charges. It should stop denying these allegations stubbornly and take the necessary actions by removing those involved.
Bias in Coverage
Recently a saint from Haridwar, Swami Nigamananda went to fast unto death in protest against the pollution of River Ganga and the illegal mining in Haridwar. He was in fact under treatment in the same hospital where Baba Ramdev was admitted after his famous fast. Media was too busy covering the Baba Ramdev’s issue to notice that someone else was fasting unto death for a noble cause and the world came to know regarding Swami Nigamananda and his fast only after his death. The fact that Sharmila chanu, called the Iron Woman in Manipur has been fasting and living only on liquids for more than 10 years in protest against the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Provision Act) in Manipur came to lime light only after the Anna Hazare’s popular fast. The only logical conclusion one can arrive in these issues is that media didn’t care so much about these issues as that of Baba Ramdev’s or Anna Hazare’s because they are not that popular and it would not make a good story or increase their TRP ratings. May be if media exposed their struggle in a proper way then there would have at least been some discussion over those issues.
Recently our Indian Kabaddi team has won the world cup for both Men and Women and I seriously doubt that half the nation is even aware of that. When Indian cricket team has won the world cup it has been the topic of discussion for more than a month and those discussions are resonating even today. It’s not wrong to celebrate the victory of Indian Cricket team. But please let us not forget that there are some other games in this nation too. It is the duty of the media to give them their due coverage.
Media should stop showing the people what they want to see and start showing what they need to see. This should expose not only the issues which improve their TRP ratings, but also those issues which may be not that popular or sensational but deserve to be known. It should not give a blind eye to these issues. If media can act like a Mirror to the society showing only the truth and develop a balanced, unbiased approach towards all the issues then it can be a powerful tool in ensuring the better governance and an eye through which a common man can trust to see the society.