Indian Media: A Sad State of Affairs

The state of the media in our times today is a pitiable one. Like most other things Indian, after the sudden advent to our shores of ‘economic’ growth, the focus of our media has shifted polarities. We now have enough money, can spend it and can consume without rhyme or reason – all in accordance with our status of a booming economy. Without doubt, we can say that more or less the same paradigm applies to the media. It has got a lot of cash, needs to spend some of it, and, as such, wastes it.

There was a time, as was poignantly pointed out, that Doordarshan was the sole news-broadcasting authority in India for the visual media, and AIR for the airwaves. Newspapers indulged in serious news making and broadcasting, and we were not imaginative with our news coverage and lived within set bounderies. Then, as we came across to the millennium, we reached the point where boredom became too much of a thing to bear, and we became impatient for quality. The result was the arrival on the scene of jewels such as Aaj Tak and Star News.

The result was that as we got rid of our boredom, we came to a professional and sophisticated standard. This, however, was not to be. When coming to terms with our money, we saw a period of rapid expansion in the field, and, without bothering too much with the history, we now have a plethora of media houses and avenues – Newspapers, TV channels, radio stations, et al.

Today, news channels – complete with wannabe newscasters, a large cache of espionage agents and sting operation specialists, and innumerable individuals who would do anything to achieve fame – are the new toxic emitting factories. There is no depth they have not scaled to clinch the attention of the viewer. There is little, or no interest whatsoever in spreading meaningful information amongst the masses.We have on primetime news these days, apart from the grateful family of the police officer whose dog has returned, the news of a wrestler returning to his country, the sudden transformation of a man into the deity Radha, the startling discovery of a new cave on the road to the Himalayas, and a certain cosmic arrangement that shall be of great boon to the world. The more sensational the news, the more TRP’s can be gained, and more of the trash can be distributed.

The sad thing is that this is not just restricted to electronic media. Look at our papers. More than half of them are covered with advertisements. We have supplements that deal with parties that take place, the private life of the entertainment industry, and which award show was more grandly attended. Now, in a time where half the state is down in the docks without power, such exuberance by our richer classes is most noteworthy. Special mention must be made of all the papers that carry endless reports of all these ‘events’ happening there with even details such as the delivery of a baby girl by a ‘socialite’. No doubt such news outweighs all items of importance.

Well, there cannot remain much doubt as to the lack of ethics. We are no longer interested in learning something, in forming an opinion. We have become a nation of wannabes, blinded by glamour, led into hysteria by the swinging of celebrities. In such a situation, the saying that the media has been driven bereft of all moral and ethical standards contains a lot of truth.

They have sold their consciousness at the markets of Mormon, their ideals at the altar of Greed. An ever powerful quest to outsmart the competition in displaying the utmost limits to which human decrepitude can wander – showing ill-gotten rubbish, making gods of scavengers, and driving the innocent to the gallows. Case-in-point, the ‘sting operation’ against a teacher. So long as a case is fresh and mintable into gold, it is there hogging the limelight. Whoever knows what happened of the Taj Corridor scam?

As far as the sensationalism is concerned, we are as much to blame as the media is. We are eating, and they are pretty right in providing the fodder. In view of the same, we shall be better off than to blame the media outright. It is us who are more interested in the latest cut of the dress coming in from Armani, than in the fact that a poor brethren of our country is forced to end his life because he was unfortunate enough to take a loan to be a farmer.

Abhimanyu Jain

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