Where are our Hindi news channels heading? More importantly, where are they leading their viewers? This is not an analysis of their work and their possible future. The quality of news on Hindi news channels is sub-standard and unbearable after the relatively qualitative and intellectually stimulating news and analysis provided on an English news channel. On a particular day, when important political and social developments are occurring, one can find Hindi news channels covering petty crimes and even a fight between a monkey and a snake! Even when the channels cover important political developments, they do it in a very crude manner and jump to conclusions within no time!
Their news is mostly about neighbourhood crimes like thefts and murders and suicides. Many channels also air “specials” on superstition and project them in a positive light, further increasing the ignorance of the viewers.
What is worrying about this trend is that, in a way, it reflects the great language divide in our country. English by and large is considered to be the language of the elite and Hindi as that of the poor and lower classes. Does this mean that the English speaking people in this country are entitled to intellectual and socially relevant news and the rest are not? The difference is stark and appalling when big media houses have both Hindi and English news channels; the Hindi channels have sub-standard news and the English channels have intellectually appealing news. It is almost as though the Hindi channel is a stepchild! While English channels go overboard in their coverage of important political stories, Hindi channels in their greed for high TRPs, ignore such important news and successfully keep their viewers in the dark. A story about the Bachchan family would make the headlines but an important reform like the National Rural Employment Generation Scheme wouldn’t!
Come election time and the Hindi speaking populace of the country will be fed with news on these channels but the quality is going to remain the same. Sadly, it is this section of the ill-informed population that will constitute majority of the voters. Many think this is an obvious consequence of the illiteracy of the poor, but we can’t generalize that all Hindi speaking people are illiterate. And if it is so, the media has a responsibility to educate the illiterate and make clear to them the implications of government policies and spread social awareness. After all, it is a powerful means to motivate the masses.
[image by marwei]