News, What Is The Use?

garbage.jpgJust a week or so back, I was surfing through the various news channels on TV to update myself with what was going around in the world. Well, that’s how convenient life has been made today, by the ever-increasing role of mass media. News is now only a button-on-the-remote away from you at home, a tuning of the frequency while driving and flipping of the newspaper at the breakfast table. The convenience seems to get enhanced day by day with the variety, novelty and competition on the rise between media houses and news channels which seem to get tougher. We must ask ourselves if the convenience is being afforded at the cost of quality.

So, while surfing the news channels a week or so back, I paused on Aaj Tak- Sabse Tez (indeed) to I identify the ‘prey’. ‘Rekha ki maang mein sindoor!’ ‘Aakhir kya chupa rahi hain Rekha’. Honestly, I did begin to view the news only to see the crux of the whole issue. I finished watching it after sometime; the reason why I’m saying that I finished watching it is due to the repetitive clips, one-liners and the commentary which were probably shown for some more time after I had switched to another channel. So what finally was the conclusion to Rekha’s mysterious marriage? I’m still wondering if they came to any conclusion at all. Something that has hardly any truth in it does not need to be explored further.

These channels and newspapers report their own distorted and manufactured version of the news to gain popularity and recognition, even if it means stooping to extremely low levels. Their news is about the rich and the famous and is at the expense of the common man. Who knows what lies beneath? With channel wars so bitter these days, my guess is that they would go any length to prove their point. Then, it’s only fair to rename these news channels as: ‘S’ee entertainment and ‘Sabse Tez Masala’ channel.

When the news has something to do with the ‘Ash and Junior B wedding’ or anything, even more trivial, which is related to celebrities, these news channels have tons of archives. During the much hyped ‘Ash and Abhishek wedding,’ the channels showed the story of Aishwarya Rai, right from her journey as Miss World, her first film, her past relationships with Salman Khaan and Vivek Oberoi, to her role in carrying the Olympics torch with him, a few years back, followed by their break up and finally her marriage with Abhishek. In addition to these, there were clips of the movies they had done together and some more useless information. Period! That was about it! Nothing less, although maybe a little more, than just more spice!

The attention given to even tiny aspects of the lives of celebrities and the duration of airing such baseless issues is what has pulled down the quality of the news as compared to earlier times. It is indeed a flourishing time for tabloid journalism and the paparazzi culture in India is picking up. ‘Churning’ news is just another means for today’s commercial news channels to compete and gain power. But power to be gained over what? The content vanishes and the truth is actually a white lie in disguise.

Hence, probably the question that is as ‘old’ as news itself must be answered again now. ‘What makes news?’ One common argument has been, ‘the usualness or newness of an event that qualifies it to become news’.

The essence and the answer were summed up by Charles A. Dama, who said: “If a dog bites a man, that’s not news. But if a man bites a dog that is!”

Tania Gupta

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