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If the media never existed…

January 23, 2010

The recent IPL auction, where the Pakistani players have been allegedly ‘discriminated’ against, has been the talking point of the Indian media for a while now. It is yet another example of the media jumping the gun and acting in a pseudo-righteous manner. The media would do well to remember the fact that the selection of a team is completely the franchisee’s prerogative, and nobody has the right to question their choice, however dubious it may ‘seem’ to the media. The media has increasingly grown into an organised industry now, with their own interests and propaganda.

This led me to think, what if the Indian electronic media never existed. Are they really doing a good job as a watchdog? Are they really unbiased? Are they really without their own propaganda?

Lets take a look at some of the events which come to my mind which have been covered by the media with great attention and detail, and if things would have been different if the media did not report them.

  • 26/11: It was touted as India’s 9/11. The media went crazy while the attack lasted. They went berserk for a fortnight after the attack. They crossed all lines and ethics and flouted all advisories issued by the Government. By beaming live images from the Taj and Oberoi, they helped the perpetrators to prepare themselves. If the media did not report this the way they did, maybe a few more lives would have been saved, and the operation could have ended sooner. But alas, the media was squandering for that ‘Exclusive Visual’ and busy asking victims ‘how they felt after losing their loved ones in the attack’.
  • Arushi Talwar Case: Shameless and brazen journalism, only aided by the inept Noida police. It was a perfect ‘whodunit’  case for the media, and they did not disappoint themselves. They went all guns blazing, reported live from the spot of crime, and started their own investigations.  The police, not used to such pressure to crack the case at the earliest, only obliged by handing out the perfect story to the media. The media, with no sense of right and wrong, went ahead with the breaking news.  The father has been remanded for over a month, only to be later absolved off the crime. A clear case of media hampering the investigation.
  • Telangana Statehood:  Consider this, had the media not reported the KCR’s drama, and his goons antics on live TV, and spread false news of his apparent deteriorating health, which only added fuel to the tensions, the situation would have been a lot different. The media, in its defense would say that they were only reporting the events. But they lacked the moral sense about what are the implications of spreading panic and false news among people.
  • Interference in foreign policy/defense issues with China: By hyping up the situation, and with very little, or no knowledge about the actual situation, the media created a near hostile situation between India and China for a brief period. Agreed the Chinese are getting aggressive, but its not the media’s job to tell what the government must do.
  • The Liberhan Commission Report leak: A premier media channel’s famous newscaster said on live tv that, ‘they had access to the report since several days’, before the report was tabled in the parliament. This leak resulted in a major debate in the parliament with parties blaming either the commission or the Home Ministry. It surprised me that no one blamed or investigated the media. Or is it because the media simply did not report that? Anyone’s guess.

These are just some of the countless instances of media interference. Though there are some instance of media taking up issues with alarming alertness and fighting for justice, like the Jessica Lal case, Ruchika case , the media’s involvement has only complicated the situation which are mostly sub-judice.

Clearly, the electronic media has done more damage than good so far, and will only continue to do so, until the media is governed by a neutral body as soon as possible.

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