Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mirror to Media

The Providence has once again shown mirror to the media through the recent case of sexual assault by Tarun Tejpal on another journalist half his age and working under him. It goes to show that those controlling media are as humane and as corruptible as those, writing and yelling against whom they fill their columns and air time all the while. Nira Radia tapes occurred not very long ago. Top journalists were implicated for big corruption. Media downplayed, rather censored the greater crime that time, but the media clamour against Tarun Tejpal this time has been too loud. The journalists implicated in Radia tapes continue to call the shots as they did earlier. Clearly media barons have their own pick and choose.

It is not only a matter of pick and choose, but also involves sense of proportion. The sense of proportion of Indian media appears to be no different from that of us Indians. There are country wide protests for days and months demanding heads of those having committed crime on particular individuals. There may not be much wrong in that per se. But same public sees nothing wrong in those responsible for multi thousand crore scams ~ crimes that harm and adversely affect crores of human beings at the same time ~ not only continuing as Ministers, Chief Ministers, and Prime Ministers, but being reelected time and again.

Media has a great responsibility in a democracy as we are. More often than not it shuns that and misuses its place. Only a couple of days ago, Kunal Ghosh, the MP alleged that some media channels were meant to be used for propaganda for promoting Mamata Banerjee as the potential Prime Minister. This allegation, in effect, underlines the main role media has come to play. To carry propaganda to further the interests of some or to condemn some others, everything motivated. People, even well aware about this role of media, get swayed by the propaganda by the print and electronic media through their sub conscious minds.

Media is an institution that enjoys total or sufficient freedom. It doesn’t have any excuse for not delivering what is expected of it. What is expected of it is unbiased reporting of socially, politically, and economically relevant events and happenings, an objective analysis of same, and dissemination of truth. All its actions are expected to be in the interest of public at large and not to serve the interests of particular persons, groups, or institutions.  We find media doing so only in patches, generally disserving the people it is meant to serve as its actions are mostly opposite to what the same should be.

Media sins through acts of commission as well as omission. While its palpable acts of commission could be visible to the people, its sins of omission often remain unknown to the public. That is when it stonewalls truth to continue with the falsehood that serves its interests.

I explain the above with a very telling example. The fact that international cricket going around us for last many years has been nothing but continuous staged drama lies established beyond any iota of doubt through the reports published in media itself from time to time. Of late it has become so crystal clear that if there were beings like us on Mars, they would have been laughing on us for having been supporting such cricket and treating it as competitive cricket.

But what do media do? It doesn’t analyse its own reports to tell us the truth, but goes on with daily written columns, more than on any other subject, and hours of air time to promote fake cricket as the real cricket. Knowingly or unknowingly, the whole of media, without any exception, facilitates one of the greatest day light international frauds day after day.

What constitutes daily media headlines? How one top leader called another top leader names, and how the rebuttal was made. It makes me wonder who is the greater culprit for this non-sense I must bear day after day of my limited existence. My leaders or the media? If media were to air the altercations between me and my neighbour, probably we would also feel tempted to indulge more and more in those.

It doesn’t mean that no sense ever comes out through media. The tragedy has been that sense is hardly ever pursued to a logical conclusion, while the non-sense or non-issues continue to take the center stage. It is through media only that I become wise to the failings of media.

The undoing of the Indian media has been that slowly but surely it has allowed itself to be an institution of power-broking. Whether it has happened so sub-consciously or deliberately should be a matter of introspection for the media. But through its sins media has accelerated the social degradation the most. It has been one of the four pillars of democracy that has helped in crumbling of the edifice the most.

There are checks on media also in place. Their effectiveness may be a matter of debate. But one thing is clear. There could be checks on acts of commission by the media but there are no checks, probably can’t be any, on its acts of omission. It is something like one could be hanged for committing a murder, but one couldn’t be asked any question by law if one passed by a dying man without attending to him. And it is through its acts of omission that the media sins the most.

Big scams and cases of leakage of big time public money are reported by the media. But soon media conveniently forgets everything. Neither does it properly analyse to arrive at the root causes, nor does it call for or pursues for the needed systemic corrections. Rather it turns a blind eye even if one eggs it on to take the issues forward and bring out the truth.

The undoing of Tarun Tejpal has once again forced the media to face the mirror. There are many ugly patches on its face. It is unto it whether it goes for some cosmetics to cover these patches while allowing underneath undesirable growth to continue, or chooses to go for surgery to get rid of the malicious roots for good.  

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