Tuesday, 30 June 2009

At the click of a button.....

Before I go any further let me go on record to say that I am a great supporter of the media, and do believe that independent news channels in particular, bring to us information that would never perhaps come to light otherwise. But having said this I am also now finding that there are too many instances where investigation and delivery of news items cross the boundaries of ethical reportage and veer towards sensationalizing as a method of holding the interest of the viewer . The 26/11 terror attack on Bombay brought to light the over zealous nature of the reporters, and the tragedy and danger of the situation was transformed into a reality show, which was extremely repugnant for many.

I for one stood up to defend some of my own favourite news reporters in the backlash of anger that their programs and live coverage unleashed, because I fear that too often the media is made into a convenient scape goat. Both the politicians and the citizens avoid assuming accountability for matters which require attitudes of courage to address, and which each of us are connected to because it concerns us as a nation. In the wake of 26/11 I defended the role of reporters, and Barka Dutt in particular, because for me she embodies a spirit of genuine concern for all that she presents as a news journalist, and I truly believe she wears her heart on her sleeve like no other reporter in India does, and I respect her immensely for it. But the truth is that we do sensationalise through the media and that's because there is a willing viewership to receive it! Today Shiney Ahuja's rape case and Michael Jackson's death are our new fixes on T.V! Who really cares about Iraq or Kashmir because at the end of the day we as viewers want to be eternally entertained! Serious reportage will have thousands of viewers "turned off" and tuning in elsewhere for the couch potato experience!

Moderation, balance, restrain are all words we are familiar with but seem unable to implement with regularity as a lived practice. Like all products, the demand determines the supply, and television programing is as susceptible to these dictates. So we need to introspect before we point a finger at just the television channels to lay the blame at their doorsteps, as though they alone create the demons of voyeurism unaided by our consent! But in the same breath I will also say that it is equally important to question the leadership of such organisations and examine the policies that govern their decisions. Dr. Prannoy Roy certainly is in a class apart from all the others of his profession, and his personal dignity and controlled decorum is something many could emulate from. Responsibility is the name of the game really and of course we all know this; but unfortunately that's boring! More's the pity that we don't listen to our conscience more often.

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