02 November 2011

Does the Media deliberately divide People?

Bangalore: Is the Media misusing the freedom of press? Should it be made more accountable? The careless behavior by some of our television news channels has necessitated some kind of a control by a regulatory body. Poor quality journalism is something this country has been facing since the advent of electronic media. Any exaggeration without verifications and proper investigations seem to become news that gives a wrong picture or partial facts. In other words, media has become the creator of a false world that the people of this country seem to be living in. Media has also been dividing the people of this country through careless reporting. This view was shared by none other than the newly appointed Chairman of Press Council of India, Markandey Katju. In a Democracy, everybody is accountable, and it is high time media is also made more responsible, he felt.

Off late, some of the deliberate blunders by the media are aimed at dividing people on communal lines. Speaking to CNN IBN, Justice Katju said, "Whenever a bomb blast takes place, in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, within a few hours almost every channels starts showing that an e-mail or an SMS has come that Indian Mujahideen have claimed responsibility or Jaish-e-Mohammad or Harkat-ul-Jihad, some Muslim name." This has created an impression that every Muslim is a terrorist, when 99 percent of the religious community is good people.

Another mistake that our media frequently makes is targeting the majority community in the name of secularism and provoking them against the minority. Secularism includes all communities, including the majority community. Some of the dirty political games seem to have crept into media as well. In short, there seems to be a deliberate attempt on the part of the media to divide people on religious lines, which is contrary to national interests.

Markandey Katju feels the only solution to the problem is to bring Electronic News Media also under Press Council of India.

Apart from this, the media has created a false image in the minds of people. In a country where 80 percent of the people live in chronic poverty, facing inflation and other serious issues like unemployment, media has been portraying a different India, the "Shining India", which is only a partial reality. Instead of focusing on developmental issues, the media is seen to be increasingly projecting film stars, cricketers and fashion parades.

In lines of the slogan of Roman emperors, "If you cannot give them bread, give them circuses," in India, cricket seems to have replaced circuses, as many of the leading channels have caught the IPL cricket fever, and people are getting the same illness, which is hardly going to solve the problems of this country.

Moreover, "Paid news" has been another stain on the media. This came to the fore in the 2009 elections. Many journalists approached candidates and asked them money to publish
news in their favor. There have also been cases of some regional news channels seeking huge amounts from famous people and institutions or else "we would publish adverse news against you", they threaten. Such are the low standards some of our television media have scaled. It is high time government forms a media regulatory body that could check the excesses of electronic media. Initially, the television news media needs to be brought under the Press Council of India, as suggested by Katju.