Braking the Breaking News!

[This is the 1st post in a series that I am writing in the run up to the Goa Thinkfest organized by Tehelka]

You would be forgiven for thinking that media means TV news media. Mobile media vans have revolutionized news - not just by way of its ability to provide immediate coverage to LIVE NEWS but also by way of its ability to create news where none exists. It takes a lot of imagination to realize the media also includes radio, newspapers, magazines to name a few. In case you did not know, the sly runner in this case - the internet is media too; existing in various forms - discussion groups, Twitter and news websites.

The last few years have been years of growing disenchantment with the media. Ironically, this dip in happiness has been accompanied by a rise in the number of media channels, number of hours of programming  and the reach of the media. Let us take everyone's favourite punching bag - the news wallahs. 

Today's news channels, contrary to their claims, do not give insights. They deal in hindsights. They cover happenings - not their history or their repercussions. They are so engrossed in cutting the trees that they forget to cover the woods. This is especially true of TV News media. When I had assumed that the proliferation of news media (channels and newspapers) would bring about a rise in quality of the news coverage I had made an assumption - that the only differentiator for a credible news channel would be the quality (and depth) of its coverage. What has happened is just the opposite and at times bizzarely dangerous. We have had prominent journalists hobnobbing with politicians, politicians buying news space to influence voters's decisions, media houses colluding with corporates to hold back one side of the story and many more.

Reminds one of the Bruce Springsteen song "57 Channels and Nothin' On". When P Sainath talked about the "Media Convergence of Another Kind", he was talking about the not-so hidden agenda of corporate media houses.

But for all this bashing of the media, I feel we, the people of India, are getting exactly what we are looking for. Even though I am a supporter of Anna Hazare's Anti-Corruption Movement, I agree with what Nitin Pai said about the TV News Channels "They are meant to be news channels not reality TV". As an audience we need to be more nuanced about what we want to see or hear. It is the responsibility of every citizen to know the entire truth and not the truth that is presented to him.

The good breaking news for today was that Guardian decided to open its news list to its readers. Going forward, news media will need to take that extra step to cut their case with readers and to make sure that they are read before they are used to line that shelf.

It is in this context, that I am looking forward to hearing Tarun Tejpal and Tina Brown at the Goa Thinkfest. To know if it is possible to have a media which have a few black sheep among whites compared to the current crop of black sheep with a few white ones struggling to stay afloat. Having said that, I have been meaning to ask Tehelka about their additional focus on topics like fashion and youth culture. Is it something that we as serious readers should be reading or is Tehelka looking at putting its eggs in more than one basket?

No comments:

Post a Comment