Thursday, May 11, 2006

Is this journalism?

Anybody can say anything about anyone. And past experience seems to tell us no questions will be asked. So no need to be careful anymore, even when you’re commenting on even serious issues. We know perfectly well that even the ostensible representatives of the masses, those ‘leaders’ of ours, think only in terms of narrow political gain while commenting on issues that really matter. The examples are legion; they do not begin or not with Yaqub Quershi, but he is a prime example. Quereshi, an elected representative of Uttar Pradesh, vitiated the communal atmosphere of the country by announcing a reward for beheading a Danish cartoonist. Few politicians made any serious attempt at questioning him.

But let’s leave these political leaders aside. We the citizens hardly place any faith in them anyway and suffer from few illusions about who they are, what they do and for what purpose.

But our faith often gets shattered when our own media starts playing with truth.
This problem is not limited to one channel or newspaper or any particular news outlet. It is difficult to find a news organization that doesn’t engage in distortion. We are compelled to ask: are news outlets working for themselves or for society? No, wait, don’t tell us. Often enough, we learn the real answer when we that flimsily attached mask suffers a wardrobe malfunction, revealing the real face.

So why are the media pretending they are working for society? To make fools of us. Everyone knows they are setting an agenda - largely independent of the society they are a part of - be it of their political masters or of corporate world. Ordinary mortals are nowhere in the agenda. Keeping society in dark on important issues hardly bothers them.

You and I have to accept the new face of the media that says playing with the truth is its business. Face the reality, the media says…

We are not the face of the society or so-called mirror of the society. We are the mirrors of our own priorities. So we see the Godhra riots through our own looking glass and we see the Vadodra riots according to our own political interests. So we present the side of the story that suits us so we can interpret the truth, as we wish. We say –see the police are opening the fire on a mob even if our visuals do not show that. We say it loudly enough so you believe it. We say, they (Police) had several other options to deal with the crowd but do not present their views. Because we have to serve our political masters, not society. We do not care what the effects of our deeds would have on society .We are not responsible for it.

The reality is that, that mirror the media holds up doesn’t reflect reality. Either learn to live with it or try to change the face of the media itself.

Prabhakar Singh

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