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Reflections on Media
by Debajyoti Das

Everyday I sit down somewhat reclined on my bed with my usual mug of tea, staring down eagerly at the morning newspaper. More often than not, I find something interesting. A new feather of knowledge added briskly on my humble cap. Then with a remote in hand I browse through the TV channels to arrive at NDTV or ‘Times Now’ wanting to gather a few more twigs of knowledge. Vaguely satisfied, I begin brushing my teeth, randomly convinced that I am slightly better off than when I went to sleep. Be it electronic or print, the media has always been a permanent company.

Through the electronic media one gets to see the Oscar night live, hear Kofi Annan speak in the UN or experience the thrills of a world cup match, all sitting quietly in the comfort of ones own home. The print media is the personification of detail, covering everything in a manner that would thoroughly shame Dan Brown’s famous sense of detailism.

Realistically speaking, today it is the media which has made the world a much smaller place to live in. A world where everyone knows about, or at least has the opportunity to know about, everyone else. Happenings from across the vast lengths and breadths of the world is handed out to people quite conveniently and indeed very exhaustively. From concrete political analysis to national news coverage to the creation of a sporting phenomenon to page 3 happenings, the media has become singularly responsible for creating the entire matrix (Remember Keanue Reeves) that we live in. They provide, arguably the most reasonable information on pretty much every facet of life that one may be interested in.

Now, with such a great impact that the media does have over our lives they ought to have some sense of responsibility also don’t they? Sure! Firstly, they have the responsibility of providing us correct information...More importantly they have the responsibility of providing us news which ‘matters’. A responsibility in fulfilling which they falter quite knowingly many a times, merely hunting for TRP ratings and commercial success.
I mean yeah, ‘celebrity chasing’ is both, sleazy & interesting. It is probably the basis of many a gossip columns... BUT is it really something that everybody NEEDS to know? Is it really the news that affects the common man? Is it really, I ask, journalism or rather commercialism? A famous Bob Dylan song comes floating by, “The answer my friend is blowing in the wind.”

This sure isn’t what true journalists should be made of. Which reminds of a phrase that I keep hearing in many of the law school discussions, ‘Yellow Journalism’. Well not only have I heard but read all about it myself. A lot of times the media has been up to no good. It has relegated farmer suicides to the middle pages and put celebrity love affairs on the prime time.

ery recently during the big fat Bollywood wedding of Aishwarya and Abhishek I was watching a debate on the Supreme Court and OBC reservations in the top educational institutes like IIMs and pop! Err... Should I say Boom! There is a news flash! “Amitabh will leave for Jalsa!” Awesome isn’t it? The fate of India’s premier B-school and lakhs of students are at stake and amazingly enough the national news flash happens to be Amitabh Bachchan’s grand trip to his own home!

So the question is what do we learn from it? And probably somewhat more important... Who do we blame for it? Well firstly, don’t assume every news is worth watching and secondly, if its not worth it... Well DON’T watch it. That will take care of the second question automatically, because I think a bad audience is as much responsible for bad news as is the bad media that reports it. So if they don’t get commercial value they wont show it anyways! I remember Abraham Lincoln once said, “Democracy is of the people, for the people and by the people.” I think it would be quite apt to go on and say that the media also, like democracy, is of the people, for the people and by the people. About time we and the media together walked into that realization!

Image under license with Gettyimages.com

15-Jul-2007
 
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