Biased Media or Degrading Journalism? The media in a democratic and free country such as India has an enormous responsibility to educate the population. They address Current issues and developments in the social and legislative stage . A large majority of the population follows media outlets like Zee News, NDTV, and Aaj Tak. They are their primary sources of news and these companies have enormous power over them.
Their job is to decide what is necessary and needs to be addressed in a neutral manner. Such that the viewers can receive the facts and decide how they wish to interpret them. Indian news houses today, however, have shifted away from their primary responsibility. Instead forcing topics onto the center stage that they wish to promote. Bringing guests that attempt to facilitate philosophies that would benefit them or their cause. The Media has turned news debates into a circus show which is unbearable to watch for any sane person.
The Indian media uses wild debates as a means to provide entertainment to people. They have lost sight of their objective. They are more interested in making money off viewers. This is facilitated by dividing the country based on views and creating an echo chamber for people. This helps them to have a constant TRP which they hope to increase for higher profits. They use HOT topics as a way to compete with other media companies. Encouraging debate battles as if this was WWE and not serious topics with serious implications. What the media chooses to put light decides the life of individual people. It certainly defines how our society will develop and the direction we do so. The term most apt in my opinion is Godi media,Coined By Ravish Kumar, an NDTV journalist. A media that has shifted its focus away from spreading knowledge to spreading ideologies of hate.
For example, The Shushant Singh Rajput Suicide Case became a major issue and was broadcasted for weeks on end. My condolences are definitely with the family of the deceased. However if, Rhea Chakraborty is innocent of Murder, my condolences are with her too. The way the media looked for an opportunity to go her and defamed someone who was suspected, but not convicted was absolutely shameful.
It was truly disgusting to see how all media companies gave screen time to protestors to promote this conspiracy theory without first letting the CBI conduct its investigation and therefore made a mockery of journalism. I cringed every second that I saw the news on this topic as it is obvious that a great opportunity to spark an important conversation was being thrown overboard for TRP and money. This was truly trial by media which will have serious implications on the lives of all concerned and an overall regression of society on issues such as drugs especially marijuana.
A lost Opportuntiy
The important conversation was about Mental Health, people are not fine, regardless of religions or level of success. The conversation was shifted instead to drugs which in my humble opinion had nothing to do with the case. The media also allowed obscurity to remain when on the topic of drugs. For example, there was mention of CBD and Modafinil in the news. People were using the chats of Rhea to prove that she gave drugs to Sushant. However that does not mean that she killed him.
In fact, CBD is not harmful at all and is used for anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory medicine. Modafinil is a drug that helps narcoleptic patients to stay awake so that they can function in the morning. This information was supposed to be given but it was hidden to allow misinterpretation.
Also, so what if she did give him marijuana ? In my opinion, an adult like Sushant could definitely say no if she was forcing drugs on him. He took it of his own free will thinking that it would help him feel better, but it did not.
This was an opportunity for media companies to shine a light on topics such as anxiety and depression. To spread awareness and techniques to receive real help for those dealing with these issues. They could inform the public to not opt for drugs to cope due to the side effects they have. Instead, the media companies wasted their time on spreading hate. Especially towards drugs and drug users rather than realizing that these people are sick and not criminals. The youth of the nation knows exactly what they did. The trust in the media for going after such topics will never be forgotten. Therefore their integrity is forever lost in our view.
The quality of journalism
The quality of Indian journalism is abysmal. This can be seen in the worldwide ranking of Reporters Without Borders which places India at 142nd rank. It is an independent organization that determines the ranking based on certain factors. Quality of news infrastructure, production, freedom from censorship, transparency of media houses, etc.
During the lockdown, Indian media houses have further deteriorated in their quality of journalism. By breaking news stories that are inessential and the lack of creativity that is inherent in our media today. There are some journalists however that are respected for their attempts to bring important issues to the forefront. Like Anjana Om Kashyap of AajTak and Arnab Goswami of The Republic Tv. However, they too are accountable to and eventually have to budge to their corporate bosses. Therefore following topics that are counterproductive and spreading dogma and hate which drive the news of today.
The rising role of Internet memes
Internet memes in fact have become extremely powerful in today’s day and age. They have the ability to drive conversations forward. Though they are made for comedic purpose, they resonate with people because the feelings they imply are true. Memes have become a policing system by which the news channels can understand how they are being perceived. Therefore they can realize when they have saturated certain topics. The importance of internet memes is also apparent during election years. These harmless jokes can heavily impact the general view of candidates for a majority of the populace. It is a democratic method, where the views of the people come to center stage in the form of satire. Exclaiming the truth so that the lies behind the screen can be made visible for all to see.
Journalists have an increasing responsibility in today’s time to remain moral and to refrain from following the footsteps of the corrupted media houses so that the information that is needed can be spread. We need to keep these media conglomerates accountable for the news and opinions they attempt to distribute so that the nation’s citizens can make informed choices and decisions based on facts rather than the fake news spread by twisted politicians and journalists working for their personal benefits. We must take a stand against them and understand the grave responsibility that we as the youth of this nation have in shaping our society and legislation and not allow the media to make a mockery of our democratic systems.
Seo Varsha Singh
Graphics by Deepti Bhatnagar