Introduction of Indian Media
The moment has come for the Indian media to do some soul-searching. Many individuals, including politicians and regular citizens, have begun to argue that the media has become reckless. It needs to be reined down. To be sure, responsible media is one that is dedicated to news integrity. It has safeguards in place to ensure that the news is not intentionally fabricated or perverted.
Despite the Indian media industry’s huge development, the lack of quality and diversity reveals a rising distance between people’s real lives and the most pressing concerns they face. India’s media has developed into an economic behemoth, with a business turnover that exceeds one percent of the country’s GDP and rivals the scale of many individual businesses in the country. It is regarded as the most dynamic media industry on the planet, as well as one of the fastest-growing. The value of the media is almost half that of India’s famously successful computer software exports.
The Indian media industry has grown double every year over the past two decades, much outpacing India’s GDP growth rate. It has risen from around 5% to nearly 9% per year. According to a recent report by KPMG and the Federation of the Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the media would grow at a rate of 13-14 percent each year for the next five years. Surprisingly, India’s print media has defied global trends, growing at a rate of 10% or more every year. It increased by an estimated 26% last year. This is a far cry from the situation of the media in much of the rest of the world. The media has reached most developed countries.
In India, the media has played an outsized influence in molding public perceptions of politics, electoral outcomes, and how power is wielded. Media personalities increasingly brush hands with top-level politicians, industrialists, and business lobbyists. Recent revelations in the Radia tapes demonstrate and collude in making important government appointments and influencing policy decisions.
Pattern of Indian Media
The Indian media’s indifferent—and generally declining—quality, reliability, and authenticity, loss of diversity and pluralism, shallowness in reporting and commenting on serious issues, and systematic violation of basic norms of responsible journalism stand in stark contrast to its immense financial power and political clout. The media has reduced the quality of India’s public conversation in recent years.
The growth of the media has resulted in a shrinkage of the public sphere and the development of elitist and socially backward values. This is causing a developing, and potentially fatal, credibility crisis. The poor and deteriorating quality of Indian journalism can be seen in a variety of ways. First, a country with a population of 1.2 billion people cannot claim to have a single international-standard magazine of ideas or literary publication. It also does not print a large number of influential publications that are not controlled by corporate cartels. In the mainstream media, there is virtually little diversity in the breadth of social and political viewpoints expressed.
Second, the media no longer fulfills the primary responsibilities that give it public legitimacy. Informing the public, telling the truth, analyzing complex social, economic, and political processes, providing a forum for public debate, and functioning as the people’s watchdog or conscience.
Bias, censorship, and selective exclusion
This is a rather damning list of faults, to be sure. Editorializing in the news pages; heavy slanting of headlines and photo captions; censorship of critical of ruling orthodoxies and stories are written from the perspective of the poor and vulnerable; and blacking out of coverage of unconventional, radical, or non-mainstream movements and organizations are all disturbing (including campaigns for peace, human rights).
The current media evolves, is simply not designed or intended to report on the current reality of Indian society. Or to inform the public about the economic and political processes at work in it. It including shifts in social values and power balances between different groups, as well as new forms of political competition—let alone promote comprehension of the complex social dynamics.
Loss of quality and diversity:
On the surface, India’s media is diverse, with the world’s second-biggest press (print) market, 1,500 TV channels (fourth largest in the world), 250 or so news channels (perhaps the highest number worldwide), 80-85 million Internet users, and an increasing number of radio stations.
However, in recent years, the print media has seen a loss of diversity, a consolidation process, mergers, and acquisitions, and the rise of massive conglomerates, particularly in Indian languages, with 20, 30, and even 43 editions. Small independent journals are being squeezed out, which led to both competitions for advertising revenue and predatory pricing. The average issue price of Indian newspapers is astonishingly low: Rs 2.30 on weekdays and Rs 3 on Sundays, according to the national average. After deducting distribution commissions, the actual profit from sales is far under Rs 2 per copy.
This is only one of the problems that the Indian media faces. Other serious disorders include the deliberate dumbing down of news coverage, the trivialization of important social processes and events, skewed priorities in reporting national and international affairs, the downgrading and contraction of space for serious analysis, interpretation, and comment; an unhealthy obsession with celebrities; and growing sensationalism (common in television but rapidly spreading in print).
Indian Media Tunnelvision
Despite rising globalization and the opening up of Indian society and culture to foreign influences, the Indian media remains very closed off. International topics, events, institutions, and procedures receive very little publicity. There is an unhealthy fixation with the United States, with little room for large growing economies such as China, Brazil, and South Africa.
As a result, just roughly a half-dozen English-language newspapers have reporters in any of the world’s major cities. Only one has full-time reporters in Washington, Beijing, Moscow, London, and Paris, and that is The Hindu. The others rely on news organizations or, at the very least, part-time stringers. Even when a significant event occurs—the Iraq war, Egypt’s “revolution,” or the Fukushima disaster—Indian newspapers and television networks do not send reporters to cover it, despite their large budgets. For a few days at most, there may be sporadic, perfunctory coverage.
These tendencies illustrate the Indian media’s increasingly conservative and retrograde character at a time. Conservative approaches must be radically examined to provide solutions to failed policies. The Indian media is currently experiencing a significant credibility crisis. If it does not reform, it will find that its most valuable asset is rapidly depreciating and finally disappearing. The media, stripped of its authenticity, dependability, and credibility. It will cease to be relevant to a huge number of people as a source of cheap amusement and titillation. Journalism, therefore, lose all that makes it worthwhile and socially relevant. It will cease to be an honest, investigative, analytical, public-oriented, and ethical endeavor.
Katju, Markandey. “Media and Issues of Responsibility.” The Hindu. The Hindu, September 26, 2016. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/Media-and-issues-of-responsibility/article13059658.ece.
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