Then: You don’t watch news? How stupid!
Now: You watch news? How stupid!
The above assertion is not a pretentious attempt at wit but a subtle warning about the state of modern day journalism. In the last one decade, TV news channels have gained significant importance in India, thanks to the increased connectivity through Direct-to-Home-Service alongside the cable networks. The print media on the other hand, may not have grown as much as it would have liked to, yet its growth has only been on the positive front. And finally the internet (particularly social media), which is playing a crucial role in sharing the news.
Does that mean our news have become better? By better I mean… better in terms of quality of debates, quality of analysis, and of course, their credibility. I think the answer to that would be a clear no.
But my problem with these media outlets goes a little further. And I will try to explain my point of view throughout this post.
I won’t watch a movie if I already know what happens in the end. Then how can I watch a news report when I know what they are going to say?
NDTV for example, if telecasts a show on the BJP (including PM Modi), will try to stay on the lines of criticism, as much as possible. Radhika Roy, the force behind NDTV, happens to be the sister of Brinda Karat (from CPI). Abhey Oswal, who holds close to 14% share in NDTV, happens to be father-in-law of Naveen Jindal (Congress MP). Clearly, these two facts have nothing to do with why NDTV has always been pro-left-liberal. ABP news also falls in the same category and therefore you will rarely see them being kind to BJP and its allies.
Same is true for newspapers. Deccan Chronicle enjoys a hefty share from the relatives of Congress MPs, and it does not miss a chance to go against the right-liberals. The Hindu, although a brilliant newspaper in terms of its quality of writing, is merely a voice of Left. The Indian Express, in its early years heavily criticised the Congress party, but in the last decade or so, it has come to the opposite side.
Where there is Left, there will be Right too. Zee News’ major stakeholder Subhash Chandra has been closely associated with BJP for a long time. He has even campaigned for the party during elections. Sudhir Chaudhary, another prominent face of this channel, was accused of the extortion charges by the Congress MP Naveen Jindal. The video is out there in the public domain. So the next time you see a Zee News report or read Sudhir Chaudhary’s tweets (defending BJP), think about it.
Needless to mention the close ties of India TV’s Rajat Sharma with many BJP leaders including Narendra Modi. But since, this is one of the least worries I have about India TV, I won’t talk much about it. Also, it would be unfair to include Sudarshan TV in the same category, for one thing it only supports Hindutva and BJP happens to be there co-incidentally, and secondly, this fanatic news channel does not even deserve to be talked about.
There is a third front too, whose main face is our own Doordarshan. It means, it does not support any political party but the government of India, for whatever reasons unknown to us. Times Group and India Today Group (with some inclination towards Congress) belong to the same group. In the newspaper category, Dainik Bhaskar can be put there as well. These groups, although criticise the government for certain things and often create a buzz, but if you closely observe their agenda over a period of time, they would create an atmosphere of noise but eventually let the government walk out of troubles.
Earlier, I thought the internet would help us in getting rid of journalistic biases but unfortunately it has done little in that regard. Scroll.in first appeared to be neutral but now it only seems like an elite voice going against BJP all the time. The opposite is true for OpIndia which has specifically mentioned in its website that since most of the media is pro-left-liberal (and it is true), they are here to write on behalf of right-liberal ideology (oops!).
If the above cited reason is not enough, our journalists and TV news anchors have more to offer. One of the major concerns that I have with TV news is with the way they conduct their debates. Arnab Goswami can give half an hour long harsh lecture on ‘why should others learn to behave’, and insult his panellists for insulting someone else. Rajdeep Sardesai, despite being polite on many occasions, got into a scuffle at the Madison Square Garden. BJP supporters don’t like him much and the feeling is mutual, but still, come on…
Sanjay Pugalia, from CNBC Awaaz once interviewed Arvind Kejriwal and he touched the lows of journalism. Anjana Om Kashyap from Aaj Tak is quite (in)famous for her mannerism. In many civilisations, people treat their enemies in better way than she treats her guests. Same could be said about Rahul Kanwal (from same channel), who because of his over-enthusiasm often goes outside the boundaries. Perhaps, he too is obsessed with the idea of ‘number one news channel’ and therefore, does not miss a chance to sensationalise his reports.
Quality of Content:
Unfortunately, this does not bother a lot of people, which is precisely the reason these news traders sell junk using the excuse – this is what people want. But I being one of those old fashioned people who can differentiate between a TV debate and an item song, am not convinced. And when it comes to news, I simply cannot tolerate the degrading quality of content they are selling these days. Below are a few examples:
India TV has carried multiple reports on Aliens. One of which said, Aliens want to abduct Himesh Reshamiya. Wow!
India Today published this fake news about ‘woman uploading 12 million pictures on Facebook’ as real breaking news.
The Hindu used British tabloid DailyMail to collect news, so this happened. The editor lifted this one year old news and published it as latest news.
DailyMail actually wrote to IBNLive (in the comments section) to not steal content from Reddit, or at least mention the source in their copied report.
And yes, each one of them is number one. Amen!
Eventually, I stopped following these news, because I just wanted to be happy.