Journalism is at it’s lowest abyss right now, both Nationally and Internationally speaking.
It’s hardly been weeks that British nurse Jacintha Saldanha was driven to suicide by the British media’s popular culture of finding a scapegoat.
Reporting in America after the Conneticut shootings has been shoddy too.
Here in India the reporting of the Delhi gang-rape has been ridiculous, to say the least.
They’d come close to inciting a riot in Delhi, at one point. A riot would have taken place for sure, had the good sense of the masses not prevailed.
I agree we need justice for the victim. We need stricter rape laws. We need to change our patriarchal mindsets. But, one more thing that we also need is better journalism. Pretty soon.
Last night, as the rape survivor was being shifted from Safdarjung Hospital to Medanta Medicity, a local news channel flashed BREAKING NEWS : “Unconfirmed reports of death of Delhi gang rape victim. Government fears huge backlash”.
I gasped in fear and switched to a more reliable National channel, only to find that the girl was being shifted to Airport for a chartered flight to Singapore for better healthcare.
This was not an unconfirmed report. This was scandalous speculation. And it could’ve had dangerous implications.
During the protests at India Gate, which eventually snowballed out of control, the electronic media was it’s shoddy best.
It seemed to add fuel to fire by repeatedly asking the crowd, “Do you trust the Delhi police?”.
A resounding “No” and more sloganeering was the reply.
According to which rule book, is this responsible journalism? What they were doing was merely putting words in the crowd’s mouth and diverting their angst towards Delhi police, and diverting attention from their original clamour for stricter rape laws.
The news channels fail to distinguish between news and views and often feeds the viewer a gooey mixture of both. They forget that their job is to report in an unbiased manner, instead of channelising people’s anger to meet their own agendas of higher TRP’s.
Also, visuals of the police lathi-charge were being aired repeatedly in a loop, but not the actions that triggered it. Friends from Delhi divulged how a section of the crowd resorted to violence, which prompted the police to act as it did.
Visuals of police violence played against a backdrop of racy music and bold headlines in Red tend to colour people’s perception of the events, on a psychological level.
Also, there are certain norms that require that a patient’s privacy be respected by the media. However, the camera happy news channels just do the opposite.
Last night as the rape survivor’s ambulance raced toward Medanta Medicity, atleast twelve news vans tailed the vehicle. Minute-by-minute; nay, second-by-second updates are provided in the mad race for BREAKING NEWS and EXCLUSIVE NEWS.
Finally, one more thing that I wish to highlight are the kangaroo courts that are set up in every newsroom in the name of primetime debates.
Eyewitnesses are summoned by news channels first, and by the crime branch later. Is this a failure of the crime branch? Or over-indulgence of the newsmen?
Their job is to report. To provide news as it is. They are none to pass verdicts sitting in their A/C newsrooms. They are none to run campaigns and protests. Thorough professionalism is the need of the hour.
Along with stricter rape laws, we also need stricter regulations for electronic media. What do you think?
Share your thoughts. . .