Maniacal Media

“Zee News ka pardaafaash”.. “Prince ko Bachaana hai”… “Ye aaj [xyz] ke saath hua hai..kal aapke saath bhi ho sakta hai”…

The newsreader’s voice screams at you in a sinister voice.. the creepy feeling that you get is worse than any “Aahat” or “Zee Horror Show” … and I ask myself: “Whatever happened to good old news reporting??” Gone are the days when news reporting used to be just that – reporting the events and occurrences worldwide to the viewers. In today’s competitive world, news channels attempting to capture market share are taking the fun out of watching news.

Instance 1:

A couple of days after the Bombay blasts, I saw a reporter in a private news channel (don’t remember which), outside the house of one of the victims. There were all mourners dressed in white and the reporter asks one of the kin of the deceased: “Kaisa lag raha hai aapko? Kya kehna hai aapko is haadse ke bare me?” What the hell does she expect the reply to be? “Ji bahut khushi ka mauka hai.. hum mithai baatne waale hain..aap khaayengi?” I mean how bloody ridiculous can you get? Cant you leave the bereaved family alone in the moment of grief? What exactly are these news channels trying to prove?

Second thing that strikes me about this is the double standards that the journalists follow. I know that the reporters would be under pressure from above to do this, so I’l target the big bosses instead. I challenge them to give an interview during the funeral of one of their dear ones. Chances are that the reporter will end up in jail!


Instance 2:

A 5 year old kid had fallen into a 60 ft deep pit in Haryana. Many news channels made most of the situation. They covered the entire thing LIVE.. 60 hours of rescue operations et al. Lets give them the benefit of doubt. There were people who actually watched the entire thing. People from all walks of life and all faiths offered prayers for the child’s safety. So maybe, just maybe they were justified in airing the thing live. But some channels like Zee News were more keen on marketing themselves than in the well-being of the child. They repeatedly kept boasting that they had coined the phrase which supposedly united the whole country “Prince ko bachaana hai”. And wherever they interviewed people, the public started off with “Hum Zee News ke aabhaari hain” message.

This IMO, illustrates another example of bad taste as far as reporting and journalism is concerned. I was afraid some other news channle might push a kid into a well twice as deep as this one; and then rescue him just to have the upper hand!

Instance 3:

The way celebrities are treated by the media always scares me – it always reminds me of Princess Diana. I mean agreed that they are public figures, but they should be given atleast some space. Some stars are so worried about their children that they have kind of a pact with the media – you promise to stay away from my child and we promise to present ourselves to the media periodically. This is not the way they should be treated.

I have made this point before – every right is accompanied by a corresponding duty. The media has freedom of expression, but its their duty to use this freedom responsibly. Somehow someone has to put a stop to all this madness before things get out of hand. The ridiculous and double-standards must all be stopped. It only harms the societal fabric.

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