Delhi hit by earthquake of 6.6 on the Richter scale, Congress M.P. from Morradabad, Mohd. Azaruddin’s son Ayazuddin dies on the spot in a bike accident in Hyderabad, Rajesh Talwar indulged in wife swapping, Baba Ramdev arrested for protesting against corruption in a late night raid and Mayawati sent a private charter to Mumbai to fetch a pair of sandals. These are some of the stories planted and promoted by news agencies across the country. Considering these examples, one is forced to question the credibility of media houses as responsible establishments.
The term ‘Media’ in its dictionary form refers to a means of communication, a facilitator in its crux. When considering the current scenario, the word media is synonymous with commercial organisations that attempt to dispense knowledge by means of modern technologies.
Similar to other commercial organisations, today media houses too follow policies centred on generating revenue. The perspective where the media was a mouthpiece of social change emanating during the pre-independence era has been subdued. The media is at the whims of corporate establishments whose sole motive is to multiply cash inflow.
With 515 news channels on air in India and many more emerging, the Indian media has transmuted into a competitive rather than a revolutionary medium. There have been enough instances when the Indian media has failed to live up to credibility.
There may be various reasons for errors going on air. Being the sole source of enlightenment for a majority of the populace leaves no error margin; human error is not excusable but is relatively acceptable. The centrifugal force leading the Media industry to chaos is the hunt for TRP.
Target Rating Point better known as TRP is an audience measurement of the popularity of a program or a television channel. Advertisers prefer to promote their products on a media that has higher acceptability among the masses and the TRP ratings are generally accepted parameters.
What results in the race to achieve maximum TRP from among 515 other competitors is blatant yellow journalism. Maligning of facts and publication of irrelevancies has been a daily exercise for some news channels. Broadcasting programs related to reality shows, attention seekers, religious and social taboos or even completely baseless stories like the changing colour of sea water, the curse of the cobra or the rise of the scorpion and passing them off as news has further degraded the media industry.
News is treated as a product and no stone is left unturned to showcase it. What is saddening is how media organisations are ready to overlook relevant news items for a popular one. The killing of RTI activist Shehla Masood was down played by all media houses whereas Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s wedding was a highly publicized affair.
There have been innumerable instances where media organisations have been accused of being biased towards a political organisation or a cause. The sole purpose of the media is defeated once it loses the tag of being an impartial entity.
It would be idealist to proclaim that the media organizations are free. Like all commercial establishments, they too are bound by constraints of revenue and political appeasement.
Further if the responsibility of the media in India was as impeccable as assumed then there would be no need of a regulatory authority such as the National Broadcasters Association to monitor and guide media houses.
There is no point preaching assumptive and idealistic theories. The bare facts have been laid down. Making up your mind and accepting reality is still in your hands.