Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Press Corpse

(Published March 3rd 2009)

No, that is not a misspelled headline. The press has truly turned into a group of mind numbed zombies on par with corpses. After our media began to boom along with the economy and thye number of news channels quadrupled in less than a decade we are now ‘blessed’ with an endless stream of news updates and opinions. The Indian media has taken it upon itself to be the guardian of Indian society and seems adamantly proud of it and determined to exert its influence in every conceivable way. No doubt some of the stories carried by the press prove vital in indicting corruption and waste. But there seems to be an obvious co-ordination between which stories are picked up by the media and tossed about like a dead sheep just like in a game of Afgan Buzkashi. It seems to be far more than coincidence that of the hundreds of happenings all over the country and the dozens of news stories coming in every day, we see about five making it to the National Prime Time. And you can be just as sure that all the other news channels would carry the same story, only at different levels of enthusiasm and glam. Indeed some channels more than others. This was all too apparent after the Mumbai attack that were quickly dubbed India’s 9/11. But just like a bad honeymoon the media frenzy is beginning to sour or even stink according to some off-beat commentators in the web space. The web is certainly the one saving grace for the voice of dissent.
Though not always accurate and unbiased (just like their mainstream counterparts) the Internet has given voice to many new opinions. One portal called tvnewslies.org details the process that American media goes through to categorically brainwash its viewership at the behest of Washington. An example of an Indian media critic can be found at presstalk.blogspot.com. Proof of bias in the print media according to the author is determined by how much space is given to real news stories against the number of ads being placed in papers. With the election season coming up he says that ads are being placed at a premium and that along with the recession that makes Government spending for egotistical politicians eager to see their face in the paper the main source of bread and butter for newspapers. Combined with the endless reels of coverage of Slumdog Millionaire the real quota of space for real news is insignificant. We are all proud of A.R.Rehman for bringing home the two Oscars but the real problems of solving poverty go beyond a few lines of Jai Ho!. Why are more relevant stories not being picked up by the media? Why did we have to wait for ‘Smile Pinky’ to win an Oscar award at a big ceremony in the west to acknowledge the documentary and the work being done by doctors to help children with cleft lips? Why is truth being shunned for glamour and the idiocy of wealth? Indian media dates back to the 1700s when small printing presses were clandestinely operated against the British Raj. It is now nothing but a sham. Journalists once braved imprisonment during the 70s to voice opposition against the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi. Would they be so brave and vociferous now? Leaf through any of the national dailies and you will find your answer. Count the ads too.
“The subtle and not-so-subtle art of deception and disinformation through the media dates back till the time humans had brains large enough to process that idea. Propaganda has even been categorized into varying degrees of deception by terming it Black, Grey and White propaganda. With black of course being the most serious and white being a merely a slant of the truth.” - Tvnewslies.org

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