Media was said to be the fourth pillar of state in democracy, but in India it has emerged as a mafia. It is no longer serving the public, ideals, democratic norms but own survival with profits. The objectivity in reporting has converged with corporate objectives of the owners. Most of the media in India is owned and controlled by foreigners. It is therefore more tuned to project India as global village to appear like a ‘no man’s land’ – a waste land, where might of numbers is the deciding factor of its ownership!
Confining oneself to narrow geographical limits is now a thing of the past. Advancement in information technology is the prime reason that has converted entire world into a global village. Today happenings in one corner of the globe affect the other corner also. The effect could be felt over several fields ranging from political, economic, cultural and emotional relationships. As we have, members of one family may be spread out in different continents of Earth in pursuit of studies, business, employment, entertainment and even matrimonial connections. They want to know about their dear ones scattered all over the globe. In the words of Wordsworth “the world is too much around us!” But we cannot overlook the reality that the world is still politically divided into countries, nationalities, currencies and many other factors. The implementation of the concept of ‘Vasudeva Kutumbkam’ is a mirage. Thus we need a media that has National outlook.
Another significant development directly affecting this scenario is the commercialization of media. In gone days media was an instrument of change in the society wedded to the value system of its operative environment. Today, media brings out that news, which can sell in its content and form. Time in electronic media and space in print media are costly. Therefore, time and space are being utilized to its optimum to recover the costs and earn profits for the owners. We are getting more of advertisements as compared to news items that can sell in public. News has to be gathered from all corners, since local coverage may not suffice to arouse and satisfy inquisitiveness of news edicts.
Electronic coverage has further shortened the freshness of news items. While life span of news in print media spreads between two publications, the same on electronic media is only between two telecasts. As news channels are telecasting round the clock, it is resulting in repetition every half an hour or even less. To maintain interest and salability in competitive environment, channels are artificially generating and puffing the news by speculation, as well as, by way of adding views to the news. In the bargain, we get opinions and panel discussions interspersed between advertisements. The stage has come to take small ‘breaks’ to announce just one news item between commercials to meet the costs and profits. To cater for all this, a larger geographical territory has to be scanned.
In consequence, nothing new is available on home front than stories of some bomb blasts causing a dozen causalities, gang rapes, capsizing of overloaded boats, scams, indictment of politicians, reversal of government policies announced on the day before, bandhs calls and some comments from stale politicians on matters deserving expert opinion. That is perhaps one of the reasons that we getting paranoid about the world scenario in search for a change.
Our choice is restricted. We have to select out of the items projected by the media or whatever is available on the Internet to the select few, who can afford it. It is the media who has been exercising selectivity between world news and home coverage. The readers and viewers perforce pick out from that only, depending upon its presentation and credibility. They cannot do anything otherwise. We remember the event and person as long as media is covering them, and delete them from memory once media stops feeding inputs.
Our politicians today are the creations of media. Small and insignificant personalities have been projected as super natural heroes and thrust on the public as options for choice to rule in our democratic setup. Media can tarnish an innocent and honest person by painting him a satanic villain and vice versa. It is acting like a mafia.
The time has come when utility and privileges of media are reassessed. Media should be under the control of society through judiciary and accountable for false, sensational, and anti national reporting. Publications and telecasts that are basically contrary to the objectives of the society and morality must be subjected to censorship.
Chand K Sharma