Media: News or Drama? by Indu Balakrishnan

A part of me always wanted to be a journalist. Probably why I jumped at the idea of starting this blog. To get an idea of how people will respond to (a) My writing in general (b) About how I feel about certain things ( c) What I’d be good at writing about. So, taking the first step towards journalism – I did what I always do – Google. 

  1. Looked up local newspapers to see if they invite guest articles 
  2. Read what they talk about 
  3. And I chose a few journalism courses. 

1999 – When I finished high school, I saw the movie Dil Se where Shah Rukh Khan is a journalist and covers critical issues like human rights and social issues. I completed my MA in Human Rights to possibly take this route. And I am working on becoming a better writer before I impose my articles on the public. 

I’m still not there, but I am working towards it. And I respect the power of words. The impact of what’s in the newspaper on the public. In other words, how much the media can influence everyone. Growing up, my dad and I used to fight for the newspaper to read it. ‘Suda-suda’ news as we would call it. And I would follow in his footsteps and read it end-to-end, including the editorial and the letters to the editors. Somewhere along the way, I stopped. It all became ‘bad news’ to me. There was reporting, yes, but along with it came a lot of hype, drama and biased opinion. 

For instance, I saw this article yesterday about how Neeraj Chopra criticised excessive media attention. He said it made him sick. Him. An Olympic gold winner. Reading all the praise everywhere – newspapers and online. No doubt this was the biggest medal won by any track and field athlete in the country. People were only naturally curious to know more about him, which led to a race among media houses to get a hand on him for an exclusive interview. Not an excuse, nevertheless. Princess Diana – a prime example of how paparazzi want to know everything about celebrities and the likes. God bless her soul. 

In a hard-hitting interview with leading English daily The Times of India, Neeraj opened up about how the constant media appearances brought his training to a complete standstill. He even fell sick as he didn’t get enough time to rest his body.

And then there was the case of Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra. While no one knows the absolute truth, many media articles have made it look like they were guilty. Along with the ‘judgement’ that she, as his wife, was the ‘brains the crime’. Shilpa, in retaliation, filed a defamation suit and requested a gag order on the media. Bombay High Court then directed few media platforms to take down their contents while passing an interim order in the matter stating, “No part of this shall be construed as a gag on media.”

Trial by Media (2020)

Take the Arushi Murder case. The Talwars were pronounced guilty by the media years before the CBI court did so. The media had scaled new heights of irresponsibility by spreading canards and defamatory stories. Trial by Media, so to speak. Isn’t it also a threat to our judicial system? 

Today, the media seems to be on a click-bait mission. Writing a sensationalised headline that encourages you to click a link to an article, image, or video has become the need of a journalist. How many clicks the article got seems to beat fairness, accuracy and the right way to tell a story. 

The backbone of any democracy is independent, professional and responsible media. People look to the media when there is nowhere else to go. For information. For hope. For direction. Anything. To start, media needs to print true, fair, honest, accurate, non-biased and non-critical stories and articles. 

The legislature has a great responsibility to perform while drafting laws on media, ensuring that their freedom is not curtailed. At the same time, freedom of speech and expression cannot be abused by the media to prejudice any decision-making process. 

I don’t know if this is a sign or anything, but as I was writing this article, I got a call from Alagappa University asking me to enrol in their MA Journalism and Mass Communication Program. 

The “journalistic truth” is a process that begins with the professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts. I hope to be able to write like that for a newspaper someday. Investigative journalism, too, if I can. Present the right information so the public can form informed opinions and make prudent decisions. 

Some day 🙂 

One comment

  1. Lovely essay. Heartfelt.

    It saddens me to see the state of the ‘news’ media in India today. Of course I don’t watch any TV ‘news’ at all. but the rage and hate that they are fostering is dangerous – to our society and our country, and consequently to individuals.

    Like

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