JNU is THE term these days. Whatever is happening is certainly unfortunate, but I would not go on the political and social debate. I would rather like to discuss the role of our media, especially the news channels, which have transformed the entire sensitive issue in to an opportunity, where ‘bytes’ ‘live footages’ ‘intellectual debates’ and ‘live coverage’ areleveraged to make money. All channels, day and night, keep broadcasting one or the other ‘breaking news’ related to JNU these days. The question here arises – Is TV media justifying its identity of being the fourth pillar of democracy or it is simply utilising the issue for its own interest?
You visit JNU campus and you would find vehicles of numerous TV channels parked outside, reporters rushing unnecessarily from one place to another to ‘cover’ even normal, day-to-day activities and making a ground for interviews. As if this is not enough, during their indoor ‘live’ debates, these channels portray their anchors as the most intellectual yet dictating entities, who announce their own conclusions as if they are above law. And, it is not happening for the first time. Recall Mumbai terror attack, and Indian media’s role in making the entire incident more dreadful by broadcasting live coverage of the attack and helping terrorists unintentionally. Also recall the time when Sheena Bora murder case broke all records of grabbing space on TV channels. The moment you switch on TV and browse through news channels, you would find one common thing among all of them -their sensational treatment to any news.
You watch a channel for twenty minutes and you would be forced to think that the system is useless, government has no legitimacy and everything is going to collapse. Check your thought process and you would not find a single positive thought. Is this what we think our media in intended to do? And is this what we call journalism of all?
The role of TV media is more significant than any other medium in today’s world of highly advanced technology, as everybody is connected to these news channels through their TV sets, computers, laptops or mobile phones.
Applying Media Richness theory here, TV medium is considered as the most influential medium as it impacts its audiences instantly and for a long time. Hence, the responsibility too is greaterabout what to be shown, why to be shown and how to be shown. But, is it even considered?
Comparing print media with TV media in the similar context would bring in positives and negatives about both sides, however, when compared on the grounds of the very basics of journalism, it can be observed that the conventional medium of print still follows in the old values of journalism and comprehensive coverage of various issues based on their category, impact and region (local, state level, national and international). Also, reading news or opinions influence the audiences in a different manner than watching the same. Then, apart from being responsible for reflecting the actual face of society and system, media is also responsible for constructing thoughts, and in the light of this view, we need to ask TV media if it is doing justice to its role. It is showing exaggerated, sensationalised, overstated views that too related to its choicest, ‘picked for its own interest’ topics and news. And here, when the TV media seems to have forgotten what it is meant to do, should not rest show it its real face and remind it its accountabilities? The big question is how and we all need to think for the answer.
About the Author: Anshu Joshi is a doctorate from School of International Studies, JNU, New Delhi and worked on issues related to terrorism, bioterrorism and role of media in creating a comprehensive BW defence mechanism. She is a political analyst and writer.