August 24, 2010

sorry, media is playing its role rather well

Day in and day out, we see sensational news on the electronic media. We have also witnessed change in the way mainstream newspapers are treating news vis-a-vis entertaining 'news'. There have been many instances of trial by the media and blasphemous reporting. Media persons openly flout norms of decency and journalistic ethics. In the last assembly elections in Maharashtra, 'paid news' was resorted to by big newspapers by selling what appeared to be news and thus favoring particular politicians out of monetary considerations.

These and many other distortions notwithstanding, media is playing its watchdog role and has made the government reconsider its stand on many important matters. The stickiness of electronic media in the sense that it goes on and on on some issues, has helped keep such issues in the public domain for a long time. Media thus is playing the role of the 'common man' who used to get agitated and protest in the street earlier but has become unconcerned of late. In some cases [though selectively], media hype on criminal cases against the high and mightly helped people be bold in giving evidence and this led to fair justice. The government woke up to the rot in Commonwealth Games management only after incessant expose by the media.

In these respects, the role of more conservative print media has generally been balanced and cautious but with due authority. The role of the electronic media has been within the two extremes of ignoring the issue and over-hyping it. Of course, the issue-taking and thrill-seeking channels are mostly two distinct categories, but where the otherwise sober channels have also hyped some issues, the result has been very good.

The role of web media in building public opinion is increasing even in societies in which internet penetration is low. While websites of big newspapers and media houses are providing leadership by quickly bringing out news and following it with analysis, blogs and other social and interactive internet media are keeping the flame going.

Can we say, with all its failings, media as a whole is playing its role in India?

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