Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Stop watching TV news - read the paper instead

Do yourself a favor. If you want to get the real truth and not be misled, stop watching TV news channels immediately. Especially the English ones.

As I have mentioned earlier, TV news channels survive only on sensationalism. They are the natural allies of the opposition parties. The reasoning is clear: appreciating good work of government hardly gets attention. Cribbing and raising the pitch gets you attention (Just think: You CANNOT raise your pitch while praising someone, but you can while cribbing!). TV news channels are following a familiar path.....look at Hindi films or GECs....they have all gone down the loud, dumb-them-down path and they appear to be succeeding and why not? That's what the people of this country want. People want masala. Give them masala. Truth be damned!

Take the recent ministerial re-shuffle for example. The fact is that it did not matter what the nature of the re-shuffle was. It had to be panned. Only the specific headline needed to be crafted. The panel to put on TV shows was always ready. The PM himself had said that this was a "minor" re-shuffle. The big one was still to come. But can TV channels allow the PM to pre-empt their headlines? No way. So all TV channels went hammer and tongs about the "ineffective" re-shuffle!

Take the story about Julian Assange getting a list of 2000 Swiss bank a/c holders.....of which some 50 are supposed to be Indians. To the best of my knowledge, NO ONE has any specific information about who these Indians are. However, TV channels have already panned the government saying that some of the top Congress leaders are in the list. TV channels have always got their election forecasts they are even getting their core content wrong! For the real truth, its better to read the papers. Or this blog! The papers named an unknown and small company which apparently has $80 million in some account in the bank. $80 million? That's it. How much of a party pooper is that? Did the TV channels apologize to the nation for misleading it? No way!

Take yet another example. Has any TV channel explained (or even understood) that we live in a time of coalition politics. That the push and pull of coalitiion politics will screw up governance. Almost all "scams" that have been tried (sorry brought out!) by media involved ministers from coalition partners - DMK (2G), NCP (rotting onions, food inflation) etc. The fact is that we the people have not been able to deliver a majority to one party....and so we will have to live with the consequences of that. TV channels appear not to understand this. But newspapers give a far balanced pov.

Since the English TV news channels have taken over the traditional Hindi news channels territory, I wonder what those poor souls are doing to survive now.....!

The sole exception to this general drift is NDTV 24x7. I find them to be a lot more balanced in their handling of affairs. They resist pressures to put up a panel that specializes in cribbing. (Interesting observation: the same Swapan Dasgupta is balanced on NDTV while he becomes cantankerous on the other channels....what all journos have to do to earn a living!) They do sometimes applaud good work done. They dont crib  all the time. And they appear mature enough not to sensationalize. Alas.....I am told it is because of this approach of theirs that they suffer on TRPs!

So do yourself a favor. Stop being a guinea pig for TV news channels. Stop watching them. Read the papers or this blog instead to get the real truth!

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree with your appreciation of 24X7. Perhaps it's the Prannoy influence that makes them retain some of the ethical values of old world journalism. Screaming at the top of your voice, not letting other people complete their sentences, being rude to interviewees, arriving at miserably wrong "instant" conclusions, not analyzing anything calmly or thoroughly 'cos you're too busy trying to find the next comment to criticize and sensationalize - this pretty much seems to be the way our TV media operates now. But doesn't this have a lot to do with the "marketing" culture that has developed since the 70s i.e. a view that everything is to be viewed dispassionately as a commodity for sale. If "news" therefore is viewed as a commodity for sale and maximum profit then surely we will look at whatever brand characteristics appeal to the right segments which we can monetize. So we will make serious analytical journalism not for a pride in that per se but because it'll cater to a niche market, if that niche market dies then we switch to another format and change our product. Professional journalism and ethics is irrelevant in that model. How does one reconcile the pride and dignity of a profession for itself with viewing it purely as a commodity for profit?