“We Indians love a good debate” blurts a news channel that has been promoting debates on time slots they describe as something bigger than prime time. They claim to know about cases or scandals more than the people involved in them. They claim to have copies of written emails / circulars that were supposed to remain confidential. They have reporters who travel to the nook and corner of the world to search for people who are usually absconding / left previous life to start afresh. No one knows how they do it. Logically thinking, maybe they have access to mail servers or are in touch with postmen who transfer confidential letters. Maybe they have access to smartphones of every individual with a mobile phone and track the whereabouts as and when needed. And sometimes, maybe, just maybe, they are in touch with souls or do some type of Ouija to gather information that police or investigation agencies don’t have access to. Either ways, the technology or method they use can benefit the country immensely and can fast track India to become the next super-power!
Sarcasm aside, I am not arguing with the concept or the content shown in the news show as I watch it almost every day and find their way of ‘investigative journalism’ quite interesting. What I don’t like, however, is interfering with personal issues of individuals, who happen to be popular figures in India. One such incident is happening every evening these days and is getting too personal to anybody’s liking, let alone the family. Those in support of the public debate on personal issues justify by saying that the crime happened because the victim was going to reveal something that could have had grave repercussions to some people with power and the country at large and the victim should be given complete justice. Personally, I am all for the “complete justice” argument but not at the cost of causing grief to the victim’s family. Imagine their plight! They are facing baptism by media! They are followed by media everywhere for their sound-bites. And what about their acceptance of the loss? Are we even allowing that to happen?
One way media understands / misunderstands what powerful people say to them is called “reading between the lines”. One statement is made and is interpreted in multiple ways – some more bizarre than others. Here’s one statement and how it can be (mis)interpreted in different ways –
Statement – “I have said everything I wanted to say and I have nothing more to add”.
- He is hiding something. And that something can be a critical piece in this crime mystery.
- His statement says he said everything ‘wanted’ to say, which means there are certain things he doesn’t want to say. What could that possibly be?
- His body language was defensive, why did he avoid the media if he has done nothing wrong? There’s a chink in his armor.
- The question asked to him was – did he commit the crime. He made a safe statement without denying the accusation.
It’s on these above (mis)interpretations that some media houses bank on (financially and content-wise) which further excites the audience, especially those who are opposing the person under media trial. It may be a discussion point for the neutrals and the audience at large, but just think about the family who are going through the trauma months after the unfortunate event.
I repeat that I like the new form of “investigative journalism” and trial by media provided we are dealing with scandals worth crores etc. Just when it comes to personal space, we need to have a self-restraint. There’s a thin line in every event that shouldn’t be crossed and in today’s day and age, that line has faded away.