Tuesday, May 05, 2015

News Channels – a double edged sword

Once upon a time, Indian news channels were all about sharing news. What happened anywhere around our country will be “reported” as is. It was all about sharing news information. An earthquake happened – the news will be shared with the public. A bomb blast happened – it will be shared. Some politicians arrested for some wrong doing – it will be shared. India wins the world cup – it will be shared. Through all this, the news media of those times hardly ever tried to “promote” their views to the public. They were the messengers.

Now, they are transforming into message creators, or should we say in today’s parlance, content creators.

May 3rd was the World Press Freedom day. There’s not an iota of doubt that the press (and in a larger context, news media) should be free to perform their duties. Having said that, news media must have their own ethical standards they need to adhere to, in a humane way. On this day, Nepal citizens took to Twitter and Facebook to express two things – their gratitude towards Indian government for providing selfless help and their hatred towards certain sections of Indian media by trending #GoHomeIndianMedia.

When the earthquake happened in Nepal, Indian news media were immediately on it. No problem till now since speed is one trait the news channels compete on. News channels started showing the destruction caused by the earthquake. No problem here too. News channels asked their viewers to contribute towards the cause of Nepal. Great gesture, I must say. News channels started reporting about people being rescued from the debris. No problem here since it shows the hard work put in by all concerned and the improvements happening since the disaster. News channels started shoving their mic in front of the survivors and asking them how they feel now. Ok, now you guys are teasing to cross the limits. News channels asking people, who have lost their loved ones, how they feel. News channels promoting the help and support of Indians and thereby making it a PR stunt. Guys, now you have crossed all your limits!

#GoHomeIndianMedia - cartoon created by @mirsuhail
A popular cartoon created by @mirsuhail
To Indian News Media – I understand news reporting has changed. Corporates with big money have invested in the emerging news media hoping to make big bucks. There’s high competition for eye-balls now. Rankings matter. Ratings matter. Revenues matter. But one more thing has increased more than what it was a decade ago - and that’s responsibility. Sensationalism sells. And now we have reached a stage where we cannot go back and undo the wrongs. In this age of social media, you will receive instant support and criticism which will spread like wild-fire. So, you need to find a way to balance sensationalism with responsibility. There’s no harm in learning from the past. Perhaps, the news channels of old were more responsible than what we have now. 

To Citizens of Nepal – The loss you have gone through post the tragedy is difficult for us to even comprehend. Loss of lives and property, struggling to come to terms with the loss and braving yourselves at a long drawn recovery is, in itself, a tough ask. Our prayers and our support will always be with you throughout this recovery phase. We got a glimpse of the destruction caused by the Himalayan tragedy and the pain you endured thanks to the news channels (primarily Indian ones). Yes, there are some who cross the lines of ethical and responsible journalism. We have faced the same problems ourselves when we had to endure natural disasters (Earthquake, Floods) and man-made ones (terrorism). The sections of News media you are accusing are the ones who did the same thing to us Indians too. So, we understand the root cause of your concern. In a way, we are glad you brought it to everyone’s attention. News channels need to learn their lessons from this one and accept that they need to change. 

A change is needed here. If the news channels don’t learn from this feedback from Nepal, we viewers should take a stand ourselves. We can choose not to watch such channels, which will reduce their viewership count, which will lead to a reduction in their “rankings”, reduction in ad and sponsorship revenue and finally forcing them to change themselves. It’s a vicious circle and we can play a part too.


  1. When you wrote the words - content creators, you wrote pretty much everything. I think these are less guys are not even aware what they are doing. They have same set of questions which they ask without empathy. They are too lost and sensible to know the depth of it. They need to understand what journalism is all about, but first they need to be good human beings.

    1. Saru, it looks like crossing the ethical line is a trend now-a-days.. News Channels are doing anything and everything under their purview to grab those eyeballs and fight against other channels.. The problem arises when many of us also fall for this trick.. We all can change this.. And I think we should start somewhere..

  2. From individuals, groups, NGOs, political parties to nations, any charity or service is done now-a-days for gaining publicity only.
    Even our PM quoted this recently in a speech proudly, "our evacuation operation from Yemen was lauded even by many European nations...".!
    Unless some one is behind us with a cam, we may hesitate even to extend our help to a dying person...?

    1. Very true sir. Now a days, many people will only help if they can publicize the fact that they helped!


All yours..

wibiya widget

You might also like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...