Neutrality in Reporting has No Price Tag

The mass invasion of televisions into Indian households since the 1990s has attracted mass viewing, including impressionable juveniles, and each individual interprets the information according to their perspectives. With this visual media spreading more malice recently than ever before, self-acclaimed intellectuals, qualifying from commercially soaked educational institutions and politically dominated universities, have bestirred the social fabric of our society.

Instead of imparting purposeful and value-based information, such TV channels are polluting innocent minds. Writers, social reformers, and TV anchors, and all those who assume the responsibility and presume to be the saviors of the society are exchanging verbal arson on news shows. Their acts are causing unprecedented damage and setting unpleasant trends in society.

TV anchors and those on the panel of discussion have attired themselves in the robes of demagogues. Arrogance, aggression, stubbornness, and vengeance are the highlights of debates and discussions on the TV. In some discussions, viewers have witnessed fistfights. The image of an angry young man on the silver screen has given birth to more rebellions than ever. The underlying message sent across is justice through violence.

The toxic narrative warfare, which we witness day in and day out on these channels has destroyed the humble fabric of close-knit groups. News and views are twisted in a manner suited to the owners of the channels, and distortions and concoctions have replaced truth to improve the TRP of the channel. News channels are now thriller channels and every half an hour there is a thriller or breaking news. News is not reported as news but as a slurping recipe. The distorted visuals and morphed videos often mislead the viewers. This sets a negative impression on the innocent and gullible minds. One wonders why those indulging in spewing caustic and malicious propaganda do not realize the damage they are inflicting on society. The contemptuous hype has resulted in spreading only hate. Rarely one witnesses any smiling face in the participants. One may come across a sarcastic smile at times.

Why are we, the responsible citizens, turning a blind eye to this enormous and irreversible damage? Are we leaving such an obnoxious and harmful legacy for the gen-next? Our generation inherited tolerance, humility, compassion, and ethics as a legacy from the past. In the journey of life where and how we lost these qualities is our fault. There has been a gradual erosion of morals and values. Instead of maintaining, by practicing and improving on our inherited qualities, we have generated more heat and hatred. The rivalry, friction, and rhetoric have given rise to more lynches, rapists, criminals, disgruntled youngsters, depressed youth, and sadists. Hearty laughter is now a yogic exercise in parks and gyms, which, in the past, was spontaneous. The National Index of Tolerance is at the lowest ebb than was ever before. Media has failed to convert the positive news to thrillers that can brighten and increase viewership.

If the visual media has blurred the vision of the viewers the print media has exposed the hypocrisy of journalists. Ethically, information and news are expected to be reported without prejudice and animosity.

Words are powerful means of communication, and Journalists play with words. A combination of words in sentences in a manner may convey meaning, leading to varying interpretations. Formation of a sentence can easily reveal or conceal the vital information according to the choice of the writer. This often results in a change in the texture and color of the news and information. The tendency to bombard reports with high sounding words is to impress the readers. The power of words is strong that even the rabid rants camouflage the senseless statements. Indulging in lopsided reporting and glorifying the evil within, with aplomb, is a quality of many writers. They put forward their mind more than reporting the facts as they are.

Playing with the words is journalists’ prowess, so is their proficiency in fudging with numbers. Statistical data can be highly misleading if not analyzed by disclosing the facts and assumptions under which they were compiled. Many times while stressing their point, the reporters mislead the readers/viewers by suppressing the facts and assumptions.

There is a buzz in the air that some of the journalists play to the tune of persons interested in any particular report or news. Neutrality in reporting has no price tag. The aim these days is to file a report that fetches monetary incentives. Balanced reporting is a thing of the past. Planted news is valuable and generates more earnings. Slanderous write-ups to incite the society are getting more prevalent than ever before. Writers tend to forget that such articles are no more required in Swaraj as was the case when India was ruled by foreigners. At times while criticizing any policy or rule of the establishment, the writer avoids forwarding any reason or elaborating on the weaknesses in the policy. They simply discard and discredit the action.

The softness shown on the screen belies the poison hidden in their words, spoken or written.

Mukesh Kapoor

About the Author

Mukesh Kapoor by profession is a Chartered Accountant. At present he has withdrawn from active profession and pursuing his interest in writing. A passionate reader and expressive writer, he possesses a flare and flow on subjects he pursues.