Golmal hai bhai sab golmal hai
These are the lines which come to mind when I look at the TV these days. Mindless entertainment is packaged in a nice shiny little wrapper and being sold by the best salesmen ever.
A clarification here, I am not talking about TV shows, but news. News has become nothing but a race for raring, or as I like to call it, sensational media.
Gone are the days of objective analysis and meaningful discussion with the aim of informing the people. The days of sensationalism are here. Every story that breaks is covered in such a manner that you would think the world has come to an end. You won’t find good quality reporting, you’ll just find a bunch of people shouting and a set of HD graphics prepared by engineers who couldn’t get on campus placements on the screen.
And it was fine till they did this, but the bus towards sensationalism nirvana just sped up.
A day ago, Arnab Goswami claimed that he was assaulted near the CM’s house. That rioter broke the windows of their car 50 meters from the residence and asked about their religion. Arnab elaborately described what took place and his feelings and emotions during that time in a wonderfully eloquent manner which would have surely stirred emotions inside you, had it been true.
This claim by Arnab was debunked by Rajdeep Sardesai and two other journos, who were actually, for sure covering the riots.
Stange, isn’t it? One of the most respected and watched journalists in the country lying openly in order to gain… I am not even sure what he has to gain by this stunt. Brownie points for pity maybe? I don’t know.
Be that as it may, this is deeply troubling. Just think about it, this is not India TV claiming that Rahul Gandhi is an alien, this is a top Indian journo openly lying and misrepresenting facts. And it is scary.
This tendency of the sensational media is not new. During the 2016 US Presidential Election campaign, many stories were picked up without verification and were run on famous news networks for hours before being taken down. The only reason they ran on national TV was that they got eyeballs, they brought people to the channel and hence money to the channel, journalistic integrity be damned!
There have been many instances of journalists lying just to get a sensational story out and cash in on the fame. Carl Cameron from Fox News ran a story which said that Sen. John Kerry had a manicure before the presidential debate. Now, stuff like that sells faster than a Xiaomi phone in a flash sale. Alas, it was untrue and the story was later taken back.
Another journalist named Jack Kelly working for USA Today worked with his translator to mislead his editors. He was fired after it was discovered that 8 of his major stories were false, including a high-speed chase for Osama Bin Laden.
The worst part is that people actually bought into the bull**** being served out by these channels. They started believing these initial opinions that were forced down their throats and any verification or change to the original story that came afterward was too late and did not have an effective change in the psyche of the people.
We have been talking a lot about how journalism is going down, how its prospects are dwindling and how it is difficult to survive (sometimes literally) as a journalist. But the real death of the profession comes when it’s stalwarts go against its very foundation.
It would be like if Sachin started fixing matches or Christopher Nolan started to have item numbers in his movies. Alas, at this particular moment, this is the situation we face. The pursuits of eyeballs and the development of sensational media is not only harmful to the profession but to society.
Because think about it, if you can’t believe the news, who can you? The backbone of democracy, of free speech, needs to maintain its structure, we can’t have industry leaders doing fake news bits just to get views, that is simply not done.
There needs to be a collective outcry against this, and also an education to the Whatsapp forward prone people who believe ‘facts’ without verification. We need to tell them that they are lying and that this is wrong. Only then can we hope of a more open and honest media.
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