TV DEBATES – FAIR TO WHOM?
The private TV channels advertise the innate goodness of their channels in hard facts, declaring their audacity, challenging the authority, being investigative and finally being fair, authentic and working on behalf of the people. What they have successfully lost in din, is the news which was shown in the simplest of ways on Doordarshan and by the well-respected top of the charts print media. Top editors were institutions in themselves and so many are being respected even to this day. With the onset of the electronic media, the anchors were supposed to become the editors of the visual media. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
With the hardcoded news disappearing and everything becoming a narrative, the clarion call of fairness needed to be declared like a declaration of war. Where does the fairness come from? This the biggest question and the issue is beyond the anchors. The best of the channels would find it difficult to boast to over a dozen professional field journalists. They follow events. They descend on the scene and in no time, they gain control of the event and the situation as the police officers of yore. They need to know the history, geography and culture of the place for decades to reach that level, besides the art of news gathering, planting sources, verifying it to finality and sticking by it. They could stick to it, because it was their story.
Are they being fair to themselves or the profession, which would not be teaching a totally different method of handling news and of investigative journalism today. Cricket has three variants today and we can understand the difference between them and who does it cater to. There are enthusiasts for each variant of the game. Media, mainly electronic, has been a different story. There are no enthusiasts of this game. Addicted to TV and politics, the spectators are hostages. Every news channel breaks the same story, calling it breaking news. Some carry it beyond that accepted threshold claiming it has been their story and the further course of events as a consequence to that. Some have gained notoriety in predicting known events. What we witnessed in the recent Maharashtra’s maha story, has by now become an age old malaise.
They have become commentators of the mirch masala types, running behind people who are of no consequence to our lives. Reporting and reporting only one story that too for 10 days is justice for whom, at the expense of a lot of news items of importance for different segments of people in different parts of the country. Because channels have the technical capability to beam across the country, everything is national news today and a national story too. Lack of knowledge of technology or anything worthwhile restricts their choice. Every assembly election is made the heart throb of the nation. What a loss? Who decides what for whom? Is it even thought of? Now it seems all channels have decided to be fair to themselves; TRPs and through it for anchors, advertisers, and the known and unknown masters while blaring from roof tops of being fair to the population of this county. They are also fair to the political parties every day in every debate and try their level best to prove it so. This is commitment. What an irony of the fourth estate.
FAIRNESS BY ACTIONS TO FAIRNESS BY DECLARING IT, HAS BEEN THE JOURNEY MEDIA HAS TRAVERSED IN THE LAST FEW DECADES.