INDIAN MEDIA: RAGS TO RICHES STORY OFCOMPROMISE
Once a well known journalist remarked, ‘isit wrong to make money?’ being in a masters course with full enthusiasm forlanding in a good job by one of your prospective employers, I replied anemphatic ‘no’. We are being taught the economics of running a media house and to get those plum salaries ,’truth’,was a matter of perception according to the readership survey or TRPs. Afterliberalisation like everything that mattered with money in India, Indian mediatoo was subjected to a sea of changes.
Competition was the buzz word. One mediahouse talked about its legacy another its infotainment and countless otherregional publications and channels were on a rat race to get a pie of the greatIndian media market. Soon everything was ‘breaking news’ from road accident insome remote village to a bad hairdo of a Bollywood starlet and some politicswith our kurta clad netas thrown in between. Scandals or no scandals everyheadline and every channel’s main anchor picked up stories and gave theirjustifications of why you should listen to them as they usurped the position ofbeing the conscious keepers of our society. But the question in the great game,who is shaping our public opinion?
The manner in which stories of commoninterest were dealt with showed the political and corporate alignments in themedia houses. With a remote and a 5 to 6 choice of national news channels, itis easy to spot the alliance. Call it a holistic view point for those whoconsume English news but for those who get information in their mother tongue,they get an additional dose of blaringmusic, bias and sometimes rants from the guests in the studio who are more interestedin poisoning the mind of the society with sectarianism , communalism and blatantnepotism. When business came into Indian media, content is anything andeverything. The mundane with peppy music or youtube videos downloaded and airedwith umpteen repetitions is the news that Indian media is letting its massesswallow. Thus what meaningful public opinion can be built by the Indian Media? Theelite are made to hear what they want, the middle class propaganda while thepoor get the bizarre. Thus the corporate Indian media house wants populistnews content over objectivity and discernment. They want the readership and theTRPs so that money flows in. They have become wealthy fast victims ofliberalisation losing out on their conscious, so the question for today’s Indianmedia professional ‘is it really wrong to make money?’ is technicallynonsensical.
VERGHESE P ABRAHAM