Thursday, February 11, 2010

Open Letter to Indian Media

Dear Rajdeep and rest of the media
Media is considered to be fourth pillar of democracy. Over few decades many journalists have highlighted real issues facing this country like corruption, high profile crimes, poverty. It also led the fight against anything that tried to divide this country be it based on religion, language or anything else. Media has done commendable job and have contributed to the Indian democracy immensely and I feel very proud about the journalists who have fearlessly played their role in strengthening this democracy.

With the advent and popularity electronic media and 24/7 news coverage, the TRP has become the key. I understand TRP importance for financial viability of news channel, but in the process Indian media channels have transformed themselves from the fourth pillar of democracy into an entertainment news channel. I do not deny that for some part of the day you are also highlighting important issues but due to the public demand you are forced to show what public wants to see.

I feel this necessity of public entertainment has redefined what is news headline and whats not. I think new definition of headline or breaking news is it should involve action ( violence) , hatred , drama and big star cast. If it doesn't meet this criteria it does not get the importance of headline. The peaceful agitations like that of Medha Patkar, Anna Hazare's fight against corruption, great improvements in Bihar, best egovernence strategies implemented in Gujarat or for that matter Uddhav's agitation against farmer's suicides did not qualify the criterias being in the news.

So few political parties decided to qualify for your criteria of the headline and also they knew that people can be easily attracted once they are in news. Media played into their hands and kept them in headlines to keep the TRP up and people just loved this entertainment without realizing how dangerous it is for the democracy. The people started siding with these parties almost 43% of the people in Mumbai alone based on Assembly election results. These are the people who are misled in believing that if they hate someone their problems will be solved.

How do we fix this problem ?

Media and elite group bashing against these groups
I see that the entire media stood against Narendra Modi , Raj Thackrey and now Shiv Sena. You bashed these people but their followers interpreted as bashing against them. This continued to strengthen these elements. I clearly see that this bashing is just going to create further divide and will never help resolve the issue.

You might argue that you are creating awareness among people but that awareness is working on both sides. If you get one people with you there will be 5 who will think you are attacking them.

So what should be solution ?
I think entire media needs to reanlyze the business model behind TRP. Can you redefine the qualifiers for headline and still be economically profitable ? Media needs to invent ways on how you can highlight Anna Hazare's corruption movement versus some vandalistic ways adopted by Raj. How you can educate people that how promoting entreprenuership is more important than fighting for few jobs.

I know you would say that these are responsibilities of goverments, political parties and social angencies. But please realize that its the media which can redefine the way India will progress. There needs to be serious discussions among members of the fourth pillar of this country. I know this won't change in day or for that matter years but strongest resolve is needed to strengthen this democracy.

We Indians are emotional human beings and we tend to have short-term reactions but no long-term solutions. Let's THINK and come up with those solutions and I am sure we will succed

Jai Hind ..... Jai Maharashtra !!

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