Wednesday, March 28, 2007

MSM and the hype

The press is called one of the four important pillars of democracy. In India, since independence barring a case or two the press has enjoyed unbridled freedom. Freedom of expression is an important fundamental right. But there is a caveat. With freedom comes responsibility. That responsibility has not been codified and that is where the breach of intent takes place.
The press these days tends to shift towards tabloid journalism. Yet the subject has been there since time immemorial. Whether a side subject in Citizen Kane or a manifestation of Gail Wynand's popularity in Fountainhead, the subject is an oft-repeated one. The upcoming engagement and marriage of Abhi-Ash or the intense cricket hype created by the media seems to have brought the subject to the forefront again.
Medium Purists like me may frown at the over-indulgence of press in matters that are less important for 1 billion people. Last year the coverage given to "Prince" was a glaring example. And there is a definite bias. How? The same incident may occur to another individual with somewhat tragic consequences but they are consigned to minor 4-5th page columns. Why? Because the news may not interest the public anymore. Perhaps a sensationalist like Rajdeep Sardesai summed it up best. He hinted at "What you see is what you want". News is being generated or created from thin air because the public wants it. Prince got a lot of coverage and what happened. The public got involved and started praying collectively. Praying is not a bad thing but was the news worth the hype.
Ditto with cricket. People held yajnas, prayers etc because the public wanted India to win. Regardless of the performance of the Indian team in the last six months people expected india to win. And then what happened. After the crash the opinion swung to the other extreme like a pendulum. People attacked houses, visually murdered the idols. These threw up a lot of side questions like Are we short of heroes? And important ones like what is the general attitude of the common one? Why the same thing gets repeated again?
I support Rajdeep (though I dislike his sensationalism).I support the admen and broadcasters.
"We get what we want". It is the rule of free market. Perhaps it is us who need to grow up !