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Media has become oblivious to its responsibilities
Media is deviating from the laws, ethics and principles that it should follow. These days, it is nothing but a money minting business that ignores its social responsibilities. However, it's high time now that society demands a change
A 14-year-old girl gets murdered brutally and what we see on our television screens is transcripts of her online chats and her personal messages. A bomb blast leaves a city shattered and what we read in our newspapers are arguments of political parties blaming each other. And not to forget, the breaking news that’s on the news channels 24x7 that a bird got stuck on a tree and was rescued by fire-fighters and that Rakhi Sawant slapped her boyfriend.

Do I need to give you more examples to prove how the standards of media are deteriorating today? Indeed, media today has become oblivious to its responsibilities.

Media is deviating from the laws, ethics and principles that it should follow. To explain this statement a little more, I take the example of Arushi murder case, which was a pure case of defamation. Defamation as defined legally is any matter that is likely to injure the reputation of any person, living or dead. And it’s so sad that the media that should have been doing investigative reporting to find out the culprits, was instead, busy pointing a finger atthe girl’s character and also supplementing this disgusting act by going to the extent of revealing her personal messages.

Another example of non-ethical journalism was recently seen, when pictures of injured victims of the Delhi bomb blasts were shown on television. According to ethics, media is not allowed to do so. But it still did it. And not just this time. They also did it when dead bodies of the soldiers were shown during the Kargil War.

Indeed, media today no longer cares about the responsibility that it has towards the public, the responsibility of bringing the truth ethically and objectively without hurting anybody’s sentiments and the consequence of this is over-hyped news.

Today’s media actually sensationalises news. Giving out facts and details to the public which are not true, or even worse, manufacturing them, is what has become the latest trend. Even if media is in the business of selling, where do we draw a line? What exactly is the limit?

An example of this was the sting operation on Uma Khurana – a school teacher who was publicly humiliated and became the victim of a petty revenge planned by a businessman, Virender Arora, who tipped off his journalist friend in order to gain publicity. Khurana was accused of pushing her students into prostitution, whereas the unedited tapes revealed that she refused to do any such thing.

Sting operations these days are mere attempts to sensationalise news and gain television rating points (TRPs) rather than highlighting legitimate public interest issues. They have become a source to fill in time-slots on 24-hour news channels which constantly need something on air. And they hardly follow the principle on which they are supposed to be conducted, which is to reveal the truth to the public about various concerning issues.

I believe, that instead of being ’with’ and ’for’ the people and serving them, media has distanced itself from the public. Today’s media looks for big, grand issues to be covered as news stories instead of stories at the grass root level. The miserable conditions, in which the people were living in Surat, never attracted the media’s attention, until the outbreak of plague there. In Surat, 54 deaths were reported but the scale of the media reports and the panic created, led some to call it, ’plague by the media’.

All this points to some unanswered questions – where are we heading? Why isn’t the media fulfilling its responsibility? And why has it become so laid back? The media has very conveniently chosen to ignore all this and continues to be in a mess.

It is high time now and we are in desperate need of media that becomes an effective instrument of social change and not one that ignores society altogether. Otherwise, media will be nothing but a money minting business, which has no ethics, no essence and no responsibility.

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