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Recent efforts to gag news media in India
Politicians (regardless of parties or ideologies) are worried about the amount of violence being shown in the news channels, recent example being the Mumbai terrorist attacks. There is an effort to gag the media in the parliament. Is it fair?
THIS HAS been an eventful week, with the oath of the president of United States Barack Obama dominating the media, along with United Nations outcry over Gaza, the ongoing fighting in Sri Lanka, the war of rhetoric between India and Pakistan, and the economic depression finally officially hitting UK being the other main events.
 
One important interesting event, that’s creating a buzz here in India, but went more or less unnoticed, a move in the Indian parliament that is being debated about the advisability of curbing the media.
 
Does it sound like going back to the Stone Age? Wait...there’s more to it. Apparently our politicians (regardless of parties or ideologies) are worried about the amount of violence being shown in the news channels, recent example being the Mumbai terrorist attacks, and their alleged harmful influence on the psychology of the kids.
 
And lastly (listen to this one!) a public interest litigation (PIL) is going to be moved, by some NGOs and some people, who claim that they are more aware about these problems than others. Other arguments being advocated are:
  • News channels are mostly suffering from ‘Breaking News syndrome’ and are all going for eye catchy reports instead of regular ethical journalism. (Stumped? I couldn’t get the meaning of those words too...)
  • Sensationalism and titillating reality shows are happening more, which somehow reflect the voyeuristic mindset of the media people (duh!)
  • And, finally, (this one’s the best!) reporters don’t have any good work other than shouting, and they are proving to be bad mannered and are not good role models for growing kids...(talk about "points of contention"?)
 
I just couldn’t resist the urge of answering to some of these arguments; blame it on my nature, or my socio-legal studies background. Media people are being regarded as the most cursed life form on earth, here in this sub-continent. But is this really justified, that in this age of information we should go back to the days of dictatorial emergency of the 1970s with the media controlled by the authoritarian government with the feeds being judged according to the whims and fancies of the politicians?
 
Isn’t this kind of living in a fool’s paradise, choosing to stay detached from reality? As of the matter of sensationalism, yes, I agree to the fact that there have been a diluting of ethics, but after all one should admit that it’s a business too! I mean, let’s face it, sensational shows, (read crime reporting) brings in the greatest television ratings and it’s quite hypocritical of people who oppose them, to watch themselves and criticise about the "voyeuristic mindset of reporters"...(ironic).
 
The matter of children being affected by violence in news is one of the most ridiculous points I have ever come across. What are parents there for then, when they can’t control their kids from watching things, which they claim to be harmful? (matter of over-protectiveness is beyond the scope of my discussion here).
 
Only thing, these parents should be reminded of, is an old saying, "if you can’t face the heat, go out of the kitchen". Lastly, I met a reporter of one of the oldest English newspapers in India here in Calcutta, who was near the hotel Taj in Mumbai, when in front of him a photojournalist from an international news agency got shot in the hand by a stray bullet from the terrorists, and told him about the ‘bad manners’ of the field reporters, he smiled sarcastically and said, "When we live on field surviving on gallons of coffee, some sit at home in the comfort of their drawing rooms to criticise only, we pity their ignorance..."
 
I guess that speaks enough!
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