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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

TV Journalism - from news reporting to news creation

I happened to read a pretty *interesting* article by a news blogger on the recent Peepli Live movie which lampooned media journalism and the current way news is dished out on television. As the author mentions, gone are the days when news was reported with programs like "The World this week" of which I was an religious follower and credit my simple understanding of global events to it.

Current News channels are more like reality shows. You can choose from watching the crappiest of news when a celebrity joins twitter to the biggest environmental accident unfolding on the other side of the world.

I did consider news channels in India worthy of news till 2006, after which I came face to face with the more sophisticated and organized media houses of the US. Here is what I have understood and learnt so far.

US news channels have known alignments - whether left or right and the rest sway depending on the story or the issue. There are also identified channels for the individuals who prefer about celebrities, shopping and so forth.

  • Rising above them are channels like Fox News and others, the experience of watching couple of shows on them would lead you to question yourself about your entire education and what you have learnt in school or college. They also tend to offer a deep insight into what media feeds the "mass population" of the US to keep their opinions aligned to their own "opinions".
  • America is surely the leader in "news creation" and nowadays I fear even "History" being re-defined by the syndicated shows on these news channels. Take a quick look at Glenn Beck and likes and you would understand what I mean.

Compared to these, the Indian news business ( I really mean the "business" word ) is still in its growing stage, but it would not be long before we see near absolute erosion of the "Journalism ethics" of reporting news vs. creating the news. Where we are not on the similar stage with the US news industry is that our news channels seem to try to become “All in one” where you will find the regular news slots preceded or followed by sensationalist news bytes, which sometimes border on yellow journalism to say the least. 

Media was once known as the weapon which could expose wrongdoings in the society, but now has been used to just "poke" and have fun without any serious follow ups except couple of reporters who still carry the real journalism on their sleeves every day. Just think of the numerous sting operations and fact finding missions carried out and plastered all across the channels. What happens after the channels rake in the TRP ratings ? Well, they move on to another “developing” story. Its a rarity to see true issues being raised and the people responsible being questioned to its resolution or a conclusive end.

The movie "Rann" showcased what media coupled with businesses can do with their power to gain popularity and TRP ratings and meet selfish needs of the ones who wield the power. Of course, the corrupt politician has his hands in here as well, they have their hands everywhere where there is money, isn't it.

Its a disappointing scenario where the channels have communication have multiplied and become easier to access, the quality of information also tends to vary. Sometimes, it is for one’s good, as now you have multiple sources to verify information being consumed by you. On the other hand, if you do not exercise good judgment, you can end up making opinions and influencing decisions which sometimes are not you would like to think upon in the future.

I have really liked the idea of mainstream news reporting coupled with blogs from the same guys. This not only gives you an idea of what the person thinks like, but gives a chance to read through their previous news reporting to get an idea of how fair or biased a reporter really is. I have found couple of worthless pieces which have driven away from certain websites for ever.

In the end, I would like to say is : Whether it is good or bad, take every news with a “grain of salt” and some fact finding effort by yourself. Now time to go and track the newsmakers, the real ones. . .

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