Friday, July 19, 2013

Cherry Picking


Dear News Channels, 



‘No Room For Real Issues’, ‘War of Words’ and ‘Punch Fest’ are some recent headlines of editorials featuring in prominent newspapers. When the print media feels the need to debate real issues, I fail to comprehend your fetish for non-issues. 

The recent ‘Puppy’ and ‘Burqa’ analogy represents a sad trend of viewing debates purely from the TRP reading glass. I am referring to the cherry picking of words and dissecting them endlessly on prime time. Whether it was the ‘bee-hive’ observation by Rahul or the ‘puppy’ analogy by Modi, you select the juiciest bone, chew it to bits, and wait for another succulent one for consumption. 


If you happen to drive a few kilometers away from Gurgaon towards Haryana, you will come across ‘taus’ impeccably dressed, lazing on rickety charpoys, smoking hookah and engaged in animated discussions. A closer look reveals that these octogenarians spend days discussing buffaloes and their milking ritual.To any discerning viewer, you and their ilk look like contemporary versions of ‘taus’ who pick one insignificant  topic, chew it for days, regurgitate and conveniently ignore issues that really matter.

Interestingly, towards the end of trivial raucous debates, most anchors regain moral ground and conclude that instead of expending energies on coining and dissecting terms of little relevance, the political parties would do well to focus on issues that really matter to the average citizen.

While we are smart enough to see through the games of polarization, recent debates have created an impression that Modi was perhaps deliberately naming and denigrating one community. I am not sure, but after listening to your gobbledygook, it seems very likely that the attempt was to polarize voters. However, what Modi could not, you managed with amazing ease.Polarize the atmosphere that is.

It is easy to grab a microphone and record sound bites from politicians on isolated comments made by their rivals. Who wants to spend time and money on in-depth discussions when sensationalism comes easy and sells even better? 
Not willing to be left behind, the warring factions come up with their wittiest best. So for every Rambo we have a Scambo and for every Scambo we have a Mogambo. For every Burqa we have Khakhi shorts and for every Bee-Hive we have an Elephant.

A relevant study by The Hoot reveals that DD bulletins were most comprehensive in terms of number of stories covered.Perhaps the wheel has come full circle. 
Yes, it is the pre election year and our leaders are going berserk. Considering the stakes involved, who can blame them? But why are you going bonkers? Politics first? No, it should be governance first.

And yes, for whatever it is worth, I have no option but to revert back to the channel best known for Krishi Darshan.



A disheartened viewer.


(Read the entire article originally on The Hoot )

24 comments:

  1. The irresponsibility and unprofessional behavior of most TV journalists today is appalling, Alka. I've stopped watching the news for a while now! ;)

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    Replies
    1. True. I have been critiquing the media for some websites and papers, hence the interest.

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  2. I hardly watch T.V. I find that most of the news is over sensationalized to get TRP'S.

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    Replies
    1. Political cynicism is understandable but the rage against media is an alarming trend. Unfortunate.

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  3. Even I dont watch TV news at all. It is better to read it in newspapers or on the net. The sensationalizing of everything, mudslinging in debates, does not appeal to me!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, the print media seems more reliable when compared to the television media.

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  4. The problem is that you view those programs as news programs, Alka! They are only a variant of "Big Brother" that is all :) DD has the only news programs in the country now.

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    Replies
    1. Sadly they continue to be a govt mouthpiece. Balanced unbiased reporting remains a mirage.

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  5. Yet another trait I share with you, Rachna and Shilpa:) How can one keep spending energy on sic n bakwas news fodder!!!Alka, thanks for highlighting this national waste of time:)

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  6. Alka you are absolutely correct. TV news is all about TRPs. I too prefer to read news paper,but here ,it appears most of the news is purchased.

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    1. This disenchantment with the media is an alarming trend.
      Thanks for reading.:)

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  7. Shoma Choudhury of Tehelka (who I really admire) had once pointed out that news channels are forced to have sponsors like political parties or big business to generate income as we, the public, don't need to pay for news anymore. Whatever the news media says, that sponsorship has to come at a price. Stretching what limited news they CAN report to inane discussions isn't the answer. Great post, Alka.

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  8. I have completely stopped watching Prime time news shows aka dramas. I watch BBC World news and news on the web once in a while. I find magazines and newspapers way better. It is all about TRPs Alka, nothing else. Hence news has become like soap operas.

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    Replies
    1. Rachna, I have been critiquing the media and political scene for some time and this disenchantment with the media is alarming. Who do we trust?

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  9. But these are not news channels. They are versions of daily soaps. I have stopped watching prime time news channels because they make me puke but there are crores of Indians still glued to them.

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    Replies
    1. I have been critiquing the media and the political scene for websites like The Hoot, Indian Exponent etc, hence the interest.

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  10. You spoke for the sentiments of many, Alka. The problem with DD is that they cover very less news, I would say, the most important ones. The other news channels are a total .....

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  11. TV is boring these days.. I hardly pick up the remote and if I do... I straightaway switch to travel or music channel ..
    the old charm of good debates and rich news is gone.... even the good anchors are doing the same publicity and TRP driven shows.
    one thing about DD... musical Ads :P

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  12. Hey Alka, guess it's the survival of the fittest on who will generate bigger and bigger TRP. Sad law but it seems is what sells get the upper hand. But, I agree with you, controversies are generated. I was watching some show on illegal bar girls/ prostitution in Mumbai and it seemed the visuals were made out..clicking here and there and smartly edited. It look all fake and burst out laughing.
    Cheers

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  13. Dear News Channels,
    Stop behaving like gossping mohalle ki aunties, giving us more fiction than fact and colouring it with your unwanted opinions.

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  14. I had stopped watching ndtv about a year or so back.With time,i have given up on most of the TV news channels as those are news manufacturing units at a price.
    I now rely more on social media and news portals.

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