A joint statement on terrorism by the Prime Minister invites as much flak as admiration of an initiative of a peace process by the Times of India. In both cases the other contributor being the 'bitter' enemy Pakistan. It took all of investigative journalism to 'unearth' the mystery of the Shopian murders in Kashmir. Though both cases seem different in context, each reflects the growing influence of media,both print and visual. One in prodding the government machinery into swift action and the other to lead public opinion.
Media today has emerged into a more proactive role. It does not limit itself to mere reporting of facts and statements. Today, it has taken upon itself the mantle of the political watchdog and claims itself to be the voice of the unheard.
Gone are the days when the old lady on DD said anything barely understood unless listened with intent and an even older gentleman giving the weather report. It is time now for the glamorous newsreader, read anchor, freshly out of a journalism school who can make anyone say what she wants them to , to creates some excitement in the dour lives of the viewers and what the 'experts' have to say on such a matter.
Gone are the days when the newspapers stated nothing except what the Prime Minister said about the reply of the Finance Minister to an issue raised by the MP of Tinsukhia for procuring more guns to counter who knows whom. It is more 'saucy' now with the likes of Shobha De and her columns on how to lead life. Entertaining news is the new order. Else who would be interested in what Shah Rukh Khan has named his dog or how many the Tiger managed
to tame in bed.
The unofficial fourth arm of the government is seldom subject to criticism, much less to ridicule to the content of 'news' that is on air and in print. It has come to be the omnipotent power that can raise to celestial heights or grind to dust careers. SPS Rathore can ill afford a smile even in the comfort of his home let alone in front of the camera. Such has been the impact of the 'media trail'. It remains unchallenged in its reach and ability to mould public opinion. This might invariably lead to the proverbial ‘fabrication’ of news.
The media stands unbridled in its unity. A slip reprimanding the press for an invasion more than necessary is bound to invoke the ire of the entire media community. The protest condemning such 'inhuman' act makes one seek a dip in Ganga to wash him of this sacrilege.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra would second that. Careers built over years and decades of sweat, blood and tears fall off from the people’s grace were it for the whims and caprices of the media. The likes of Tiger Woods would vouch for it.
Our Prime Minister was at the receiving end of all public rebuke when he embarked on a joint statement condemning terrorism with his Pakistani counterpart (Sharm-el-Sheikh) . This , at a time when the wounds of 26/11 were still fresh in the minds of the public. And he 'deservedly' got a rap for exhibiting such 'bravado'. But when the print media initiates a regional peace initiative through cultural, art and philosophical exchange programs it draws applause from all corners.
The free hand of the media needs a rein of control, not an official one for, to impinge upon the 'freedom' of press would to be nothing short of blasphemy and it also goes against our principles and not to mention the hue and cry it is bound to raise and the call of the loom of another emergency. The control needs to be more from the very people who 'consume'
what it churns out. This kind of press can then rightfully stake its claim to the mantle it prides in, else it would be reduced to another source of entertainment dished out to people the way they want it than moulding opinions towrds the better.