Honestly. Not that things changed overnight, but the ‘demonetization debate’ has showed us the Indian media’s underbelly.
That too, just days after the entire US media was left dumbfounded by Donald Trump, who won the presidency despite every major pre-election poll predicting otherwise.
Still. That was US and their entire mainstream media was criticized for failing to grasp the pulse of the nation.
Back home, the problem is different. The media doesn’t have unified stance, which isn’t necessarily bad.
The predicament is knowing who to trust, when.
Just search for ‘news‘ related to demonetization published in the last 48 hours and you will find articles claiming:
* How demonetization is a brilliant move AND How it’s a catastrophic failure
* How the needy are against it AND How the needy are supporting it
* How Bill Gates says it’s a bold move AND How Bill Gates has ‘no opinion’ on it
And more. Dig a little deeper and you will find contradicting stories from the same outlets.
Not that the media is expected to be on the same page, but does it really need to be a cesspool of confusion?
Even reputed publishers, who were otherwise known for their ‘objective’ journalism have become submissive, giving in to what people want to hear or read as opposed to the bitter alternative.
After all, print media is on the decline, digital media is thriving and a clickbait headlines are a ‘surer’ way of garnering more eyeballs and revenue than valuable research.
Don’t get me wrong though. I still think the media contributes majorly to society when they do fact based reporting and disseminate important information.
But there was a time when people would form their opinion after consuming news. Now, the news panders to opinions. Or at times, vendetta.
If honest journalism isn’t dead already, it’s nearing extinction.
Hours after a reputed TV channel aired a segment showing a common man cursing the government’s supposed ‘surgical strike on black money’, an individual takes to social media with an expose of his own.
He claims the channel interviewed many others who supported the move, but cherry picked the one they thought went with their narrative.
The millions who saw it, now think that ‘some’ people are suffering. Continue feeding the same story enough times and you’ve got them convinced the entire ‘nation’ is suffering. Flip the scenario and the theory still holds true.
The monopoly on ‘truth’ lies with those who have more reach.
Everyone wants to cover the ‘a piece‘ of information they found first, no one wants to stitch the pieces together and unravel the truth. Forget objective, journalism itself has gone for a toss.
By now, if you’re wondering why I’m not taking names, you shouldn’t. Take a guess. Doesn’t matter who you thought of, chances are they’re guilty as well.
Here’s the cardinal truth: Everyone has a bias. If you think there’s someone who doesn’t, they are just better at deceiving.
Today if you just read the first three lines of an article, you will almost certainly be able to figure out which side the writer leans. The writer is allowed to be completely critical or supportive.
It’s not about maintaining a balance between two sides anymore, the decision about what is right was made before the piece was written.
It’s now about convincing others to see the ‘truth we see’.
The good part, at least for the reader, is that little time spend on disguising inclinations. So, you atleast know what you’re getting in for.
I don’t know about you, but I’m still waiting to read one good report where the writer has shunned all bias and presented both sides of the story.
Don’t think that all journalists are liars; they’re not. Just make peace with the fact that they have opinions which are bound to reflect on their coverage. They can choose to specifically reveal or hide details that could potentially sway your opinion.
After all, when not reporting on absolute facts, every news report is like a documentary.
It starts with a mission to sell you on a point. If succeeds if you are convinced.
After all, a media’s success is directly proportional to their ability to convince their reader or viewer. This, right here, is a case in point.
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