Media Hegemony

Next to reading, I like to watch TV debates on important issues.  In fact some of my short articles (rather brainstorms) are based on such debates.  But since last few months, I almost lost interest to watch such debates, particularly In CNN-IBN and NDTV on several issues related to our National interest like security, terrorism, Naxalite issue, Leadership crisis, Disaster management etc.

Some time it is better to just watch the news and do some other meaningful work than spending time by watching and listening such debates.  Because the same kinds of questions are asked by the anchors and the same kind of answers are given by the panellists.  Of course as the problem/challenge and the solution remain the same, the question and answers too remain the same.  But some time if the panellists come from outside political affiliation, then we can hear some alternative and new approach to the unchanging problems/challenges.  But when the Politicians are there in the panel, they are going to give the same kind of rhetoric answer to the same kind of rhetoric questions by the anchors.  So I become tired of such media rhetoric and use my time more usefully.  Of course this is not going to bring any change in media, but I thank God not for the person who invented TV but remote control where I can change the channels.

Media rhetoric is the statement ‘we are the first to give this report’.  For example, after the recent flood fury hit Uttaranchal, the CNN-IBN reporter giving report from Kedarnath said that ‘we are the first one to give this report directly from Kedarnath’.  But interestingly NDTV reporter also said the same.  But they think that we don’t know that reporters from these two and few more (hegemonic) channels, using their influence among the political parties (because of their media hegemony) could easy access to reach such remote place by the army helicopters to give the report.  So where is the place for such question ‘we are the first one to send this report’?  If they are honest they should say ‘we are the first one to twist the hands of the government by using our influence among the politicians to reach first Kedarnath.’

This is not a media bashing—another media rhetoric when we question their integrity.  For example, immediate after the disaster within two days, both CNN-IBN and NDTV managed to get the precious time of the Uttaranchal Chief Minister Sri Bahuguna to give interview to Karan Thapar (Devil’s advocate) and also Barka Datt.  If the media were so serious about their responsibility—particularly in such time of emergency, should have left the CM to pay more attention to the rescue operation than wasting his time with such hegemonic Medias.  For me, even if he took one hour rest than wasting his time with such media, he could have better equip himself to meet the challenges.  I didn’t watch both the programs as they more irritated me by making the governments to bend before their media hegemony.  The politicians too have some fear about the media influence.  To how many more channels Bahuguna would give such interview?  And how many more reporters from other non-popular channels could have reached Kedarnath through the army helicopter?  Only CNN-IBN and NDTV (and few such powerful media) alone managed even to interview top army personals who are stationed at Joshimutt to monitor the operations.  Other small Medias cannot have such power to talk to them.  Such media hegemony by such powerful channels is nothing but another kind of political blackmail—in the name of giving information to the public.

Now National TV—also joined in such rhetoric.  When DD National News reporter reached Gangotri, he also repeated the same rhetoric ‘we are the first one to give live report from Gangotri’.  Though they too succumb to the pressure by other medias, yet it is the only reliable channels for impartial news—except giving too much time to the Congress spokesperson often in their news (and thanks to the remote I will switch the TV to some other channel and will come back after few minutes to watch other news in DD News).

The media often claim that they are the fifth pillar of the democracy.  But the way they conduct themselves—particularly the private channels like CNN-IBN and NDTV, often become a wall between the government/politicians and public to decide what kind of news we ought to get than what we need to get?  But they should realize that unlike in the past where there was not much alternative available to the public (like newspaper and few TV channels and Radio stations), now the social media finally become the deciding factor by giving space for every individual than to depend on the printed or visual media.

So the media rhetoric now becomes a media menace.

Dayanand Bharati. June 26, 2013