Indian News: An Underdeveloped Media
Indian media is amongst the oldest in the world with print media being established as early as 1780. India is the second largest newspaper market globally, with daily newspapers reporting a combined circulation of over 240 million copies as of 2018 and has more than 400 news channels. Journalism is suffering in the planet’s largest democracy and if no action is taken, the consequences could be dire.
Today’s standard of Indian Journalism has significantly worsened. Ideally, our media informs the public with facts and logical debates. Ideally, there is deep reportage documenting vital information valuable to the Indian population. Ideally, our media is a presenter of facts without tilting towards or aligning with any political ideology. The News does not need to set a political narrative or run a political party’s agenda for it to deliver information. It is not supposed to be bhakt or leftist or centrist or center right or take any other political direction possible while presenting facts.
India’s economy has witnessed a historic drop, millions of Indians have lost their job due to the Covid-19 pandemic and thousands of people are dying every single day, the tensions at the border with China and Pakistan are continually rising. Yet, where does our media choose to concentrate their attention? Their main focus currently, is the drama of ‘The Bollywood Drug Mafia’ and seem to have ignored what information requires their utmost attention and coverage at this time. It looks as though the nation faces nothing more significant than the death of an actor who passed over two months ago.
There are news agencies paying to get interviews with the prime accused only so they can put out the story first. It feels like a war between channels. Sadly, it is uncommon to find a media house focused on giving the people the news they require. The primary objective seems to be gaining viewership.
Why is Indian News this bad?
Is it the reporters? Is there something wrong with society? Or are we just incapable of producing straightforward news programming?
Under the present government the press isn’t free anymore. Since Prime Minister Modi came to power in 2014, there have been instances where the government has pressurized news media owners to silence, suppress or even fire journalists who criticize the PM. There are also cases where advertisers are pressurized to terminate contracts with media houses who speak against the authorities. Not only is this present at the national level but also on a much smaller scale with local authorities harassing rural and urban news agencies.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines freedom of the press as the right of newspapers, magazines, etc., to report news without being controlled by the government. The Reporters Without Borders annual press freedom index, released on April 21st 2020, ranks Indian Press at No. 142 among 180 countries.
Here is one such instance of the news being suppressed:
"Journalists should not be the collateral victims of negligent behavior by authorities, who react by trying to silence the reporters who expose problems instead of trying to solve the problems,"
-Daniel Bastard, the head of Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) Asia-Pacific desk, said in a statement.
There is fault with us, the viewing public, too. The media of our country shows what the majority of people want to see, or what they think people want to watch on their news channel. A newspaper with a headline revealing the latest tragedy will sell more copies than one announcing the latest scientific breakthrough. Indian news channels feed on the gullible nature of the public. To change this, we must do the opposite. Ignoring all news that is not important is a great place to start. How do you know what’s important? Ask yourself this – Does the information being covered directly affect you? If so, it’s important. Like a vote, every viewer counts.
At the end of the day, even the media is business. They are keen on increasing the viewership, gathering audience, increasing TRP and minting money. With enough time and effort, we can begin to change.
About The Author -
Mayank Maurya, a student at Christ Junior College spends most of his time covering social issues and writing articles on the same. He is passionate about photography and has been playing the guitar for 4 years consistently. He aspires to learn more each day.