JOURNALISM – WHAT EXACTLY IS THAT?

about 11 days ago
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For the first time ever, SEBI yesterday made eyebrows go high up and even left some mouths gaping open when it restrained host of TV channel, CNBC-Awaaz from buying, selling or dealing in the securities market. He has been directed not to give any investment advice or stock recommendations till further directions. His accounts and those of his family members have also been frozen.

SEBI has prima facie evidence that Ghai’s mother and wife bought stocks on the previous day and sold it the next day the moment a recommendation was made in the show. The market regulator concluded that they executed some 90 trades worth over Rs.100 crore, between Jan’19 to May’20. They are alleged to have pocketed gains to the tune of around Rs.3 crore.

This is the first time ever that a media person of any caliber has been restrained by SEBI. Ghai is very small fry compared to all the big ‘operations’ which the big fishes fry. So, we all know that the news or recommendation that we see could be ‘planted’ or ‘paid’ yet, we choose to believe what our mind fools us to believe in.

The ideal role of the media is to provide an unbiased, objective and truth account of facts about things happening around us. And today, this “idealism” remains just that – a notion. And that brings us to the question as to what exactly does the media do today? We have seen innumerable instances of inane celebrity news getting the lead story while a human tragedy will command a small one corner. It is not because the media does not know what is news – it produces news based on what the public wants, based on our perceptions.

It is our perceptions, determined by our culture and not natural occurrence. Thus news is today selected and then “constructed”. It is journalists who decide what is newsworthy and how it needs to be presented – the audio, image, timing – everything is planned like a movie script. Journalists who were supposed to present news are ‘professional story tellers of our age’.

Is this where we are heading? Is media reliable at all? And, if yes, which form of media is the most reliable?  The answers to most of the above questions are pretty straightforward: you cannot rely on a single form of media for news.

Each form of media has its own pros and cons and as a consumer, it is on us, to decide which form of media to trust. What we need to keep in mind today, while reading, seeing or listening to news is that at all points of time, we need to take the news given with complete objectivity – treat it just as what it is supposed to be – news. But even while we get any news, the one point which we should keep reminding ourselves time and again is that the news is “produced”; each and every news that we get today is manufactured and fitted into our life based on its relevance.

And while we look at the produced news, it could act as a very powerful mirror of the society that we live in. As news is selected by the news producers based on our perceptions, it is a reflection of our culture – the obsession with Deepika or Anushka- Kohli is what puts them always on the front page. At the same time, hunger still stalks Bihar and many parts of UP, drug remains a big problem in Punjab, the unemployed youth of India is rising, but we do not want to see this; we know it exists but it does not affect us directly in any way. Thus the quality of news that we see on the front page of newspapers or look at the top trending news on the social media; it gives us a peek into the society that we live in.

In fact this mad rush to “break news” and always stay ahead tells us the tale of our times we live in – a rat race that we call life!

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