I spend around 10 to 15 minutes at the most in front of TV, and almost always skim through the news channels, apart from peeking into what is going on in the movie channels.
While the overall coverage of news has surely improved over the past decade, there are a few things that bother me about the news channels in India. These are:
1. Mostly aggressive tone, overstating the news aspect and over-emphasizing the sensational aspects of happenings;
2. Trying to be judgemental about the characters in the news;
3. Throwing open questions that no one has answers for, including probably the person accused in the news;
4. Constantly challenging the wisdom of the newsmakers;
5. Positioning the newsreaders and interviewers and anchor newsman/newswoman as “news makers or news creators, or in plain words destroyers of human beings, or as celebrities par excellence”
Of course, these are my own views, and this is what I feel about news channels. The derivation is that there is no calm and collected analyses of news and happenings, only shrill voices questioning everything around and creating non-stop doubts in the minds of the viewers. Why should I see the news when I can get a more balanced coverage in the news media online ? If the only important agenda is finding fault with everyone, then the mission statement of these channels should be changed accordingly. What a viewer needs is not judgement, he needs bland news reported in a calm voice without a sense of agitation and righteousness that the current crop of news reporters carry with themselves ? Who are they trying to impress ? Are they the only folks concerned about what is going on in this country ?
The assumption of pseudo powers by the Fourth Estate is to be scared about, it is to be worried about. See what is happening to the famous News Corporation. It is the intrusion into the private lives of people which actually creates unpalatable news and sensational news. The only thing to be happy about the Indian TV news channels is that they have not yet started doing what the News of the World did in the U.K., but that is not far off in my opinion. May be that is coming as Gen 2 of the Indian TV channel coverage soon.
While it is all right to question public office holders, the right place for that is the Court of Law. Attempts to malign public servants with whatever information available can only be done with dignity and without threats and challenges. They are not constrained to respond to a TV news channel, which does not have any legal, moral or any other kind of authority. TV channels cannot usurp authority and drag people into mud without having a complete picture, and that too, it is not necessary for anyone to respond.
If I am asked to rank the TV news channels, it would read something like –
A) CNN IBN
B) HEADLINES TODAY
C) TIMES TV
D) NEWS X
However, not withstanding what I said above, there is some aspects which I do like on these channels. One such thing is the public panel discussion and forum discussion involving politicians (who obviously willingly participate in such sessions, despite the challenges of aggressive and hostile questioning by the anchor person). These discussions are sometimes refreshing and very illuminating on the public policy issues that are plaguing India.
In a nutshell, read your own news online or in newspapers. See TV news channels for some gimmicks and hostility display, and to push yourself to do such questioning yourself – may be one can train oneself to become a news reporter or news anchor ! But nothing much else !!
Enjoy the rest of the weekend without news channels !!!
6th August 2011