Sunday, December 30, 2012

Trial by media - How preposterous can it become?

Anybody who even has just scanned past the TV channels in India in the past 2 weeks, would know there was something wrong that had happened in New Delhi. The incident was a big opportunity for story-starved news channels, especially the elite English new channels to get a surge in the TRP ratings. Now, noone in his best of senses would deny that it was gruesome act of voilence and the assaulters, whoever it is, should get the strictest of the punishements. But, we are not yet a banana republic, where we have run out of laws and our last 'Go To' men are those news anchors, clad in nice suits, shouting to the top of their voice, as if they are only source of justice in India.

And to this 24 hour coverage of one issue and only that issue, albeit, a major and compelling story, only shows that the media wants to lap up anything in their way to get lot of eyes balls and sky rocket the TRP ratings. Otherwise, how can one reason, such endless coverage of one story, completely ignoring all other issues faced by this great nation. Even the coverage of this issue is done so shabbly that panelists, especially people from the governement and officals are not allowed to voice their opinion. Its only the news anchor who calls all the shots and he acts as the judge, jury and prosecutor.

What happens is, with this 24 hour coverage on one single issue is also turning our largely tolerant society to an extremely intolerant and people who doesnt have any faith in the Indian judicial system. Like instant breaking news, people these days want instant punishment without a fair trail.

At a time, when all leading nations in the world have praised the Indian judicial system  for its extremely fair trail to Kasab and giving him every opporunity to defend himself, we are setting a dangerous examples of people being completely intolerant. Our judicial system, is one which believes, whoever is the accused,  must be given a  fair trial and all opporunities to defend himself and it runs on the underlying principle, that  not a single person, who is not guilty should be punished. Though the content of the so called debate is just the same, throughout the day(just shout), different people watch at different time and all this shouting, only makes even ordinary people also become intolerant and want to show their anger by proposing immediate capital pumishment to the accused(not even the trial has begun yet in the court) in their drawing rooms. If only, trials are happening in the news rooms of media houses and drawing rooms of the citizens.

Media and news channels was focussing on the rampage in New Delhi and had blown it out of proportions and we have this new kid on the block, who is in his dream world, where he and his new party is the only saviour of this society and has started the party, with help of bunch of jokers around him. How farcical can it become? First, they wanted the government to take note and heed to their opinion. The Prime Minister, noting the outpouring anger appealed for calm in a televised address to the nation. Still, the media was not satisfied, analysing and even at some instances mocked his speech , accusing it was bit late in the day. For godsake, he is the prime leader of the government and national address cannot be made every other day by him. Accepted, that there is a lot this government has to do, but at some point of time, we need to acknowledge his speech and give time to the governement to do their work.

This unstinted, continuous and sometimes irrtitaing harping around on one issue, only leaves with one question. Where has this media been, when many such similar incidents has taken place before. This is not the first time, such incident has happened and it wont be the last.Need of the hour, is constructive dialogue and strict laws by the government and all parties, which the government already said it would bring stricter laws in the next parliament session in February.

Union laws are not easily done like setting up four chairs aroud a table with cameras beeming on the so called 'Panelists' and each other shouting at the top of their strength. People have to realise(lot of them are beggining to understand) that the news channels also have to play a vital role in the growth of this society and not sensationalise every issue for their own benefit. After all, this is the media, knowingly or unknowingly helped the terrorists during 26/11 with their live coverage of the attack.

How many news channels have debated about media reforms that the government has to look into when it comes to national importance? The channels talk about executive, judicial, economic and electoral reforms in our country. We shouldnt forget, like all of the above, media reforms are also one of the most important issue that government has to look into.

So, at the same time, when we should make sure that such ghastly attacks doesnt happen to women  in the future, its also high time, we will have to make sure, that over-the-top and preconceived, non-stop TV debates, which in a way, are instigating violence should not be encouraged and media houses should be sternly told they must draw a border line for everything. After all, its the fourth pillar of our democracy and the people of this country deserve atleast some amount of responsibilty from the media houses.