With recent black out order of NDTV a debate has arisen about Free speech of media. But in a country which has almost the 3rd highest number of media outlets, how capable or responsible are our media ? Why are they constantly trying to have our attention ?The answer might not be so simple yet so obvious.
When Hicky’s Bengal Gazette first published in Kolkata on January 29,1780 a new era of movement in India. Hicky, an Irishman himself was a champion of free speech, and was the pioneer for fighting for free expression in India.
The media , espacially the print ,has all along been the backbone of humankind’s evoulution into a modern society, a light on the face of darkness , a beacon of truth.
But to be honest here press or the media to be accurate always havve had their own opinion , what is going wrong and how to fix them. ‘Biased media’ is how often we refer to media this days. But to be clear media always has been biased , biased towards a idea, or to party or to an entirely different theme altogether. Raja Rammohan Roy’s Sambad Kaumudi was one of the very first publications to have a distinct nationalist and democratic progressive orientation.
During our freedom movement newspapers like Kesari, Bombay Samachar, Indian Mirror etc played a very important role to criticize and to bring facts to the fore. But even then press was a chief instrument for carrying out the main political tasks. Political propaganda , education , formation and propagation of nationalist ideology to awkae, train, mobilize and consolidate nationalist public opinion .
Press became so powerful in India the evergrowing head of the snake threatened the Great Britain so much that they had to enact the Vernacular Press Act in 1878. And thus came censorship to India. Papers were fined and editors were jailed.
Since our Indepence India has changed a lot. Our press evolved with it. From the introduction to Radio and Television the landscape of press was fast changing and all consuming. Media houses were becoming a household name. But since the dawn of publications of newspaper one thing that brought in the cash to run newspapers was Advertisement. But witb millennium Internet bursted into our lives and the media houses upgraded to internet age to just survive. Print media was affected the most. And that there creates a huge problem. PTI or Press Trust of India has often ran into problems due to budget issues. But the private entities were hit hard. They had to come up with something. And thus came the Sensationalism and the Dawn of Yellow Page Journalism in India.
Page 3 soon became the front page and Buzzfeed, Scoophoop became the most consumed source of news for millenials. But the problem lies at its core that when the print journalism took its toll we lost the art of investigative journalism. We lost the art to criticize positively. India is independent now, most of all world’s bighest democracy. But for some weird reason Freedom of Press was nowhere mentioned in our Hugely complicated constitution. And thus came the quest for survival and adaptation to the new world order.
Press and Media soon learnt advertisements are what keeps the business running and TRP is the game where ads thrive. With adsense like clickbased advertisements came clickbait and that was the last nail in the coffin. Sensationalism became the main selling point. These days you can not change a news channel where a Breaking news is not blaring insanely or posts like “you can not believe what happened”. Leading the interview with questions sure to make the interviewee snap is the journalism of new age. Arnub Goswami the leading man in the Indian Media is not famous for shouting but the fact he plays judge and jury on his panel keeps viewers hooked and ad money flows in. TOI posts cleavage shots because they know the controversial topics brings in readers too and a country like India has an extremely short attention span.
I don’t believe journalists are paid or I should say I refuse to believe that. Ann Curry said Journalism is an act of faith in the future. A good journalist should post,write or talk about what he cares about without thinking about what may come , everything else is just Public Relations. I believe the key lies in protecting the press. Somewhere down the line our founding father missed a trick by not granting freedom to the press , so that they did not have to live in a constant fear of shutting down. So that they first could survive. Because unless survival is guaranteed morality can’t be checked, Or that is what I think.