TV Media and “real” India

Today, former Prime Minister V P Singh was quoted as saying that media ignores ‘real’ India. As much as I hate Mr. Singh for such a big disappointment that he was, I must say this is a discussion worthy observation.

Popular news channels seem to talk a lot a lot more about SENSEX, malls, real estate and cars. They tailor their products to suit their market – the middle class. They sell dreams, and carry other stuff that sells – cricket, movies and politics.

aajtak logoBut “real” India does get ignored even in stories that are not pure urban in nature. Take the reservation issue for instance. Why cover only IITs and IIMs when talking reservations? Not one channel talked about the tier II professional institutes, and the complicated admission procedures they live with (heard of CET and ComedK?). And “real” India is not just about professional colleges. Thanks to the media, I don’t even know if every College of art or commerce out there is going to get touched by 50% reservations. I assume yes.

ndtvlogo Urban India or rural, infrastructure is the biggest hurdle our country faces today. But why is that this infrastructure word is paired only with Bombay and Bangalore? Power shortage ails much of “real” India, but it gets talked about only when New Delhi sees six hour long blackouts. The powerful “Right to information” act is over a year old now, but media is yet to put together a comprehensive end-to-end story around the act – forget expecting them to educate their viewers about it.

Agreed, they got to balance sales with realistic coverage to survive as businesses. But the assumption that their customers don’t like to hear about “real” India may not be right. As recent elections proved, local and real issues matter as much as the national ones. Perhaps regionalization of news and information medium is the solution that serves all – consumer citizens and media houses.


One Response

  1. I was reading my teacher’s blog the other day and was overwhelmed to know that he believes in a principle to the core- “Do not talk about individuals, talk about issues”. I’ve seen him implementing this. On this context, let me address the current Indian media. Everytime when I tackle such issues, I borrow heavily from P Sainath sir, my favorite journalist. It’s long since our country’s media has taken up actual “issues” and done justice with them- price rise, farm crisis and rural injustice being the worst reported till date.

    We live in a country where every issue is reduced to a fight between individuals, heroic, villainous or just fun figures. So the complex issues behind the shunning of Pakistani cricketers by the Indian Premier League have reduced to a fight between Shah Rukh Khan and Bal Thackeray. The agonies of Bundelkhand are not about hunger and distress in our Tiger Economy. They are just a stand-off between Rahul Gandhi and Mayawati. The issues of language and migrations in Maharashtra are merely a battle between Rahul Gandhi and Uddhav Thackeray. And the coverage is all about who blinked first, who lost face. Here I go again, taking lot many names, again.

    As our TV and newspaper reporters blabber, I read somewhere “freedom of expression”. Frankly, we have neither. All we are left off with, is twisted freedom and a tortured expression. Issues today are either used to scare people, or entertain them. And all we do about it is hold a bag of popcorn and watch.


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