Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Viewer discretion needed
The year was 1976. The platform was United States of America. The movie was NETWORK.
In the most enthralling and absorbing fashion the character, Howard Beele prophesied the end of NEWS as we know it. He predicted the outcome of the savage viewer for whom bad news is good news. Scandals, Deaths, petty Human conflicts and desperations make for great story.
The year is 2010. The platform is the world. The movie is a simple and stupid entity called LIFE.
In the most enthralling and absorbing fashion we discuss about murders, rapes, deaths, Amir Khan’s eight pack and the crowd puller of them all; Kareena Kapoor’s size zero. WOW!! For all the people who read this, I raise a simple question; do you know about the Copenhagen accord? The crisis is Darfur? The Middle East embargo? The humanitarian aspects to various conflicts and hideous human acts? Lack of rights for women? Do we read these issues and spread awareness? Or are we just stuck with virtual farms in Facebook?
The answer is a big big fat NO. However that’s not the question I want to raise. There is no point in knowing what is by now an established fact. My focal point is a question that arose during a classic debate in NDTV “Should a journalist capture the moment of conflict or help the person in a conflict”. The debate raised various questions on media ethics and moral practices. When the journalists including the host Barkha Dutt (Set the agenda before the debate started) sided with the journalists to report a fact rather than save the person during the crisis. A few notable guest including the associate editor of The Hindu gave valuable insights and a two sided view to the debate.
True, at the end of the day each person has a moral obligation but when his profession lies in reporting these moral troubles, his hands are tied and his duty, or rather his bread and butter vests on him covering the event. So, when a person is bleeding to death or burning in fire is it the duty of a journalist to help the man or report the event? It can be easy for me to question the man’s integrity especially when I am not in his shoes but it still remains a focal point in understanding the true worth of a journalist. If you look at the larger picture (which was sadly not raised in the debate) what needs to be addressed is the lack of apathy of the viewer. The core of the problem is that for today’s viewer crass and voyeuristic news is an absolute delight. As much as The Hindu wants to give us good quality news its readership is declining. The reason being, the lack of entertainment and semi-nude women in the papers. The TOI India on the other hand, though has a few good articles has a more commanding readership base because adults and college students enjoy the trivial celebrity gossip. Let us not blame the news disseminators and learn to demand for quality. The moment we change our tastes and preferences and direct ourselves to quality, we will get that quality. After all, the customer is a KING.