Fiver years ago on this day, we sat in-front of our television sets watching live pictures of Mumbai under siege. The news channels and their reporters worked hard in the newsrooms and on field, even risked their lives to bring those pictures to our drawing rooms unaware of the fact that the same pictures were watched by people sitting in a war room in Pakistan, making strategies and passing orders after drawing information from what they saw.
But after the siege ended, we saw a series self bashing prime time debates in the media, much alike those we saw in some news channels yesterday after the CBI court’s verdict in the Aarushi murder case.Many believe our media is still immature and sensationalist. Some have even called an ailment and named it the Breaking News Syndrome. Some ask – When will the Indian media grow up? Whereas, I ask- Who really needs to grow, we or the media?
“The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything. Except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.” ~Oscar Wilde
I know it is an over-stated statement that ‘Media is just the reflection of the society’, and I do believe it is just partially true, for media is not ‘just’ the reflection of the society but also an emphatic opinion maker. I also believe that media just not includes the news channels and the news papers but every medium that helps in communication with the masses which includes social media, cinema, music etc. Now with that widened perspective let us reconsider the statement- ‘Media is a reflection of society’. Can we deny it is not?
The media has always walked with the society, since ancient times it has done that- reflected about the society. Remember the stone age cave drawings we read about in our history books? What purpose did it serve for the historians to read and decode them? It told them about the kind of society in those times. And do we remember the cinematic image of a drum-beater pronouncing the kings order in-front of the masses. It was the ‘media’ of those times which tells us that in that society a king was in control of the public opinion and opinion of the masses mattered least. And today, what does our media tells us about? Same, the kind of society we are living in.
So now, with this point of view if we look at the kind of stories that are flooded in the news channels we can easily deduce what kind of society we have ‘grown’ into. Do we have enlightening thoughts discussed in the media, or are our movies based on mind awakening philosophical quests? No they are not. Even if a few of them are, they are lost in obscurity. What does that tell us about ourselves? Simple, that we are not the kind of people interested in enlightening ideas. We like titillation of senses and that we are served. Our cinema is filled with violence and sex and so is the news. I would obviously not agree to the argument that this is what is happening all around all the time, of course these aren’t the only things happening in the society, there are better things taking place too. But we as society don’t take pleasure in them.
We as society also have a habit of outward thinking- of watching, hearing, feeling and speaking. Therefore the information or ideas we demand for are also such that they just satisfy our demands of watching, hearing, feeling and speaking. Honestly,how many of us spare ourselves some time for inward thinking? How many of us spend time imagining some thing, estimating ourselves, how many of us prefer common sense over the five senses?
It is simple economics of demand and supply. What we demand for, is given to us. What we don’t demand for becomes a commercial flop and vanishes. It is indeed a game of TRPs and Box Office collection. But it is not interminable. For the power to change lies with us, the media would change with us. Remember, not without us… because, since ages our media has walked with us, hand in hand. So the media which from the cave drawings have developed to a 24 hour HD news channel or a three dimensional cinema would also serve us intellectual content, when as a society we would demand for it.