Saturday, May 3, 2014

NOTA option for Krantikari Media- Need of the hour

NOTA option- needed in Media

In the now famous ‘Krantikari’ interview with AajTak, Modi took the word ‘Krantikari’ at least 5 times, giving the tag a sarcastic connotation, well earned by Aaj Tak. Till then no one had brought the narrative of  illicit cohabitation of Media and Political parties to public discussion.
And the rousing appreciation from public, for catching media by its evil horns, is evident from the trending #ModiOnAajTak in twitter. This tweet sums up the general feeling. 

The tweets expressed the collective glees of public, their feelings akin to fans of larger than life Indian hero, thrashing a throng of villains in an one sided fight. It was Rajnikath vs the rest of the villainous world. But in this case, the fight was real not reel. Defeat was not make believe, for the viewers could see for themselves the pusillanimous interviewers, perhaps forced to act the way they did by their pay masters, meaning employers, running for cover with tail between their legs, just as Rajnikanth would make the horde of villains do.  
All the mirror neurons that flashed that night could have lit a village. Modi was doing to the media, what many of us would have given an arm and leg to. As Modi lay bare the lies of the media calling out the ‘emperor has no cloths’ – a moment of truth dawned. Media will never be the same again and in my mind, this action was a watershed moment. It was a moment of vicarious victory for the viewers, over the soul selling, moolah raking media under the guise of ideological reporting.
During the interview, whenever the interviewers asked questions along the line “have you stopped beating your wife” Modi was quick to call their bluff off. He accused them of pursuing a policy of asking questions, not as a ‘neutral media’ but as one seeking TRP, truth be damned. That was the crux of the interview to me.
When the facts of DD interview were there for all to see, what is it those two interviewers sought from Modi? When Modi tried bringing back the narrative to mature topics, what made those interviewers slide back to topics of gossip? What made one of the interviewers take back his comments,  a refreshing change? Did I mention 'watershed moment'?
As I repeat ad nauseam, the media now has no place for the cerebral lot. Let me qualify it, the popular media, which consists of the entire English and most of the Hindi media is full of shallow, loud mouthed, ignorant, arrogant people whose only qualification seems to be their ability to deliver dialogue tinged in ideological dye and connection to some political lackey.
 About printed media, suffice to say, yuck
In that interview it came out clearly that the interviewers had no clue about the questions they posed. No background work seems to have been done. No one seemed to have critically reviewed the questions that were asked. Modi exposed it, arrogantly, and asked them to go and do their home work, verify the facts before posing them. It was inept and inefficient preparation for which people get sacked in any other organization.
As the #ModiOnAajTak trends, there is another heart rending news of Assam that occupies substantial media space.
The media is full of horseshit on this topic except the relevant ones. The sound bites that are being played out loud are
1.       BJP questions what Dr Manmohan Singh has done in the last 10 years to prevent such massacre
2.       Congress blames Modi’s comments on ‘illegal migrants’ as reason for the massacre
3.       Omar Abdulla blames polarizing election as cause and goes on to say that it was the painting of all the Muslims “as Bangladeshi illegal immigrant”
Let us go in the reverse order. When Omar said that ‘the painting of all the Muslims as Bangladeshi illegal immigrant’ did anyone who reported this ask him to provide proof? Did any reporter or the community tell him that this is a partisan quote and will be published as a divisive utterance of Omar if he fails to back his words with facts?  Did any reporter challenge Omar?

The insinuation is that Modi said that ‘all Muslims’ are Bangladeshis, something that can be verified from past reports. Omar made a brazen false claim, was coward enough not to lay it at Modi’s door step and with the help of the collaborating snakes in media, slip in a myth that Modi designed the killing in Assam. Here is a case of TRP trouncing truth.
Going to the second one, that Congress blames Modi comments (there were other running dogs too which blamed Modi for this massacre) the questions were there to be asked. But no one did. Modi was right. These Media houses have a choice to be neutral or to pursue TRP and with few exceptions, all run after TRP they cannot earn by honest reporting, hence earn by peddling salacious gossips, feeding the public with half lies.
I see substance in the question from BJP to Congress. What has been done in Assam, the State from our PM represents to prevent such occurrences? If there is a response, there can be a debate on the effectiveness of the steps taken, which will go to identify the weakness and possible correction. This is one question the media should have asked but did not.
The tragedy is, the ground realities are different. The Bodo outfit, National Democratic Front of Bodoland, is accused of the massacre. According to a report in Times of India, Bodos and Muslims had an agreement from which the Muslims reneged. And now NDFB denies those charges and blame Government forces as the killers.  Read it here
Minister for border areas Siddique Ahmed, said after visiting the violence-hit areas that his government and the ruling Congress party failed to protect the victims, who included at least eight children

Read more at:
In spite of the massacre having nothing to do with BJP, the media drags BJP into the narrative in pursuit of TRP, the accusation Modi made, a very validated one, it appears.
I find Chauthi Dunia interviews to be much more nuanced and without hype. is an interview to be watched for its sobriety content alone, that also comes as a great relief from the high decibel shallow screaming of Arnabs and Rajdeeps.
While the sound boxes of English media glorify ‘NOTA’ option in election, we, who pay for these channels are in real need of ‘NOTA’ option. We need a neutral media that is not ideologically biased, fair media that reports both sides of a story, honest media that does not take money and favors to do witch-hunts for political parties, ethical media that does not sleep for few changes with the first available political leader and most importantly an intelligent media that knows its questions.
And I am sure there is a place in the market as the need for it is now palpable. Modi has lent expression to the longings of a large section of people who want to see neutrality brought back to center stage in reporting. It is a shame that a politician had to remind that to Media Industry. But, unfortunately, is the shape of things in Media.  What Modi did yesterday is just a clarion call to fight the evil content in Media. There are many battles to be fought to bring ethics and neutrality back to Media. Let us hope it gets done.

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