People Don’t Trust the Media Anymore

I had portrayed the contemporary scenario in my post titled “Media Complains Against Social Media” on this site, but am pleasantly surprised to find an article by Mr. Vinod Mehta under the caption “ My Darling Columnists”. Mehta is a prominent print and electronic journalist and editor with 40 years of experience. In these forty years he has been witness to the massacre of reputations of politicians, ministers, prime ministers, chief ministers, bureaucrats, businessmen and even journalists. His conclusions depict the true state of the media, journalists, columnists and editors. His article reads like a beautiful dirge. I will quote from his article a few expressions only to direct the spot lights on relevant issues agitating the civil society which years for the rule of law, set very high standards of morality for everyone and frown at the tiniest breach.

The media so far was revelling in its monopoly and dominant position in a very important segment of life: information. Because information is power, people have always wanted to know- to know the truth. Because of its monopoly and dominance, the media marketed information, disinformation and adulterated information in equal measure, guided by its news industry interests. While the people took them at their face value for their independence, objectivity, unbiased, factual reporting & columns and editorials, they have compromised it so much that Mehta says that “Frankly, we live in ‘interesting’ times that it is virtually impossible to locate a commentator without an agenda. An agenda less commentator is an endangered species”. Mehta’s anxiety is: In whom should the citizen put his trust? It emanates from another statement he has made earlier in the article: “The difficulty for citizens is they lack the tools and instruments to make an informed judgment”. By this single statement, Mehta gives away the regime of the media monopoly and domination. This, indeed, used to be the case before the disruptive catastrophe called the social media and internet hit them hard. Today the news industry is struggling to retain and win consumer loyalty by displaying cooked up figures of readership and viewership. Even small children today know more without wasting a minute on a newspaper than his grandfather scanning the morning newspapers he has done for more than sixty years! The newspaper can be finished in a few minutes these days, for it is either paid news or advertorials and excessive indecent and offending portrayal of women. Mehta’s article has been published in the Times Of India, a national daily, whose readers are so unhappy with it that many of them have called it TOILET paper in disgust in their comments online! The citizen has several tools  and instruments to make not only informed judgement but also superior quality judgement.

This article has prompted me to comment only because the press is considered as the Fourth Estate, the pillar of democracy. Unfortunately it has ruined itself so soon that nobody trusts them anymore; considers them no more than industry and business; suspects them of forming news cartels; is aware of many of them acting as middlemen for illegal deals and money laundering; drags them to the court for blackmail and, generally considers them less respectable than the older generation. It is time for climate change, environmental pollution and contagion all around. Meltdown of sorts! To prove the point, subject the prominent newspapers and television channels for the biased coverage, hate mongering and paid news in the last 10 years only. Newspapers and radio and TV channels can only fool some people these days, and that too till the next few moments before they switch the channel or surf the internet or browse the message on their mobile! Can it assure survival of the news industry in the next few years?

India has celebrated its 68th Independence Day today. Greetings to all members of the global family (the Vasudhev Kutumbakam)! Wish the media revives its independence it has compromise!

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