- When a desirable slant is more important than the news
“Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it is not deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of the truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.”
– Criss Jami
It makes for a horrible spectacle, but the presence and creepy accentuation and amplification of an awfully contagious disease makes for a classic case to deliberate.
We are engulfed in the world of news, but there is much that needs to be debated about the phenomenon– not the substance and content if there be any, but the veracity and truthfulness of the written and the spoken word. It enacts a sordid pageant. It escapes logic to ponder why some claimants to freedom of speech would conduct themselves in a demeaning manner, either as part of the profession or as members of the society at large.
One factor that surpasses all others these days is the laborious effort that goes into weaving a conspiracy halo around every bit of news that is put across. Virtually, the onset of the day is construed a conspiracy, as is the setting of the sun. The expanse of the sky, the rising of the moon, the galaxies and the soothing light the stars exude are all part of a conspiracy stratagem for these magic wand couriers. None of this is propelled by an urge to know more and discover more. It falls within the domain of weaving pernicious conspiracies that would distort and vitiate the content and intent of every step of a fledgling effort for initiating even a semblance of improvement in things around.
It is like these bands of weavers are wedded to a past rooted in crime and corruption and are not able to extricate themselves from its clutches, be that for the unending lure that its sordidness continues to generate, or as a reaction to the absence of similar gratifications in current times. There is, therefore, this deep-set penchant to continue perpetuating the sickening charade that was meant solely to hoist kingdoms of crime orchestrated by their lords and masters. In the process, they have become willing partners in legitimising this mesh of deceit and deception, loot and plunder, lies and fabrication, self-righteousness and lavish indulgences, all because it suits their interests to remain embedded in a web of unending inducements. It is mind-boggling to see this disease spreading like pestilence itself.
These operators are at work every morning with their stories in the papers and every evening with dishing out trash on everyone, without a shred of rationale. It is like they are settling old scores without giving the right of defence to the ones they are assaulting. The attacks are palpably personalised with venom oozing out of every word spoken. The facial expressions are contorted which belie a personal vendetta, not a professional undertaking. And when there is talk of constraining such naked and unsubstantiated attacks by allowing for recourse to law, it is construed as an infringement on the freedom of media.
In the process, they forget that accountability of all, without exception, is an inherent and integral constituent of democracy. The media cannot claim immunity from this rule. As a matter of fact, and since it claims to be the fourth pillar of the state, it has to set a laudable example that others would emulate. People read the papers. They also watch television, though with considerably less frequency. They must know that the media is transparent, and not trying to hide behind any contraption to shield its rabid transgressions.
The Media also sets in motion trends and narratives that others would follow in developing their ideas and understanding. If stories that are published and broadcast are not credible and not based on substantive facts, people would be infected by the germs and would nonchalantly replicate the tricks they would be exposed to.
All this is undermining the media in living up to the lofty edifice it claims for itself. To get anywhere near that mark, it needs to re-evaluate, refocus, even reboot itself. It has a key role to play in transmitting the narrative that the state adopts to step into the future. It must ensure that this is projected in its entirety, without prejudice and without associating any undignified motives to its pursuit
On an average, the stuff that comes forth through the print and electronic outlets is extremely deficient in civility, learning and ethical conduct. Agenda-stricken attacks are a hallmark of the stories in preference to unbiased critique. By all civilised yardsticks, this would be placed at the lowest rung of a measuring scale for failing to come up to the most basic denominators of what would be appropriate to be practised within the domain of professional journalism.
The comedy shows are crude and crass beyond description. The message communicated is vulgar which is built around a distortion of the characters involved, mostly about their physical characteristics. Mimicking and lampooning are the essential ingredients of the narratives which are churned out, leaving the viewers lost for making out one from the other. Each time, one gets away with a nauseating feeling that this is not entertainment.
With the exception of a few, the crop of people whom one sees as writers and broadcasters lacks the essential knowledge and training to make competent and proficient journalists. It is like they have been dragged from the cradles and given a computer, or placed behind or in front of the camera. They just know a few words which they repeat with jarring and predictable monotony for advancing premeditated narratives. There was a time when a budding journalist had to go through a number of rigorous stages of learning before assuming any responsible position. Unfortunately, not anymore!
No one is perfect, and none should claim to be one. But, in a profession like journalism, one has to make the extra effort to grow beyond personal biases and prejudices. This is an essential prerequisite for becoming a credible professional. Unfortunately, one gets a feeling that media practitioners build stories around a web of their preconceived notions and priorities which, per se, are highly politicised. A desirable slant appears to be more important than the news, and an agenda-driven narrative more profitable than veracity.
And then it wants the state to foot the bill for its continued existence and growth. It has been used to receiving such gratifications in the past in the shape of the much-maligned political advertising which was meant to ingratiate the media into promoting personal narratives rather than furthering the combined interests of the people and the state.
All this is undermining the media in living up to the lofty edifice it claims for itself. To get anywhere near that mark, it needs to re-evaluate, refocus, even reboot itself. It has a key role to play in transmitting the narrative that the state adopts to step into the future. It must ensure that this is projected in its entirety, without prejudice and without associating any undignified motives to its pursuit.
Before being elevated to the stature of the fourth pillar of the state, it is imperative for the media to demonstrate that it is worthy of that position. Simultaneously, it must also construct a contemporary, vibrant and future-focussed marketing and financial model to cope in an environment free of political bribery. This has been long overdue as has been the need to delve deeper into the ethical and professional code for creating awareness and becoming a key constituent in the growth and progress of the state.