Recent blasts in New Delhi have left the entire country shimmering with fear and apprehension. Who/Which area is the next? This is a question which haunts individuals, government machineries and media houses through day and night. The Delhi blasts have left gaping open holes in the system, which I wonder if can ever be healed. Anguish, anger and pain are the first responses that one goes through when repeatedly viewing the post-terror attack pictures. The target of these attacks are neither corrupt government officials nor bureaucrats, but common man, everyday life leading people — whose deaths are as absurd as their lives. Some of them earn not even 50 rupees per day and feed their entire family with that amount, and yet they are doomed to death in the most inexplicable fashion. We have blamed government machineries in this entire terror mechanism. But there is more to the story. Terror has become a lucrative business, where earlier it had a motive (political freedom being one of them), now it’s an economic drive. It not only supports organizations involved in the process but also supports media houses in “news mongering”.
Just after the blasts, the media houses go TRP crazy — so much so that instead of a news-hunt the media goes amok with advertisement hunt. Especially the visual media. They hijack viewers from other channels and create the most misleading picture of the blasts that one can ever find. Some times even they show images of previous blasts as live blast images.
I was observing the movements of one or two particular channels and “disgusting” and “lewd” are the words to describe the way they broadcast a certain piece of news. I wonder whether their creative heads have any sense of moral propriety at all. In fact, one of the channels gave a complete demo as to HOW TO MAKE A BOMB! The channel gave a step-by-step demonstration of the making of a bomb and the exact way in which a bomb can be prepared, packed and planted. It showed how ammonium nitrate can be filled into boxes, batteries and a time piece can aid in the explosion, a black polythene adds icing to the cake and finally the right locations to plant the bomb, as if it were a cracker! Thanks to the channel even kids can easily learn to make bombs and plant them in the right places. The problem with these channels is that they do not assess the viewers’ attitude (there is hardly any survey as to who the viewers are?) and do not maintain a dignified level of broadcasting sensitive pieces of information. Next moment I saw some kids of that building who were watching the “special show” get down to actually make a bomb! They tried to look for boxes in the kitchen and get batteries and so on. To witness the event was itself ghastly and devastating. Could not believe my eyes, but it is true! I wonder what kind of psychological perspective the channel was actually presenting by giving a demo of making bombs?
This is not the only instance. Sometimes, the titles of a particular news piece are mock heroic. “Bharat ka Osama (India’s Osama)”, “Osama ke thikane pe (Osama’s hiding)” — at a time when a country is in a state of paralytic crisis how can the channels be so insensitive as to broadcast news in the wrap of an entertainment show? I agree news has become a more entertaining medium because of its “reality-show” kind of approach, but how far can this approach be dragged in order to attract viewership? Viewers are pulled by these attractive captions and news then becomes a gory drama. Moreover, by giving a certain incident/individual a senseless comparison with another figure/incident are the channels not creating a sense of terror in the common being? Mindless names and thoughtless expressions are something which have become remarkable features of media these days. In the name of freedom of expression media has become a mockery of its own self. Its role has become questionable and dubious, since news channels hardly focus on the linguistic content of the news broadcasted. In the name of “Breaking News” and “Live” coverage what one gets is a pathetic dramatization and commentary of what can be termed as a “national tragedy”. I wonder if the media houses realize that the very people who are responsible for various terror attacks might be enjoying their news broadcast as one of the adventure series of Cartoon Network?
Not just visual media, but also print media sometimes creates a very different kind of picture. What kind of reality are you trying to project in front of the world when you write “Mumbaikars live spiritedly after terror attacks” or “Delhi comes back to life after terror attacks” ? And antithetically, the other report comes as “7/10 or 20 killed in such and such place” as if those 7/12/20 were not human beings but merely numbers. We have to live on, since there’s no other way out. The very person who was killed in yesterday’s attack has a child and a wife who have no other means of survival except to go and work next morning. For some of us life has never been the same since 2006 or September 2008. To find heroism and project pseudo-patriotism in front of the world will be of no help. If one actually intends to help, first there has to be a sense of respect in terms of the language that one uses for these sensitive events and secondly if you cannot help then kindly do not misguide and create panic in people — some of whom might belong to lower economic and educational classes and may get biased easily.
As viewers and readers too, we have the responsibilty of not buying all that is sold to us and not getting involved with their TRP business. Discretion, discrimination and questioning with a humanitarian angle are the most important aspects in this world of open information systems. We have to agree that there is no one truth but many truths. Which truth we buy is something that will be our individual prerogative and priority.