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The Changing Face Of News Presentation!

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I don’t even know why I started writing this. I mean it is just a matter of intense interest and introspection too, maybe, to an extent. NEWS presentation today, is an integral part of you and me. Try as hard as you may, you cannot, just cannot ignore it. It is in your face.

Now, I am not saying it is totally unwanted. Oh! It is absolutely necessary, we would go crazy without it. I myself dedicate a lot of time on NEWS channels, so, I am basically treading a very thin line here. But I AM going to do what I have to even at the cost of sounding stupid or illogical or a hypocrite, because I’ve been taught to voice my opinion whether two people hear it or twenty or two hundred. It might not make a lot of difference to a lot of people but it will make a lot of difference to me plus like I said it is more introspection than anything else. It is not condemnation.  I am trying to understand the transformation of NEWS presentation from its Doordarshan days to today’s new age reporting.

Gone are the days when NEWS was read as NEWS and we understood it and related to it. Today NEWS is a whole new business, a lot of glamour associated with it, Jazzing it up everywhich way you can, so every frame of the news looks like it is ready to take on the Cannes challenge.  How much is more? Are they voluntarily feeding us what they want to or are we manipulating them to feed us what we want to savour? We have become so accustomed to the flamboyant presentation style that simple, straightforward things fail to move us anymore. But sadly the NEWS is IN simple, straightforward things. Every news item does not require an expert commentary; some items are best left as they are: simple and uncomplicated. Ok so there was a news item and you took an expert’s view on that. Now if you come back to me tomorrow or a week later, or even a month later and tell me how the situation has changed, for the better offcourse, then one can understand. Otherwise, it is just a waste of time.

Like one of the NEWS channels shows a promo of one of their news series. It is to convey to us: to what extent their reporters would go to get the news for us, not fearing for their own safety. There is this guy reporting from a site of unrest, people pelting stones and police going gung-ho with their lati charge. And obviously one rock is hurled at our gallant reporter (it was definitely not aimed at him, the thrower just didn’t have a lot of match practice) anyway, the reporter is bleeding a little bit and goes down on the ground, dramatically. And after a couple of days he is back on his feet doing what he is best at: grinning into the camera with a “Look People! I am back!” attitude.

…Right to equality! How on earth are we actually going to make that work?….

The reporter was not my object of interest though, when the reporter was reporting at the lati charge site there was something going on exactly behind him. It was not difficult to spot because it was an isolated incident. I’ll tell you how: I don’t know what the trouble was all about, but in the mayhem was definitely the labour class. There was this guy in his ragged dhoti, no shirt on, it wouldn’t take an Einstein to figure how he must be making his leaving. One of the policemen chases him from a short distance and when he takes a whack at him with his batten they are both exactly in the frame. What has been on mind since the day I saw it a couple of months ago is that the policeman took a huge swing and the impact was on the poor man’s wrist. It was so hard I could almost see it cracking. Now, I know nothing about human anatomy and the way it works but I am guessing wrist is a rather vulnerable area? I know by experience because my wrist still hurts from a well attended to injury 6 years ago and I suspect if anyone can work with a weak wrist.  What has been bothering me is:  he is definitely a daily wage labourer, god knows how many dependents he must have on him. How has he managed to recover from the blunt forced trauma? I’d rather have HIM smile into the camera and say: “Hey People! I am alright now, my wrist is taken care of and I am going back to work” instead of the reporter grinning and saying I am back. Because the last time I heard: NEWS was NEWS because a common man’s life got altered one way or the other and not because an elite journalist reported it.

I guess we need a counter channel for NEWS,  ‘this is what has happened since’ channel. 

I think we are giving in too much into the media (or maybe I should speak for myself). We lap up everything that is shown.  Take Jessica Lal case for instance; we have been following the case so religiously, each one of us can individually produce a case history on that one. I am definitely not saying it is wrong, it is great and it is wonderful and supercalifragilisticexpialydocious.  It is great news for the society. But?.which part of the society? High end? Low end?

NEWS media literally MADE this case, especially NDTV. I can proudly claim of my contribution too. I sent a lot of SMSs from a friends cell phone (and I had to use force, he was in the middle of sending umpteen votes for Miss India.)  because, it has the potential to become a life altering matter for India. 

But on the flip side, if there is a counter phrase for “from frying pan to fire” then it must be “from ivory tower to pearly gates”. Jessica Lal was a model, (prized profession that Haan!) she had attention anyway and now she has been made into a martyr or immortal or whatever. I know better than not to envy her that, atleast not now; that would be sic. But I just had to know for myself: Is it because she was who she was that the media gave it the exposure that it received?

Just a thought though, doesn’t anyone think bringing something like this from somewhere unknown and making into a national issue would have made a better, bigger impact? Now, if we are saying that Jessica’s case should be a benchmark for other such cases, wouldn’t it have been AS or MORE effective the other way around? That a low profile case be a benchmark for cases like Jessica Lal. Just a thought! If we are talking in terms of radical changes then there is nothing wrong in going about it with shrewd tactics.  Look around Monica (Jessica’s Sister), there are pillars to support her, from the film industry, business sector, politicians, lawyers going pro-bono.  Now it will go down with people as “Oh! She was Jessica man, imagine something like that happening to someone like me”. There was this case in Mumbai where a vice president of a Multi National bank killed a man (hit and run). That man was one of us. What’s happening with that case? Oops! There was no Jessica Lal in there, no Bina Ramani hosting a page-3 party, nothing.  One who was killed was just a WATCHMAN….  Not even a follow-up on that one? Follow up is another form of hell rising, I think? It would have done a lot of good to the poor man’s family.

We cannot simply highlight one such elite case and demand justice and hope every other case in every corner of India meets with same end.  Ah haan! It aint gonna happen. Jessica Lal case gained so much prominence and momentum because the media went at it with such gusto and lets face it, the media lifted the Jessica’s case to a new level because it attracted a lot of glamour for obvious reasons.  Would a Ram Lal or a Shyam Lal killed in Bakehari, Rajasthan by atrocious, upper caste landlords for drinking water from the temple well get this kind of media support? Nah! We have a long way to go before we reach there.

Right to equality! How on earth are we actually going to make that work?

Author: Rashmi Diana- india

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