Teachers’Day Appeal to the Media

September 5, 2009 at 2:41 pm Leave a comment

It is very difficult to comprehend the media and its deep seated bias. This is not reserved for the electronic media but also the print media. It is well know that the media will not forego a chance to bash Modi. Readers and viewers have taken this in their stride. Too much of anything is good for nothing in layman language. But in communication once the threshold valency power crosses the saturation point then it boomerangs. The message is not only lost but is rejected. A typical example is the Family planning red triangle that was a real sore to the eye in the early 70s.Every tree-every post every wall every imaginable surface was used to depict this symbol. People simply grew so fed up with it that it meant nothing and was a cause if irritation.
Watching the different channels and reading the newspapers,one gets not only irritated but real angry at the way the message is communicated. Take the example of YSR’s tragic death and the eulogies heaped on this great leader. In death a man cannot become what he was not. That he was a popular leader is a fact but that his way up was through violence and bloodshed is also a fact. Yet the media painted him with sheen of gold and placed a halo round his head. One leading English paper had this to say in its editorial, ‘Reddy was representative of the contradictions that characterized many successful Indian politicians: popular but authoritarian with a record of using violence to stifle opposition, efficient administrator but indifferent to norms of transparency and accountability in governance. These qualities clearly helped him to emerge as an undisputed leader..’ How does authoritarianism, use of violence to stifle opposition, indifference to transparency and accountability be called ‘qualities’? Is this the new standard scale of the media to confer Reddy with a ‘Man for All Seasons’? There is no quarrel if this scale is applicable to all political leaders. Suppose it is Modi who is being evaluated, will authoritarianism, violence to stifle opposition, indifference to transparency and accountability become credit points? Will the media say that Modi has these ‘qualities’ which make him a popular leader and a great administrator? So there are two dimensions in the media’s perception. Not just in vocabulary but also in perception. Disqualities become qualities when it comes to the Congress and the same becomes sore points to bash the BJP leaders. Apart from this two dimensional flawed prism through which the media views and reports there is even the oral communication of anger and ire seeping through. Take the interviews conducted by Karan Thapar in the ‘Devil’s advocate’ He not only uses a well modulated soft voice when it comes to the Congress. But put Modi, the Sangha Parivar leaders then his whole face becomes distorted-his eyes narrow and become slits and his voice becomes raspish .He does not even give them enough time to articulate their replies-he pounces on them, interrupts, and leaves them with no option but be flabbergasted. Why is it that that media has become so thoroughly biased?
Vir Sanghavi once interviewed Mrs Sonia Gandhi and all sugar and honey oozed through-his gentleness-his soft approach was apparent and was sickening. The pre-election interviews conducted at the residence of the Prime Minister of his wife and two daughters was another example-the interviewer showed such empathy and understanding-communicating these through the way she sat, her facial expression-the words she used-the emphasis laid on certain words et el. One particular channel’s news reporter thinks that he is on a political platform. He lectures to the audience-expresses his hostility and talks down the interviewees, displays his opinions more than eliciting the opinions of the interviewees. He rushed through as an Express train and packs so much that by the time it is relayed the next is on. Sound takes time to travel-more than light he forgets and at the end of a heated discussion we find that the interviewer talked more than those whom he interviewed.
The media has a crucial role to play in a democracy.It brings the whole canvas social, political and entertainment to the viewers and the readers. Its role is to inform, educate and entertain. Information to be factual above bias, education through meaningful interviews, realities expose etc. Today as in other areas the media has become a big bazaar-and has its version of corruption. The opposite of truth – distorted truth is deception. Can the media forget its portent and its obligation to the people? Even in a classroom can a teacher disseminate distorted facts-can a teacher be biased can a teacher be prejudiced? Today Teachers Day and as one who was a teacher I like to appeal to the media-whose classrooms are open-almost every house, whose students are of different age groups and whose subjects comprise a continuum from the small to the big-from the national to the international-is a awesome task and places a tremendous responsibility on it namely-To stand for the truth-to be unbiased and to join in the task of humanizing. Let qualities be qualities, values not de-valued and let not power and position be the criteria for conferring sainthood and holding out such as examples to the nation.
Dr Mrs Hilda Raja,
Vadodara

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Reply to ‘No place for extremes in India’s mosaic’ Chidambaram in Washington

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