You can’t blame a visitor to Hyderabad this week, for he or she has come to the Promised Land where its population is damned happy with no problem except one political leader called Jagan Mohan Reddy getting hauled up by an investigation agency called the CBI for whatever reasons.
So much air time, so much space have been devoted by the mass media to this issue of Jagan with CBI that it looked like the 80 lakh plus have no water shortage, no power outage, no shaming crime, no issue of corruption in public place, or no botheration on the chocking roads.
Media dharma is to present the public with a balanced mix of happenings — all those problems that crop up in societal living. There are acts of noble charity like the boys funding themselves to provide cool, drinking water to the thirsty passengers in bus stands, a collector financing the studies of some brilliant but poor girls, a railway gang-man detecting live detonators on the tracks, a young scientist coming back from the West to serve his native city or the shameful act of a selfish man who kills his wife for delivering a baby girl.
But, no, our media went like a possessed soul and ladled out nonstop colourful details of a man being questioned for omissions and commissions he has supposedly committed. To know the public pulse these days, we must get onto the Internet and see what the people — both tax payers and tax evaders — think about the media celebrating an event that calls for cool deliberation and strict and just handling.
These comments are both revealing and instructive. “Oh, as if he alone is the Satan and others on the other side are all Saints!” remarks one. “When will these people (media) know that we are worried about the falling rupee, rising prices, diseases and joblessness?” asked another angry bird.
Many are turning their ire against televisions, which they say, have no basic etiquette. He (or she?) points out that some pretending as anchors do not know how to conduct the coverage of an event. “I heard one saying the CBI asked Jagan, “How are you?” Do you want breakfast?” Well, media were not allowed in, they say, prey, how did they record these words in direct speech?” One impatient browser jotted down under the Jagan saga, “Hey, dude, understand corruption is no longer a simple bribery, it is a mutative gene, one moment you see it in one shape, and in another, quite in a different tone and tenor.”
There are umpteen such comments that only the cyber space could hold, no physical space can. The long and short of this is that we, in the media, must learn to present the happenings in a neutral, factual way to keep the sanctity of the media dharma. In this context, we at Postnoon, could crow with pride that we kept our heads on our shoulders and neither toned down nor toned up the aforesaid event while telling our readers that life is too complex to be confined to one single happening.
Time has come for the media to give up the all-knowing provider role. If it is the mass media, it is the mass that is at the centre and what affects the maximum number of people must get the highest priority. In today’s Hyderabad, the killing weather, truant power, receding water, galloping prices, stifling pollution and mad traffic are issues that affect a maximum number of people and they must get reflected on the screen and on paper. Amen.
Tailend: Way back in the early eighties, Ahmedabad was infested with two great scourges the other II-tier cities faced years after — maddening traffic and communal riots. Not a week passed without some part of the city being brought under curfew. Not a week passed when several stabbings and arson did not get reported in some part of the city. When the annoyed Congress satraps in Delhi berated the rulers in the state capital for not containing the nuisance, the rulers passed the abuses multiplied by two to the police chief. The then police chief, in desperation, told the chief minister, “Sir I can bring this madness to a halt in one day.” The CM was aghast, “In one day! Then what is preventing you? “The media. Close them for a day!” What the response of the chagrined CM was is lost in history. Let’s not bring the situation to this pass.
The writer works for Postnoon.
About the Author (Author Profile)
PK Surendran is senior editor at Postnoon.