“Girls are unsafe on streets? Who is to blame?” – ran the headline. The self proclaimed prophet of the melodramatic corporate news channel blamed a political party. The leader of the political party blamed the opposition. The opposition leader blamed the girls. The feminist blamed the men. An hour of the average Indian television viewer was wasted. One of the reasons I feel blessed in life is that I don’t watch television and am not driven by popular media.
At times, in friends’ places, when I do get a chance to watch the news channels on television, I find it extremely difficult to digest the discussions that go on. Individuals tend to become larger than issues. The larger issues are not even mentioned! In words of my favorite journalist P Sainath – “The fundamental feature of the media of our times is the growing disconnect between the mass media and the mass reality. There is a structural shutout of the poor in the media and a corporate hijack of media agendas.”
In the past two decades, everything that has become a convenience to the upper middle-class has become cheaper. Our air tickets, computers, cars are all affordable now. But in this same period rice, wheat, electricity, water, etc has become 300-500 per cent more expensive for the poor. Why is this not reflected in the main stream media? Why don’t the self proclaimed prophets of our television channels find this as an issue? Our media houses have no labour correspondent, agricultural correspondent, housing or primary education correspondent. Cricket, fashion and celebrities are covered from dawn to dusk. We are explicitly telling 70 per cent of this country that they don’t matter to us!
Why is a mindless hate speech by one individual – news; and 1.5 lakh mill workers going homeless in Mumbai – not news? Why is crashing of stock market and a billionaire loosing a few millions (which they anyways gain back a week later) – news; and over 2 lakh farmers committing suicide in distress, lakhs of farmers loosing their lands due of corporatization of Indian economy – not news? It is not just us the viewers, it is also the ones selling us a lifestyle – who are to be blamed.