From rescheduling a news item to a religiously conducive day or the weekend to attract maximum audience, this trend in media is persistently eroding the integrity of the fourth estate.
Sahara Mumbai on Thursday aired a piece where Mr.RKB himself, interviewed people and dignitaries of the famous Shirdi temple located near
The interview was done on earlier than or on Tuesday, I presume as teasers were being aired since Wednesday mid-morning. It was most likely picked up as a potential story after Mr. Bal Thackeray objected to such undue expenses when we are living in a state,
The teaser was being aired and to my surprise the full segment was not shown. I figured being a “special” they would have moved it to their regular weekend slot, which in itself would be in contradiction to the ideal of immediate news reporting. But they went a step further and picked a prime-time slot at on a Thursday, which is widely acknowledged as day attributed to Sai Baba. The teasers leading to this piece were aired almost once every hour on Wednesday and they also did a 10min showcase at on that day.
The move was obviously to generate maximum TRP for the channel, as many would watch it due to religious inclination and interest which would be heightened by the awareness of the day.
This was unsettling as being journalism student I wondered about the ethical propriety of such a move. Is media trying to create news today instead of purely reporting it?
As a pattern it may be observed that during the last four weekends a news bit has been consequently stretched to provide a sort of “reality TV” alternative for the weekend viewer! It began with the prince saga which was given almost 2 day minute by minute coverage. Then there was the infamous Jaswant Singh mole controversy which was probed mercilessly, more so on weekends. The PM and the Indo-US nuclear deal was vying for eyeballs all across the prominent TV channels.
Last week it was the Mahim creek water that had become sweet and hordes of people went to the beach to drink murky sea-water. This, in my opinion, is an excellent example of media created mass frenzy, as the amount of airtime given to this item ensured that more people would be encouraged to learn about the phenomenon by themselves, which resulted in small children drinking filthy water. This story was given almost 13 to 14 hours of airtime. The report was objective as it warned the people not to drink the water as it may contain toxins but was it responsible in giving it an incubation period via extensive coverage which lead to mass frenzy! I doubt whether this would be the case if the story were to break on a week day.
Although business compulsions of news channels cannot be ignored in today’s reality but it is imperative that they do not forget the very basics of reporting. We have a robust media here in
I revert to an often used and possibly clichéd quote but whose relevance is by far unquestioned. Mr. Stan Lee said it best when he proclaimed “With great power comes great responsibility”.