What’s missing in Indian media

For over a year now, I have been watching new channels lot more than I have in three decades of my life. Not being a regular allows to look at things afresh since I do not overlook the incremental shifts. There is massive shift in what I would look at news for. Some of my disappointments and expectations are listed below and these are limited to the TV news channels.

Facts vs opinion: TV news for me was the go to place for information and factual truth. There were opinions but they were add ons. Now prime time news is full of opinions and not so much factual information. For example, for the last two days there is so much talk of  ‘Smriti Irani not a graduate and is given responsibility for Education ministry’ . When I open TV channels, I see political parties, journalists and activists sharing their opinions, many are biased and quote instances from past. Its like court of law where everyone is building their case basis what has happened in the past. I struggled to find news report verifying facts. There finally was one channel that shared the affidavits in question to know what the debate is all about. The other big item on agenda is Article 370. Flipping through news channels for two days could not provide me with facts on what article 370 constitutes and historical incidents leading to it. I would expect at least one of our responsible media channels to share factual details of what is available to us – the content of article, indo-pak wars, indo-pak discussions and outcomes etc. I would so wish some news channel would cover ground reality in pakistan, what people want, economical stats and may be independent research conducted by several peace groups. Even the debates on article 370 are insipid with uninformed people talking about something they have no idea about. Most debates were only platform for regulars to share their views shouting personal comments on each other. I wish our media was more responsible to share factual information in more detail and invest more in research than paparazzi and sound bites. Opinions are good when debated by relevant intellectual people.

Research: Journalists are expected to dig out stories and details and more details. For example in Smriti Irani’s case, one channel projected the two conflicting affidavits; I wish they had tried to verify it or found out more about the reason for contradiction and what is the correct thing. I want to hear thought provoking stories like ‘can kashmir become like andorra’ or ‘ current state of education in India’.

Top stories: Prime time stories have become uninspiring with same topic on every news channel. There is no breadth to what is covered. There was earthquake but the details were not covered because losses were not of national significance. Any misfortune is covered if it is statistically significant or politically controversial. Media needs to become all inclusive. The 200 stories in whatever minutes should not have 20 on the same topic. And honestly who cares about 200 stories as long as we get a feel of whats going on.

International perspective: While interacting with media in one of my events, I learnt that Indian media only cares about what is the MNC doing for India. It doesn’t care about global because this is what sells. Top news channels have presence internationally and it will be good to allocate some time on top international news. I miss the old format of news which was – National, Local (city), Business Sports and International. Newspapers still have this, it just needs translation to what TV covers.

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