The recent TRP scam has exposed what lengths the media houses can go to garner popularity. Popularity? Is this what journalism aims for?
Republic TV, which had topped the TRP chart of being most watched news channels in India is also being investigated for the fraud.
The irony is self-explanatory. The press whose imperative was to expose frauds and crimes is itself involved in the malpractice.
It can be said at this point that journalism in India is dying. Today’s journalism does not aim at objective news reporting or presenting facts, it only focuses on sensational topics.
The Sushant Singh Rajput case is the most recent example,
what could have been an open and close suicide case was somehow turned into an issue of national importance and preceded every newsroom debate topic which had absolutely no credibility and was filled with the wildest of allegations, baseless conspiracy theories and name-calling.
The case of an actor’s suicide was turned into a smear campaign and which was rooted in patriarchy.
India was experiencing an economic crisis due to the pandemic, the GDP had contracted by 23.9%,
not to mention the farmer strikes that were going around Punjab and Haryana against the new Farm Bills proposed by the government.
But the only piece of news that was going on a forever loop was the SSR case.
This brings us to a very crucial issue of media trials. Media has the power to sway public opinion and irresponsible journalism can create very precarious situations which could prove as a hindrance for fair trials.
This also puts extraneous pressure on the ongoing investigations. Medial Trials are usually done for high-profile cases such as the Sheena Bora Murder Case(2012) and the Aarushi Talwar Murder Case(2008).
These cases laid bare all the ugly parts of the journalism industry. There is no responsible news reporting and with declaring the accused guilty even before the investigations start.
Even when the accused is pronounced guilt-free it ruins his career, personal life and those who are connected with it.
The news presentations are not designed to increase awareness among the audience but only cater to their prejudices and stigmas, and exploit them ruthlessly.
Hunting of Journalists
It is such a bleak situation that when some of the reporters do try to do expansive reporting, they are hunted down and killed.
The data collected by a research industry from the year 2014 to 2019 reveals that there have been 198 attacks on reporters, of which 40 succumbed to their injuries.
and of these 198 instances, only 4 cases had made it up to the trial.
According to the reports, 21 of them were associated with investigative works connected with crime, corruption and mafias.
One of our fundamental rights, the Freedom Of Speech is being curbed and no one is giving two cents about it.
Instead of moving forward, we are being dragged backwards and when somebody dares to raise their voice, it is silenced by half-fascist measures and they are left without support, even from their employers.
Newsroom debates have become a joke. The panellists are only concerned with invoicing each other.
Freedom Of the journalism
The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act(UAPA) whose initial aim was to prevent serious national threats to the country usually related to terrorist activities is now being forced on students and journalists under which they could be deemed as terrorists and can be sentenced to seven years of jail.
How can they terrorise the country? They are unarmed except for their pens and papers. It is the government which wields the guns.
The arresting of Masrat Zahra, Gowhar Geelani and Peerzada Ashiq, all of them reporting on the condition of Kashmir make known the government’s attempts to undermine the freedom of the press.
Another instance is of chief photojournalist Cathal McNaughton who was working for Reuters in India and was awarded the Pulitzer prize in May 2018 for showing the desolate and miserable conditions of Rohingya refugees who had fled Myanmar due to religious persecution.
In India, he received a different kind of welcome upon his arrival. The authorities packed him off on the grounds of violations of visa rules without any prior notice he was not even given the chance to collect his belongings. His crime was to present Rohingyas as they were instead on conforming to the Indian narrative according to which Rohingyas were branded as rogues and posed a “security threat.”
Recently, Amnesty International was forced to halt its operations in India because of the continuous harassment by government agencies, especially the Enforcement Directorate which had frozen all its bank accounts in the alleged case of money laundering.
This move comes after it had called for government’s accountability on the grave human rights violation in Jammu and Kashmir and the Delhi Riots due to the CAA-NRC Bill.
Some of the journalists resort to social media platforms as their last hope to bring about social awareness. But now that is also turning into a medium to spread fake news and propaganda by anti-social elements.
The only journalism that thrives today is which is supplicant to the opinion of the majority and the big names.
The onus of exposing corruption and keeping the government in check was upon the media but instead, the journalists were themselves taking bribes and presenting half-truths to mislead the audience.
Words and ideas can change society, for good or for bad. Either the journalists have to bow down to money or they are mercilessly tortured, all which contributes to the sorry state of journalism in India.
The Fourth Estate is being dismantled slowly but steadily with journalists being fired, arrested or worse, killed.
The impetus is not on news reporting but view amassment. With the current state of affairs, it would not be wrong to say that journalism is gradually going dead.
There are only a few personages that are yet to knuckle under and if there is any hope, it lies with them.
BY- YASHIKA SINGH