The session was about the failure media to deliver authentic news and the incapability of the major media houses to do so. The speakers of this session were Ramsharan Joshi and Pushyamitra, the former’s student, and moderated by L S Bajpai. The trio talked about the necessity of a more trusted media house in the era fake news, post-truth and paid news.
Pushyamitra, a writer, talked about how media bring a change, small or big, and create revolutions in society. In history, he told, most of revolutionaries, Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh, wrote articles for newspapers. Today, the media has been acquired by private corporations. This privatisation has affected the media scene so badly that it is invisible to detect what is fake and what is not. The news channels now focus on what interests the masses rather than talking about the real issues that are plaguing the nation. For them every news has to be a sensation so that it can be listed as a part of “breaking news”. He calls today’s media to be “Media of Chaos and Noise”, which has much in common with the media censorship during the Emergency period. The only difference is that the important news is ignored today because of the noise created by the sensational news. The source and the reach of news has significantly increased, so much so that it has become almost impossible to control or regulate it. With the introduction of digital news, everyone’s a journalist and is posting news on social media which goes viral and often finds its way to the print and televised media. It has become too easy to transmit fake news.
Pushyamitra also adds that the common people want to read interesting news rather than what is important. His teacher, Joshi, immediately disagrees to this point arguing that the public is conditioned by the media to crave for the sensational news. Its almost like what is not sensational is not news. Joshi continues with how commercialization of news has made it into a profitable business. The media houses are controlled by larger companies which look for revenues from advertisements, degrading the quality of news in the country. Earning TRPs has become the primary motive of the journalists rather than delivering facts to the public. He reminds everyone of the days when radio was the only source of immediate news and how it affected people’s information at a large scale. He also makes a reference to Sanjaya, a character from the Mahabharata, who is symbol of honest media from ancient times. To make the media honest and committed again to its purpose, he says that one should keep the less advertisements and keep the non-media people away from the making news.
The whole session was an attempt to highlight how much the media has been corrupted. In this hour of information crisis, the watchdog of society can no longer be trusted. The conversation talked all about the causes, results and the dangers of a paid media. This session has called for a close scrutiny into the fourth pillar of governance.
Abhay Majhi, St. Stephen’s college