Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Breaking News: Hooligans destroy the Star News office

Never has the phrase ‘breaking news’ been more apt. When the members of an obscure outfit decided to pronounce themselves to the world by demolishing an office and breaking everything that came their way, ‘breaking news’ was just the right way to put it across. It was grave injustice to Star News, and to the media at large, but one wonders if the media have not brought all this upon themselves.

The news for which this deplorable protest took place was not worthy of reportage anyways. A couple decided to get married. So what? How does it alter my life or yours, or the lives of the reporters who decided that this news needs to be beamed out? Far too many Hindus and Muslims get married to each other. Why is this worthy of news? Reports seemed to suggest that the girl was a minor also. They eloped because their communities were against the marriage. So what? Why did Star News have to beam it all into our homes? Despite that, we all agree the Hindu Rashtriya Sena did an act of cowardice.

Lets look at what the media has been reporting these days. Richard Gere kisses Shilpa Shetty. That has made news for 2 days running now. A forgotten bollywood actor and a retired Hollywood actor decide to do an act on the stage and the news channels ran the story as something that is against the ‘ethics’ of India. And to protect these ‘ethics’ they beam those pictures over and over again. What double standards this reeks of. Abhishek Bachchan getting married to Aishwarya Rai is not news. But all we seem to be reading in the press, and seeing on the news channels, is news about their wedding cards, Amitabh going to Tirupati, the might be guest list, I’m sorry but this is not journalism. The news channels keep beaming this and say that people want to see this. But this is far from the truth. We have no option but see this drivel as there is nothing else they are reporting. The only choice we have is either switch the sets off or see only this.

The reason I mentioned the aforesaid is that today, with so many news channels, they need to show something sensational. Then what happens is that anything trivial is sensationalized to drive ratings up. What was the need of showing the Surat couple news at all? Such incidents happen everyday. Why does the media need to twist the story with a Hindu-Muslim angle? The media has learnt the hard way that by reporting such non-events, while our lives are not affected, the media is being wrongly and brutally attacked by cowardly lynch mobs.

There is another angle to this as well. Why, in India, do protests mean smashing of cars, breaking window panes and also endangering innocent lives? Well, what do we see on TV? Some retired cricketer who proclaims to be an expert spews venom on the cricket team. This instigates good-for-nothing hooligans who stone cricketers’ houses, demolish the boundary walls of a cricketer’s house – all in the name of a protest. And all this is carried by the media throughout the day as ‘sentiment of fans’, and some in the media also try to condone the act after indirectly bringing it upon the innocent families of cricketers.

Who has let loose the mob like this on the streets? The media! Who glorifies these despicable protests? The media! Who has made ransacking and demolishing a synonym for protests? The media! Who never reports protests that are made in a way protests should be made in a civilized country? The media! Just because civilized protests do not look as dramatic, they are never reported. What the media has therefore done is glorify the work of these cowards who come in mobs and try and harm the harmless. This has backfired in the worst way possible. The media was attacked. Now, we hear voices from the media that says that this is a very pathetic display that tries to curtail a free press. The media and the press are right. But why don’t they introspect a bit? Do they deserve to be free? Free to report a bollywood wedding for 1 whole month? Free to talk of Shilpa Shetty, who was forgotten by her own fraternity, just because she won a contest in England?

While the media should unite against this deplorable act by a bunch of goons, this is also the right time for them to put their heads together and ask each other, are they a responsible press/ media? Do they really do any kind of justice to journalism? While the media has the power, duty and right to stand up against maniacs like the Hindu Rashtriya Sena, they have a greater duty to the citizens of this country, duty to journalism. Please look at yourselves in the mirror and ask yourselves, how much of their reporting is sensationalising of trivial issues and how much worthy news is reported?

This is not the time for self-pity. ‘Oh we the poor media, we carry stories and get beaten up’. Unite and bring the goons of Hindu Rashtriya Sena to the courts, put them behind the bars and then show the world pictures of them languishing badly in jail. That would send a flutter down the spines of these cowards. Images of hooligans demolishing cricketers’ houses only encourages them and this is what the media has been doing so far. The media has created this Frankenstein and it is up to the media to kill it. For the good of journalism and for the good of the people of this country. The choice is really the media’s. Do they want to consciously put an end to this and report worthy stories or do they want to keep reporting Rakhi Sawant and Abhishek Bachchan and Liz Hurley and Shilpa Shetty, and unknowingly blow up some trivial news to invite these lunatics again.

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