I have been tracking news on Indian TV for the past 15 years or more and in all these years many news channels and journalists have made and lost their identity, shifting their faith from one channel to the other. But in all these years I have seen that Good Journalism has faded away or in other words has vanished.
Good journalism does not mean having faith in any political party, section of society, individual or country, but putting news first. Media’s one significant role is to uplift society by way of informing and educating the masses, praising and informing of those schemes of government which are good for society, criticizing government plans which do otherwise. TV news in India however is busy playing another role, that of attracting the masses and TRP ratings building by manipulating information and creating ‘Pickle News’.
Pickle News may be a new term for all of you as I just coined it in the Indian context just as I gave a new word ‘Mediatization‘ in the past. Pickle News is opposite to Mediatization. Meditization is a western term used for impacting the decision making process of Politics and Society on the lines of Media. It may be good for the public, and may also be bad but Pickle News is only to make viewers watch TV news by way of hook or crook and by presenting a mix of misinformation, entertainment and fake news.
Many stalwart TV journalists in India are doing this in a way that is very difficult to differentiate between good news and pickle news. From the advent of satellite and cable TV in India they have all been doing this to earn business for companies and provide fat salaries to those who are doing this. Take the incident of the 75th anniversary of quitting the India Movement. Most TV debates were circled on whether RSS was with the movement or with the British as it appeared to be the only point to be debated. RSS is a Social Service organization of hardliners. Congress played a massive role in the freedom struggle.
All our ancestors and the masses fought for the freedom struggle, little and small known people. It was not an individual’s contribution. Few gave leadership as others fought at ground level, but Indian TV was busy nailing down those people. Take the incident of Cows, Love Jihad, Vande Matram, Ram Temple… None of the news channels carried discussions on these for a healthy conclusion, instead only to confuse and create chaos on TV debates. It appears the TV studio has become a place where if you place a gun in an opponent’s hand he/she will shoot others.
Media Activism is used to blackmail the government to get its commercial interests fulfilled, and India’s TV Media has been using this weapon for ages. There were a handful of Journalists whom people trusted but they too have adopted the ‘Please and Get Paid’ policy. As BBC stalwart Mark Tully said, Indian TV is all trash, and there is no point in differing with his opinion.
No Journalism is above National Security. Countries which have the most liberal media also follow this. Media must realize that its first job is to serve the public and nation. No media entity is above the nation. The unfortunate fact is that Indian media and especially TV news media is constantly failing in its duty. Those days are now far away when media people will work only for fat salaries and to win the game and business even if they fail in their duty and have to betray the nation.
Pickle News is killing Good Journalism at a rapid speed. God save Indian TV news and newsmen.