Monday, January 7, 2013

MAINSTREAM versus SOCIAL MEDIA - BALANCE AND CREDIBILITY IN NEWS REPORTING


MAINSTREAM versus SOCIAL MEDIA
BALANCE AND CREDIBILITY IN NEWS REPORTING
Musings
By
VIKRAM KARVE

When I was a small boy, after dinner, I would sit with my father and listen to the 9 o’clock news on All India Radio (AIR). Then we would all go to sleep. Once in a while we would tune into BBC for the World News.

Later, with the advent of Television (TV), I started watching the news bulletin every night on Doordarshan.

I liked the no-frills simple style of AIR and Doordarshan.

Then, there was the information technology boom. It was fascinating to see the proliferation of news channels blaring round the clock with breaking news in so many languages. The TRP driven channels were each trying to outdo the other in packaging and presenting news in an aggressive style not seen before. For a simple viewer like me, bombarded with news 24/7 and with so many options, it was difficult to choose from the “information overload” of “News”.

Now, I have decided to stop watching News Channels on TV.

I am going to get my News from the Internet, primarily via the Social Media like Twitter and Facebook and also via Google, Yahoo, YouTube and various News Sites and e-newspapers. I can read most of the regional, national and international newspapers online too.

I have decided to stop watching Indian Mainstream Electronic Media TV News Channels for three reasons:

1. Most Mainstream TV News Channels focus on “Views” rather than “News”. Instead of reporting factual news in an objective and unbiased manner they “process” the news with their own views and broadcast the news as if they are trying to “brainwash” the viewer by bombarding him with subjective opinionated and biased views. Prime Time “Debates” to propagate “Views” are given more priority than telecasting simple accurate authentic “News”.

2. Mainstream TV News Channels are “Delhi-Centric”. An incident in Delhi or NCR is blown out of proportion whereas a similar incident in a distant city or remote mofussil rural part of India is either ignored or just given a passing mention.

3. Mainstream Media TV Channels do not seem to be “neutral” non-aligned and independent. Instead of telecasting news in a fair, transparent, independent, non-partisan and even-handed manner, on occasions, they seem to exhibit bias, partiality and imbalance. To a balanced viewer it appears as if they are taking sides. Whereas some acts and statements are given undue prominence, sometimes even quoted out of context, and highlighted as “breaking news”, similar acts and statements by others are either not reported at all or just given a cursory mention. Thus, while watching news, even an open-minded viewer gets an impression that news channels are opinionated and subjective in their approach.

Whenever I switch on the TV to watch the news I want credible reportage which is authentic, accurate, prompt, fair, objective and unbiased.

I want to watch debates conducted in a balanced even-handed equitable manner with all participants given fair opportunity to air and discuss their views.

That is why I am going to watch BBC and CNN for the international news.

And as far as the indigenous news is concerned, I am going to try to get it from the Internet and Social Media, and maybe I will watch a few Regional TV News Channels for the local news.

And yes, for nostalgic sake, I am going to watch the news bulletin on Doordarshan and hear the 9 o’clock news on All India Radio too.

Let’s see how it works out. At least, I will go to sleep early, unruffled by the prime time debates that generate more heat than light.
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