Word Count: 2108
Time to Read: 8 min 25 sec
What is the job of a news channel? Deliver news, report, opinions, shed light, uncover the truth…? What do you get to see in most Indian News Channels? The Bad, The Pathetic and The Idiotic! It is similar to the pathetic entertainment that you can see on most Indian television. What’s pathetic about most Indian television entertainment? I will elaborate on this in a separate blog post.
What you need to understand is that most Indian news channels focus on the trending topic and not the typical news stories. If one news channel picks up on a particular story, then the rest will follow suit. It is as if there is nothing else happening in the world! The same rant is repeated and elaborated the entire day with exclusives telecasted at prime time.
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke in late 2019, it went on till the whole of 2020. While I do appreciate the constant updates the respective channel provides, but consequently I would like to know more about the progress of other countries and other news stories. These channels did not follow on with the update regularly.
When these channels pick up on a particular story, they will stretch the story like a rubber band! They will involve dramatics like epic music playing in the background, there will be brainstormed titles for the story which may or may not rhyme and worst of all – not being professional.
Yes, you read it right. Most Indian news channels are more or less the same as a typical Indian serial. The typical Indian serial is by far the worst void of logic, practicality and meaning. What is the most surprising is that an audience for such serials exists!
So, you can understand when an audience for meaningless serials exists then why not for a news channel which always adds some spiciness to their stories. Is there even a need for it?
The worst part of a news channel’s shows is the debates. It is a fish market! What’s a fish-market? When I was in school, one one occasion mom had taken me to the fish-market. It was just like any other vegetable market where the sellers shout their prices for the buyers to listen. If buyers hear a good price, the product is good then they buy.
During that time, sometimes the sellers would shout competing with other ‘shouters’ to get the buyer’s attention. The chaos that ensued at that time made all of these shouting undecipherable. That used to be a typical fish market. Now you can relate.
It is like the fight in Big Boss or Big Brother. Honestly, I have not seen Big Brother and I don’t watch Big Boss either. It is similarly themed but Indianised for the local audience.
Big Boss is where the audience sees the contestants fighting mostly due to the clash of egos. Egos are weighed and the ones whose weight is at least a ton creates the most fights! I was unfortunate enough to watch a few minutes of it. My joy will have no bounds if I ever learn that it is banned!
If you can feel me. You can relate to the debates on how useless it is. Politicians will do politics and the core points will never take centre stage.
News channels have become a den of senseless entertainment rather than a source of information, speculation and not being judgemental about the situation. Present your opinions but reserve the authorities and the general public to make a judgement. This is never the purpose of the news channels. I will talk about this later in the post.
A sense of loss:
This is natural. If you would watch these pathetic news channels, like me, you will be lost. I don’t know what I am watching, so will you.
Is it news? Entertainment? Information? Speculation?
The repetitiveness is meaningless. When the trending news takes over, it repeats in most channels. The main news takes a backseat and the core news what I or the viewers would like to see is not presented.
For eg., during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, China had intruded Indian territory in Ladakh – northeastern part of the country. For days, news channels would play the same news the whole day. There would be differences in the programming like one would show India’s response and the other the Chinese response. On another occasion, they would do a military comparison and then complete arsenal comparison!
But, I want to see the news about COVID-19, local and international news. There is no structure in place. Most channels follow the same pattern I mentioned here, more or less.
Once the trending news takes over, all the other news no matter how important is completely sidelined. Today (26 Aug 2020 the day I started writing this post) I saw something on one of the news channels titles of the news report – they mentioned a ‘part 2’ at the end? Can you imagine the ridiculousness of the title? Is it news or entertainment?
Another instance is the death/suicide of Hindi Film Industry actor Sushant Singh Rajput. News channels have made a mockery of his death with speculations, trial by media, conspiracy theories, meaningless debates and discussions.
While I very much want justice to be delivered but not in this manner. The other day I say two old men debating – both of them were fighting on national TV – I shouted, “Someone please stop them or they will get a heart attack!”
What do these debates prove? I am yet to understand that. What is the sense of telecasting them in the first place? I don’t know.
Claims, counter-claims, ridiculous claims, stupid claims…-
In this day and age when people are becoming progressive through education and at times better informed through the internet – some news channels are getting very regressive by making claims, counter-claims, ridiculous claims, stupid claims and fake claims.
Is this even needed? For crying out loud! You are running a news channel not an entertainment channel or a saas-bahu serial. Please stop!
Your title for the news report need not rhyme. Just get to the point.
Trial by Media:
I consider this as a heinous crime. The media is not the judiciary, they may know the law but to pronounce judgement is not your job. Your job is to present the news, please stick to that first. Let the judiciary and the authorities do their duty – stop meddling in petty reasoning, repetitiveness and irrelevance.
The Problem with such News channels:
1) Lost priority – they don’t know how to properly report the news. They don’t know how to prioritise news either. I have observed this the moment they clubbed different news together. Typically, I have noticed reputed news channels segregate news particularly the international ones – domestic news will be clubbed together, international news clubbed together except for breaking news, etc.
2) Cannot understand the difference between the meaning news and what is not news- I seriously can’t seem to understand, if news reporters are genuine journalism graduates. They don’t know how to report the actual news. For instance, there is a boring sport called cricket of which the captain had recently married and was honeymooning in one of the corners of the country. He lost his watch and the news channel was carrying a report about it. They were reported in detail the type of watch, the colour and the room where he lost it! Was this news ever necessary?
People tend to lose things daily. This is how it is! Did carrying such irrelevant news merit any logic?
Another instance is when news channels both print and TV carry news information about a star couple’s son, what he is doing, what did he do, what he ate. Who cares about this bullshit! I mean, since when did frivolous reporting become part of your reporting schedule?
There are many issues with these news channels and many are compelled with these dull form of entertainment.
Lack of a better word – professionalism, ethics, responsibilities, priorities is what’s lacking in today’s mainstream news media.
Lack of a better law than can govern news media could be another reason. Honestly, IMO it is not even needed if news channels only knew how to do their job responsibly and ethically.
Gunning for TRPs and not news reporting. I know a few unheard-of Indian news channels which do ethical reporting but do not follow the heard.
The most dangerous aspect of Indian news channel –
In India, many people may be aware of this – a new channel’s political affiliation, biased reporting, political favouritism, fake news and many more.
I don’t know from where should I start. News channels are doing their best to score brownie points. The true essence of news reporting has been lost in most news channels.
How they can improve –
A news channel should know how it is projecting news outside their studio. Just like a television series or a web series receives feedback about the latest episode, I doubt that news channels have such a mechanism in place.
Though social media seems to play an important role, most of the comments about frivolous reporting are looked upon with blind eyes!
A news channel does not require review based structure but ethics is something basic ingrained in every individual. Perhaps, these reporters involved in malpractices have their ethics already aligned with the channel they are working with.
Without such an alignment, the reporters would not hesitate to indulge in malpractices.
A case in point is renowned news reporter Arnab Goswami and current owner of Republic TV. He left NDTV after a spat regarding some basic ethics of reporting. I don’t like him but his reporting is spot on. He is fearless and never hesitates to speak his mind. His debate also resembles a fish-market!
Now let me introduce to some good news channels –
The first on my list is WION acronym for World is One. They report on a wide range of subjects and also opinionate. They interview wide-ranging personalities throughout the world. In other words, they are professional and do not follow the trend.
NewsX is another channel but honestly, I do not follow it that much. But their reporting is opinionated from analysts just like WION.
What both these channels have in common is that they do not conduct debates as most channels do, they conduct discussions. It is short, conclusive and to the point.
How news should be reported (IMO):
Freedom of the press is one of the pillars of democracy. The press or news channel must be critical of government policies, actions, decisions, etc. It is understandable. They should also be subsequently critical of the opposition and should not hesitate to present the truth.
What’s right – side with the side and what is wrong needs a strong reprimand.
I believe the news should be presented in a neutral format and let the public decide about it. After all, India is a democracy, isn’t it? People have the right to decide. Let them. Don’t try to influence their thinking in any way.
There should be a governing body on news reporting. This grievance redressal about visual content is present for entertainment channels but unfortunately not for news channels.
I am in two minds about coming up with a grievance redressal mechanism for news channels. Firstly, people will complain about unethical reporting. Secondly, political supporters will take undue advantage of this mechanism. This will endanger reporting the truth.
So, how should these mainstream news channel’s report news?
It’s for them to decide on which direction they wish to head.
Remember, a news channel does not lead. They head in the direction they wish to go.
Can a news channel lead? Yes, provided they undertake social causes and compel to change some laws. Some news channels have done that. This is true of quashing of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalised homosexuality. Of course, with what I understand, news channels came out in support of quashing it.
Political religious leaders came out in support of section 377. That was not surprising.
Should a news channel lead? This is debatable. I am not sure if they should now because India has not yet completely matured as a democracy. This will happen when our education system changes, the desired laws to convict guilty people quickly change with zero undertrials, the citizens are more ethically centred and make sane choices on their own and not influenced by their political mentors.
We have a long time to go.