Monday, August 6, 2007

Media priorities

One doubts if anyone has taken a leaf out of Sainath's book. For years, he has had ploughed a lonely furrow, highlighting the problems that the 'other India' was almost unaware of. Sainath admitted that early on in his career he decided that he was going to focus on the 95% that did not make it to the headlines or even the inside pages. Yet our Magsaysay award-winner is hardly the role-model for our budding reporters and correspondents. Look at the content of our urban-centred, politics-obsessed newspapers. The TOI Hyderabad for instance, has a quarter-page column under the caption, 'True Lies' on the bureaucratic grapevine, transfers of officials and what have you! It would be interesting to run a survey to discover how many readers (other than ten pinch-beck officials) actually read this weekly fountainhead of wisdom. The Urdu press highlights Palestine and Iraq at the cost of newsier stories, as if they were Siddipet or Nalgonda. Investigative reporting is virtually unheard of in the Urdu press.
Similarly, our tv channels in particular, went overboard with Sanjay Dutt's sentence. True, he's a celebrity. Accepted that the case does attract a lot of media attention by virtue of his star status. But running polls asking people whether justice had been served to him turned the whole thing into a farce. What about victims of the blasts and the riots earlier? Did they get justice? Has anyone run a poll on them? Soli Sorabjee lamented the media hype surrounding the verdict in Dutt's case. "He wasn't carrying toy gun or an air-pistol", Sorabjee said. By the same yardstick though, leaders carrying weapons during the riots that preceded the blasts should be brought to book. But the media circus is losing its way, it appears.

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