Media, heal thyself

R. Sundaram | Updated on March 12, 2018

Curiosity orvoyeurism?

The Tehelka episode is just a storm in a teacup.

The circle of cynicism is complete.

For a few years now, particularly since 2009, media excoriated politicians, ranted against crony capitalists, blamed the poor for demanding doles, bullied bureaucrats and policemen, and in general pointed fingers at every section of society except the judges and itself.

Judges were spared because of fear of contempt. The media spared itself because it only holds a mirror to society and luckily is on the other side of the mirror.

The idle class

There is this illusion, largely a creation of the media itself, that it represents the views of society, and its panelists are the real movers and shakers of opinion. If we were to think deeply, we would realise that their impact is a mere ripple in a pond.

Their audience or the folks who take them seriously, apart from the advertisers who watch their budgets, comprises the targeted politicians, the twitterati, retired government servants and other English-knowing senior citizens — in other words, a largely idle class.

To an extent, social media is edging out traditional media, yet it is also largely made up of members from the same Greek chorus.

Youngsters who are busy earning their living and raising families have no time to listen to the raucous debates. Those who have to commute long distances to work have no time either for bombast, legal quibble or logical paradoxes grandly spelt out in op-eds.

Who cares?

Take this hullabaloo about the scandal the Tehelka editor has got himself into. The magazine does not print more than a few thousand copies per issue. What the founder-editor is reported to have done is a serious crime under Indian law. Does it really matter to the exclusion of everything else, if Tarun Tejpal is arrested and punished, if proved guilty?

Why are the other media outfits obsessively following up this story?

In the process, are they aware that the harassed individual is perhaps feeling more intimidated and humiliated? Is it because the man is from the same profession?

The media as a responsible pillar of society must exercise restraint, and let the courts decide without being influenced by the daily debates.

(The author is a former Member, Ordnance Factories Board.)

Published on November 29, 2013

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