Chasing the TRP Race: The High-Decibel Drama
Let's begin with a funny little anomaly that is unique to Indian news channels - the high-decibel drama thrown at you disguised as 'news'! Ever noticed how the evening debates remind you of your neighbour's toddler throwing a tantrum but amplified a hundred times over? Yeah, I feel you. I recently had an experience where I was watching an evening debate and my dog, Lulu, scampered away, terrified by the noise emanating from the TV. I found her hiding under the bed three hours later! So, you see, even my dog agrees - the first thing Indian news channels need to stop doing is operating at sound levels that would put a Metallica concert to shame.
Humour aside, the constant shouting matches mute essential voices and cloud critical issues. Truly, the need of the hour is quality content that steers clear of theatrics. I can't stress this enough - news is about information, not entertainment. We, the audience, deserve articulate discussions and empirical analyses that can engage, educate, and empower. It would help if we dialled down the noise and focussed on the substance.
Stop: The Sensationalism Stampede
Equally problematic is a trend which I facetiously refer to as 'The Sensationalism Stampede'. Remember the time when 'Breaking News' meant something significant? Now, it’s more like 'Breaking News: Aunt Bertha changed her cat’s diet! More at noon!'. Exaggerated, I know, but not far from what our news channels serve us on a typical day. Reporting events in a sensationalised manner misleads the public and can be dangerous.
Take for instance the tendency to label every minor protest as a 'violent uproar'. This drumming up of minor issues fuels unnecessary fear in the public mind. Not to mention the irresponsible reporting during sensitive situations, like terror attacks or natural calamities, leading to widespread panic. Guys, chill! It's high time news channels understand the difference between a sense of urgency and an urgency of sense.
The Spotlight on Celebrities
Spotlight on celebrities is as stale as last week's vada pav left out in Sydney’s sun. Flaunting a Bollywood star's beach vacation pictures or obsessing over a cricketer’s latest tattoo is not journalism. It's celebrity voyeurism and it's time to tune it out. The glam glitter of tinsel town might garner TRPs, but it eclipses grave issues that need attention. Imagine if the time invested in narrating an actor's diet plan was instead used to shed light on farmer suicides or child labour. So yeah, the third thing Indian news channels need to stop? The unhealthy obsession with celebrity culture.
While there's nothing wrong in reporting about notable people, it shouldn't come at the cost of sidelining other relevant issues. Responsible journalism balances glittering showbiz news with ground-level reporting, addressing numerous ignored societal struggles.
Biased Broadcasting: Heralding an Era of Personal Agendas?
The fourth issue is the elephant in the room, or should I say, the elephant leading the newsroom? Whenever I see some news channels overtly favour a political party while broadcasting, I remember an old Sydney buddy of mine. Back in our college days, he'd cheer for the underdog cricket team in any match, just because he loved to swim against the tide. It was fun back then, but when I see news channels doing the same - it's concerning. This bias is not just limiting - it's distorting reality.
A free press is the cornerstone of a functioning democracy, and it’s supposed to question the powers that be rather than be their mouthpiece. It would help if news broadcasters neutralised their leanings and provided unfiltered news. It's high time we addressed this bias, lest our news channels become a mockery of the very principles they're supposed to uphold.
End of the Age of Armchair Journalism
Finally, let's talk about the perch from where most Indian news channels seem to function - the comfort of their air-conditioned studios. This phenomenon is known as 'Armchair Journalism', and it’s about as appealing as a stale samosa. There's this misconception among news channels that they can understand the grassroots issues of rural India while sipping lattes in their cosy studios. Reality check, folks - it doesn't work that way.
True journalistic values involve delving deep into issues, getting the perspective of the affected people, and reporting with empathy. Let’s be real – can an anchor in a Mumbai studio explain the drought impact on a farmer in Telangana with justice? We need more reporters on the field, unearthing stories, exposing scams, and highlighting unheard voices. Armchair journalism has had its day. It’s time to lace up those boots and get on the ground.
This rundown covers my views on what Indian news channels should stop doing, derived from my experiences as an Indian living overseas. Balanced news narratives with less noise, fair representation, and a focus on real, relevant issues can guide us towards enlightened discourse. No bias, no sensationalism, no unnecessary celebrity focus - is that too much to ask for? I think not. So, here's a call to all Indian news channels - let's take a step back, take a deep breath, and step into the future of responsible journalism.