Wednesday, November 30, 2011

News can be bought and sold :Seema Mustafa

The story of a country cannot be without its people. The government’s decision to bring in a Food Security Bill cannot be divorced, in the coverage, of what impact it will have on the ground. It is the job of the media to explore not the legalities of the legislation, but whether it will bring relief to the people, and to what extent. These stories are not being covered any more with the media getting away with a couple of quotes from the VIP politicians, and a ‘this party is against the other party’ kind of superficial approach. What has happened to the Women’s Reservation Bill? What does 51% FDI in the retail sector mean for the people? And by people, the yardstick should be poor people, and not just the consumers who determine the advertisements and the TRP ratings.

People do not like to come out on the streets to protest. Not even those who belong to political parties. They do so because they genuinely believe that there is no other course, and the issue is important enough to merit their participation. But when thousands of workers march on the streets of Delhi for justice and rights, the entire media without an exception blocks them out as they are the conscience check for unbridled capitalism keeping the corporates in business.

All that is reported are traffic jams as a result of people’s protests. Of course, if the protests turn violent the media is in full attendance to damn the protestors and their supporters.

The state has realised the importance of controlling the media across the world, particularly in democracies. It has also realised that it does not need to do this through draconian laws (like censorship) and has opted for outright seduction. Big media empires are set up with covert state support, and the pay back is through the manipulation of news that is difficult to detect. This has happened in the US, it is happening in India. Multi media chains are being established by industrial houses, they get full support by the government that even bails them out at later stages through closed door multi-crore deals, so that eventually they can control the news.
The distance between the journalist and the politician has been bridged, and both go to bed with each other to ensure smooth functioning of the new media industry that first creates the news and then disseminates it with admirable ease. The voter cannot be controlled, but the information can. And as the Iraq war and its embedded journalists have shown so successfully to the world, information can be bought and sold.
Seema Mustafa in DNA. Here

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