Once upon a time, a million years ago, the Times Of India carried a grand tagline ‘The Leader guards the Reader’. That was about its price-line. With economic liberalisation, greater technology one would have thought competition in the media would escalate the interests of readers and viewers. If anything, much of the mainstream media (MSM) has actually got itself flushed down the toilet. The TOI should be considered pioneers in the art of malpractices in the media. That’s leadership for you.
In the last decade it was probably for the first time a journalist (of the Economic Times) was arrested. Sucheta Dalal then wrote: “...Mumbai police arrested Rishi Chopra of The Economic Times along with an accomplice (a former journalist with another business daily) in an alleged extortion attempt.The duo was trapped accepting a Rs 700,000 bribe which was the second installment of a Rs 2.5 million payoff to kill a report about the shenanigans.... Worse, the pay-off itself had apparently been haggled down from an initial demand of Rs 10 million to Rs 2.5 million. Although corruption in the media is no longer news, the actual arrest of two scribes and the sums involved, marked a new low in this once honourable profession.” Paid news, Medianet were all such pioneering creations of the Times Group. One can imagine Ms.Dalal may have paid a price for her honesty. She could have been a celebrity like Barkha Dutt and probably much richer too.
Did the rest choose to remain far behind? The Nira Radia tapes only confirmed what most of us already suspected. A gross conspiracy of lie-mongering, bias, slant and paid news, and most of all, journalists taking on the role of power-brokers. Mind you, NDTV shamelessly continues to keep Barkha Dutt on your screens when she should have been quickly assigned a backroom job. The recent fake tweets scam by CNN-IBN and Times Now also exposes the way they manipulate viewers and their feedback. Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi just have to be the tip of the iceberg. The head of Hindustan Times, Shobana Bhartiya, happens to be a Congress member too.
And the MSM which so so reveres ‘freedom of speech’ is usually the first to want to muzzle it when it comes to others. The famous case of the Times Group wanting to sue Pradyuman Maheshwari for his blog ‘Mediaah’ is all too well known. Fortunately, for those still interested in his posts the contents are available at mediaha.blogspot.com. His satire, humour and gossip was simply unpalatable for TOI who indulge in it all the time. Then there is the famous Barkha Dutt Vs. Chetanya Kunte episode. NDTV tried to trample an ordinary blogger for calling Barkha’s ‘Shoddy Journalism’ on the 26/11 terror attacks. And if all this wasn’t enough the media will give out sham awards like ‘Indian of the year’ to politicians whom they are supposed to be questioning all the time.
For all the TOIs, NDTVs, CNN-IBNs, TIMES Nows etc. there are few rare exceptions that shine. Sucheta Dalal is one of them. The other low profile ones are P. Sainath and J. Gopikrishnan (of The Pioneer). Gopikrishnan was the one who first exposed the 2G Scam. I am sure there are some more that are worthy that I may not have named here. They may not achieve the dizzy celebrity status of the media crooks, but will have earned the eternal gratitude and trust of a nation.
If the mainstream media is down the toilet, what can you trust then? The new age 365X24X7X60X60 channels are the ones you are most likely to find on the Social Network on the internet. There are Bloggers, Facebookers and Tweeters who will dish out truth for a change. Sure there will be those on the social networks too who will dish out garbage like the MSM, but you will have choices. You can be sure that truth will not be hidden.
For a change it’s the MSM that will be under surveillance and we will be the watchdogs. I, for one, am happy to hear the bells tolling for the MSM and will celebrate Christmas and New Year in great cheer and hope. And I hope you do too! Cheers!