Sometime back I had mentioned a story on “The Media Watchdogs” in Society magazine’s September 2012 issue. I received another reminder to carry the brief write up on MediaCrooks that the magazine carried in the story. So here it is. The story is an exact reproduction except for names. As usual, quotes used in the article are in blue and some parts of the text have been highlighted by me. Where posts are referred to, those have been highlighted with their original links. The article remains exactly as in the magazine.
“As a news watcher, I have, like many others, watched the consistent deterioration in the quality of news reporting, interpretation and subsequent debates and opinions” says.. creator of www.mediacrooks.com. And since there is no specific organisation evaluating the Indian news media in any manner, he took on the onus. “The cash-for-votes incident of 2008, when a news channel deliberately suppressed information acted like a trigger”. The universally criticised reporting of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks was the last straw.. and the first post was written in February 2010. Since then his website has garnered nearly 500 followers by email and over 6,28,600 page views. Posting under ‘Ravinar’, an acronym of his name, he writes in a manner that is lucid, to the point and often sarcastic.
In one of his posts, ‘Rahul Gandhi-Sukanya Case: Amazing Media Silence’, Ravinar questions the under-reporting of the case by the mainstream media. In another, ‘Religious Secular Channels’, he notes that when news channels report on fraudulent godmen in controversies, the godmen in question almost always happen to be Hindu, while those of other religions get marginal coverage. In ‘CNN-IBN:The Greatest Indian Farce’, he points out the futilities and unfairness in comparison when CNN-IBN attempts to select the greatest Indian after Mahatma Gandhi.Every couple of years Ravinar conducts a poll to rate who India’s worst journalists are. The polls have received a huge response and have attracted a lot of attention from readers as well as other bloggers. He terms the poll ‘a Razzies of sorts of the media’. He says, “News organisations conduct silly SMS polls almost every day and nobody knows who or how many voted. For instance, 10 people may have voted and eight may have said ‘Yes’. The channel would then proclaim: ’80 percent AGREE!’ This kind of foolish reporting is questionable. The media celebs pass judgement on anybody and everybody. This is my way of holding a mirror to them".One of the beliefs he strongly he strongly proclaims on his website is that a corrupt media is the most dangerous threat to any democracy. In India, there is considerable freedom to print, which Ravinar feels, the media seldom makes use of. “In recent history, most scams were exposed either by the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) or journalists from smaller journals like The Pioneer. In one of my posts, I have called the media, ‘India’s Biggest Mafia’. You can find in the news media everything that you find in a regular mafia. Radiagate may only be the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “The rest of the story may unfold someday. There are still many great journalists who keep the good work going. But, you won’t easily find them in big media houses.”He is of the opinion that ever since the media boom of the 90s, honest reporting has been the biggest victim in the pursuit of viewership, readership and profits. Through his blog, it is apparent that he considers a compromised media a greater threat to democracy than a government. “In not standing up for freedoms and in towing the government line on most issues, the news media is compromising not only their own freedom, but the very foundation of our democracy” he says, adding that it is difficult to differentiate between politicians and some journalists.