Post the Mumbai attacks: What about Media Introspection?

I have had a blog ID for a couple of years and though wanting to write on my favourite topics never, for various reasons including plain lethargy, not done so. The happenings in India over the past few months culminating in the Mumbai attacks has finally made me pen my thoughts.

All of us watched the terror attack with concern and anger. While we and the media have, And rightly so, shown utter disgust regarding politicians and the soft stand taken against the perpetrators of crime there is an equal blame our beloved media needs to take. Just a few pointers in this direction:
A.) News channels are not entertainment channels: while this is relatively a minor issue I do hope all channels are sensitive that they are there to report. I do not understand what “exclusive” means while interviewing the NSG chief or the president of Pakistan! Exclusive with a Barkha Dutt or Arnab Goswami or Rajdeep Sardesai on that channel? For sure they work with that respective channel.
What was the purpose of breathtakingly counting the number of commandos getting off a helicopter and Why do we get such brilliant background music while reporting. I want plain news and not masala. Why do they not invest that money in equipping their journalists with better skills?

B.) The problem of self-denial: The new phrase from CNN-IBN was “Urban Terror” but I thought the other side of “Hindu/Hindutva Terror” was “Islamic Terror”. Similarly we hear about “Terror having no Religion”, why is this double speak? We do know there is a problem of Islamic extremism and we will never be able to find a solution if we do not accept the problem.
Whenever there is an attack by Islamic extremists or a demand for action to be taken against any outfit did the media probe the issues at hand or did they get into an overdrive that there is a problem with Hindus and their outfits. Please go ahead and report on the Hindu outfits but not by subverting the other issue.
How many times did we see our media – both the print and electronic – try with all sincerity to uncover and report objectively? What is the media scared of? This is true even to the Hindu-Christian violence that the country has seen.
There was a furore over the attacks on churches in Karnataka. But did any newspaper or News channel even bother to get down to the reason for such actions? (or is it that these Hindu goons woke up one day and went on an attacking spree) Why was the publication of “Satyadarshini” that defamed Hindu gods and was distributed freely by a church body not highlighted? Was it not a big issue? Is such defamation acceptable? If Hindus did such an act against other gods or their beliefs would the media have kept such a low profile – while the attacks on churches was reported with such intensity that anyone I spoke to thought over 20 Christians were killed when the fact was that not a single person was killed!)Why does the media not accept there is a problem on the conversion front and if they believe otherwise can they show statistics to this effect: I can show enough numbers and real-life cases to show the scourge of conversion (one tidbit being the number of churches being nearly equal to the number of temples in Andhra Pradesh as was published by the Endowments Department. It has to be noted that there are only 3% Christians in the state).
For sure the majority of Christians and Muslims are good but is it not everyone’s duty to check the weaknesses in their system, Hindus included.

C.) Different yardsticks for different people: whenever there is an attack by Muslims the media immediately talks about Godhra and its revenge. By the same logic there should have been a response from Hindus when a few hundred thousand Kashmiri pandits were driven out of their homeland. Also, history is replete with plunder due to religious zeal of the Islamic kings and how many times did we see revenge.

When the Sadhvi and other suspects in the Malegaon blasts accused the ATS of torture was there any investigation by the media? An oh not to forget our human rights brigade: where was the NCW/NHRC/Teesta/Arundathi Roy? Have these accused been pronounced guilty? (Here is a critique from Shantanu on a report by NDTV) In the case of Afzal Guru even after conviction there is so much breast beating and not to forget all media questioning the Battla house encounter! Talking of Batla House the Delhi Union of Journalists came out with a report giving details of coverage by various newspapers – both English and Hindi – and no two newspaper facts matched, is this not a joke when all of them used the same source to get information?! Further on, CNN-IBN while describing “Hindu Terror” used “OM” juxtaposed with a photo of a violent scene: is this not crass insensitivity to the millions of Hindus and would a similar action been taken when reporting anything involving Muslims or Christians?
Similarly The Hindu in one of its editorials on the Christian-Hindu violence dismissed Hindu religion as having inherent weaknesses. Is such a statement without getting into details not bound to mislead readers? Does this mean people have the right to force conversions because of these inherent weaknesses? I hope people understand that religion is a conception of humans and hence will have weaknesses and is it not our duty to look at the good and take off the bad?

As a final point, Seema Chisti in the Indian Express while mentioning about Narendra Modi used the word “Sanskritised : as an extremist term. Is this the way to deal with one of the oldest and technically perfect languages in the World. Is learning Sanskrit equal to being fundamentalist. Is this objectivity?

I am an educated Indian who is demanding news without jaundicing it with so much subjectivity. This only encourages terrorists and their ilk as there is enough sympathy from both politicians and media and the human rights brigade.
Will the media, apart from asking politicians to change, change itself for the better of our country please…

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One Response to “Post the Mumbai attacks: What about Media Introspection?”

  1. Hindol Says:

    Cool buddy…. you are back….

    I support your thoughts. Its high time the media presents itself as neutral… They should understand their role in the society..

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