If there would ever be a World Championship of yellow journalism; India’s entry would certainly be India TV, a Hindi news channel. I am also pretty sure of it getting the gold medals in a number of categories. No one can beat it in the absurdity of the news that it “breaks”. Sample a few:
- ये हिमदानव इस वक्त आपके बेडरूम में बैठा है (A yeti is present in your bedroom)
- कमीश्नर का कुत्ता हुआ लापता (Commissioner’s dog goes missing)
- नौ दिन में बनिए करोड़पति – मदन महाराज बताएंगे मंत्र (Be a millionaire in nine days – Madan Maharaj will disclose the mantra)
- अमिताभ बच्चन का पुर्नजन्म (Reincarnation of Amitabh Bachchan)
- पाताल के बौने का रहस्य (The mystery of dwarf from down under)
- प्याज़ मांगने वाली चुडैल का आतंक (Terror of witch who demands onions)
- आधा इंसान बोलेगा (The half-human will speak)
This channel is creating history by spreading such baseless rhetoric. They give utterly sensational words to simple stories (for example, when Amitabh Bachchan got well after an illness —they reported it as his rebirth!). They can scandalize just about anything (a cat was stranded on a terrace and they made half-an-hour story out of it). India TV takes the viewers for granted and serves just about anything to them in the name of news.
I am sure that the management of India TV is aware of it’s public image. They know that people refer to the channel as the one with stupid breaking news. But still they are unwaveringly continuing with their strategy of sensationalism. Why? Simply because they are doing business and they do have a viewership. They are targeting a niche market of people who want to have sensational news and have little or no interest in the news that matters. I have never read any tabloid so I can not really compare India TV with a tabloid newspaper (but could there be anything worse than India TV?)
Tone of the news anchors is also hilarious! In fact, nowadays I watch such channels when I am in mood of watching comedy. The news anchors speaks in a fashion as though they are trying to sell the news from a roadside. They look more like nautanki artists than professional news anchors!
India TV may be an extreme example. But, in reality, the overall standard of journalism in India is going southward since long. Especially the Hindi journalism is in a seriously bad condition. Hindi newspapers and television channels still think that their audience is like a less than well-educated farmer who would call their correspondents “padhe likhe saheb log”. They are forgetting that the Indian middle-class is becoming more and more educated and aware. These journalists can no longer smugly call themselves “intellectuals” because in their readership there are much better aware, thinkers and philosophers folks. Indian journalists have long been under impression that being a journalist is equivalent of being an intellectual. One gets a license to call oneself an intellectual as soon as s/he gets a job in a newspaper, TV or radio channel. My experience has, however, been sad. Most of the journalists take their work lightly and they think that the audience indeed belong to the “cattle class” (à la Shashi Tharoor).
Peepli Live movie was a good satire on such journalists and media houses practicing blatant yellow journalism.
Journalism is a very important thing —it is one of the pillars of democracy. Both media and the audience have a joint responsibility of keeping journalism up to the mark. Audience should boycott the channels like India TV and any other medium that does not provide good enough information.