This is the era of online news portals. With an uncountable number of online news channels competing with the mainstream media giants to find a readership, news has lost its credibility long ago. Most of the so called online newspapers have their journalistic duties confined to copying articles from other mainstream media sites, barely attempting(?) to reword it before publishing it. Sometimes the articles are mindlessly translated from another language and the resulting end product has the facts hilariously twisted.
The concept of “copyright” seems to have become more of a joke. The online news portals generously adds a reference to “extract from xxx channel” before reproducing the exact phrase and words in a piece of article.
Social media is the place where the buzz is today. And the media have their eyes on Facebook and twitter. Most of the viral Facebook and twitter discussions often make way to the mainstream news. The Facebook posts and tweets in itself comprises half of the news published in some of the online news portals. It’s often found that the writers attach their own figment of imagination while retelling a story and after a series of telling and retelling the end news is left with no trace of truth. No one seems to be actually interested in verifying basic facts in a story that is being reported.
It wasn’t long ago when a media giant zoomed into the cleavage of an actress and caused a mayhem while they came out with a justification that “world of online is very different from that of newspapers. It is chaotic and cluttered — and sensational headlines are far from uncommon” . In the process of creating sensational news what the revered journalists forget to do today is to verify the facts and foresee the consequences.
This morning I was greeted by a shared post on my Facebook wall which spoke about how a young engineer managed to con the whole news channels, politicians and the public into believing that he had turned down a prestigious job offer from NASA because it required him to give up his Indian citizen ship. Various news channels have competed in getting his interviews and quotes on various topics. It was even reported that he was invited by the PM to Delhi. The incident in question had popped up on my timeline from time to time shared as ” act commanding respect” and “instance of true patriotism”. If this whole drama is going to be proved as a cooked up tale, then I am at loss of words ! This is not a third class paid news that we are looking at, but a whole bunch of mislead mainstream media persons.
Similarly, I found yet another interesting discussions on a lady from my state who has claimed to be “one of the 50 in the long list of Manbooker prize”. In fact this lady has been interviewed by many of the prominent channels and has been presented as the new writing prodigy. From what I have seen so far, her claims either fraudulent or very distorted facts.
Is it this easy to create a fake news and fool an entire battalion of media geniuses?
Before winding up my rants I would like to give a special mention to the news channels in from my home state , the Gods own country. About a year ago, a ruling ministers( now ex) extra marital affair and ugly divorce negotiations had occupied the front page of new papers and prime time news. This was soon replaced by a sex tape of an MLA. Next the solar scandal took the slot with a sexy con woman and her ‘potential relationships’ becoming the heated topic of news debates.Recently a news channel aired the kissing scenes of two college goers in a restaurant in Calicut, a clear case of moral policing, which ended up in a BJP affiliated youth group vandalizing the restaurant in question.With so many channels and the need to stand out, it is natural that the neo-journalists are forced to be competitive. But does it justify the fact that they even stoop down to the level of conducting sting operation on unsuspecting college students and airing consensual intimate exchange between two grown ups?
Would it be wrong to say that the media of today has made giving verdicts and judgement their right and passing information a lesser important chore ? Indian media is notorious for being the patron of paid news. But publishing unverified news is far more dangerous. How can an ordinary reader like me trust the media in today’s world ? The influence of media on the public is high and with the technological intervention it would only take seconds before a news goes viral. In such a context, doesn’t the media have the obligation to be more responsible?
In the mad rush to get better scoops and more breaking news, lets hope that these news channels and portals don’t end up screwing up the society to point where mending becomes impossible.