The term ‘Media’ gets related to entertainment, knowledge, talk shows, reality shows etc. But when we talk about ‘News Media’ specifically, the synonyms related to it are Daily happenings reportage, News Bulletins, TRP’s, drama, sensationalisation, 24 hour on- going race for news stories, unethical reporting etc.
According to ‘Business Dictionary’- ‘Media means communication channels through which news, entertainment, education, data or promotional messages are disseminated.’
This above definition of Media only gives out a direct explanation of the outside image of media but instead it does not takes into consideration the manipulation, sensationalisation, unethical news coverage done by the media. The loop holes regarding the function of the media in the present times with regards to its reporting manner have not been pointed out in the above definition.
Media as a whole, has turned into a ‘Manipulator’
Later Mr Ryan from the Forbes online Magazine, mentioned, ‘Today the Media is driven by blogs, is assailed on all sides, by the crushing economics of the business, dishonest sources, in human deadlines, page view quotas, inaccurate information, greedy publishers, poor training, the demands of the audience and so much more. These incentives are real, whether you’re the Huffington Post or CNN or some tiny blog, they wrap everything you read online and let me tell you, Thumbnail cheating Youtube videos and paid edit Wikipedia articles are only the beginning.’
This brings out the fact that whatever the Media says is not the ‘ultimate truth’ of the daily happenings but instead a ‘filtered’ version of the news. The news we receive is not the actually information of the news story but instead it is packaged in such a way that it meets the standards of entertainment and controversy at the same time.
As he states further too, that ‘Everyone is on the game, from the Blogger to non profits to Marketers to the New York Times itself. And when everyone is running the racket, the line between the real and the fake becomes indistinguishable.’
The News Channels try to manufacture content which entertains people more than being informative and so due to this it becomes very difficult to draw a line between the ‘actual’ and ‘dramatic & non sensible and controversial truth.’
Further, there is also a mention as to why Manipulation takes place with regards to blogging.
‘This all happens because of the poor incentives. When Readers don’t pay for news, the creators of the news don’t have any loyalty to the readers either. Everything is read one off, passed around on Facebook and Twitter instead of by subscriptions. As a result, Journalists are not responsible for deceiving readers.’
The above fact with regards to blogs, which is another medium of media, the truth that can be pointed out is that even though a particular news article is noted to be as unreliable or misquoted, many a times Bloggers can escape defamation charges as they can even register under a fake Blog ID and give out a fake news. This in turn, can create a wrong message and controversies & debates to the readers and viewers of Youtube as well.
Case 1: The Guwahati Case:
On Monday, 4th February, 2012, the news website called ‘Zee news.com’ reported the Guwahati Rape case under the Headline: ‘Guwahati girl molested: It was like a Gang rape, says reporter.’
The Headline itself brings a sense of unsure out throw of news facts to its readers. The very statement by Live Wire News Reporter that ‘it was like a Gang rape’ seems as if he wasn’t there at the spot and just assuming it to be a gang rape. But if one takes into consideration the video footages that the camera man captured, it surely shows that it is a gang rape. There seems no reason for the reporter of not being sure of whether it was a gang rape or no.
This news website stated that the reporter tried to rescue that girl by telling them “Don’t touch her. Don’t touch her. But later the mob was growing. There were about 50 very angry people over there.’ Further the reporter also mentioned, “She was crying but no one came forward.”
These two statements do contradict each other, because it seems that the reporter is putting the whole blame on the people around.the question that rises over here is that knowing the fact that 50 angry men were there and he couldn’t save the girl. But if he would continue may be even the other individuals would step forward to help. But instead he got more interested in capturing the footage.
From a analytical point of view, it can be justified that Journalism expects capturing the event on the spur of the movement. But on the other hand, isn’t Humanity to play a role during such a threat and rape? Not only the journalist but the people around her could have tried to free the girl at least on humanitarian grounds.
When we compare this News report of Zee News website to the Broadcast News of NDTV, it gives the viewers a completely different argument to discuss-
At the very start of the News show, questions that were asked by the Anchor to the reporter of Live News was ‘What did journalists do when this was happening?’’ “Why did the Police take half an hour to reach the spot?” the first question was not at all relevant to the discussion of this news as only one news reporter was present and it was not at all a event going on where several journalists were invited. These questions actually highlight the dramatic nature of the news Journalists of NDTV specifically.
The second need that can be raised up is that even of the Camera man captured the footage which showed the identity of the rapists, doesn’t it become necessary to maintain the ‘confidentiality’ factor that should be maintained by the Journalist and even other media houses. I mean revealing the identity without giving out a critical reasoning of the purpose behind it, isn’t right from the ‘truth’ perspective. The video footage went viral and in this case the confidentiality should be questioned. The media should have instead submitted the video copy to the police, Judge and other officials who are involved in the investigation and not broadcast it so openly. This seems like Live News wire and NDTV were on a race for highest TRP’s and sensationalisation of this video. Live News wire actually used this news video as a image building for their own reporters and claimed to be responsible journalist.
As NDTV proceeded further, the news anchor mentioned the question, “Only three arrested, why have the others not been arrested?” this question tried to bring a sense that the video footage that was captured didn’t bring any solution to the arrests. But the Live Wire Journalist smartly gave an answer to this as well “Guwahati has only 2.200 police due to which no patrolling and police van doesn’t reach on time” This was actually a good analytical finding out the reason as to why was the police unable to reach on time. This instead in a way brought out the actual fact of why safety of women can’t be ensured fully in a place like Guwhahati as well.
This type of media terror investigation put up by the live wire news and then further broadcast of it brings out two important points to be noted:
The capturing of this incident had helped the police to figure out who were the rapists, as this video worked as a clear eveidence for the Judiciary as well. But on the other hand the broadcast og this video on air seemed too much and an effort to reveal the identity of the rapists which might highlight the fact that it goes against the norms of maintaining some degree of comfidentiality that should have been maintained by the media.
Case 2: The Aarushi Murder Case
‘The Aarushi murder case has seen dramatic twists and turns and clearly the last words on this might not have been spoken on this just yet.”
These were the exact words that the News Anchor started with while the murder case was reported by NDTV on 16th May 2008. Just a day before the Jaipur attack was a big national story but then the news of the 14year old girl took over the story of the 80 dead in the Jaipur attack.This clearly shows that how immediately the media can switch on its focus from a bomb blast issue to making a murder case convert into a nationwide issue.
There was even a question asked by the media to the officials regarding of “How many days would it take for investigation?” The police said 2 days but well, it wasn’t able to complete the investigation within 2 days. And so the media took a chance to exaggerate this by putting out statements like ’30 days top police officers on sounded foolish.” “ Multiple police agencies, political gains but the end of it all 2 arrests but still no clear murder weapon or clear motive.”
Questions were raised up like “Why had the Police failed to pick up essential clues from the murder spot?” In the later half, the NDTV reporters themselves started investigating regarding the case. It was reported that NDTV reporter discovered and found out that by the time Aarushi’s servant Hemraj’s body was found, within an hour, the reporter got to know that by the time the body of Hemraj was discovered, it had started decomposing. The reporter on the spot also pointed out to the palm mark that was found showing the sign of struggle.
The news anchor of NDTV also stated further , “ It didn’t necessarily need to be a sharp weapon but it needed a doctor’s skill , that theory was abounded and reported that the police said it might be a nepalis hand who could have used a cookery to kill Aarushi.”
“In front of the camera, the police faultered, apologized and again faultered.” This actually created an image in the minds of the people that the police aren’t a reliable arm to be dependable for investigating such murder cases.
Further this news channel also stated that the police faultered and stammered while declaring their suspect of Aarushi’s father being her murderer. The investigation of the Policetook the form of Aarushi having extra marital affair with Hemraj due to which this case can be given the Honor killing status.
In the further weeks, the same channel also covered the people’s rallies that resulted due to character assassination of Aarushi and NDTV’s question were put forward as people’s questions as to why there were gaps in the police’s theory?
Through critical analysis, it raises up questions like even if the people are questioning the theories of the police, which is the news channel that’s revealing the theory per se?
The answer to this NDTV itself. It has played with the coverage of this news in such a way that the questions asked are by the news channel itself and not by the people. Because if it would be by the people, Reporters would have surely recorded the questions asked by the people on first person account basis. This shows a pre- assumption by the channel regarding the questions, which in a way is very unethical.
While delivering the news story to its viewers it can’t just make statements which point out the reliability of the cops without any proper evidence.
On the other hand, if one takes into consideration the report on ‘Meri news- power to People’, Miss Binu Joseph stated and pointed out the dark sides of the media while reporting Aarushi murder case.
She also states that ‘Ever since the 14 year old was murdered, media made sure that no one missed out on the developments. Well, Media did its job well. People all over India, were glued to the channels, to find out whether the guilty was caught? Whether Aarushi received justice?”
This above fact or opinion from Binu Joseph is very true if we compare it with regards to NDTV. The questions and statements made by the news channels actually made each Indian want to see the News channel again and again and this in turn, resulted in the highest TRP’S of NDTV channel especially.
Binu further also mentioned, “By the evening, a news channel flashed an explicit video of Aarushi in a compromising situation. The channel claimed that they received an MMS showing the deceased undressing herself, A hand was visible in the video clip. This video was on air for nearly an hour.’
Now if we take into consideration the reality that Binu has stated above, it clearly states that putting such videos on air is clearly a game shot for money played for gaining highest TRP’s and there’s no conscience consideration while playing such revealing videos on air by the unmentioned news channel.
It is justifiable where Binu questions that well is it just for TRP’s that the News channels work? Where did the duties of a Journalist disappear? While flashing such videos of Aarushi did the media help the police in nabbing the guilty? The answer to all this is ‘NO’ This video didn’t actually help the police but instead it proves how insensitive and unconcerned the media has become while reporting such sensitive issues of news.
Even if we take into consideration the Delhi Rape case, the reporting of CNN IBN shifted form law and order problem to Asaram’s views. There was a 1 hour debate as to why and how could Asaram put up a statement that the girl should have called them brothers to save herself from the rapers and later on the same news channel also followed up this by flashing headlines which reported that Asaram was not regretting for the statement made. This is actually an irrelevant importance given to the statement and a total shift of focus on the part of the media.
What has Aasaram’s views got to do with the law and order or justice that the rape victim should get? If the media goes on broadcast such views, then where is the right of freedom of speech lying? Doesn’t it contradict the freedom of speech? Yes it does and so it is questionable as to why and how the media just shifts focus from time to time.
Case 3: Delhi High Court Blast Case
On the News website of ‘Beyond Headlines’ the article on 31st December 2011 reported about the controversy regarding the Delhi court case and space and speed at which the investigations by the National Investigations Agency and by the media as well were carried out.
This report straightforwardly stated out the fact that the case of the Delhi High Court Blast of May 25th, 2011 was handed over to the National Investigating agency as the Delhi Police failed to make any concrete progress.
It also further states that, ‘Investigators are yet to identify the real perpetrators of the terror design, but the media has revealed almost everything including the entire game plan and identities.’
The above revealing of identities is totally on an unethical stand. Knowing the fact that the NIA investigators are still investigating, the media should not try to reveal identities unless and until it is not revealed officially. And even though it is revealed officially, it should be revealed by the media only after the NIA gives permission or shouldn’t do so mostly due to the sensitivity of the case. The initiative taken by media of mentioning the names is totally unethical as the truth is not clear and it becomes a prime duty of the Journalist to reveal the truth after proper investigation and not jump without it.
Due to not confirming who were the suspects from NIA, the Media just victimized Shariq Bhatt, a minor student of class XI in Kistwar and even more two minors from the same area of Jammu & Kashmir.
It was Abhishek Upadhyay who got to know that the media had appointed its own terror investigators. The investigation of Shariq was just done on the basis of unofficial terror briefing. This type of briefing should actually be considered as unreliable by the media but instead the media is more interested in questioning the investigations done by the police or NIA.
‘On November 1, the Indian Express reported with the headline—“Delhi blast: NIA finishes blast jigsaw, except for the bombers.” It had point-wise exact details about the whole scheme of the blast and the faces behind it.
This had very interesting claims about Wasim Akram Malik, the third arrested accused who was pursuing his MBBS from Jalalabad Ragib-Rubeya Medical College and Hospital in Sylhet, Bangladesh. The same Express story claimed –“According to sources, Malik has told interrogators that he regrets having committed two mistakes: organising to send out the email claiming responsibility from his hometown Kishtwar, and meeting Aamir Abbas, another accused (who was contacted in connection with the email) in person.”
The Indian Express in its story of November 1, gave the entire blueprint of this terror operation, all according to sources, and at the same time raised doubts over the story though it did not explain as to why it carried a story entirely based on sources which it did not believe in in the first place. When you file a story as per sources, it means you believe in your sources, then why raise a doubt and, if it is doubtful, why publish it?
Here again the same style of terror investigation, reporting news based on a mere confession (which was later denied), discreetly provided by the agency with no actual or circumstantial evidences in place. This is also a fact that Wasim Akram Malik has denied his confession in court. He claimed before the judge that he had been tortured in custody and had “no knowledge” about Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru until the National Investigation Agency told him during questioning. Waseem even corrected in court that he was an MBBS student and not a student of Unani medicine as claimed in media reports.
As the above fact states that Wasim Akram didn’t know in the first place that any such High court blast had taken place. It was only when the judge told him that he got to know any such thing happened. On this there might be a counter argument that may be Wasim was trying to show himself innocent and the media may not be at fault for its investigation. If this was the case, then how could media not even figure out which degree was Wasim pursuing. The media had declared that Wasim was a Unani medicine student but in fact he was a MBBS student. This shows the factual error of the media and this might lead to the loose of trust of the viewers and readers towards the media.
The reality was that Wasim had just sent a casual mail to his friend Aamir Abbas(3rd accused) claiming that he would take the responsibility from his home town Kishtwar ‘The NIA followed the traces sent after the Blast , from a cyber cafe at Kishtwar with the address email@example.com. ‘
This type of investigation acts like an interference , in the sense that, if an individual claims to take responsibility from his hometown, it can’t be always assumed that he or she meant to be in charge of the terror attacks. And overall, the identities of all these appeared in print as well as in the electronic media. Each and every detail of these suspected terrorists by the media was carried out without any sense of sensitivity.
According to Abhishek Uphadhaya, this type of media coverage is a typical type of terror form of Journalism due to which the minors were very soon well known figures of across the country. Thus brings out an argument that media hypes and sensationalises in ways which damages the reputation of the accused to a very greater extent.
As per the Court guidelines, ‘The media cannot disclose the identity of a minor accused however grave or light the nature of the crime allegedly committed by him. But in case of Shariq, all norms were demolished only in the pursuit of blindly following NIA leads.’ According to Uphadhaya, ‘No newspaper or channel issued an apology.’ For going against the Court guideline and neither was nay channel sewed for such drastic insensitive step.
Even after this, the media didn’t get away with its sensationalisation nature. After Shariq was released, Newspapers reported Headlines “We wish him Good Luck for his forthcoming Exams.” ‘Kishtwar boy released , SSP tells father ‘your son is brilliant’”
The media shamelessly put forth such type of headlines without any regret of spoiling the reputation of an innocent. This proves how the conscience of media is deteriorating day by day which is unable to judge what is right or wrong but instead, it easily gets away with it.
Case 4: PUNE CASE
The word ‘Terrorism’ is a concept that each and every person is familiar with in some or the other way. In India, the terrorism concept gets connected to Pakistanis and the caste of Muslims. The media is actually responsible for creating such images in the minds of the people.
On the Two circle.net news website there was an article headed under the title ‘Media misinformation in India: Spreading terror when suits them.’ Noted on the contrast of two major incidents
i.e.1. Terrorism attack in Manipur, which led to the death of teo Two Assam Rifles troopers and a civilian. This coverage was largely ignored by the national media.
But on the other hand,
Pune attack in which only 1 person was dead and the media created a sense of terror all over the country. When one analysis the above two cases, it can be observed that there was a difference in the way the media covered the two attacks.
The Manipur attack was not covered by any news media except by DNA Newspaper in one of the inside news pages that reported this news under the headline-‘3 killed, 6 injured in Manipur Bomb blast.’
The DNA report to only giving out the official quotes and News happenings which were declared by the Assam Rifle troops itself. It did not cover the dreadful situation or the brutal killing of people. This in a way can be justified that DNA was quiet responsible for not bringing out panic among the people in other parts of the country but instead just kept them informed about the incident that happened. One of the reasons might be because Manipur in Assam is a smaller area of News coverage considered by any news media.
The Major cities that are considered to make ‘the News’ are Pune , Mumbai , Delhi.
When there was a similar attack in Pune and it was reported tht only 1 person was dead. Still at that very moment, all the programmes on National news TV channels stopped and this news story was flashed.
As Two circle.net news website also mentioned, ‘It was constant coverage of terror attack for hours from then’ ‘People rushed to their homes, tried to contact their and dear ones. Phone lines were jammed. Cell phones were out of coverage due to the massive number of calls. Channels feasted on this frenzy and continued this ‘Panic’ creating industry throughout the night.’
From the above stating of facts by the Two circle.net news website, it is clear that the news coverage of such major cities is always hyped and this is done to create a great chaotic tension & stress among the people in the country due to which sensationalised version of news is reported day by day.
And the question asked normally in such attacks is that “who does the Police think is responsible for such attack?” in a way this question makes people think in the way the media wants them to think that X/Y especially Pakistanis might have a hand for the attack that took place. This is a baised judgement of the media. Due to such Labeling by the media the Muslims all over the country also feel besieged which in a way creats disharmony among different religious communities.
The 5 cases above prove how media brings out baised, sensationalised, unreal reports in front of the people which victimizes the innocent and many atimes we as individuals don’t question what is being reported but instead think it’s ‘the gospel truth’ which encourages the News Media of India to become a ‘DRAMA’ stage never the less.
by NICOLE FERNANDES
Bibliograhy: ( THE LINKS BELOW WERE REFERRED TO FOR LOOKING UP THE NEWS HEADLINES OF THE ABOVE RESPECTIVE CASES)
by NICOLE FERNANDES