Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Dirty secrets of Indian media: How newspapers cleverly mould public opinion that eventually hurts citizens, country

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

People often wonder why citizens don't react to injustice or brutalities in India, the way people do in other countries.

One of the reasons is the extremely bad role played by media groups because of their power to create public opinion.

Especially, regional and the vernacular newspapers who have a great hold. It is nothing less than a miracle how they are able to do it, but this needs to be told.

They are able to make you cheer for policies that will eventually hurt and destroy you. But this is the power and the clever game that nobody talks about. They make us bigots, unjust and insensitive, they make us hateful and still preach about 'values'.

When Shambhu Regar burnt alive Afrazul, there was no public support for victim and no statements of celebrities or any shame-tears. In fact, people came out on streets for Shambhu and raised Saffron flag on court. That's a feature of our society. Apart from communalism, there are various factors.

Explained in a few points:

1. Local papers played major role for decades in shaping public opinion in states in India. Within states, a victim can be defamed and passed off as 'culprit', after all, many reporters (more than them paper owners) want good relations with officers. Why go against DM-SP, irk them?

2. A reporter generally associated with mass circulated papers in North or Central India, won't pursue with zeal a story about policemen who cane-charges a group or assaults a common man, though it affects everybody. In fact, he'd generally praise such cops as 'Singham', because it suits him and his 'Seth'.

3. Reporter supposed to get things done for owner, his other side businesses, take care of interests. If newspaper group wants to hold a Garba function, he has to ensure police arrangement, get VIPs to reach, avail special permissions, that are possible when officers are kept in good humour.

4. So if a man is really tortured and the story is too big to miss, then there'd be a spin-- 'police sources saying that this man was a gambler or was under influence of alcohol' to create a 'balance'. Either ways, people fed something that eventually hurts his rights as citizen.

5. This is such a cleverly crafted system that citizen walk on road towards policies that will eventually hurt him. But he cheers for it. He is made to believe that this is in his interest, though it is in the interest of a model that has 'seth', a few beneficiaries.

6. Those reporters who try hard, are defamed too, even within fraternity, 'Zyada krantikari ban rahe hain'. To keep job, many learn what to write, ignore. Imagine, when humans can be made to believe that human rights (our own) are bad, you just know what hope is there for change.

LINK: Role of Hindi media is spreading communalism, propagating right-wing narrative

7. When you don't have concept of justice and empathy towards own fellow citizens, you can't emerge as a great nation. If you don't speak for people in your own country who are oppressed and are victims, then there is no bonding and without bonding, no country can prosper.

All the existing fault lines in the society viz.caste, community, religion, region, class are exploited and media--newspapers and TV channels ensure that it 'anti-victim' opinion is formed, such a view is propagated.

8. Biased reporting makes citizens and the majority sympathetic towards goons, lynchers, the cow vigilantes just like they go on supporting economic policies or government steps that would hurt them.

Media has power to influence our mind, our perception. Courage is considered a virture because it is about taking on the powerful, raising voice against those who misuse power. But, imagine if in a society, armed men beat up unarmed citizen, torture them, beat them, feel it is 'bravery' & this is praised.

LINK: How to fight fake news, media propaganda and false communal narrative

9. However, this is not even taken seriously, neither recorded, nor documented. In states like MP, police often take detained persons in the form of a 'juloos' and this is hailed. No one objects to the practice because media has made it fashionable and it praised police for such acts.

Already, there were major issues and prejudices among sections of society. You can always judge character of society, people with the stand they take. Won't speak up against the 'power structure', will remain silent on atrocities on own poor and weak.

10. Also, not just within country, internationally too, see tge silence over big bullies' aggression-insult. But getting excited over petty things and minor offensives against small fries. Rather than becoming more sensitive towards each others' pain, society has been made more indifferent and selfish.

The newspapers and TV channels have created this situation where they pit people against each other, entire communities are branded and targeted. Hence, the need to understand the society, the system and deal with it.

LINK: Why people came out in India to support Shambhu Regar, not for the victim

Photo courtesy: Class Art/Pexels.org