Saturday, June 12, 2021

How race to 'break stories', create sensation destroys lives: False cases, stern sections, framing youths and implicating due to irresponsible journalism

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Most of us often read, how youths were jailed and after a decade or more, released.

The need is to understand that how it happens. It's extremely necessary that people must know.

It happens because of overzealous and careless media, more than any other 'bias'. 

Now read this: 

Some youth get booked in a case. Papers sensationalize. 'Are they linked to X group'. Cops naturally say 'we're questioning, will probe'. 

But they write, 'links with shady group'. Sometimes, not even '?' or '!' mark, but headline is enough to create anger in city. 

Tough sections are applied against them. Now race for follow-up. The thought that other paper may publish something 'big', so similar such 'question framed', again asked, standard reply 'we're probing this angle too'.

More big headlines, 'they were planning THIS or THAT, had links HERE and THERE', with may be an exclamation mark, but it doesn't matter. Impact is devastating. Certain cops too love this attention, holding press conferences, cameras in front of them, their photos on front pages, local channels.

They get calls from friends, neighbours, 'Aap to chhaye hain' [wow, you are all over on the screens'. And 'cracking a big case' helps in projecting self as a strong cop, also in career. Follow-ups over a week, result in this situation. 

As you see, it may be a simple case but extremely tough sections used because of the pressure created in media. Then, politicians too enjoy, to show 'tough action'. 'Local pressure' and mahaul due to all papers' front pages in regions, is such that anything can be passed off. 20 years of lives. 

Old news but serves as an example. Once people are framed, entire families are destroyed financially, emotionally, physically. Cases may not be perfect, might have loopholes but once registered, the treatment to people, expenses, mental torture, kin rushing to courts and prisons. 

How that's a serious failure on part of journalists, lack of empathy and sensitivity in newsrooms

People in newsrooms don't think of these aspects that it's a crime to create an environment in which people get unfair treatment or get framed, implicated and slapped with cases they don't deserve.

That's more a bad journalism problem. For them, 'it's just a story', a 'big story', that will get them feel 'special', story that will be in their file, claim that we 'covered such things or broke these stories too'. It's not about justice. Minds just act this way.

However, this is is not the main point. The main point is failure of people to see and understand this even after decades and decades. There are cities that don't have a single, small, basic paper that can even go against the 'mahaul' & report objectively. You blame 'system'. No.

It's a unique phenomenon. Just a few people in a newsroom who because of their presence in that space, and their lack of empathy or training, cause huge injustice. When there is nonstop coverage for days, there is pressure everywhere. On lawyers, bars, courts. It has gone on..

But you must marvel at the victims, the society, the people who suffer in state after state, that they fail to even take the most basic steps in dealing with this issue. It's less of a 'biased state' or 'biased police' but more of dirty and cheap, biased or careless journalism.

If you know it, you suffer but your leaders, your leadership in the cities, districts couldn't frame strategy, dealing with such a basic thing all these years. You can't get liars and sensationalists shamed or make them behave or even talk to them over their acts. Then!

Of course, if there is suspicion and evidence take due action, book and deliver prompt justice. But don't let the media misreport, create hysteria. This 'influence' is disastrous. When papers do it, just competing among themselves, it has horrible affect on society. On every institution, everyone.

So 15-20 years later, you publish that the court did not consider them guilty, acquitted, ordered their release, but media houses must introspect that it causes such suffering to people and it's role in abetting injustice due to inherent biases, disproportionate power and newsrooms that have little representation.