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Friday, December 8, 2023

Peepli Live syndrome – is media really the fourth pillar of democracy?

The Bharatiya media exemplifies the “vulture journalism” depicted in Peepli Live, because for them more than factual data, it is considerations of TRP (Television Rating Points), and also where their loyalties lie that drives news coverage. With such a heavily biased and compromised media, can we really expect it to play the role of the “fourth pillar” of the democracy that it is believed to be?

Traditionally, the role of the media is to present the facts of any case before the public so that the latter can form an informed opinion of the same after hearing all sides of the argument. It is not their job to influence the public to choose one side over the other which is what is happening today.

An impartial and objective analysis of the numerous cases covered by the media in recent times will amply prove why media is not the fourth pillar it is being made out to be. News coverage, besides being heavily biased, also lacks accountability, which did not escape the attention of even the apex court during the 2008 Mumbai attacks by Pakistani terrorists for which it pulled up the likes of Barkha Dutt.

Vulture journalism has today become the norm and that was evident in the way media-fuelled rumors led to the mass migration of workers to their home towns following the loss of jobs due to the Chinese virus pandemic. It then milked the tragedy in an attempt to build the narrative of “lack of governance” till such time it suited their narrative.

The focus then shifted to the Sushant Singh Rajput (SSR) tragedy where instead of asking tough questions to the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government and Mumbai police for their laxity in the case, the media was busy turning it into a spectacle of “blame Rhea-save Rhea”, each media house choosing sides according to its convenience at the cost of unearthing the truth.

The media TRP battles got so intense that journalists came to blows in which Republic TV’s Pradip Bhandari was assaulted by journalists from ABP and NDTV. While they were still milking the SSR tragedy, the Hathras case provided them the best “vulture journalism” opportunity.

In fact, Hathras is a perfect case-study for those who want to know what is vulture journalism and how it operates. A case where the victim was a Dalit girl, accused belonged to the upper caste, alleged rape which was disproved by forensic tests, and to top it all the state led by BJP CM and staunch Hindu monk saffron-clad Shri Yogi Adityanath.

In their rush for “breaking news”, all limits of journalistic decency are liberally broken as we recently saw with Aaj Tak journalist Chitra Tripathi not just hounding Hathras SDM Prem Prakash Meena and literally screaming at his face in what she seems to have assumed is what asking the right questions means.

By no stretch of the imagination does hounding and shouting one’s lungs out at the authorities amounts to journalism.

Where there is saffron, Hindu and BJP involved media vultures rub their hands in glee because it provides enough fodder for their anti-Hindu agenda. The icing on the cake was the involvement of the Nehru-Gandhi siblings along with the usual anti-Bharat suspects such as PFI, SDPI, and Amnesty International.

Instead of allowing the competent authorities to investigate the matter in an impartial manner and bring out the truth, the media was busy fanning caste sentiments and pushing for violence. While it is true that media must raise its voice where the marginalized communities are oppressed, the lack of media coverage in instances of rapes in states such as Rajasthan and Maharashtra puts a big question mark on their integrity and intention.

The heart-wrenching tragedy of the mob-lynching of two sadhus and their driver in Mumbai’s suburb Palghar at the hands of ultra-leftists and Christian missionaries that too in the presence of policemen, was conveniently brushed under the carpet by the media. The reasons are not hard to fathom, while the victims here are Hindus the perpetrators are minority Christians and media controllers leftists.

It is largely thanks to social media (SM) that Hindus have a voice, however weak it might be and it is this SM which has kept the media in check to a large extent. This is one of the major reasons why media is not able to run away with its agenda-driven propaganda as it could about a decade or so ago.

However, even today the Peepli Live variety of vulture journalism dominates the mainstream media which sees the “tyranny of distance’ in covering occurrences in certain parts of Bharat and “no TRP” in instances where Hindus are the victims.

Today, journalism has simply turned into sensationalism and TRP race with the additional need to please one’s political paymasters even if it means letting go of all morals and ethics. Such a heavily biased and compromised media can hardly play the role of the “fourth pillar”.

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