Read to know how calculatingly crafted media houses’ circuses are and if you can, you could actually do something about them.
Alright! Alright! Alright! Forget about the most mindless monologues you’ve ever come across from characters in Indian daily soaps to Kartik Aryan because nobody holds a candle to television anchor (also a Delhi University alumnus) Arnab Goswami who has contributed significantly in the growth of meme edits on social media. The way his audience is locked, be it, haters or lovers, everyone ends up popularising him. If you’ve seen Netflix docudrama ‘ The Social Dilemma’ please accrue your paranoia in understanding how big media houses also follow the same model of arresting your attention and selling it to the advertisers while projecting them as “nEwS.”
Knitting the Nonsense
It would be naive to think that all mainstream media houses are simply silly or ignorant, and knows nothing about Journalism when they show their nonsense. These ‘Hindu vs Muslim’ debates, countless flowcharts of pedaling ‘Jihadist’ pedagogy, heightened sense of instilling ‘nationalism,’ ‘bangalan black magic,’ etc are not accidental or simple buffoonery, but calculative and articulated stories for catching audiences’ attention. They are not fools, instead, they take you for a fool, run controversies, and voilà! You give in to the temptations. This is where they attract maximum eyeballs and consequently advertisement revenue.
Compatible Cost Effectiveness
It’s extremely cost effective to have one time capital investment in big studios and curate mindless panel debates in the name of prime time news. The increasing use of Electronic Field Production (EFP) is a relatively new trend where news is shot and written not from the ground but the comfort of studios. On the contrary, the declining use of Electronic News Gathering (ENG) where news is gathered directly from the source has suffered big time.
Take up any of the media houses and evaluate how reporters in their stories are mostly seen using the outdoors as a background prop to give the illusion that any leads have come out when de facto the same information could have been given from the studio as well. Investigative journalism is close to dying in India. Even reporters in the haste of climbing the top ladders succumb to fetching stories which have or can be purposely twisted to have controversial angles, because that’s what sells in our country now and compliment the news anchors who are more famous than the stories they run.
As P. Sainath, founder and editor at PARI, calls it “Talk TV” that requires low cost and high decibel speculative cacophony runs on a corporate model. Serious reporting costs money, whereas talk TV makes money. Sai considers this model as disgusting, repulsive, and dehumanizing.
What Can You Do?
This alarming state of Journalism is more worrisome than funny so don’t restrict yourself to solely humoring at its expense or stay in the pessimism of the status quo not changing. There are things that you can do! Instead of aimlessly calling out the disguised imposter journalists and their news networks, call their sponsors out. Meghnad, Associate Editor at Newslaundry, talked to DU Beat and explained thoroughly how this can be done constructively.
When you ‘cancel’ someone then there’s no chance of redemption, but ‘calling out’ and informing brands is different. The reason why you need to do that is sometimes they(brands) are not even aware of where their ads are going. There’s an ad agency in the middle which helps in pushing them to different channels. Now, the CEO, board members, etc really don’t care where their ads are going as long as it has a strong viewership. So what people/viewers can do is be vigilant as to where these ads are going and then tell them (brands) about it. So, when I say call out, one part is actually ‘informing’ them about their brands being shown with content that is bigoted, or hateful, or problematic, or has conspiracy theories and not news!Meghnad, Associate Editor at Newslaundry
For example, I have called out Amul for sponsoring Sudarshan News, where Suresh Chavhanke, (Editor-In-Chief of Sudarshan) was seen vilifying Muslims, promoting Hindu Rashtra, etc (his shows have been called “insidious” and “rabid” by the Supreme Court.), so I think it’s a good idea to ask Amul, umm, do you agree with this, because in a way you are funding hate!
Second thing is, brands are very conscious, their brand image depends on how people perceive them. So, if something like a boycott of Amul trends on Twitter then talks in the boardroom happen. The important thing is to initiate these talks.
The third part is the ‘boycott’ thing which people took on their own, and we didn’t start and I don’t support them. It’s such a random thing to do. Amul has what like 10,000 employees who now have to suffer because a management guy gave money to an ad agency that took the call to put that ad. What has it got to do with these employees?
What has it got to do with the product? If you find a lizard in it, sure boycott, but otherwise, be reasonable.
Economy of Nonsense
Meghnad also cited one of the articles written by Former Managing Editor at NDTV, Aunindyo Chakravarty who now works as an independent journalist. Relating to the Sushant Singh case, Meghnad thinks it’s rather interesting how we think news channels and media houses are using his case to distract from numerous actual issues. But, the reality he believes is that this is the time when news channels are struggling. When Coronavirus hit, the first thing that companies did was to pull advertisements, because that’s where the first budget cut happens always. Then TV channels started to suffer. The only ads we could see were those of Dettols and other sanitizing products.
Meghnad suggested that for a TV channel to survive they need ads, so Arnab came up with this genius idea and it worked where he thought that he’ll pick up Sushant Singh’s case which has everything from Bollywood to politics to Bengali Kalajadu, (Bengali Black Magic) to Bihar ka ladka (Boy from Bihar where elections are about to happen) to Mumbai Police, to now even national agencies which are involved. So it has everything to be shown as a reality television entertainment package. This is what the Republic did, and then other channels realized they were falling behind so they also followed it and everybody covered it.
Read the article by Newslaundry here.
The owners and advertisers have the edge in brainwashing their audience. The Public Subscription model has proven to be effective. If you have the bandwidth, do support regional/local/independent journalism like those of Faye D’Souza, Newslaundry, The Quint, etc. They have little to no pressure from these stakeholders and provide you news which actually matters.
Television has more penetration than the internet in our country and nonetheless Arnab and his competitive clan trend on both platforms. If you’re skeptical of the longevity of calling out culture remember that if your attention can make them trend on every other day, then your inquiries can too.
Feature image credits: Newslaundry