I had an intensely exhausting discussion with a friend last night. Blanket statement at the beginning of the conversation, ‘the idea of journalism needs to change.’ Most times I agree. I did last night too. The basic discussion was on the lack of awareness the media is generating. He mentioned the need to keep vernacular media/press alive. Another was that media needed to facilitate discussion and deliberation on an open platform. The idea was to simulate debate on equal standing. Where two parties could voice their opinions and be heard with equal bias or the lack of it.
So many issues could have taken a different turn if people had access to information and the ability to make their own decisions from the knowledge they’ve gained as opposed to hearing a party with vested interests speak of it. No one denies the existence of vested interests, I won’t condemn it either. However, I think it is important to fight fair.
The problem is many fold. There is the issue of economics. The simple fact that there is not enough money in sustaining smaller publications and or media. Not for the people who have the money to invest.
The second issue is one of what issues come to light. The national media picks up issues only after they have already simmered and gathered heat. It’s impossible for every news story to be followed, covered and discussed on the chance that the issue might be the next big one.
Then, there is the issue of accessibility. So many Indians still get their news from other people. They know something because their neighbour knows it. Ensuring that every person has a source that gives them a biased picture of every event is not just impossible, it goes against human nature. Accessibility is harder given the radio scenario in the country. If the ideal scenario of having the media show both sides of any issue happens, there is no guarantee that the consumer is going to see both sides of it.
The issue exists. There does exist a pressing need for somebody to help the state of issues today. If as a democracy we’re failing in keeping every citizen informed about their choices, we need to relook some things. But who does the responsibility lie on? It’s easy to say it’s the media, they do have the widest reach. They cannot however do it alone. It likely takes changes at various different levels and sustained dedication.
The discussion didn’t give us any productive solutions, but it did tell me that it’s not just people in the field who worry about the quality of journalism and where it is going.