A noted Pakistani journalist recently passed a remark that the Indian media has been tabloized. Going by recent examples, one wonders whether it has been tabloidised or trivialized.
On Friday, I was watching the afternoon news, at the height of the terrorist scare in Parliament. And what I heard was an astounding prolonged report on the release of a new film.
Repeated emphasis was laid on the fact that 'Bluff master' was the only release of the week; its hero Abhishek Bachhan has just had a couple of hits after a long string of flops; the question was whether the new film would make the grade; that his father, the legendary Amitabh Bachhan who was covering from a serious operation in a city hospital, while his latest release had released the week earlier etc etc.
The reporter then went on and on about the fact that it was just before the film was to reel out its first show and there was no crowd clamoring for tickets; that although advance booking had opened days ahead, there were few takers.
Then the channel went on to interview an 'industry leader' who had been privy to a preview of the film. The luminary went on to shoot the film, declaring that despite technical excellence, it just would not do.
All this before the film had actually hit the screen for public viewing. And all this prime time TV coverage was while the country was dealing with a serious terrorist threat!
A few short minutes later, apparently out of the blue, crowds of young people, collegians or whoever, converged on the theatre and snapped up tickets for the film, professing their adoration for Abhishek Bachhan. And everyone, but everyone was just dying to see his latest film avtaar.
Even apart from the crisis at Delhi, the sudden about turn did raise questions in the minds of TV viewers.
Did the crowds just appear or had they just not been captured on camera earlier?
If not, why did the cameras turn up so early?
To kill the movie? Why?
Could it be possible that money was rushed in, hence the change of tune.
In another such example, TV cameras have been highlighting the outbursts of sympathy and outrage for former cricket captain Saurav Ganguly.
Now it is nobody's case that what has been happening in recent cricket is what should be happening. The lack of grace in the gentlemen's game has been indeed shocking.
But then so has been the political interference in sports. And the role of the Fourth Estate too draws negative comment, as obviously touted, irrational and irresponsible. Why so much coverage of the politics of sports that it can hardly be called sport any more?
The media men know as well as the next person that these rallies and protests, like numerous others are just for the benefit of the cameras.
When will the cameramen and the men behind them have the courage to show the true picture, the rise of fists when the cameras roll and the evaporation of the crowds as soon as the cameras are switched off ?
A True sting on protests? or on media itself?