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News on TV : Journalism or Sensationalism

Watching the news on TV these days has been reduced to a farce. There are so many news channels and they seem a replica of one another. In terms of content, there are hardly any thought provoking discussions or news items. What we get now is “Breaking News” with “exclusive pictures / footage”, shown by each channel.

Last year, I wondered if Karisma Kapoor’s marital problems merited so much coverage, and we seem to have descended into some kind of an abyss since then. What we now get to see are stories related to activities of filmstars, “high society” do’s where someone got drunk and misbehaved, or news about “former” mistresses of underworld dons! I never expected the underworld to get so much coverage.

There also seems to be an increasing amount of intrusion into the private lives of common people who are thrust into the limelight for no fault of theirs. Newsmen rush inside someone’s house / on the way to a hospital, cameras focus on them and mikes are shoved in front of them with the query: “Aapko kaisa mehsoos ho raha hai?” regardless of the fact that the person could be fighting for his life! We then have endless footage of the house / hospital / relatives and a newsperson on the spot who plays “Mr.Know it all”, giving us up to date tidbits.

When there is no news item worth a mention, then it has to be cricket. Every channel has it’s own cricket pundit, waxing eloquent about what ails the cricket team and how things can be set right. Recently, we had channels inviting viewers to send an SMS in reply to the question “Kamzor Kadi Kaun?”, implying that Chappell , Dravid, Pathan or anyone else is a weak link because we lost a match/series. The Australia v/s South Africa match (where both teams crossed 400+ and SA won) is still fresh in memory and a repeat telecast was shown recently. It is difficult to imagine the Australian media castigating Ponting the captain, Brett Lee who bowled the final over or even a rookie who went for more than 100 runs. In India, people would’ve called for their sacking. Things get so heated when discussing cricket that all sense of perspective is lost.

One exception was the April fool joke played by NDTV on Sidhu, which was too good. These folks first called him “Maninder Singh Sidhu”, one of India’s best spin bowlers, which rendered him speechless and a bit angry. They also called him ‘Cherry’ instead of his nickname ‘Sherry’ which incensed him more. Then, inspite of his efforts to correct them, they insisted on referring to him the same way, and he seemed on the verge of an apoplectic fit before another person came in and told him it was a joke 😀

Till some time ago, even the TV debates seemed lively, but they now seem to serve no purpose. The time limit is too short, there is endless bickering and interruption, and at the end of the program, there is a sense of dissatisfaction with the conclusion (if any). Rajdeep Sardesai used to be good at one time, but has now descended to sarcastic taunts and over the top bluster.

On a more cheerful note, ICC and ESPN – Star Sports resolved their differences a few hours before the football world cup began, so sports lovers had a great weekend being able to choose between football, cricket, tennis and Formula 1.

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