The Media is called the fourth pillar of democracy. Media or Journalism as it was called initially, started to give voice to the voiceless. The forgotten classes, the divisions whose opinions could not reach the higher-ups; it was the job of the media to act as a bridge. Conveying the pleas of the people at the bottom of the socio-economic hierarchy to the people at the top and making sure that they were not ignored! But, with changing times and sensationalism entering the domain, the media lost the trust of the people! The mistrust of the public for the media has been increasing ever since.
When did sensationalism take over the media?
In the 1890s William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer began sensationalising the news in their magazines and newspapers. They both wanted to be the highest selling newspaper companies. For this, they started adding fake reports and misinformation in the news. They used dramatic elements to awaken the interest of the readers. That was the start of what now has turned into a TRP game.
Later, the Tabloids were introduced to the people. The attention was more turned towards the well known people and celebrities. Actually, the focus should have remained on the forgotten classes. The Newspapers and the Media reports started Selling News instead of Spreading News.
The mistrust of the Public- Media’s Earning!
Initially, the general public enjoyed the different stories put forward by the media. But, with the coming of advancement and technology, the people started the rational criticism. The media houses in the country did not take this seriously! As a result, the world in which we live today has lost its faith in Media companies as well as newspapers!
The Media, Newspaper companies seeing their own vested interests, have left behind their real job of reaching the downtrodden. Media companies and their private owners have started selling news. At times, they play puppets in the hands of the government, and other times they simply turn into Bootlickers of the Higher-ups!
Rational criticism of government, questioning the reforms and highlighting common man’s issues have long been left behind. Even print media has become an advertising agency, wherein you can get things published just by throwing a few paper bills.
Fake News adding in to the plight of Public mistrust for media
Fake news is a buzzword in recent times and we do not need an explanation for it! No verification of information and the coming of so many social media platforms, fake news and misinformation have become the latest trend. Unaware of the seriousness of a misinformative pieces, people go on forwarding it non-stop. This makes it reach a large number of people before it can be verified. Even the political parties and the governments have started using it to their own profits.
Religion, caste and colour are some of the most sensitive issues in our country. Paying heed to things like poverty, unemployment, a falling economy and other such matters seem irrelevant. This is what the media houses and the social media platforms follow! Facts spread slow, but a piece that concerns caste, creed, religion spreads way faster. India has seen serious issues like mob lynching and riots as a result of this.
The Paparazzi culture too has made people lose their trust in the media. There are ample online news agencies more concerned with a celebrity’s pregnancy than showing a poor pregnant woman dying due to lack of medical infrastructure! And, this seems unstoppable even in the near future.
Is there a Solution?
It is rightly said that a thing that interests the public spreads faster than a fact that needs to be known! Because of this, even the national and international media start concerning themselves with the less relevant stuff. The media houses and the newspaper companies, along with the online news agencies may keep seeking their gains in the coming future too. What is needed is that the public, the people in general must be aware of this fact! The law makers even have laws that stop spreading of misinformation and it is also punishable. All we need to do is not be carried away by these sensationalised contents! Rest, Trusting the media and the social media is an option not a necessity!
Author- Apexa Rai
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