Traditionally, media has considered itself to be the Fourth Estate, wielding a lot of power to inform and influence.
It commands a lot of clout in forming and informing views. With their formidable influence, they could shape and change opinions. They could herald revolutions. They could topple governments. They could finish careers. They could tilt electoral outcomes. But not any more.
Why? Many media houses have assumed much more power than they legitimately should have. Any papdi patrakar does not mind writing any insulting or irresponsible piece about anybody, just to be more popular and controversial.
In India, particularly regional language media has been more irresponsible in its content, focus and presentation. Many publications only can look at the negative side of any story. For example, 28th October 2013 issue of Chitralekha magazine has a cover story about
Sachin’s announcement of retirement. It means to say “Sachin (un)willingly announces retirement.”
The only thing such publications write positive is about some powerful or rich business person when they go out of the way to praise their life journey. Of course, many of such features are ‘inspired’ by some other motives, some of them financial. Indian media is not known to be averse to be purchased. Many PR agencies thrive on planting ‘success’ stories touting some wannabes as ‘the most successful’ in such opportunistic and greedy publications. They call it ‘win-win’ deals. ‘Win’ for the publication, and ‘win’ for the wannabe. But ‘lose’ for the reader.
In-authenticity and irrelevance of such cheap gimmicky media houses was exposed rather openly, when the social media took charge of Sachin’s retirement day. All the negativity generated by irresponsible media surrounding his announcement of retirement was eclipsed by the sheer enthusiasm, loyalty and love showered on Sachin by Indians of all ages to their icon. Opportunistic and negativity-focused regional media looked irrelevant and clueless. The irresponsible media publications like Chitralekha had simply failed at their attempt to tarnish the image of this humble but great personality. They also could not fathom the power and magnitude of the respect Sachin had gathered in India’s minds and hearts. Reluctantly, they started covering Sachin mania because they had completely missed the pulse of the populace they are supposed to represent and educate.
Today, the clout of such irresponsible and opportunistic regional media is reducing thanks to the emergence of social media. The traditional, easily ‘saleable’ and adulterated media has only itself to blame for this sorry state. They made a mistake of assuming more power than they actually had. They sold their reputation by giving charge to brokers (who call themselves journalists), who wrote fiction to be passed on as informative journalism. The new highly connected generation can’t be influenced by paid content. It has its own voice and its own language.
Words can be bought, because such wordsmiths can be bought. But the emptiness of such ‘bought’ words gets exposed. In-authenticity has to die. Sooner or later.
Social media is a tight slap on the irresponsible media. And the slap was long overdue. Let’s hope it brings the senses of this media who looks like a drunkard back to normalcy.