a few days back cricketer virender sehwag married his sweetheart arti amidst much fanfare. needless to say the national media went berseck and provided minute-by-minute updates about the event. two days later sachin tendulkar turned 31 and it was time for another mega-event. last year the channels did away with the news on the bars at the bottom and filled it up with wishes and poems written by fans from bhatinda to boston. same goes for amitabh bachchan’s 60th birthday. on shewag’s marriage day i caught a much harried jagmohan dalmia being interviewed by a group of journalists as he was leaving the wedding venue. the questions were…”what wishes did you give sehwag?”, “what wishes did you give arti?”, “what wishes did you give the couple?”, “what kind of a gift do you have in mind?”. like a trained parrot he repeated the same answer to all the questions…”i wished them a century partnership”. the journalists finally gave up and let him go.
the print and television media of the country has in recent times developed a tendency to go over-board presenting reports ranging from the mundane to the bizarre. a cab-driver honking a horn at noon would ensure that an expert panel was promptly in place discussing the make of the horn to the mental health of the driver. a stern-faced anchor would punctuate the discussion from time to time with serious nods of his/her head.
leaving aside the lighter side, the press in their search for spicy stories often makes deliberate attempts at bloating up non-serious issues. things that could have been left alone to die a natural death. yet the publicity and limelight rakes them up making a murkier mess. casing point the british tabloid reports abt david beckham’s waltzes all over the continent. the media attention (that they had encouraged, in the first place) is rebounding back on the family at a time when they need their privacy. indian media is following suit. a shameless instance was when aajtak did away with a full evening’s broadcast to cover the death of natasha singh..daughter-in-law of natwar singh.
in india since there is hardly any existence of a dirty-linen-washing tabloid press, the zealous story-chasers often run alongside and merge with the main media losing their perspective and abandoning ethics by the roadside.
i was reading an article by a senior journalist Darshan Desai about the role of the media during the gujarat riots of 2002. its available here.
the print and television industry has grown multiple folds over the past few years, but i seriously wonder if they have really come of age as well.