Is the media failing ordinary citizens?

In its search for saleable ‘exclusive’ news, it neglects stories that concern common people.
SATRAAJIT PALCHOUDHURY cites numerous instances

TV news is thriving on political trivia.


The more media there is the less it seems ordinary Indians can expect it to focus on their issues. Television news in particular is so focused on spicy political trivia that the small tragedies that befall people every day get little coverage and hardly any follow up attention at all.

Today media is an industry. The lexicon of an industry has only two words---profit and loss and our media is observing this concern in letter and spirit. It has reduced news to a commodity, and this is how it works.

Of all the five states that went to polls few months back, Uttar Pradesh was keenly watched. The anointment of Yogi Adityanath as UP Chief Minister might have taken everyone by surprise but for our media it was a blessing in disguise.

The feud in the Yadav parivar kept the pot boiling before the UP polls and till date this issue is being chased by media. “Samajwadi Party’s Aparna Yadav Meets Yogi Adityanath Again, Says ‘He Is Everyone’s Chief Minister’ ” (NDTV 24x7). A few days later we come to learn that the estranged Chachaji of former CM Akhilesh Yadav also met Adityanath.

"The anointment of Yogi Adityanath as UP Chief Minister might have taken everyone by surprise but for our media it was a blessing in disguise."


Now these news items are laced with masala. Do we really need to know who meets whom? Or do we need to know what the incumbent government is trying to do for the all-round development of the state? When Yogi Adityanath visits Aparna Yadav’s ‘cow shelter’ in Lucknow, it also becomes news. It is presented in such a manner as if the younger son of the Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav is going to join the BJP very soon.

On the eve of the UP Assembly elections, news on alleged Hindu-Muslim riots in Muzaffarpur dominated the headlines and the Dadri lynching case also dominated the public discourse. Today, we no longer see any follow-up reports on these issues.

The Sunanda Pushkar death case is still shrouded in mystery. Republic TV has come up with a few reports which have put Shashi Tharoor into a tizzy. This is Republic TV’s second ‘expose’ after the so-called Siwan strongman Shahabuddin’s alleged direction to his aides from behind the bars.

After this expose, Times Now makes its own expose. It claims that J&K separatist leader Shabbir Shah is on the payroll of ISI. Can this news really be considered to be an exclusive one? In the midst of this breaking news, our media never gets the time to chase the news which concerns the common people.

On January 23, a cab driver belonging to the Uber cab service was killed by a speeding BMW. This is not the only incident that took the nation by storm. In fact there are many such incidents.

On February 5, an Audi car claimed the lives of four people in Ghaziabad. The car belongs to one Dr. Manish Rawat. Though police has served notice to the owner, sadly we have not seen any in-depth coverage of this story.

"In the midst of this breaking news, our media never gets the time to chase the news which concerns the common people."


The tragic death of a 17-year-old boy in Paschim Vihar who was knocked down by a speeding Mercedes is still afresh in our minds. The Sambia Sohrab case of Kolkata is also haunting us. He has been accused of mowing down an Air Force official. Sambia has been arrested. But has justice been meted out to the family of the deceased? Have you read anything about it? Has media chased this story?

The fourth estate is rather busy with the Twitter war between BJP MP Paresh Rawal and Arundhati Roy. Her take on the human shield case of J&K has surpassed the above issues.  

Apart from Lutyens’ Delhi, Hyderabad has seen a surge in hit-and-run cases in the recent past. Government reports say that the outskirts of Cyberabad are the most vulnerable areas. This report can’t be brushed aside.

According to Siasat Daily, a 19-year-old lad had seriously injured 12 nursing students. All the injured were taken to Apollo Hospital later. But we don’t have any more information of this news.

On May 10, a cop was killed by a speeding car in Hyderabad. Few might consider these reports to be ‘stray incidents’ but these reports have an impact on society.  Being the watchdog of the society, media needs to chase these stories.

The striking part of the tale is that in these incidents mostly the kith and kin of high profile politicians and celebrities are involved. So, these stories become extremely important.

Let’s take the report of February 12. Kanishka Mukherjee, leader of ruling Trinamool Congress’s student wing—Trinamool Chatra Parishad---had hit a car leaving the man seriously injured. He later succumbed to his injuries. Despite this serious offence, Kanishka is out on bail. How he has arranged the bail? Have we read anything about it?

A few days back the son of a high profile CPI(M) leader has mowed down 13 people. Of the 13, four have lost their lives. This gruesome incident has taken place in East Burdwan district.

In Chennai on January 2 in a hit-and-run case, 7 died and 120 suffered serious injuries—a story which probably nobody remembers now. Unfortunately our news channels and print media are full of spicy stories.

For few days AAP-reject Kapil Mishra dominated the headlines. His fast-unto-death programme has successfully hogged the limelight of journalists. Media has followed it meticulously because he was providing saleable news items.

The suicide of TV actor Pratyusha Banerjee becomes a hotly debated issue on twitter. If the views are expressed by the dream girl of yesteryears, it is surely going to get a special treatment. But we don’t see this steadfast determination in the case of hit-and-run cases. Rather these stories get coverage only for a day and later they bite the dust. 

These days reporting on ‘cow vigilante’ groups is going on in full swing. In fact many victims have fallen to the brutalities of alleged cow vigilante groups. Of late West Bengal CM went to visit the famous Jagannath temple in Puri where few priests called her to be ‘beef supporter.’

This is a very derogatory comment indeed. By giving coverage to such derogatory news, is media not playing in the hands of those who want to remain in news?

At present a raging debate is going on over triple talaq. The government of the day wants to do away with this age-old custom. But the presentation of triple talaq related news is being done in a commercial manner--for example, the report on Union Minister Smriti Irani’s open challenge to Mamata Banerjee on triple talaq stands testimony to this observation.

Now, let’s turn our focus on few cases of medical negligence. Dr. Kunal Saha who lost his wife Anuradha to medical negligence filed a petition in Supreme Court demanding for the cancellation of the licenses of three doctors—an appeal that has been turned down by the court.

The court says, to err is human. After this verdict we come to know about the Sanjoy Roy case. His wife filed a case against Kolkata Apollo hospital authorities accusing them of extortion and medical negligence. Like Anuradha, Sanjoy has also become a victim of medical negligence.

Similarly, Sharmistha Mullick has also met with the same fate. She has alleged that her husband had also fallen to medical negligence. This incident is a recent one and it came to light on May 16. Sadly, we don’t find any follow-up report on this particular case as well.

In Pune three doctors and one nurse have been booked by police. The tragic case of 17-year-old R. Vaishnavi whose right hand had to be amputated is still haunting us. On May 21, The Siasat Daily of Hyderabad reported that doctors left a needle in a baby’s leg.

From witch hunting to dowry related deaths, news on these issues finds space only for a day or two. On paper child marriages are prohibited in India. But a report was published (News January 24, 2017 where child brides have been married off because the grooms’ family has a toilet.

The Indian Express in its May 23 edition has reported on 538 schools of Bihar where teachers are remaining absent for the past 3 years. But this story has not been followed up. Honour killings are taking place in our country even today. Sreenivas Janyala’s story—‘College to slum, a death, a ‘disappearance’: end of a love story’ (IE, May 22, 2017) is likely a case of honour killing.

"In the media’s search for ‘exclusive’ news, social issues have become a casualty."


The common men are not interested to know who attends Nitish Kumar’s dinner party. The common men are not interested to know the plight of Lalit Modi and Vijay Mallya. Rather they are interested to know when they will be extradited to India.

Major Nitin Gogoi’s human shield story has made him a hero. But the common people are interested to know what lies ahead for trouble-torn J&K.     The media needs to introspect.

We the people of India want to read about the fallout of  the May 10, 2017 Chhapra mid-day meal tragedy. Has the Bihar government taken any corrective steps in this regard? The nation wants to read the tale of ordinary Indians. The nation is not bothered about the so-called ‘exposes.’ In the media’s search for ‘exclusive’ news, social issues have become a casualty.

Post-Saharanpur clash between the Dalits and Thakurs, the media is busy in projecting Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad. Rather we need to know the causes of the clash. Media needs to give a human touch to its stories. Will it be then wrong to ask—Is Indian media failing to set the agenda? 


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