Media bashing is easy, but sometimes you have stop and count the blessings that the media makes possible.
Monday, Sep 09 00:00:00, 2002
I am rather inordinately proud of being a Hootcontributor. It makes me feel better about my writing, it makes me feel rightand conscientious and important. It elevates me from the ignoble anonymity ofbeing a rookie freelancer whom nobody would miss if she wentmissing. It puts me in the exalted companyof experienced journalists, columnists, idealists. It offers temporary reprievefrom the job of a Jill of all trades who sometimes writes what she herself doesnot believe in.
Media bashing comes naturally to me. It is revengefor all those times which stripped my chosen career of even the pretence ofbeing upright and unbiased. It is despair that a critical democraticinstitution is turning commercial and corrupt. It is anger at the hypocrisywith which the watchdog of the country goes to sleep, or worse still, misleadsa trusting people. Till a friend asked, 'Don't you ever have anything goodto say about the media? It does do some very positive things, you know.'
I know, we know. I don't know about you, but I neededsome reminding. Perhaps we could begin with this rather pontificating piecethat I wrote, not that I could resist the stray critique (new habits die hardtoo) which refused to be left out. And then, maybe, we could share coveragethat moves, inspires and makes us feel, if not important, just good?
No matter how cynical the news making process hasmade us, all of us can still see the writing on the wall and in the headlines -innocents in the unequal world around us continue to fall prey to terribleatrocities and endure the most degrading of circumstances. It's well over fiftyyears since the announcement and adoption of the Universal Declaration of HumanRights and the question marking our collective conscience should be whether allhumans have achieved human rights. Has the 30-article charter been accepted inword and spirit, by the world and its reporter, the media?
We, as a country, may remain terribly Third World inmany developmental aspects but one of the cornerstones of our very vibrantdemocracy has been the freedom our media enjoys and of which we are rightlyproud. Here are a few of the key points of the Universal Declaration of HumanRights' agenda and an attempt to understand how fortunate we are to have afearless (how naive that sounds!) media which, besides guarding ourconstitutional right to freedom of speech, also weaves the fabric of our socialconscience - though it sometimes stains it too.
Everyone has theright to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the right to hold anopinion and to express it (Article 18 & 19):We need never(one hopes) again look beyond Godhra and Gujarat to see a case study of somecomplexity. As far as its media coverage goes, regardless of which side of thedivide we stand on (and there is one, no matter how hard our intellectuals denyit), the media did make Gujarat a national issue. There were biases, there werelapses, there was strident sensationalization. There was also the horrifyingtruth. The Hindu, for instance, isone paper which has never let its readers forget, or allow to fade or blur, thememory of what must always be remembered. The Gujarat carnage continues todominate thebody politic consistentlyand comprehensively. One does come across language such as 'Let us grantfor the moment that individual choices and actions do reflect the moral bearingof a person, and that issues of morality can only be dealt with by spiritual,or deep self-enquiry. Even so, any serious enquiry into the nature of theindividual self and its relationship with the outside world can only be helpedby a mind which is sharpened by rational thought and cognizant of freedom