Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Is this what news should be about?

The media, particularly our shoddy Hindi "news" channels, are having a field day with the story of Priyanka Gandhi's visit to Nalini, the only surviving member of Rajiv Gandhi's assassination squad. It's despicable how low news channels stoop inorder to grab more eyeballs. They don't bat an eyelid before crassly commercializing an individual's personal loss.

When a tragedy strikes, we all have questions that we want answers to. Why did it happen? How did it happen? Why us? We've all faced these questions before. Losing a parent has got to be one of the most devastating losses one can suffer in life, and when one knows that one's father did not die of natural causes or in an accident but was assassinated by a group of people, the feeling must be even worse. I don't blame Priyanka Gandhi for wanting to meet her father's assassin to get answers. She has every right to. Why must we question her motives behind the visit?

I'm sure her family must have known about the visit and if they were okay with it (as Rahul Gandhi later said), I don't understand why the entire country and it's sub-standard news channels must get excited about it! Infact, the way they're recreating the story, they're almost making it sound like she was an accomplice in the conspiracy to kill her father rather than a victim!

News channels in India are making a living out of scandals and yellow journalism. I think the government needs to do serious quality control here. No news channel should be allowed to air unless it meets certain infrastructural requirements and production quality. The government should also lay down some ethical practices that each channel must abide by if it wants to retain it's license to air. Freedom of the press is a must in any democracy, but that does not imply the right to exaggerate, misrepresent or scandalize facts.

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