I still remember the good old Doordarshan days when the same bearded man used to present “The World This Week”. It used to be a treat to listen to him. As time went by we used to wait for a cassette of “NEWS TRACK”, which used to come free with the yearly subscription of India Today. Besides the news coverage it was more to watch Madhu Trehan. Madam please take it as a compliment. The shape of news, views and discussions changed over the years. One can call it an evolution of the fourth estate. From gagging of the media during emergency and what it is today, it is a total transformation. We now have big fights, we kick each other left, right and center, and we also have to bear with the noise hour. There was one guy who used to be the devil’s advocate too. Mirch, masala, fresh tadka is the only way for any news channel to survive. I have had my share of love and hate kind of relationship with the way media is doing its job. I stopped watching WWF fights on news debates long back as the whole time it appeared fake, cooked up and playing to the galleries. What I want to highlight today is how a media house can be so pious and holy that they are feeling bad when they have been raided by the IT department.
“We the people” today are very much aware how the media houses function. “Sold” is a mild word is the general perception. However neutral they may claim to be, however outspoken they may assert to be, however frank and honest they may say they are, however candid and blunt their opinions may be, however fearless and daring news feeds they might deliver, however loudly they may outshout the co-panelists’, however they may claim to get the highest TRP ratings and eye balls from figures plucked out of thin air, however smart and good looking newsreaders and debate conductors might be. I am convinced as a common man that every channel has an agenda; every channel wants to claim they broke the news first. Thank God they are not deployed along the security forces otherwise they may stake claims that they are the first ones to shoot the enemy and the terrorists.
Here starts my bone of contention, Dr Roy not with you but with the media as such. It is the way media people have degraded the armed forces by airing whatever media thought is right. Earlier I never used to see any retired defence personnel on TV but then a new trend in journalism started. Many retired officers joined the ranks of media houses and used their links and pinks to get as much information they could for news to sell. There came a time when the newsreaders were in bunkers when the Kargil war happened. People were covering ground zero in Afghanistan. Ex Indian Army officers were invited to the glaciers, aircraft carriers, submarines etc. With this exposure and intimacy to the forces grew and matured. Then some channels in the garb of freedom of speech started tarnishing the armed forces in public. Here I started to veer off the news and the anchors conducting such shows.
Well, if you can put the armed forces to scrutiny from the chopper scam, to intelligence failures, to tactical mistakes, to human rights violations, to ketchup Colonels, to booze Brigadiers, to date of births issues, to equipment and procurement scams, to watery dal, to encounter killings, to eliminating the Burhan wani kinds, to tying a stone pelter to the jeep, basically after getting a foothold into the military environment and to try and sneak into all matters military which the media have no business to open their mouth about. This has resulted in so much of morale shattering air time that words cannot describe. So why there is an issue when media is being scrutinised under the tax mans lens.
NDTV has put out the news that it is political vendetta because a BJP spokesperson was shooed out of one show. Well, so be it. People like Brakha Dutt when she was with NDTV went to cover the poor school teachers kid called burhan wani and the plight of his family and various other people affected by pellets and bullets. She made her career covering Kargil war sitting with Capt Vikram Batra saying “ye dil mange more” to shoot to fame. Well, it now pains me to see the way news anchors have torn apart our army and Army Chief when he said what he had to say about the militants, stone pelters and their supporters. I think the media has grown too big for its boots and such raids serve them right. Media needs to be put into place, let it be Dr Roy or any media head for that matter. Who is a congress supporter or a BJP supporter is not the issue either? The issue is who maligns and tarnishes the image of the armed forces. Yes media may claim that they have done many welfare programmes for the armed forces. Well let me tell you it is no big shake to get Priyanka, Priety or Anushka to the operational areas. They are kids of the forces and they will oblige anytime to boost the morale of the forces, maybe at their own cost unlike your sponsors.
I had been following the news channels which used to bring the Pakis for debates in the prime time. Initially I enjoyed when many of our panelists’ gave them a good amount of bashing but soon those guys got the hang of it and gave it back. They had the audacity to call my country and its Prime Minster names, thanks to the media. We were abused and threatened by those pipsqueaks, which was again not palatable to me. All this was done in the garb of a balanced debating. The amount of disservice that can be done to this nation and the way they abused our decorated veterans was pathetic the least I can say. Enough is enough.
Well, I am not in favour of such a free press where any news anchor can speak poorly about the armed forces or admonish a member of parliament or a politician live on air. These MPs sit there and can do nothing about it as they cannot take “pangas” with the media. Well, Media people, you may show your arrogance, misbehaviour, manner less attitude etc to the politicians but kindly leave the people in uniform and veterans alone. We toil for you so that you can air your programmes, remember that. Media doesn’t save the nations integrity; it is the man on the border who does. You may fire your bites on air but the person who faces the enemy’s bullets with petty perks and privileges’ remains in the background and anonymity. He is asking for his well deserved one rank one pension which you people have just not given any coverage because it didn’t matter to the media. How sad! I suggest the government should raid all the media houses today and tell them to take a swallow of the same bitter pill they have been dishing out to the forces. Will the media act responsibly in future? I wonder!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis