In a democracy, the power to hire and fire leaders rest with the people and the people alone. But it is imperative for the people to be informed and educated so that they can make the right choice. A single misinformation campaign can ruin the chances of a true change maker and a monster can make it to the very top, if the people are uninformed. The role of the media is thus paramount in the proper functioning of a democracy. A media that is due and just in its reporting can change the world for the better while one that is demented and sold may well damn it for the worst. The media is thus the essential fourth pillar of a democratic state, keeping its citizens informed of their ultimate right and their prowess to exercise them. Dictators and theocrats have always survived by strangling media in their regions and nations have disappeared because their citizens were simply too uninformed or misinformed to care for the rest. The role of a free and fair media is thus very important in this 21st century, especially when the tentacles of fake news and half-truths have already started to strangle human thoughts and rationale. The Indian Media, not one to be counted among the world’s good, to say the least of their incompetence, hit a new low in reporting of Sridevi’s death.
Yes, a new low. Not satisfied or apparently terrified at the prospect of being outdone, the Indian Media moved away from reporting on the everyday gimmicks of Taimur, the son of Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan (though, it remains to be seen if the move is permanent or temporary) and started reporting their own various hypothesis of Sridevi’s last moments. Before we could bid her adieu, most of India’s prime-time news outlets had turned this unfortunate death of our beloved superstar into a shameless competition for some TRP points. All of a sudden, we were flooded by a deluge of information on Sridevi- from what she had worn in her last hours to who she had spoken to.
Suddenly, it became a matter of grave national concern that where was her daughter in the moments after Sridevi’s death.
If the massive invasion of the grieving family’s privacy was not enough, the bunch of rumor mongers began masquerading as “forensic experts, detectives and moral judges” instead of the news anchors that they should have been. One channel announced a program on what happened in the final 15 mins of Sridevi’s life.
Another Media channel simply crossed all limits by putting Sridevi’s image in a bathtub (even if I could keep apart my sentiments for the moment, the Photoshop job was simply pathetic). An anchor did the reporting of Sridevi’s death while there was a bathtub in background and next to it, there was a cup of red wine.
Outraging all limits of decency, people were passing judgments on her drinking wine. To add insult to injury, a local Bengali channel devoted an entire segment to Sridevi’s alleged affair with Mithun Chakravarty. A special emphasis was given to the fact that Both Boney Kapoor and Mithun were married men at the time. Sridevi was made a femme fatale in the story and the men innocent lambs caught in the churnings of her charm.
Not wanting to be outdone, a field reporter did his bit to milk the barren udders by sleeping in a bathtub while the camera rolled. The deep malaise in the Indian media was on full display for all to see.
Our Facebook timelines and WhatsApp Inboxes were spammed, and our television screens were crammed to the full by the reporting of the Media on Sridevi’s death. The most unfortunate of it all was that this endeavor was not out of respect for the legendry’s actress’s skill but due to vehement greed and sheer insensitivity of the media.
It pains me to say that we rely on such outlets for information of the nation and the world. What’s scarier is that most of us form our opinion based this type of reporting. Contemporary Media is confusing us, scaring us and coaxing us towards our own destruction, that too my own hands. It is rare to find any media outlet that is not biased or bought by any pressure group and all claims of free speech have fine-print, questions & half-truths attached to them. Can a nation progress with such a media? Can we, Indians, retain our identity with such a media? The answer to this is within us. For the Better or the worse, it is our decision that will dominate the nation and the bigoted media must be made to mend its broken ways, else all hell will break loose upon our Great Nation.