A new low for Indian television news

Over the past decade, the quality of Indian television news has sharply dipped. This can be traced to an obsession with ratings; a preference for contentious studio discussions and dilution of balanced reportage; a tendency to sensationalise news; and a broken business model.

But, with its reportage on the Sushant Singh Rajput case, Indian TV news has hit a new low. Here is what should have happened — a prominent actor dies by suicide; the media covers his life and legacy; there is a conversation on mental health; there is due investigation; and there is closure. Instead, here is what has happened — a prominent actor dies by suicide; the media decides that it is not suicide but a product of either a deep-rooted conspiracy by an amorphous Bollywood power elite or an outright murder; conspiracy theories are peddled, reputations tarnished, and every norm of reportage is thrown into the bin; public opinion is manufactured; State agencies either willingly or due to this media-generated pressure enter the field; and citizens remain distracted.

This is not to suggest that a fair probe is not needed. But by acting as investigator, prosecutor, and judge, on flimsy grounds, TV news has been irresponsible. Today, they have found one target; tomorrow, it could be someone else. There is no easy solution. Self-regulation isn’t working. But State-regulation could lead to control, which is not desirable. Finding a balance and reining in TV news is now essential to protect individual liberties, prevent mob justice, and have a civilised discourse — all of which are essential in a democracy.

Courtesy - Hindustan Times.



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