Who can come out with a better truth, a television journalist or print media one. Apparently the former, equipped with camera and microphone, is in a better position to break more ground than the unarmed pen-pusher.
While speaking in a function organized to release his book, “Anna: 13 Days That Awakened India,” in Patna on March 18, the author Ashutosh, who is incidentally the Managing Editor of IBN-7, explained the role the media, especially the private electronic channels, played in exposing corruption at the top level and the advantage the TV channels have in doing that. (In Delhi the book was released by Anna Hazare himself on March 21).
Ashutosh narrated how in August last he literally abandoned his studio to spend days covering Anna Hazare’s fast as he actually wanted to know the truth, that is, how the common mass think about the issue.
Since Ashutosh writes for the print media too he was, in no way, running down its importance though he was critical of English-speaking class as well as some fellow journalists who, according to him, opposed Anna’s movement. But a big question arises from what he said. Is a high-profile television journalist really in a better position to know the real truth? Or it is still the faceless low-profile reporter of any newspaper who can do this job in more appropriate way?
True, the private television channels have decisive edge in showing all sorts of happenings related to any development, movement, scams, mishaps etc. The print media may never match them. But so far gauging the real mood of the people or gleaning the truth is concerned the print media is still ahead and will remain so in future too.
The likes of Ashutosh––or even the lesser mortals in the channels––are not better-positioned to know the real truth because they are not unidentified. It is very difficult for them to maintain ear-to-the-ground approach. As most of the people, to whom a TV journalist approaches for any view, know him or her, they would speak more guardedly. They would give byte, according to the demand of the situation. After all the charm of appearing in camera prompts a person to give the view to the liking of the journalist, who is asking the question. Since an overwhelming number of those present at Ram Lila Maidan were aware of Ashutosh’s stand on the fast those interviewed would not say anything against it.
A girl student of a college learnt this lesson a wrong way a few months back when she told a top lady electronic media journalist something about a particular chief minister, which was not of her liking. That journalist half-smilingly told the girl that she is not interested in negative comment about that particular leader. The hapless girl did not get space while the bytes of her friends were prominently highlighted.
A print media journalist does not behave like a celebrity and can mix in the common mass. He could gauge the mood of the people by just eavesdropping in the crowd, in the suburban train, bus etc. S/he can stand up in long queue for getting cooking gas cylinder anywhere in the country. S/he does not even need to disclose his/her identity. So unlike the manufactured truth or half-truth or something else, the print media journalists are in many ways able to come out with a better fact.
Even for sting operation the TV media has to rely on anonymous face.
Though the TV camera may highlight the apparent hardship of the people the inner feelings and pain could be known only by the journalist who stand with the toiling mass without giving his or her own introduction.
It is always man, or nowadays woman, behind the machine who matter. But in case of TV journalism it is machine––that is camera––which do most of the work. The role of person behind it gets minimized. Yet many senior TV journalists often end up boasting that what they are showing to the world is the ultimate truth. In this brave new world of media the truth itself has become a relative concept.
- Anna Hazare Anshan Coverage – Games that Media Crooks play (25th March) (satyakikhoj.wordpress.com)
- News TV – Caught Between an Anna and a Hard Place: Abhishek Upadhyay (kafila.org)
- Journalists and Social Media Usage (sixestate.com)