Indian news media has come a long way, from the Monopoly of one news channel (DD news) to 403 channels in 2018. It’s interesting to note that news and current affairs channels account to a whopping 45% of the TV Market share. With the increase in popularity of regional channels in recent years, news channels still have the potential for further growth. It is great that the news media is growing and a substantial number of people are being reached out with the everything happening in the world. But, this growth has also brought a growth in polarized news.
What does ‘News Polarization‘ mean?
Before going any further, it is important to define what News polarization is. Unfortunately, it has no organic definition but it is simple to understand. If anyone tunes into a news channel tonight, the chances of non-debate segments are pretty low. The production team decides the subject of the debate earlier in the day or sometimes even the previous day. They build upon their chosen topic throughout the day employing some twitter hashtags. This buildup is usually a narrative, a story.
The problem lies with the narrative. It would have been perfect if the narrative was objective, most of the time it is not. For the channel has already decided the hero and the villain of the story and they end up bashing the villain the whole day. They know the end. There is no constructive discussion, there is only bashing one another. Throughout the program, the news anchor would ask questions to one side and will not push back with the same vigour on the other side. Therefore instead of initiating a debate, it becomes a one-sided argument. By the end of the show, the channel and the anchor have successfully pushed down one side of the story down the viewer’s throat.
News or Biases, opinions & propaganda?
In past 3 or 4 years, Cable news has made it possible to explicitly witness this polarized presentation of the news by the news channels and the news presenters. The one and only job of a journalist is to collect and present or distribute the news to the public responsibly and they miserably fail at it. There is no denial that journalists have their own biases, but that is where professionalism comes in! A journalist has every right to be biased as they are just another human being, witnessing the story in front of their eyes. But they bring harm to the profession as well as to the consumers by letting their inclinations get into the presentation of news.
We live in a time where the news media outlets have lost the ability to report the news as it is. Instead, we get a lot of opinions and sensationalized news that echoes endlessly. In the race to become the most watched news channel, the objectivity of the news is lost. It has become difficult to just watch one news channel and know the truth. For the same news, one news channel may be found cheering the government and another just ripping off the government. So, if one wants to know just the plain news about what has happened, they cannot. There is a scarcity of news as the majority of the time it is just opinion and sensationalism. The only option probably left is, to watch both the channels and making your own judgement (if there is enough time).
The reality is this :
The news media house are very powerful, they have to capacity to influence the mood, thoughts and opinions of the masses. The news media outlets know this and have started to use it to push only a certain type of narrative. There may be many reasons why they push only one narrative, that is another topic of discussion and it is a huge area we are yet to explore. Media, the fourth pillar of the democratic system seems to have stopped doing its job. Instead of presenting news they have started manufacturing news and taking sides. In an already polarized society, they are just adding fuel to the fire.
Polarization of news is real. It is difficult to say if the news channels will come back to an objective presentation of facts but it is important for the consumers to pay attention to what they are seeing and hearing on their TV sets. It is very important to know the background and basis of the news channel in general or the news anchor or the journalist. This is crucial so that people can actually see the reality rather than be in their echo chamber.
Cover image : Marketoonist.com