Today is an age when people, especially civil societies are talking about having closer insight and questioning the functioning of the Government. Unfortunately no one is even bothering to think about keeping a check or question the media, which is fast evolving as even stronger than the strongest governments.
Assam has over 50 print media publications and as many as 7 satellite news channels. And almost all of these are ones that covers just the Brahmaputra valley, apart from the Barak Valley. Even neighboring West Bengal has lower number of publications compared to the size and number of readers. By going by such big numbers in Assam, any outsider to the state would assume that media is greatly valued in Assam, that it plays the lead role in democracy, structuring correct awareness and public opinion. Unfortunately, the irony lies in the fact that media of Assam is immense only in volume and quantity, – its miles away from being sound quality. Why and how?
The Assamese media, both print and electronic has taken a shape where it is unified in manipulation of data and reports. It is unified when it comes to most wrong reasons such as biased stories, reports finger pointing at individuals without any evidence etc. In the mid-nineties when a journalist, now the Editor of a news channel was arrested and put into jail on charges of news-theft, journalists had united to stage protests and demanding his release. Yet when stalwarts like Late Parag Kumar Das, Ajit Kumar Bhuyan etc were arrested for voicing strong opinions through their pen, the media forum was not united.
Such trends continue till date,- whether it is writing against the pro-talk ULFA’s bid to end coal syndicate mafia or writing in support of Akhil Gogoi, the media house and personnel are always aligned to the same interest. Differences only for business and TRP, not ideology – Unfortunately such alignment is not necessarily out of ideology, but plain business motive of increased circulation or TRPs. News is now a commodity that is sold and no longer the truth that should be passed on to keep the fourth pillar of democracy intact.
The worst part of current media in Assam is that in the bid to sell news, many at times readers end up reading unverified news or completely false news. Due to the manipulative alignment of media, at most times readers end up believing something because every media reports it! This is a dangerous phenomenon and in Assam particularly, it is a pity that people believe the media first before anything or anyone else. For example, when few years’ back one vernacular newspaper reported that a Pakistani Flag was hosted in Assam and gave a picture in the front page, it created such mass hysteria that resulted in riots broke out. No one even bothered to question whether the news was genuine, in which particular household or village was the picture of the flag taken. Not even trying to do a root cause analysis, people blind believed the news. Even today, when continuous reports about blocking Turbines of NTPC to Lower Subansiri Dam Site are featuring in newspapers and news channels, there us yet no confirmation whether the equipment being carried by the truck is turbine or not. In other words, education is being compromised for the masses by such acts of the media.
One thing that is certain is that most of the media houses or personnel work only for money. Since there are over 50 print media and 7 satellite channel, quite obviously most of them cannot boast of high reader base, barring a few. As such, two things are taking place. Several journalists, media personnel are indulging in corruption, blackmailing for money, etc and this is again a dangerous sign. Worse, media are becoming puppets of business houses and often being run only to make profits through different advertisements. Of course, for such things fake readership numbers are being claimed by most newspapers.
The effect of all such negativities is many folds. The readership quality itself does not improve of the people and since people have start believing Assamese media at face value, it has become a manipulative tool for different organisations, parties and outfits. Whether it is a KMSS or ULFA, Tarun Gogoi or Paresh Baruah, everyone smart or cunning group or personnel has learned the way to use the media for their own terms and benefits. As such, the common people, gullible to such ploys are falling prey regularly.
Today is an age when people, especially civil societies are talking about having closer insight and questioning the functioning of the Government. Unfortunately no one is even bothering to think about keeping a check or question the media, which is fast evolving as even stronger than the strongest governments. It is time the media is questioned or tamed.