News Channel Debate
Ok, what came to your mind as soon as you read that phrase?
If it were a four lettered profanity, Smirk, sigh or a snicker, you’re not alone. You are an integral part of a rapidly growing group in India and you share their perception about the 24 Hour News Channels.
Now, I personally believe that our News Broadcasting folks have done a commendable job over the years and have revolutionized the way in which every Indian receives vital information on various issues. But sadly, things have changed. In an increasingly competitive market with many high profile and powerful media houses fighting for a greater share of viewers, quite a few News Broadcasters have taken on responsibilities such as Investigative Journalism and Democratic Watchdogs apart from the general duties of News Reporting. But what is more distressing is how a few of these establishments transgress into the role of Judgment makers, Public Perception Manipulators and perhaps even Policy Makers as alleged in the recent past. As usual, the biggest victim of this Capitalistic See-saw of Money and Power is the cornerstone of any News Channels logic for Existence- INFORMATION. Simply put-We do not get the necessary Information that we want any more from many of these TV News Channels.
I want to take the simple example of the News channel debates to help you understand what I mean. All of you must have seen these debates on TV. They choose a topic that is making news for the day, put together a bunch of people and let loose their sponsors to run wild. Here, let me explain one such example of a News Channel Debate gone wrong:
Note: All characters portrayed in this post are purely fictional. They are a product of my minds delusional flare ups thanks to watching many disturbingly enlightening debates on TV.
The Scenario– The ruling party at the center has been hit with a major corruption scandal. The opposition is gunning for the resignation of many senior cabinet ministers. Amidst this hostile environment, the Daily Debate is held in a News Channel.
The topic for the Debate–
The ‘Jiggly Biggly’ Corruption Scandal-Is India’s laws of the corruption of the constipation of the locomotion really a hibernation?
Don’t worry if you didn’t understand the topic. It hardly matters. Nobody sticks to the topic anyway.
- The all powerful Anchor!!(Note the exclamation mark and bold fonts to signify the significance!)
- The ruling party Spokesperson –RPS
- The Opposition Party Spokesperson- OPS
- The Subject Expert (The boring guy)
- The Neutral Party- Usually from another political party (They’re could be ‘Closet Partial’ by the way)
- The Usual Suspect– Either a civil activist or a socialite or Ad guru or Artist or Movie Star.
The Debate begins….
- Amidst loud background music, the Anchor delivers Opening Statements which is usually only a little shorter than Fidel Castro’s National Day Speech.
- Once that formality is done, the gun is trained on the Accused. A question enclosed with numerous sub programmed questions is shot at the RPS.
- The RPS totally ignores the question and carefully recites a meticulously prepared statement defending their party and it’s every action in the corruption Scandal.
- The anchor tries a couple of times with differently worded question trying to get a response that is even vaguely connected with the Topic, but gives up soon.
- So, The Opposition Speaker (OPS) gets the next Question.
- The OPS ignores the question as well and launches a vicious tirade on the RPS for many minutes while repeatedly ignoring the Anchors or the RPS’s interjections.
- Finally the Anchor succeeds in bringing calm before going back for a……
- COMMERCIAL BREAK
- Loud Music and recap by the Anchor before going to the RPS for reactions.
- The RPS makes the second carefully prepared statement to which the OPS throws a counter punch midway and before you know it, both of them are throwing allegations of similar Corruption charges that could go back as early as Independence.
- The Anchor gets impatient and goes to the others in the panel. That’s right, there were other participants remember?
- The Subject expert is brought in. Some question is asked. (Just a formality)
- They are cut short within seconds. Why? Well because He or She is boring and the viewers have started switching channels. Time for a break!!! Yay!! Money Money!!
- COMMERCIAL BREAK!!…(sigh,yet again)
- Back again, the Anchor decides that it is time for some Glamour! Slurp.
- Enter the Usual Suspect– Who is either a Movie Star or an Activist or a PR Guy or a Socialite with entertaining and more importantly, crowd pleasing opinions. They’re mainly used by the Anchor to bash the RPS and sometimes even the OPS.
- The Usual Suspect tears into both the ruling party and the opposition much to the glee of the Anchor.
- Immediately both the RPS and the OPS jump the gun and start talking at the same time. The Usual Suspect continues irrespective of the Din. The Poor Neutral guy who still hasn’t had a word to say feels this is his best chance to get a say in this program before it gets over and launches into the confusion with his opinions.
- The Anchor tries desperately to bring the situation under control (Why can’t they just mute everyone but one?) but realizes that time is running out- for a….
- COMMERCIAL BREAK
- Back again. The Quarreling is over. There is silence. But only for a few seconds…
- The Anchor gives another monologue which could be pretty meaningless since the panelists are busy collecting their thoughts and breaths for their next assault.
- Night after Night, the Viewers hopes are dashed within 10 to 15 minutes into the debate as the panelists jump in all at once, drowning out Important Topics along with any hope for a meaningful debate in a democracy.
This is exactly how a News Debate would sound quite often after 10 minutes:
(Please Increase Volume. Best heard with Loud Volume as in Reality)
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Din that you just heard reflects the sad state of Indian democracy today- The notion that ‘The one who shouts the loudest is Right’ has become the norm from Parliament to News channels and all the way down to the streets. It pains me to see that the all powerful media is allowing such unscrupulous elements to take centre stage and make their points. All that we, the Viewers want from News Channels is Decisive, Prompt and Unbiased Information. Leave the judgment making to our conscience. You’ll are neither lawyers nor judges in the esteemed court of a democratic setup. Stop wasting our time with Politicians or corporate or glamour dolls and their opinions. What matters to us are the views of people who are accountable to the Citizens. But do they ever give us the right answers on your shows? No They Don’t! So please spare us the hypocrisy that is prevalent within your system.
I understand that any News Channels Revenue Generation System will take a serious hit without Political and Corporate compulsions but a line has to be drawn somewhere soon.
The Media is a much too Vital, Powerful and Essential Pillar of Democracy to be eroded by the very evil forces it is meant to fight. Hope everyone involved understands that and acts accordingly.
If only News Channels enforced the following Protocol when Panelists start to talk all at once! Aaah… The Debates would be a whole lot more fun!