TV Journalism or Sensationalism?

Is it just me or does anyone think that our news channels are on a free-fall towards absolute deterioration? The recent saga of Rahul Mahajan’s drugs (or whatever it was he had) escapade is another example of the bottoming out of Indian news channels.

First and foremost, who cares a rat’s ass about what is happening to a non-entity, whose only claim to fame is he is a politician’s son? But, NDTV, IBN et al apparently think this makes for a good ‘exclusive’. Over the last four days, there have been sickening amounts of ‘Breaking News’es and ‘Just In’s, every hour all the hours. Even if he was poisoned, it should have been restricted to those ‘sensational’ Crime Diary snippets on Star News, not mainstream news channels.

Think about it, the entire episode went something like this – Man meets up with friends, has a couple of drinks, wants to snort too, ODs and is admitted to the hospital. For crying out loud, that is Friday night for many people. Why drag and beat it to death, to make a news item out of it?

The thing to actually be noted is the transmogrification of news channels into a senstional, televised tabloid that seeks and breeds on lurid topics. There could be two reasons for this change. One, these TV stations do not have the journalistic capabilities to seek out news stories that actually matter and empower the viewers with that information. Two, there is actually an audience, and a substantial number at that, that would much rather watch and hear the sensational than the useful. We still have print media that inform, question and provoke the reader – Indian Express, for example. My suspicion, therefore, is that it is the former of the two which holds true.

TV Journalism or Sensationalism?

10 thoughts on “TV Journalism or Sensationalism?

  1. Shreyas, I don’t know about the former, but I, for one, am sure that the latter reason plays a huge part too. People love sensations. They love to see tragedy and misery. They particularly enjoy seeing big people fall.

    Maybe both your reasons are to blame.

  2. Yes. But I am not sure if it’s the job of news channels to cater to people’s need for sensationalism! Though, I agree with what you are saying – there is a growing mass of people who do follow and enjoy such stories!

    I certainly hope no one thinks Rahul Mahajan is ‘big people’ ! :O

  3. You cant call it journalism. These people have no idea of the power they have in their hands, Bulletins like “OMG! RAHUL MAHAJAN’S BP HAS BECOME NORMAL !! HOLY MOTHER OR CRIST!!! THATS MORE SERIOUS THAN THE 80000 PEOPLE THAT DIED IN INDONESIA’S EARTHQUAKE”… seriously.. how much did they cover off of that? if they did, the country would’ve seen more flow of donations and help from our side..

    Just because some jack ass son of a politician snorted a few bit powder and got admitted in the hospital.. doesnt entitle him to NDTV’s 20 hours of the 24 they air…

    journalism is more about getting people’s attention nowadays, and not more abt serious issues (which doesnt seem to catch people’s attention)…

    god save the TV


  4. Its a dumbing down of the populace at large..these days I tend to read the papers in a bunch. Yes, it is not breaking news but i can skip the non essentials, and it saves time.

  5. CNN-IBN is more charged up with sensationialism and is thus doing better – following the way it can climb up.
    As for papers we buy The New Indian Express – father won’t read anything else :-). I would rank ‘The Hindu’ as No. 1 – verbose and real good quality.

  6. @Tariq: I agree completely. But appears that what the viewers want is completely different – Apart from CNBC, not a single channel seems focussed on providing the viewer insights on news that really matters

    @austere: Bingo! Dumbing down of the populace does appear the case…unfortunately though

    @Shamit: The Indian Express is the best newspaper of them all. At least the Mumbai edition beats everyone else hands down, with their excellent set of columnists and investigative journalism.

  7. Ouch! You had me for a minute there but had checked it. Transmogrification, as it turns out, is a part of the vocabulary, no matter how C&H it sounds :)

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