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January 30, 2009

Back in the 15th and 16th Century when Europeans had conquered more than 2/3rd of the known world, a new term came into being to describe it. It was called Colonialism and later it took the form of Imperialism. Almost five centuries later, although we don’t see imperialism as it once was, it has taken a new form. Something which has been very aptly described in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm“. Orwell suggests that “All animals (humans) are born equal, but some are more equal than others.” It couldn’t be more true now more than ever, where power wrests in the hands of a select few.

The evolution of traditional media is no different from that of Colonialism or Imperialism. I wasn’t born in the year, when traditional media was required in the first place, but I do believe that it’s main purpose was to disseminate news which would be useful to people and society at large. As the need for “news” grew, stories had to be gathered from North, East, West, South and present it to the populace(readers). With time, the hunger for more stories grew enormously, which eventually led to fabrication of news, which in most cases might not even be true! But how would that piece of information be verified? To contradict this point of view, a select group of intellectuals formed another group which would give more or less the same information, but from a different perspective. But how would this piece of information be verified…and so another group was formed..and another group..and another group. Just take a look at the sheer number of newspapers and news websites following this principle to create a catastrophic affects.

Quoting the page on Media in India on Wikipedia,

“India consumed 99 million newspaper copies as of 2007—making it the second largest market in the world for newspapers. By 2008, India has a total of 60,000,000 Internet users—comprising 6.0% of the country’s population, and 4,010,000 people in India also have access to broadband Internet as of 2008— making it the 18th largest country in the world in terms of broadband Internet users. India also ranks 8th in the list of countries by number of television broadcast stations by 1997 statistics.”

If on an average, a single article is published across 30 different newspapers in a city like Hyderabad, it is bound to reach atleast around 3 million subscribers! That’s a staggering number…and an average human mind is not trained to think and judge before forming an me this is true! It takes another well written article to change your perception about an issue. The question is, how long will it take for this so called “well written and thoroughly researched” article to be published again? It’s always too late or never. Correcting a factual error, would raise the question of credibility of the newspaper…it’s falling into the trap of a vicious circle, which leaves nothing but chaos and confusion in the minds of those who understand the words and what they could mean. I think I strongly believe that, News is not News until it has become News across N.E.W.S. Phew! So much for educating a common man who may or may not have anything to do with it in first place.

I really like the days when Doordarshan was the only news channel in our country. Maybe the news wasn’t that authentic or not elaborated like how they do these days, but there was some credibility to it. Because only the news of national importance was aired in those days, quite unlike how media writes elaborately about everything imaginable. The emergence of Social Media, has added a new angle to this whole affair. A single line “tweeted” across the world, may even land a Goliath in quicksand! While there are plenty of concerned citizens who voice their opinions in a responsible manner, there are plenty others who just go on and on, because that’s the hottest topic or too many people want to read what a particular blogger thinks or whatever jazz it is….

In chapter 11, of Book of Genesis in Bible, there’s a verse on “Tower of Babel“. Right now, even we (media and people) are building the tower of babel, carefully dissecting piece by piece of our lives and constructing a huge story out of it. What if all of it was a pack of lies? What if all of this was standing on the foundation whose strings are held by a select few? What if at some point of time, few of those who were building the story start babbling?! There is definitely an argument that “Truth cannot be covered up”…I Agree…but atleast have the morality to give Truth a chance. Truth is not we believe in, truth is what it is! And to see what it is, you have to question everything, every claim, every thought, every opinion.

In a country, where the majority of people trust in other’s opinions and reports isn’t it fair to ask to atleast get some facts right?! Atleast some…!!! Irrespective of the outcome, thanks for all hoopla, you have left me speechless. I believe all that has happened over the past 20 days, have only made me the nuances of human nature and how media caters to the hungry crowd. Now, more than ever, I understand what it means to be more responsible. Because when sitting on the other side of the firing line against a wall, you know how exactly the next bullet will be fired. Thank you for everything. I know I am punked. And I am ready for more, because I know you are not done yet. I stand still with a belief on the very ideals on which India stands and is built that…”Truth Alone Triumphs”, whatever the truth is.

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