Indian media ignore important issues in favor of sensationalism

By Rajeev Sharma Source:Global Times Published: 2013-12-3 19:58:01

Here is a one-sentence guide for foreigners to understand India and know about the Indians' passions, obsessions and favorite pastime habits. India is a country obsessed with four "C"s: crime, cricket, cinema and celebrities, not necessarily in that order, as the order keeps changing.

The Indian media reflect the Indian psyche, but rather overdo it. This is precisely what has been happening recently as two crime cases - an alleged sexual offence by prominent journalist Tarun Tejpal against a young staff member, and the murders of Aarushi Talwar, a 14-year-old daughter of a dentist couple, and their domestic help Hemraj - have dominated Indian media.

Print and digital media have filled acres of space with coverage on these two issues. TV channels have gone berserk in stuffing their newsrooms with experts, politicians, journalists and celebrities at prime time and aired live discussions and debates on the two subjects.

While these two cases were hogging the Indian media's attention, yet another sex scandal broke out, this time involving a retired Supreme Court judge, A.K. Ganguly, who is alleged to have made sexually explicit indecent proposals to a young intern in his office and used his influential position over the woman to force her to accede to his sexual advances.

Such lopsidedness in terms of coverage shows that Indian media are not yet mature and continue to be oblivious to much larger, meatier and far more important issues of national and international importance.

A major issue like the historic deal reached in Geneva by Iran and P5+1 countries on November 24 went largely unnoticed by all formats of Indian media, except a few mainline English dailies which front-paged the news and wrote editorials.

In another instance, the Emperor and Empress of Japan landed in India on a state visit, the first-ever by the Japanese emperor to South Asia in the 2,600-year-old history of Japanese monarchy. The Japanese royal couple's arrival did not exactly set the Indian digital media on fire, and it remains to be seen how the print and electronic media are going to treat the six-day visit.

As far as international relations coverage and visits by foreign dignitaries in Indian media go, Pakistan, China and the US always dominate.

The Indian media need to go beyond television ratings, and highlight more significant issues relating to nation-building.

The author is a New Delhi-based journalist-author and a political commentator.

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