Hema Malini injured in a car accident which also killed a 5 year old. Or, should it be worded like ‘an accident killed 4 year old and injured Hema Malini’.
The public reaction to the reporting of this accident in Indian media has been an outrage – that how an injured celebrity MP takes precedent over a dead child in a road accident.
Though this is just a small news item which will not be much relevant in a few days;till Lalit Modi makes another tweet, it’s important that a few observations are made on how media reports news and how we respond to it.
1. Had this road accident made headlines if Hema Malini was not involved?
2. What value do we associate to a news item about something as common as a road accident?
3. Does a faceless 5 year old dying in a road accident mean anything to our collective attention?
4. Not just road accidents, but rapes, murders, natural disasters – aren’t they just another item in the daily paper?
5. Does a city disaster shock us more than a rural disaster?
6. What else can you do besides being empathetic?
Why am I going into a hyperbole over a road accident? No, I don’t mean to take anybody on a random guilt trip over a loose ended “Why doesn’t somebody do something?”
My aim is to make a social observation on how the worse a state is managed, the better the inhabitants get used to the bad news. And how this behavior starts the demand-and-supply cycle for the media.
And it’s not the content of the bad news which demands the response at it’s face value, but the related details – like who was involved, where it happened, what is it’s political relevance.
Mainstream Media largely is a profit oriented business – and this is exactly why, what you see on TV comes with a big WHY. Why did this report make the cut, why the other didn’t. Why this specific life / death means more than the other.
While all of the information flow works like a free-market, it does take away the moral high ground that media poses to maintain. It also makes the instances of corruption within media more prevalent, which is also vehemently denied, stating political class overreacts, and tries to muzzle the “free” media voice.
What however is rarely seen is media taking up subjects / solutions which are relevant to public at large, but aren’t breaking news at the moment.
For example, when some brutal rape case isn’t in prime time news, does that mean nobody is getting raped at the moment? Why selective outrage, why not chase solutions if you need to keep the pressure on the government to perform. Instead, you will see one particular party being targeted depending on the prime time agenda. Issues are just the means, the real game is of grabbing eye-balls, and manipulating public opinion.
So whatever the issue may be – road accidents, corruption, mob violence, what always takes precedence is political relevance and sensation potential, and never the affected party and possible solutions.
Like in this news item too, as soon as media caught the sniff of celebrity presence suddenly they’re all interested in finding out how the family of the dead child is doing …
Credits : Ishaan Mohan Bagga