Trust the media to make mountains out of molehills. Forever on the lookout to piggyback on personalities and celebrities for a free ride to dubious gains called TRPs, they rake up issues where there are none.
Before I get to what I am talking about, let me set the background to where my critique comes from. I began my career as a journalist in Mumbai; then went on to work in a publication in the US for a little over a decade, in all spending enough number of years in the profession to claim critical authority.
I was definitely not part of the post-2000 media boom in India. When I left the media scene in Mumbai, Doordarshan still held its place of honor and NDTV under Prannoy Roy had just established itself as a credible alternative source of news in urban India.
So, back in Mumbai today, whenever I switch any of the news channels on, I feel like I am in the midst of a T3 Twister (tornado), what with the cacophonic levels of noise – every news anchor, presenter, reporter and invited guests on the shows literally shout – and mind-numbing movement of the visuals. No piece of information is less than sensational or ‘breaking’, and it is not news at all if it is not controversial.
So now coming back to where I started in this piece, I was talking in the context of Unmukt Chand, captain of the World Cup winning under-19 Indian cricket team and his overnight rise to national fame.
It was not enough for the media to report that this young kid went, conquered and came back victorious. Because that’s just one day’s worth of coverage. So, in their zeal to milk his story further they somehow found out that Delhi University had held his promotion from first year to second year on a technicality that he did not fulfill his required attendance.
For one, Unmukt is not the only one in his team who perhaps had to skip school to be able to play for the country. For another, I would think a school/college student falling short of attendance because of his/her sports or other extracurricular activities is nothing new. Besides, Unmukt himself has said that he was working it out with his teachers and that there was no ‘issue’ as such. It’s not like he has been barred from school for the rest of his life.
Undoubtedly, the media would have created the same, if not an even bigger ruckus had the University disregarded his lack of attendance and promoted him automatically just because he won the World Cup.
You just can’t win with mass media that’s on a path of degenerative competition. Which makes me glad I missed this boat in mainstream Indian journalism and have no regrets for having veered off into niche community journalism in the United States.
Pic courtesy: Unmukt Chand’s Facebook page