My family recently subscribed to South-Asian programming on Direct TV. I was absolutely ecstatic at first- having been away from India for 7 years, it was the closest I could be to "home." The feeling of joy, however, quickly dissipated, and turned to dismay, when I started watching the English language news channels. I was shocked by the way the media has dealt with the Varun Gandhi debacle. I'm going to refrain from commenting on the propriety of the statements. Instead, I wish to focus on the conduct of the media, which really disturbed me. This may sound idealist, and I'm not naive enough to believe it is achievable to any great degree, but I always thought of the media's role as being that of an impartial mediator in socio-political debate. Of course, having been exposed to media bias here in the US, I know that no media outlet is free from bias, as they are mostly targeted at a niche audience. I have, however, never seen American news channels peddling opinions as facts. Sure, Fox is pro-Republican and will always support the Republican agenda; however, one always finds them to be civil when they are interviewing democratic leaders, and I have found the reporting of news to be adequately impartial. When something is opined, it is identifiable as being such. Furthermore, whenever there are members from opposing factions on TV, one finds the mediators always being civil, and only passing their own comments, or making an analysis, after
the exchange of ideas has taken place. They never take sides during
the debate- at least not blatantly. This is something I find lacking in the Indian English language media. The news readers and mediators will always take a strong stance (mostly pro-congress), and actually assault certain members of the dialogue (mostly members of the BJP or allied parties) with their own views. It is understandable that the media will almost by default have a Left-Liberal bias; however, it is the responsibility of the media to deliver unadulterated news and mediate debates, and let the viewers reach their own
conclusions. It's also disturbing to find the newscasters own views and analysis of a situation being plastered as facts all over the screen. For instance, "Varun Gandhi's Scripted Arrest Drama." Now, am I to gather from this that the news outlet had gotten hold of a sheet of paper, complete with dialogue and all? This behavior is utterly despicable. I hope the Indian media matures someday and learns how to conduct impartial debate; and stops peddling their own opinions as news.