Food for everyone!

Food for everyone!

FOOD ORDINANCE BILL

Food ordinance bill is the most recent ordinance cleared by the Indian government. According to this, 70% of Indian population will be provided with food at 1-3rs per kg. One major thing is at stake, which concerns all Indians is the money which we pay in the form of tax. The money involved to fund this program is 125,000 crores ($22 billion). The UN (United Nations) has welcomed this and has considered it as one of the smartest decision by India. The UN said that- this bill will certainly lower the margin of hunger in India and with proper effect it may even erase hunger in coming years. This bill was in queue from past many years. On the contrary, many economic pundits, who understand the Indian economy better, feel that this was not the right time to bring this bill into affect.

Now, what I am concerned with is; the media’s response to this whole thing. When was the need of highlighting this issue? Did the media give us what we wanted? At the time when we wanted? Or was it shown when media wanted?

So, the media has reported about it lately. And I saw more coverage about this in print more than on electronic media. Now, does that convey something to us? Of course it does! Gatekeeping theory again (for details of this theory refer to my previous post), the owners and Editors of the channels have full authority of playing up or dumbing down a news. And that’s what happened with the reporting of this bill. The newspaper too started giving enough coverage only when the monsoon session is near. Both the media, television and newspaper, ran out of other more catchy content to publish or broadcast.

I ask all of you- is food more important than entertainment? I am asking this because media kept on playing the cricket game, IPL, instead of discussing a bill, which is a key to remove hunger from the face of India. Hence, what media did is, they made their agenda (Agenda setting theory, for details of this theory refer to my previous post) very clear. They projected the IPL fiasco so much that we though it is the only humungous problem in India at that time. We were glued to our TV screens and papers and kept reading about Sreesanth and team who were involved in this scandal.

And now it’s too late as the bill is cleared. But yes the media is coming up with the story, from both angles. They are reporting about this bill and why Congress was in a hurry to clear it. Anyways, most of the economic pundits suggest that Congress should have slowed down and thought about it once before clearing it. Questions were raised, such as- why this hurry? Will the government be able to stand with it in years to come (due to the amount involved)? Or is it just for the 2014 elections? Well, we all have our opinions! But it is for sure framed in some or the other way by the media. Here comes framing theory, which states- the media houses frame a particular story and give a slight slant before producing it in front of their audiences. It completely depends on our knowledge that how we perceive the news (Knowledge gap theory, for details of this theory refer to my previous post).

There are other problems related to the bill too. The two main problems are; proper channelization of food grains through its centers to the needful people and the storage of the food grains. We have already seen reports in media about food grains wasted just because government has no proper storage basements. Hence, such factors too come into play while considering this bill.

This is an important issue. My blog deals with media more, hence it restricts me to go on to the political views. But still if you want more on this (political angle), let me know through your valuable comments. I will be happy to write on that for you.

(Photograph & graphics – Izaz Ansari)

UTTARA- “KHAND”!

It was 15th June 2013, where the ‘yatris’ who started off for a pious journey of the four sacred places called the ‘chaar dhaam’ witnessed their lives in utter darkness. The media reported- due to heavy raining and cloud bursting, places like Gauri Kund and Kedarnath in Uttarakhand got flooded and thousands of pilgrims got stuck in the flood. The media came up with heart breaking visuals of the scenario. All the media- Newspapers, Channels and the internet were flooded with the news of flood in Uttarakhand.

The next reporting; after the flood reports consisted of the destruction it caused. The media then went on explaining the cause behind it taking science and astrology into consideration. Agenda theory has a role to play here. The theory states that- The media houses set the agenda of the viewers/readers according to their interests by bombarding the viewers with the same content again and again, finally with no choice left; the audience has to come back to that particular news and consider it as the most important event. Although in this case, the event happened to set alarm for people across the nation, such kind of coverage was expected from the media houses. Most of the responsible channels have reported according to the disastrous situation and keeping the ethics of journalism in mind. But slowly most of the channels started shifting their domain towards political arena. They started chasing for the bytes and comments of politicians. All the cameras ran behind Shri Narendra Modi, who visited Uttarakhand to see how the conditions there were. When he landed in Uttarakhand suddenly the media went bonkers and went on reporting about Modiji. All wanted a byte of their visit to the affected place. So to say that was a publicity stunt could largely be connected to media chasing sensationalism. The media is not giving us what we want but what they want us to see or read is delivered to us.

Same happened with the visit of Rahul Gandhi. The media started chasing his vehicle and all the reporters were behind him to get a byte for their respective channels. We need to understand that this is all decided by the heads of the media groups, which news to cover and which to be left. The gatekeeping theory comes into play here. The theory says- There is a gatekeeper for every media house who decides which news to be carried and which to be left. Thus, it makes very clear that what we get is not the direct reporting but the filtered one, which may be adjusted according to the channels policies. Such news stories have a slant to it, favoring or anti to a particular party. This cannot be neglected because the current reporting style is such. Either you are flowing with the stream or you are flowing against it.

Followed by many reports later on, some channels reported that many people said this happened because a statue of a local goddess was removed a day before. This news was picked by few small channels and played up. Now here we can connect the knowledge gap theory to the kind of reporting that was done. A well read man would definitely not buy this news but a not so well read man would see this news with interest and would even consider it true. The theory says- the knowledge level of a person decides his or her perceiving of the news reporting. Hence, it also raises a question about the kind of news reported by the media houses during such sensitive times.

Thus, it is up to us to select the content which we are seeing. We should be well versed with the way how media treats news. And instead of following it blindly we should try to understand the layers hidden below it. If we have a sound understanding of these few basic theories then we can easily understand that how the media is not giving us news but selling just content.

If you have any views about this post, you may feel free to comment. You may also post your personal views if you disagree with the same. All comments appreciated.