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.
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