Paid media and fake news versus the fair scribe
Truth, Suppression of Fact and Demo ‘Crazy’ in Journalism
Published : Sunday, 9 May, 2021 at 12:00 AM Count : 347
Today multinational corporations control the politicians. They control the media. They control the pattern of consumption, entertainment and thinking. The influence of the media is complex: in its representation, in its power of communication and interpretation it is a remarkable amplifier of fancy and illusions.
It is often debated that media has lost its way. People apprehend that the proprietors of these organizations have put on a form of censorship as they're more interested in celebrity, narcissism, rich people, good-looking people, and successful sportsmen. The mainstream media spins stories that are largely racist, violent, and often irresponsible - stories that celebrate power and demonize victims, all the while camouflaging its pedagogical influence under the cheap veneer of entertainment.
Fake news and paid news have transformed the field of media journalism into claustrophobia. Fake news can be as simple as spreading misinformation or as dangerous as smearing hateful propaganda. The great thing about media was how it gave a voice to voiceless people. The media has a great role to play in promoting scientific and rational thinking and combating backward ideas. Time is ripe enough to wake up against the menace of 'paid news' culture in mainstream media. The practice that involves money in unethically acquiring media space for the beneficiaries remained an important issue in many countries. It is alleged that many media houses, irrespective of their gamut of business have started selling news space after some 'understandings' with 'politicians and corporate people without disguising those items as advertisements'. Numerous Editors' Guilds expressed concern at the growing tendency of a section of media groups to receive money for some 'non-advertorial' items in their media space, as the practice 'violates and undermines the principles of free and fair journalism'.
Many urge that corporatisation of the media world has been a threat to the existence of free media. Some newspaper owners are greatly influenced by political clout and the proprietors grant space for vivid coverage for the benefit of their 'friendly politicians' in the newspapers. Even some lowest paid journalists enjoy regular payments, like monthly lump sum compensation from politicians in power. Licenses for wine shops are offered to reporters and unfortunately accepted happily by some, with the inherent understanding that they only write positive stories and stab negative reports against their politician-financers.
The favourite catchword of the social-psychologists goes less debated: 'freedom of the media is a double edged weapon� it depends for what purpose it is being used." We live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by all: the media, the governments, the big industries, the religious and the political groups. As society is bombarded with pseudo realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms, one doesn't have any choice but to ask often, 'What is real?'
In recent times, we have had numerous incidents where mainstream media has spread fake news which includes both TV news channels with large viewership and widely circulated newspapers. Together, they have not only spread fake news but used these fake news or misinformation as a tool to communalize and politicize the issues which have led to tragic results.
Yes, the media has changed. Print and broadcast licenses are given these days to leanings, or philosophies, to use a sober idiom, instead of people. People get confused and think there is no difference between news and entertainment. People who project themselves as journalists on such media don't remember the ethics of press or the first thing about journalism. If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference. Perhaps that defines the tumultuous rise of the social media because that has restored the power back to the people.
Avik Gangopadhyay, an
educationist, author and columnist, writes from Kolkata, India