Every network is coming up with a 24-hour news channel. Now every network has a 24 hr approach to news. Minute by minute or rather second by second development is right in front of our eyes. But one thing is crystal clear in front of our eyes i.e. all the 24 hr news channel is in a silent competition with one another. They are concerned about increasing their ratings, not reporting alone. All the channels are waiting for a news item, in order to chew on it for a while and throw it into the drains.
It was during the early weeks of April, the channels were waiting for breaking news on which they could sit for a while. It was like a hungry animal waiting for its prey. On 22 April 2006 comes a prey along the way. Pramod Mahajan, the Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary Pramod Mahajan is shot by his own younger brother, Pravin Mahajan at the former’s home in Purna Apartments at Worli, Mumbai. When Pravin was surrendering himself in a Mumbai Police Station the news channels were already flashing the news of Pramod Mahajan’s condition.
On 2 June 2006 the same family enters the channels. This time the limelight is on Late Pramod Mahajan’s son, Rahul Mahajan.Rahul and Vivek Moitra, a key aide of Pramod Mahajan admitted in the hospital. However Moitra is declared dead while Rahul is fighting for his life. It was not a case of food poisoning as reported until 10 am, instead a pure case of Drug Abuse. Each channel goes on with its investigative and interpretative reporting. Friends of Rahul and Vivek, who were absconding, confessed to the media before surrendering. This. Then one channel comes out with the medical reports of Rahul ‘s medical tests showing how the hospital authorities tampered it.
One way of looking at the reports above is the advancement in technology. How fast the news reaches us. The concern on the part of the media to report the happenings to its viewers is also there.
Another side of the same coin is its negative impact on the viewers in general. Live reporting, interviews etc presents the picture on the whole. Many a times the channel takes up the job of thinking for the viewer. The viewer’s stand on an issue is largely influenced by the stand the news channel takes. Day after day for nearly a week the same reporting goes on in the channel. The other news items take a back seat. This is a torture to many of the viewers. But ironically, when asked about the repeated or continuous reporting of the same item again and again, the answer given by them is that the viewers ask for it and the truth is that we audience cannot be choosers. We are compelled to watch what they show. So the question of viewers demand does not arise at all.
Other thing is the type of reporting. Especially the Drug usage of Rahul Mahajan is blown up. I completely agree that it has to be reported, but not repeatedly and continuous. The teenagers and many section of the audience now got to know the variety of drugs available in the market, ways to procure it, how to consume it etc. The very fact that Rahul Mahajan and many people in the Cine World consume drugs give wrong signals to this group. Now the question arises,' is this not there in the 30 min news, broadcast daily?’ Yes in this 30 min news everything is given somewhat equal importance. Nothing is given too much or too less importance. The fact is stated as it is. A different news programme takes the interpretative reporting. Psychologically speaking when a issue is repeatedly or continuously broadcast it draws the attention of the people, especially of the teenagers, to issues like that of drugs, alcohol etc.
This is just two of the news item, which I mentioned. The channels should realise that they have a variety audience. They need to keep this in mind. Catering to the needs of all the type of audience should be given priority. All the detailed research or reports on any particular news can be telecast in another news-based programme, instead of the regular news.