Journalism or ‘churnalism’

Are debates on TV scripted , and panelists paid to face snubbing at the hands of the anchors?

What is up

SAJJAD BAZAZ

Response to conflict is mainly focused on emergency relief - blankets, medicines and occasionally a well-laid out plan drafted to control the conflict. Even as this type of support is vital, the need to be informed is equally critical. Here emerges the role of media.
But the kind of involvement media has shown has raised many eyebrows. Those gathering the information in such situations present themselves as more important than the information itself. This has led the debate of impartiality. The coverage of LoC skirmishes by the Indian media, especially the electronic, virtually put these two arch rivals at war. One of the best television journalists, as claimed by his promoters, Arnab Gowswami, created hysteria among the audience who watched him moderating debates on Indo-Pak relations. He was acting more as commander in chief of the Indian armed forces than a television anchor.
Even as most of the participants from across the LoC lashed out at his ‘military’ behavior and crossing the limit as an anchor, it is equally shocking why people, despite knowing his attitude, come on his panel? If we critically analyse this part, certain points come on the fore front. Are such debates and penal discussions scripted like a bollywood script? Are panelists paid to face snubbing at the hands of the anchor?
Without going into the details, let me take on the kind of journalism which one of the so-called best television journalists and his other like-minded colleagues practice.  What we see today on television news channels is not at all journalism, it’s simply an act of churning out glorified handouts tailored for these specific breed of men on screen (TV anchors). So we can call it ‘churnalism’.
There’s every possibility that they may argue their role in the context of “journalism of attachment”. The "journalism of attachment" as described by its kind-of founder Martin Bell, the BBC's veteran war correspondent, means journalism which "cares as well as knows". Events are on record that “journalism of attachment” has been a practice in conflict zones where journalists remain in the battlefield covering happenings factually as well as observe moral obligations.
For example, Sunday Times war correspondent Marie Colvin lost her life while covering the conflict in Syria.  She was more than a reporter. Apparently she was not simply an observer of war, but a player in it. She was a sort of saviour in East Timor in 1999, helping to rescue "1,500 women and children who were besieged in a compound by Indonesian-backed forces".
So “journalism of attachment” is not practiced in cozy television studios, it’s an activity to be conducted on the field and is purely based on morality. This, we can call moral journalism - a journalism that cares as well as it knows.  One thing is most crucial. A journalist must be careful not to become more important than the event and he should not even prescribe how the audience should feel and react.
Last but not the least; a journalist should be – to the people, by the people and for the people. He should speak for the society and not for better television rating point (TRP). He should show more concern about social development and not for assuming power, or amassing money. Precisely, media has to keep itself away from nationalism, and patriotism.
Meanwhile, television channels and their ‘patriotic’ anchors have to keep it in mind that aiming to raise TRP through the ‘sensational’ coverage of incidents is highly risky for them, as it can boomerang. They may register highly increased TRP, but the channel is going to lose the impact. Once impact is lost, it can result in their revenue loss.

Lastupdate on : Mon, 21 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 21 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 22 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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