There have been numerous debates among people on social platforms lately on diverse issues. Whether it is a fatal crime or rape case, violence in the country and across the world or the comments made on it by prominent people, everyone nowadays has an opinion to share and express with the world. But, how do we form our opinions? Ever thought of it seriously?
I am a Journalism graduate and we had a subject known as ‘Journalism and Public Opinion’ during our course. This is where I first thought about my own opinions seriously and realized the truth behind it. Yes, our opinions are largely based on our media, the content that it shows us. Referred to as the fourth pillar of the society, the media has a huge relevance to play in our day to day life and influence and shape our opinions on diverse issues. In fact, all our opinions of different subjects and matters happening across the world originate from the media or from the content that the media puts in front of us, in particular.
If the media reports a man to have molested a woman, the man is cursed by every single person in the country. No one ever tries to understand the man’s point of view or even find out the truth behind the news. Immediately posts go viral on social media and criticism starts pouring him. But, none of us, even for a second, considers the other side of the story. Does anyone think that he might not be a molester or a rapist and the media must have mistaken him to be one? No!
A classic example for this is the Jasleen Kaur case that took place in August. The young girl had alleged a man named Sarvjeet Singh to have eve-teased her at a traffic signal in Delhi and immediately the social media was brimming with posts criticizing the young man and shouting insults for him. Not for a single moment did anyone consider him to be innocent or find out the truth. Even people who did not know Jasleen and Sarvjeet in person made an opinion about them based on what the media showed them. The media accused Sarvjeet of eve-teasing and so did the entire country. Only later was it found out that Sarvjeet was innocent and Jasleen had created the entire fuss to gain popularity.
As our opinions are influenced to a great extent by the media, we now have this subject called ‘Journalism and Public Opinion’ introduced in the academic curriculum for media students. And, to my surprise, I discovered facts that made me lose my faith in media. The media, whether print, electronic or digital, does not give you complete facts in reality! And, when we are living in an era of sensationalism where topics such as crime, violence and sex sell, the media ultimately focuses on making money by publishing news that can get them more readers and viewers. Moral journalism has become far from being a myth and ethics have taken a secondary position.
I had written an article on media earlier (Read: Dear Media, What’s With You?) focusing on how sensational the media of today is! However, let me tell you a fact here, apart from reporting sensational news, the media, in reality, only lets people know half the information. Of course, there are reasons, some good and some bad. Sometimes, the media conceals information such as facts and figures in order to prevent the spread of panic among people. However, sometimes, or many a times I can say, the media conceals information, facts and figures because they are related to the rich and dominant class of people who have a huge role to play in their development and growth.
To quote an example, Akash Ambani, the son of the famous business tycoon Mukesh Ambani, had killed two people with his Aston Martin car about two years ago. But, did any news channel or newspaper report it? No! In fact, the case was covered as much as possible by the media. Most of the time, media covers unpleasant information and facts pertaining to people such as business tycoons and politicians who fund these organizations and help them grow. When Tarun Tejpal was accused of sexually assaulting a female journalist working at his own office, the case was reported by rival media agencies so as to bring Tehelka down. However, what happened to the case later? No one knows! Only when I searched for information on Google did I understand that Tarun Tejpal had been granted bail by the Supreme Court in 2014.
It is a matter of fact that the rich businessmen, media tycoons and politicians in India have been providing funds to the media and, in return, concealing important facts and information about themselves or their own organizations that can spoil their image in the society. So, the news that we see on TV or read in magazines and newspapers today is highly influenced and scrutinized; where there are facts that can destruct the images of these rich barons, the news is altered so that people know only what they are supposed to know. And, we then make an opinion based on this half information that the media gives us.
Of course, the only source of information for a common man is media. But, before making an opinion about someone of judging them, know that the media alters news and does not reveal the complete truth. Think rationally before you make an opinion!