What a news explosion on electronic media! Today dozens of news channels in English, Hindi and regional languages are beaming non-stop news hour after hour, day in and day out. Contrast this news overdose with the time when television had entered our drawing room but not invaded our bed-rooms. During those days of Doordarshan monopoly over the electronic media, news telecast was limited to flat and insipid news bulletins at long intervals.
With the entry of 24×7 news channels, the very concept and presentation of news has undergone metamorphosis. News is no longer plain information. News hour is filled with animated panel discussions. Bulletins are packed with live coverage and lively interviews News is not just presented but is meant to be exploded. Any news could be projected as ‘breaking news’. For many news channels thriving on sensationalism, news is infotainment, less of substance and more of entertainment. It is quite common for the news hungry channels to pick up a small bit of information and blow it out of proportion to build hype and generate hysteria. Remember the time when some national and regional language news channels predicted dooms day as the experiment on the origin of the earth was being conducted in Europe. Equally notable was the frenzy over the discovery of God particle (Higgs boson).
As the news channels compete with each other to get TRPs, noise created by various television channels is becoming louder and aggressive. Not only do the news-reporters give breathless commentary, but the news-readers have also become loud speakers who make non-stop noise. A couple of the noisy and thunderous newscasters on prime time news programmes of prominent news channels assume the role of preacher, head master, know-all intellectual, interrogating officer and judge -all rolled in one. The emotionally charged news-readers, nay news-anchors are often found sermonizing on morality and patriotism. They behave as if they know everything under the sun giving expert comments on every subject ranging from politics to economics. Their behaviour borders on to arrogance while they try to have upper hand in television debates. There are occasions when these pompous anchors act even go to the extent of reprimanding the guests on the news hour if they do not toe to their line of thinking. They consider it to be their right to conduct media trial and pronounce verdict.
Gone are the days when newscasters maintained dignified calm while presenting news. The new breed of passionate news-readers delivers news with a punch which is the new mantra of television news these days. Driven by the craze to attract eyeballs, the fire-brand anchors go ballistic without realizing that the high decibel noise which they make, is both deafening and sickening.
(Published in HT Chandigarh on Jan 6, 2014)