The solar panels installed in Kerala are gasping of power as the sun continuous to play hide and seek with overcast sky. But the solar panels in Asianet News head quarters are exhausted with abundant sunshine from an invisible source. The news room is alive and kicking with planted, unsubstantiated and hysterical stories drumming up support for the ouster of the Chief minister of Kerala in Solar Scandal. Oommen Chandy has even threatened to take Asianet News to task by taking them to the court. What has Asianet News done which has even irked the general public in its reporting of solar issue?
Eventhough the clutter of news channels in Kerala are stooping the lowest level of media ethics and responsibility in the race to break news, Asianet News has emerged as clear winner in terms of bringing up whimsical reporting to whip up hysteria. The information on Saritha’s written testimony to the court without naming any politician has irked the Asianet News the most because they were expecting a couple of politicians including Oommen Chandy and his son Chandy Oommen in the list. All the campaigns n discussions with vested interests and hidden motives came falling down when Saritha wrote few pages and submitted to the court. Like an wounded tiger Asianet News channeled their anger to Chandy Oommen. They set out to a condemnable paparazzi act which even western media wouldn’t adopt. They followed the young Chandy Oommen that evening when Saritha gave clean chit to politicians. They would have expected him to have a blast with his friends, but the pious young man visited two Churches alone, sat down and prayed silently. The Asianet hidden camera captured all these moments. While he came out of the Church, on being intercepted by the Asian News reporter, he responded by saying that it is his usual practice! Hours later, Asianet News donned the role of God and declared that he had come to say thanks for not being involved in Saritha’s list!! How bizarre! The way a prayer was interpreted and presented shows the imagination at work at the news room! It is good for Asianet News to remember that they are broadcasting news and not reading novels in the studios!
Does a politician/individual have the right to privacy from the prying eyes of media? Do media houses have unlimited freedom to cross all the permissible ethical limits? What good does all sound and fury under the arc lights without any meaning bring in to the society?
It is a pity to note that none of the allegations that were discussed in detail with emotional outbursts finds place in what matters legally. Each and every over the top allegations against Oommen Chandy and co. which were flashed with ‘Breaking News’ and ‘Developing Story’ tags were disposed off quickly as the facts came out negating the assertions. Give a thought to this – What progress or impact has news channels led by Asianet News made to the Solar investigation even after spending hours of air time? The starting point was that Saritha and Biju Radhakrishnan duped the investors and they had links with Chief Minister’s office and ministers! Have we gone anything beyond that? The call records of Saritha and ministers are out in the open! But does this prove beyond doubt that they had received any sorts of benefits physical or monetary from Saritha? Who in the media can be held responsible for the character assassination of politicians? A minister was even accused of spending a night with Saritha in a house boat and also in a flat. The news channels celebrated but who cares about the family of the minister if he in reality is innocent! It is good to remember that it was not long ago that the petition against Jose Thettayil MLA was kicked off by the court who was accused of cheating a women. No Keralite should forget the day when sexually explicit video clips of Jose Thettayil and the woman were telecasted without any edits whatsoever! Didn’t those at the channels knew that two adults in India can have sexual relation with mutual consent? So why was the drama played out for the audience? If the question was public propriety, the emphasis should have been on that and not digging into and projecting erotic stuff!
Why did Solar scam get wider coverage in news channels eventhough they turned a blind eye towards other high profile scams which are happening at regular intervals in Kerala? The answer is simple – Saritha factor! Saritha is portrayed implicitly as a sexual magnet who attract others with her charm! News channels are setting a dangerous trend of making women, sex and rape as indispensable for an incident to become news worthy.
Skewed priorities of the channel owners to add to the existing mess. The ownership of Asianet news channel by a saffron sympathizer is well known but does this mean that the reports must be stripped off all its civility to pursue hidden agenda?
The double faced audience in Kerala should also share the blame in promoting the news channels to deliver senseless stuff. The public moral lectures stand in sharp contrast to what they wish to watch in the privacy of their homes. Thus instead of viewers putting pressure on media to deliver quality content, there is an silent go ahead to in the minds of majority of the people for the drama which is being played out in the news channels.
The news channels are hunting in packs led by their gang leader Asianet News. There are many takers for Social media campaigns and getting to the streets to challenge the government, but why can’t we invest the same enthusiasm to make the media accountable?
(The author is on twitter as @jeffshawn)