Role of media in JNU controversy

There have been many wars over the Television Rating Points (TRP) among the television networks. But for the first time in the broadcasting history, there was a division between the networks. The fine line of ideological differences lead Zee News, Times Now etc on one end of the battle ground. The other end was fortified by CNN-IBN and by individual journalists, such as Ravish Kumar. The former team joined together to attack JNU and conjured up the debate of nationalism and anti-nationalism. Whereas the latter team stood its ground by supporting the university and its students.

But the problem was not the ideological differences between them. The issue is how these networks like Zee News, Times Now and India News peddled fiction, incited the mob frenzy, ruined reputations and fabricated the evidence. They conducted open media trials and certified their star anchors as lawyers and judges. Their claims and arguments were based on videos from the ground zero. But the disheartening part is that they did not even check the veracity of these videos. Instead of this, they joined melee for TRPs which always leads someone or the other to trip and fall headlong in the gutter of rumours.

Zee News stalwart anchor, Sudhir Chaudhary declared, “ Bharat ka apmaan kisi keemat par saha nahi ja sakta, aur desh drohiyon ko kisi bhi tarah baksha nahi ja sakta.” He also told his viewers that despite the government aids and subsidies, JNU does not figure in the top 200 universities of the world.

Another anchor of Zee News Rohit Sardana, blamed the JNU students for fooling the taxpayers of the country.

The so called custodian of Indian TV journalism, Arnab Goswami labelled Umar khalid as more dangerous to the country than Maoist terrorists. He went to say, “ I wonder who is funding you to destroy the rich heritage of the Left movement in this country….what you are doing is anti-national…These are not Leftists, they are a motley combination of anti-nationals, they have no ideology, they are opportunists of the highest level.”

Deepak Chaurasia of India News urged Dr.Sambit Patra, spokesperson of BJP on his show to take legal actions against the students involved in the protests.

It was the networks like ABP news that came out to question the credibility of videos which were run by the above mentioned news channels. They said that it is true that Kanhaiya Kumar was shouting the ‘azadi’ slogans. However, he didnt ask for freedom from the country. He rather asked for freedom from poverty, freedom from blood-shed and freedom from social disparity.

News anchors like Arnab Goswami and Sudhir Chaudhary ignored the fact that what distinguishes journalism from gossip is credibility. They misrepresented the facts and misguided the nation.

In his emotional plea against the “the illness affecting television”, Ravish Kumar rightly pointed out the dark labyrinth of sensationalism. The prime-time debates on news channels are on the verge of becoming melodramas. There is a paramount urgency for networks to distinguish their news channels from the soap opera channels.

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