VISUAL MEDIA’S ROLE IN CORONA TIME

There  are  hundreds of television media stations in India  , both in English and vernacular languages.  This is so in several countries.

It is generally known that the visual media has far more impact than the print media in influencing the thoughts  and creating positive feelings or  fear and despair amongst the viewers..  

Of course, visual media can  be a big source of strength for the country by contributing to keep the morale of the people at high level and spreading  the sense of calmness  around in the present carona time.  The question is whether they are really doing so.

The role of visual media in the present corona time calls for   detailed scrutiny, particularly since they are mostly highlighting the negatives and counterproductive and sometimes unsubstantiated claims and views   of those which are preconceived  and motivated . 

In the  time of  corona crisis  that the world  and India in particular are   going through, it is certainly true that visual media’s role has been more negative than positive. 

Of course, there are number of  issues that every  country and the government is struggling to cope with. 

To some extent , it is true that crematoriums   and burial grounds are unable to handle the number of bodies arriving and the bodies are in the queue in some places. Should the visual media highlight this , with ”dramatic scenes” of relatives waiting patiently with the dead bodies in the crematoriums / burial grounds?  Some television channels  have even shown number of bodies being burnt together. 

It is true that there is some shortage of vaccine in some places due to supply chain issues and the shortages are quickly being resolved.  Should the media focus on the fact that the shortage issues are being sorted out or should be  highlighting the  temporary  shortage issue? 

Migrants are feeling panicky and want to  rush back to their native place.  The government has been repeatedly telling the migrants that there is no need for fear and the government would take care of them. But, the visual media is more keen to show the scenes of migrants walking on the rail track carrying bags and sitting in  railway stations and bus stations forming a big crowd.  Certainly, such scenes have persuaded more migrants to think that they should run away from their work spots.  

Several doctors have been debating the issues relating to the COVID 19 and the appropriate treatment in the TV discussion. But, it is seen that  there is  considerable divergence in the views between the different doctors,  which many times do not provide clarity to the viewers as to which is  the desirable practice and which is not. The anchors who conduct the discussions in the TV often do not have  particular expertise to  conduct discussions on the subject relating to medical science .which is extremely complicated and rapidly developing.

It is shocking that every sad and depressing  news  in the corona time is being shown as “breaking news” and what is even more shocking is that many   media say that they are the first to” break “the news.

There are thousands of individuals, social groups and non government organisations who are silently working to help the COVID patients , counseling them and extending even financial support to the poor people affected by the lockdown.  Very rarely  there is mention about their laudable services in the visual media..

It is agreed that visual media has to provide the news to the viewers. But, certainly , it should not be done in such a way to cause sensation or with the self centred   aim  of spreading the viewership.

In the present time of COVID crisis, it is high time that the editors and anchors in the visual media should meet and evolve a code of  standards about the way that news should be covered , with  focus on maintaining  the  morale of the people at high level, highlighting the positives rather than the negatives.

Finally, one has to admit that the government owned TV channels are far more balanced and responsible than the private TV channels.

N.S.Venkataraman

Nandini Voice For The Deprived

Chennai

support media swaraj

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