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.
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