News is what the commentary makes it to be!
Newsheadlines almost seem to define the daily news and opinions of most people.People in India,more than the west,do belive in the printed word.Once there was in the West,the common refrain:”Dont belive the newspapers!”.Not anymore.People do believe the newspapers,their favourite newspapers and their headlines go as given wisdom for their readers.
But is news always truth?Or,is news the truth?There are any number of definitions of what constitutes news.There are any number of media moghuls and media pandits.As James Cmeron,the famous Foreign Correspondent as he was know for once said:”News for the most time is just newsprint!” People just read and get excited and then forget what they read.Tabloids in fact did make instant news as instant wisdom.The broadsheets now almost all want to go the tabloid ways.In UK every major newspaper is now printed in Tabloid format.Even the venerable Guardian is now planning to follow suit.All the news batteles is circulation battles.How to get the extra reader!
Now,with the TV news channels are also in a war.The visual media war is taking firence shapes and therefore the news content is also undergoing many changes.Credibility of news channeles have taken a beating.More so in the aftermath of the 9/11.The BBC lost its credibility by toeing the Blair line.The Blair spin doctors became a new breed! They made blatant lies into truths! So,BBC ,once prided itself for its fierce independence is now had become a pale shadow of its past glory.So too,it seems CNN.This instant news channel whcih reported news as it was making from the very site of the battle fields is now also lost its credibiloity after the American government put the so-called “embedded”journalists with the marching army.In fact,the Gulf-based Al Jazeera had suddenly emerged as the most credible and the viewing rating went up dramatically and the BBC,CNN were pushed behind viewrship.That was my assessment.I dont know the present status.But there are lessons here for Indian TV news channels that are now coming up with new entrepreneurs.The latest is Times of India’s Times Now news channel which had publicised its logo recently.Every media entrepreneur can start one or more news channels.But what would be their life span is a question that remains to be asnwered.
It is described the news from the news channel as alive,vibrant,,news of the moment,by minute etc.All this may not be news!What constitutes news?
Fox News is new and not news.Bad news is good news?We can play with words as our imaginaion drives us.NDTV emerged as the most credible news channel in India.Of course government broadcasting can never become credible.More so in India!
Now,all this becomes irrelevant if we consider some of the great issues of media.The history of nations,their specific media status and their very many quirks and prejudices about news media.In the USA there is now a Supreme Court ruling that rejected an appeal by two journalists in a case involving the leak of a CIA officer’s name in the Time magazine and the New York Tinmes newspaper.Why the Supreme Court didnt hear the appeal?
The journalist preferred jail than reveal the source of her news leak. The case has not just for uS press freedom but press freedom everywhere is likely to be seriously hurt by the US court action.There is also serious doubt about the US government’s senior members indulging in “political skullduggery”.The corresponder Ms.Judith Miller was a war correspondent in Iraq,the judge joked at her war experience and wanted her to unbdergo prison stay,instead of a house arrest.Mny of the world’s undemocratic leaders,leave alone dictators,use the US as a model country for press freedom.Now,we can see it is not.
The Committe to Protect Journalists had come out with list of journalists jailed in different countries for refusing to disclose news sources.In Nepal,in Eastern Europe,in Latin America this sort of threat to journalists is becoming common.
USA was long considered a free society and there was absolute freedom of the press.But not with Geoirge Bush who advocated press freedom in Russia and Middle East.But he doesnt practice what he preaches.
News headlines is onloy one part of news.News can be about events happening everyday.How you report the news is critical for the credibilkity of the newsmen and newspapers.
News is current history! So,news acquires historic sanctity! News in the hands of really born-journalsits is what perceptions the witness makes about events and men!It is not just like any photography.It is not pedestrian description of what you see.It is or has to be insightful.That is,what you report as news.It is likie the difference between what any photographer take s any event and what masters like Carier Bresson takes.
Yes,that is news,the authentic news.That news sticks in one’s memory long after the day of the reporting.One former PTI repoirter had written his memories.He says the news in the making is the more challenging job to report.He was reporting Mrs.Indira Gandhi was” resigning after her defeat in 1977 news was coming out”.His editor said to him:”Wait! There is news that Mrs.Gandhi was talking to the three Service Chiefs(of the army).So,she hasnt resigned!”When the three chiefs refused to back her she resigned”.So,this news in the making is the more challenging than the final news.
Also pedestrain reporting is still followed by many Indian newspapers,more so the pro-establishment newspapers.So,there is now a new revolution in news making and news reporting.This is weblog revolution.Where online newspapers,interactive journalism is the day.Newspapers have been turned intoa n online town square!”Top-down,voice-of-God journalism is challenged by participatory journalism”.Readers contribute more and more to the newspapers,they are doing so” in many forms,weblogs,photos,audio,video and podcasts”.Readers can insert their own thoughts in editorials!There is a flight of readers in the 18-34 age groups who dont want to read the old style,too much boring newspapers,no time and not interesting anyway!Ultimately, the news authenticity,the news interpretation,trustworthiness of who interprets all matter.
In one word we can say:”News is what the comment makes it!”.