Herd broadcasting

BY R.Jagadeeswara Rao| IN Regional Media | 30/05/2012
The issue of Mr.Jagan Mohan Reddy's arrest is definitely important. But there were other equally important issues that affected people.
R. JAGADEESWARA RAO wonders why one story drives out all others
The prioritization of news (Telugu) both in print and electronic media, specially in the latter, is, to say the least, surprising. The selection of news in the last four or five days defies logic. TV channels have been concentrating, by and large, only on one issue viz the arrest of YSR Congress president and Kadapa MP Mr.YS.Jagan Mohan Reddy. Minute to minute developments, right from the point of Mr.Jagan Mohan Reddy, leaving his Lotus Pond residence till reaching Dilkhush guest house, the office of the CBI, are meticulously followed by almost all channels. It started with the serving of summons by the CBI on Mr.Jagan Mohan Reddy to appear before it on June 25.Mr.Reddy was then busy campaigning for his candidates for the by elections to 18 assembly segments and one Lok Sabha seat in the State.
From then on it was Jagan and only Jagan and issues connected with the disproportionate assets and others issues pertaining to him, as if there was no other news of any importance. Mr.Reddy was finally arrested on May 27 and was remanded to judicial custody till June 11. The issue of Mr.Jagan Mohan Reddy is definitely important. There is no doubt about it. But here are equally important issues that affected people. There have also been political developments that would have a bearing on national politics.
For example, there was steep hike in the prices of petrol and the common man is hard hit by this. But surprisingly, except reporting the fact of the hike, there had been hardly any follow up news stories about it. The coverage, if any, is limited to the routine statements of political leaders. I have been on the payrolls of important newspapers like Eenadu, Indian Express and The Hindu for more than 30 years and strongly feel that the coverage is unjustifiably inadequate vis.a.vis the importance of the issue. The hike hits hard almost all sections of people in the society. It may be mentioned here that with the sales tax being the highest (33 percent) in Andhra Pradesh, the hike is steepest in the State. The ‘gain’ to the AP State because of the hike is estimated to be about Rs. 200 crore. None seemed to bother to high light this aspect. 
 (I still remember, during the regime of Mr.Chandrababu Naidu, when electricity charges were hiked, there was a prolonged agitation led by the Left parties, which had culminated in police firing in Hyderabad and loss of life).
Seen from the angle of political developments, the meeting of BJP national executive committee was being held during the same period and there were internecine differences among the top leaders in the party. According to reports in national print media as also on national TV channels, senior BJP leader Sanjay Joshi had to resign to placate Gujarat Chief Minister, and Prime Ministerial aspirant, Narendra Modi. Top BJP leaders and aspirants for the post of Prime Minister L.K.Advani and Sushma Swaraj skipped the party’s customary rally on the concluding day of the national executive. These are all important developments with a bearing on national political scenario.
There was also the talk of selection of candidate for the post of President of Indian Republic for which election is due in about three months. But this issue is yet to take the centre stage in the columns of print media and TV channels.
Contrast this with another development. A few weeks back, a sex scandal involving one Tara Choudary, allegedly running a sex racket, broke out and all news channels with the exception of ETV, seemed to have gone out of their way to cover it. Graphic details of her life right from her childhood were obtained and special stories were aired almost non-stop by some channels.
Is this one-upmanship? Is it a mad race for TRPs? Or, at 60 plus have I and persons like me, become anachronistic? Selectors of stories for TV channels should remember that if they have the freedom and right to telecast the stories they like, viewers have the right to switch off their TVs and to shift to channels like Cartoon Network.

The author is a freelance journalist, from Visakahapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.

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