In the recent JNU, anti-national debate the Indian mainstream media was seen taking ideological sides. They did not stop there but accused each other for distorting facts and spreading mis-information on matter as important as NATIONALISM.
The recent main stream reporting on the JNU anti-national event can best be described as BIASED, with media houses openly working on building opinions rather than decimating information.
In recent year, this trend of television networks becoming one-sided has perhaps achieved perfection. Presently, some Indian television networks are so viscerally one-sided that they no longer attempt to hide their bias beneath a veneer of journalistic professionalism , and nobody seems bothered – these channels have in the process have developed a dedicated diverse clientele, which they NOW want to maintain at all cost.
It again became evident with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) becoming the centre of intense media coverage, following the arrest of JNU Students Union President Kanhaiya Kumar on 12 February. His arrest came as JNU students staged a rally discussing the hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru, the terrorist convicted over a 2001 plot to attack the Indian Parliament. Anti-India slogans were allegedly chanted by some students during the rally, prompting calls for the institution to be shut down amidst fears it was breeding "anti-nationals".
The JNU issue first came to light when the bastion of vocal cords, a particular popular news channel dedicated his prime-time news program on this subject. The popular anchor invited JNU students on his show to discuss anti-India slogans that were shouted in the campus. While the credibility of the slogans remains to be deciphered, the vociferous anchor chose to jump the gun and called the student panellists 'anti-nationals'.
This was followed by the noted competitors of that particular channel openly providing 24 hours saga of the other side of view, which was perhaps more one-sided and lesser on facts. The 24/7 news channels accused each other for doctoring videos to whip up nationalist frenzy and the media houses criticizing each others for being provocative and politically biased. The television screens were blackened, editors took to street to support a particular ideology, and emphasized on just blaming the other competitor channels for spreading wrong information to its viewers. There were also open twitter fights between the mainstream media anchors on the JNU issue. There were strong voices against banning particular news channels, branding them as traitors and anti-national.
Unfortunately, in the entire process, somewhere perhaps the neutrality of opinion was lost. Important subject such as ‘Nationalism’ was carelessly discussed. They were more keen on building opinions, hardly bothered whether in the process, attentions is diverted from other important public issues. The matter and debates are still on.
On a positive note, care should be taken - that somewhere between opinion building and name-calling, information should not be lost. Fortunately, there are still several upright journalists across media - print, online and television. Alas, there are many more that are not. For a common viewer, there should certainly be better alternatives so that people can have valuable information rather than consuming motivated and biased information!