Whether it is Mr. Rajdeep sardesai on CNN-IBN showing his concerns for performance of Congress party or NDTV news reporters stating their clear preferences for Left in their news items, all are sources of worry for neutral functioning of media. Media which is by its very name, not supposed to favor one party or another, seems to loosing its way. All the media persons we are discussing here are very senior reporters and thinkers as such. But problem to separate fact from the personal values and preferences is looming large on media as a whole.
It is not the first time that we are talking about media neutrality. In the era of print media also, this problem was there, but I think immediate attention is needed in time of TV channels as
1. TV channels have/ have potential to have larger reach to masses.
2. TV reporting is more assuring to viewers than readers of a news paper hence can be more misleading also.
3. News papers are essentially read by educated class, whereas TV news is watched by everyone alike.
This is like controlling the thought process of entire nation. It can not be permitted, at least the privilege given to media to have first hand information in every situation should not be misused to propagate one particular side of any story.
So, when watching a news item on TV, viewers should be told clearly, what is the fact (hard fact) and what is personal views of a reporter. The mixing of two is quite frequent in modern TV channels. (remember old Doordarshan news, they were boring, but still facts only) I know that it is hard, almost impossible to separate a person’s own views from his/her presentation, but some efforts should be made.
It should be left on the viewers to interpret the news in their own way. Even if any channel agrees with the interpretation or not. Though I know that huge uneducated or educated-numbs are there in Indian society, who can not interpret the news by their own or can interpret in a very wrong manner. But that is democracy dear, triumph of mediocracy!
A very traditional and working solution to this problem is used by print media
– use of editorial page. Whole news paper would be hard fact (ideally) and personal views, ideologies of editors would be posted in editorial page. This way reader is free to agree or disagree from views of editor and still can use the news paper as a source of information. Similarly news channels can start a “fact-only-news-hour” in prime time and rest of the time they can show/discuss whatever they want. It is their money/mind/manpower after all.
But please do not misuse the privilege given to media by government and society and trust shown by masses for personal ideologies. This is one of the many reasons people are getting attached to personal blogs like POR than news channels. Hell, we propagate our ideas but we do tell everybody that it is personal view, you are most welcome to disagree.