When I first entered TV journalism in 1999, I had never heard of the word TRP. The TV screen wasn’t on fire, nation was interested in seeing something which wasn’t really black or white. Grey existed!
And I thought for the longest time it mattered.
Circa 2016. Each Thursday begins with TRP and more TRPs. TV anchor has become much much more than mere anchor.
The information supers today aren't actually about information, they are about what an anchor wants you to see and feel.
Over the last week, I have been watching the coverage of Kashmir violence with great interest. I am usually the first person to jump up and get on the ground to tell a story.
This time around, I watched how, day after day, TV news anchors assumed the mantle on their own shoulders to settle the Kashmir dispute.
One anchor called all journalists not wanting to be identified in the realm of black or white as anti national.
"We are proud of our forces who kill terrorists. Its sad that a bunch of pseudo intellectuals who describe themselves as journalists are unwilling to accept the reality of terror in Kashmir."
Another attempted a DNA test on the situation in Kashmir. Conclusion there too was same. Kashmir is full of anti India people who must be taught a lesson.
On another channel, I saw an anchor blaring out to Mirwaiz Umar Faruq "JAB TAK HINDUSTAN KI SARHAD MEI HO TAB TAK SURAKSHIT HO. YE JO INTERNET USE KARTE HO, YE BHEE HINDUSTAN KA HAI".
The narrative was clear. To this section of mainstream national media, there is no difference between acts of terror or Maoist violence in Dantewada and acts of terror anywhere else in India.
For this section, Srinagar could well have been replaced by Dantewada or Odisha. It doesn’t matter.
I know the moment this article comes out, I too will be dubbed as an apologist. I most certainly am not.
I do believe Burhan Wani deserved to be killed since the path he had adopted only had death as its final destination.
But was there any other alternative? How will you explain to those 92 individuals who lost their eyesight when pellets were being fired by the security forces on protestors?
For this section of the media, of course people losing eyesights will be countered by how many soldiers got injured! It was almost an act of competitive victimisation being played out on TV.
One set of journos went out looking for those who were hit in the eyes. The other set went out looking for the soldiers who were hit.
But they forgot to say that in the end, everyone was suffering. Civilians and the armed forces.
As young IAS officers come out and express their anguish against national media, as more and more commentators question the narrative being offered, is it time for national media to look inwards?
Well you must be dreaming. We don’t believe in anything but TRP. Remember what had happened during the JNU and Kanhaiya Kumar story as well?
Brace yourself up for some more HIGH IMPACT, EXPLOSIVE, IMPACTFUL TV shows in the forthcoming future.
After all, its TRP the anchor needs.
(This article was first published on News18.com)