News Next 2019: Today's media has become a mob multiplier: Ravish Kumar

Kumar, Senior Executive Editor, NDTV India, was speaking during a fireside chat with Dr. Annurag Batra at the exchange4media News Next Conference 2019

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Feb 18, 2019 8:45 AM

At the 11th edition of the exchange4media News Broadcasting Awards (ENBA) 2019, Ravish Kumar, Senior Executive Editor, NDTV India, in a fireside chat with Dr. Annurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media & BW Businessworld, spoke about the changing landscape of Hindi TV journalism and how the news environment has become toxic today.

Kumar said that today’s media has become extremely timid and sycophant.  “It was never as dangerous as it has become today. What it has become is a mob multiplier and we should worry about it. This era of news which we see today, where TV anchors instigate people and use provocative language, is not a trend, it is an organised phenomenon. If you look at news channels, both Hindi and English, there were always some journalists who focused on reporting news that had a strong social connect, but after 2014, a lot has changed. The language of TV has changed and now what we see is low-quality content being labelled as journalism across TV channels,” said Kumar.

Speaking about finding a fine balance between questioning the people in power and being nationalistic, Kumar said, “We must remember that we are journalists and not military, and the kind of language we use on TV is not going to help the nation. Being nationalistic should not mean that we stop asking questions to people who are in power. Instead, what we are witnessing is a phenomenon where news channels are working overtime to harm the plural fabric of this nation. News channels have to maintain a fine balance in their reporting at all times. Being mere provocateurs will do no good to our country.”

“It is not a bad thing if you are taking sides for the people, for their jobs, their education and their healthcare. But when you take sides based on political motives and divisive politics, it is not acceptable, and we have to raise our voice against that,” Kumar added.

Kumar also spoke about the formula that television news channels have adopted, which according to him, lacks research and brings down the quality of journalism.

“We know that every business model has its own challenges, but it does not mean that journalism should be compromised. Today we see news anchors practicing an approach which lacks research and is driven by convenience.  By inviting political party spokespersons and raising issues that propagate hatred is a formula that most news anchors stick to because it is convenient.  And the reason they do this is because the news anchor is busy having power lunch at 2 pm, attending  book launch at 7 pm and anchoring his/her show at 9 pm, so this formula of convenient news fits them. How do you expect good quality journalism with this kind of attitude? I feel media needs high quality human resource who can bring back real journalism.”

Kumar also spoke about the challenges which he has faced for speaking to power.

“I don’t foresee a long career for myself as people like me are not tolerated in the kind of environment that we see today where playing to the gallery is considered journalism,” said Kumar. He also added that today’s news has become more about perception and less about information.

“TV news has become more about perception than information and unless we go back to information, the situation in news media that we see today will not change,” he concluded.


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