The press, an essential and critical player in a democracy, has failed us by not being able to transmit the pros and cons of issues that are fundamental to our everyday lives. With a few exceptions, TV channels have reduced debate to sarcastic comments, banal questioning and rather supercilious, personal comments.
Had there been a proactive government at the Centre, it would have seized the moment to reinvent Doordarshan so that it could compete with the frivolous channels in our media space. There is a crying need for a public interest channel that will treat the viewer with respect and not dumb down every idea to the lowest common denominator. Our people think and hear even if they cannot read and write. We have an oral tradition handed down over the generations that is alive and volatile. It hears and listens, and does not accept the drivel that is communicated.
We need to speak to our people through the small screen. We need to engage with them and keep them connected. We do not need to declaim. Sadly, the untrained electronic lot screams at us, pushes its agendas in high-pitched, aggressive tones and kills the potential strength of the television. Anchors get away with anything. The same, predictable faces from civil society appear for the discussions. They flit like flies from one channel to the next. They represent themselves and their ‘hosts’. Boring, uninspiring and disconnected.
Having said that, I do not understand why DD is not already doing what it should be doing, namely providing space for meaningful and non-partisan ground for debates and discussion!