Is Media The Fourth Pillar Of Democracy?
By Noor ul Haq
31 July, 2012
Media is supposed to cover an incident, bringing forth hitherto unmentioned details or discerning the different threads which went into making the said incidents. There are times when instead of discharging its duty as one of the watchdogs of democracy, media opts to cover the incident in other ways. The media is indulging in blatant fabrication of news. As journalism students we were told by our teachers that the media’s job is to inform, educate and act as a watchdog of society. C P Scott, the legendary editor of The Guardian, once said that, comment is free but facts are sacred. How many of us really believe in it, though? How many of us pause and ponder before passing off blatant lies and our prejudices as facts, endangering lives and putting an entire community in the dock?
The double standard of the media is explicit from the fact that while ignoring the continuous murders of Kashmiris by security forces, it creates such a hue and cry when a tourist vehicle is damaged in a cylinder blast as if the sky had fallen on the earth. Of course, the blood, whether of an Maharashtrian or a Kashmiri should be given the same respect and anyone shedding it must be condemned and brought to book.
Yesterday, on 28th July 2012,three persons were killed and six injured when a cooking cylinder exploded inside a bus carrying domestic tourists at Bijbehara in Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag district. The tourists, all hailing from Mumbai, were proceeding to Pahalgam when the blast occurred. Six passengers sustained injuries.
"Today (Saturday), a cylinder exploded in a vehicle, bearing registration number JK02AP/0676 and which was on way from Srinagar to Pahalgam, at Zuripora (Anantnag), falling under the jurisdiction of police station Bijbehara, in which six passengers were injured, of whom two died," a police statement said.
A cursory glance at the media reporting in the immediate aftermath of the blast, it is disturbing to note that instead of unearthing further details of the incident and also exposing forth the cause of the blast, media was found to be rather engaged in highlighting the incident a handiwork of Pak backed Kashmiri terrorists.
A reputed national newspaper in its online addition dragged the incident by saying that,
"Militants tossed a hand grenade at a Tavera taxi carrying tourists in Bijbehara town, 45 km from here. The grenade exploded inside the vehicle resulting in the death of two tourists and injured four others."
Providing the incident a different colour, it added, "The injured have been taken to hospital. The area has been condoned off and a search operation is on. The attack came after defence minister AK Antony arrived in Srinagar to review the security situation in the state".
The headlines in some of the mainstream national level newspapers and a few "Sab se Tez","Nation wants to Know'' news channels were full of hatred towards a particular community. A few are given here for reference.
Two tourists killed in Kashmir grenade attack
Blast on bus in J&K kills three; conflicting reports on cause of blast
Kashmir: 3 women killed as millitants lobbed a grenade on bus
Blast in Kashmir kills women from Mumbai
“Two tourists killed in Kashmir grenade attack.
“Militants tossed a hand grenade at a Tavera taxi carrying tourists in Bijbehara town, 45 km from here (Srinagar).
Whenever any innocent loses his life, it gets minimal coverage in the national media. But whenever there is some kind of cylinder blast, it gets highlighted for national interest? Why this bias? Isn't this anti Kashmiri policy? On one side, Kashmir is called an 'integral part of India' and on other side a common Kashmiri is presented as a 'Terrorist' to rest of the world. Thank God, they didn't prepared any caricatures of some never to be 'terrorists' in a jiffy.
Isn't the national media hell bent to injure the image of Kashmiri people? Aren't they rather deceiving their countrymen? Are they doing this to damage the tourism sector of valley? Few questions need to be answered.
Is this how responsible media should function in a democratic country? We suppose media should be unbiased whatsoever the conditions because our media is not under any dictatorship or military rule. A journalist’s job is to speak the truth and report facts as truthfully as possible and let people draw their own conclusions. The media’s job is to stand up for the weak, not join the witch hunt.
Noor ul Haq, a freelance journalist e-mail: email@example.com
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