Television

Why we need good news today!

The past 18 months have taken a toll on people of all ages, and the impact continues

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MUMBAI: The commonly-held belief is that if you turn on any news channel, you will be rattled by the high-decibel cacophony that has become common as garden amongst the invited on-air guests and anchors during prime time. Every guest tries to outshout the other and the anchor, even as the latter raises his or her voice to be heard and play master conductor of the croaking symphony of voices.

That’s on the so-called debate shows, on which supposedly suave and erudite journalists behave worse than the colourful loudmouthed politicians whenever they meet in the house for a parliamentary session.

The so-called national conscience keepers have for some time now become the providers of everything but the truth about what’s going in the world around us, and in faraway distant lands. Political agendas, half-truths, opinions, poorly-researched reports, propaganda are spewed out daily during news bulletins on certain news channels. The intent: keep viewers and lay citizens guessing about the rightness of any action and development - thus confused - and envelop them in a shroud of fear by highlighting the impending danger.

Can we blame the news providers totally?

Not all of them have taken the same tack, but the entire news genre has got tarred and feathered with the same brush. But those who do, say it’s the masses of viewers who have forced them to take this path.

Ordinary plain vanilla news and events do not really interest the common man is what they quip. But plant some controversy behind any news item and lo and behold the junta in hordes switch to news from the drama shows that they love to watch on general entertainment channels. Not just that: they stay glued to the news on telly as if their very lives depended on it.  And the ratings hit the moon!

For the advertising dependent broadcasters this means heavy showers of moolah from advertisers who are looking to reach millions of viewers with their brand and product communications in the shape of TV commercials.

Can this vicious perception about Indian news be broken? A laudable effort is being made by the TV Today group with the announcement of Good News Today (GNT). Not much is known about what its content will be. But its base line is that it will stay away from the negative tonality that has stained the Indian news television sector.

The country and its 1.3 billion citizens do need many good doses of good news. The past 18 months have seen the world go through the agony of the rampage of the murderous novel coronavirus, not knowing who it will infect and kill or at least lay to waste. Millions have died, even more have been infected and many in multiples of that have had their economic stability totally upended, leading to trauma not experienced by any generation before. Depression is commonplace, sibling clashes have risen, the divorce rate is going up as the family fabric is stretched and strained under the pressure of being locked up in closed spaces without much social contact apart from our near and dear ones.

Yes, the world is in trouble, economies are in shambles. Yes, all is not right with our finances. Yes, the way the virus and the world is being managed could be better. But do we need to be reminded about what is wrong daily? Is there nothing that’s right with our lives? Are there no good tidings for us? Has humanity lost its humaneness totally? Is there no goodness left in those that govern us?

We all know the answer to this. Over the various millennia, it is always the good that has prevailed.  Usually, it appears as if the bad is getting the upper hand. But then from nowhere comes a savior, who gives hope to the suffering millions and even billions. And good triumphs.

All of us remember Reader’s Digest. It was a compendium of articles and stories about how individuals overcame adversity; of heroes. It was a publication which I would rush to read, because it gave me hope as a youngster and in the early stage of my professional career. Even today it inspires me when I flip through its pages.

Do I want to hear more and more rounds of Modi-bashing from rival parties who want to show his government and the efforts it is taking to build a new Bharat or India in bad light? Do I want to hear more about Modi and his team defending their actions or going on the offensive against the opposition? Do I want to hear that the world we are living in is totally corrupt? And that we have no hope?

Yes, I would like to be informed about developments and announcements that impact our lives. But without it being distorted by prejudices and vested interests.  I would also like to hear about the good that is being done. I would like to hear about progress, about the improvements in our lives. About those who are sincerely working to better the lives of the common Indian. Whether it is a local councilor or a district collector or a state legislative member or a national parliamentarian or even a worker or a policeman.

The English thinker and author James Allen once said: “You are what you think.”

The Buddha said: “You are what you have been; and you shall be what you do now.”

Hopefully, a news channel focusing on the good all around us and the attempts to build a better tomorrow will help in our shift towards a REAL better tomorrow.

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