When Henry James signified the birth of a ‘newspaperized world’ as a catalyst of modernism, he may have been unaware of the forms this medium would morph into. Indeed as TS Eliot alludes, we need our fix of the morning newspaper with our toast and tea. Nevertheless most news today is manufactured. Dailies howl out headlines one day and suffer complete amnesia the next. Each newspaper competes with the other to make the stories more racy, more spicy and more gory. Throwing ethics to the winds, media sensationalizes murder and mayhem, downplaying or foregrounding a story as it best suits them. Several cases involving minority groups and marginalized people have been ignored with the cry for justice blowing in the wind.
As a backlash, social media platforms (SMP) have become alternate sources of information today. Existing in a digital space ethics is a luxury few can afford. In all this, news is a casualty. Print media which has (or had) the responsibility to offer hard news and crisp commentary has capitulated to soft news and often soft porn. Newspaper barons backed by powerful industrial houses dictate the nature of news. In this vicious climate sans ethics, alternate media is stifled, and, as in the case of Gauri Lankesh, eliminated. The conspiracy of silence which turns a Nelson’s eye to the hacking of bloggers in Bangladesh, or women editors in Bengaluru spells doom for independent media. Regional media often runs entirely different stories which the mainstream English media ignores, forcing us to read another India.
This paper will probe the dumbing down of the Indian media in the absence of ethics and its impact on making us morons in a culture without conscience.
National conference on ‘The Role and Relevance of Media Ethics in Contemporary Society,’ 20-21 March 2018, Department of English and Department of Philosophy, Dhempe College of Arts and Science, Miramar, Goa. Pix of Dr. Brian Mendonca presenting the paper, and at the venue on 20- 21 March 2018.