Chalk one up for media activism?

In the last 24 hours or so, the media led with reports of Priyadarshani Mattoo’s trial and how media activism has helped “bring justice” for the Mattoo family. Here’s an excerpt from NDTV’s version of the events:

Earlier this year, NDTV had launched the ‘United for Justice Campaign’ after the nationwide outrage over the acquittal in the Jessica Lall murder case.

The channel received hundreds of thousands of messages of support in the Jessica, Priyadarshini and Nitish Katara murder cases.

Priyadarshini’s father C L Mattoo even acknowledged the public support when NDTV brought him together with families of other murder victims – Jessica Lall and Nitish Katara.

Where NDTV treads, CNN-IBN can’t be far behind and they led with Mattoo case: Media take a bow? and I quote:

While the conviction of Santosh Kumar Singh has raised hopes for the Lalls and the Kataras, it has also given the Indian media a day in the sun, bringing into sharp focus its role as a watchdog.

While many criticised what they described as “trial by the media” in the three high-profile cases, it’s generally agreed upon that media campaigned almost as relentlessly as the victims’ kin themselves.

I’m glad that justice was served in this case though you can probably expect a Supreme Court petition from the convicted Singh.

But does one case make the media a watchdog? Who decides which cases are taken up? Is it a coincidence that the cases that have garnered so much attention are the high-profile cases? There are so many other atrocities that go unnoticed. The people who can’t afford lawyers, who don’t have access to telephones or SMS campaigns, who’s going to tell their stories?

I get that the media needs to pick their stories because of so many constraints. What I don’t get is the chest-thumping. There are individuals and NGOs doing a lot of work with ordinary people, which we don’t get to hear about so much.

Media is a big business and ratings, readership, circulation numbers are what drives the stories. Let’s just be clear about that among all the hoopla.

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3 thoughts on “Chalk one up for media activism?

  1. Well, strictly as far as the Jesica lall and the other cases that you mentioned are concerned, the media ha done a wonderful job. Today it has come in the papers that both the Katara’s mother and Sabrina lall feel that justice has been done but is rather late. This and the general perception is that Judiciary in India is simply not fast enough and nobody elxe but the media could have higlhlighted the case and so to it that justice is done.

    As for other stories that go unnotices, I am sure that bloggers can fill that need and I foresee somethig like that in the distant future. The bloggers can bring the story into focus for the mainstream media to take on. The media also needs to differntiate itself and that can only be done by runnig after different stories. In how many different ways can one present the same story?

    Media maybe a big business with vested ineterests but in these cases, it has done a wonderful job and due recoginition should be given to it. Just as satellite television made politicians more accoutable, media has made the judiciary more accountable.

  2. I don’t think that bloggers are going to bring those kinds of stories into focus–at least not yet. I could be wrong but the percentage of stories that are brought into focus because of bloggers are low.

    Furthermore, most bloggers either write about situations that they encounter or point to news articles and comment on the articles. And, Internet penetration in India, especially in smaller towns or rural areas isn’t that great yet.

    And, I don’t really know how satellite television has made politicians more accountable. I still have the same perceptions about politics and politicians that I had before satellite TV.

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