Media’s Moral Failure

Updated: Jun 19, 2010, 16:31 PM IST

Bhopal gas tragedy is back in the news again nearly 26 years after this ghastly incident took place. Over 20,000 people were killed within days and people continue to suffer till today. Everybody is appalled at the verdict because it seems that the incident has been treated like a road accident.
Every media channel, whether online or offline, is abuzz with discussions about the tragedy. Media is leaving no stone unturned to blame the government for its inaction. But, a closer look and the media would realize that it is a failure on its part as well. How? The kind of media attention that this incident is getting now could have been given earlier also. Media is very powerful. Had it kept the issue alive, then the government could have been pressurized to act earlier and faster. This has happened in the past in cases of Jessica Lal, Nitish Kataria, 26/11, tiger conservation, Rouvanjit Rawla etc. It is widely known that had the media not followed these incidents, these too would have died their natural death.
There is no written rulebook for media coverage for such incidents but, it is the media’s moral responsibility to act on such issues. Unfortunately, media too is driven by TRPs. That is why some channels prefer to give more coverage to Amitabh Bachchan’s religious pilgrimages, Shilpa Shetty’s wedding shopping, the Ambanis’ handshake etc.
It is not that the media has not given coverage to the incident but, the focus is event driven. The focus has shifted back to the Bhopal gas tragedy because of the recent verdict. A few weeks down the line, this issue would again fade away. After all, the law of diminishing returns applies to them as well.
Back in the eighties, media was not so powerful but, now that it is, it can act as a catalyst in bringing a change in our society. After all, ‘well done’ is better than ‘well said’. What has happened in the past cannot be changed, but going forward the media can learn from the same and make sure that this issue does not die down till it reaches its rightful conclusion. It is not the light that we need but, the fire.

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