A revolutionary video on the nexus between media and the politicians came to fore in the recent past. The video on `media-fixing` between Aam Aadmi Party`s (AAP) convenor Arvind Kejriwal and a TV anchor has now become viral on YouTube. In less than 24 hours after it was posted on the video-sharing website, over five lakh people saw the video, evoking a huge response.
The questions here is - Is it just a 55 seconds video? Or weather it raises some serious questions regarding the credibility of media and politicians? Let us first talk about media and newsmen. Reporters having good relationship with the politicians is no big deal. But the bigger question is - can the values and ethics of journalism be compromised for this `relationship`. A reporter and a politician are like two tracks of a railway line, which runs together but never meet. A reporter`s job is to ask questions. Those questions, which the public or the `janata` wants to ask the politician. But what if the questions are fixed and are asked just to please the politician, then, what will happen to real journalism?
It is because of this `media-fixing` that today politicians want to give interviews to only those media houses where they are asked comfortable questions of their choice. Actually, it is important for media persons to maintain a fine balance in their relations with the politicos. There is very thin line between the two, which is sometimes referred to as the `Lakshman Rekha of Journalism`. In Kejriwal`s `media-fixing video`, this Lakshman Rekha was crossed.
Now, let talks about Kejriwal, who is now under greater scrutiny due to this `media-fixing video`. The reason for this is Kejriwal`s repeated accusations that capitalists and big corporates are running media houses. Kejriwal has accused media of ignoring him, indulging in false reporting and running a smear campaign against him at the behest of Narendra Modi. Tragically, Kejriwal has been blaming the entire media of being biassed and, that too, without any evidence.
However, the reality is that Kejriwal himself fixes his interviews or at least tries to do so. The video in question clearly shows that Arvind Kejriwal is acting like a part-time editor and suggesting which part of his interview should be played up more. And the irony of story is that a picture of Bhagat Singh was placed in the background so as to send a message of his own martyrdom. Without even collecting proper details of the punishment given to Bhagat Singh.
Kejriwal quit as Delhi Chief Minister on February 14, and some one probably told him that Bhagat Singh was sent to gallows on the same day. Without verifying the facts related to the great revolutionary, Kejriwal prepared the background of his interview and even managed to get some questions asked on Bhagat Singh. What is more surprising is that even if it was Kejriwal`s idea to relate the whole interview with Bhagat Singh, the anchor happily asked him questions on the revolutionary leader during the interview. This implies, both are hand-in-gloves - the anchor gave Kejriwal a free hand to say what he actually wanted to say.
For the stalwarts of media and politics, there is no surprise element in the Kejriwal media-fixing video, which according to them, is a routine thing. We are also not denying it - media-fixing happens. But what is of utmost concerns is the total decline of the high standards of morality in this case. Both Kejriwal and the TV anchor had set high moral standards for themselves and this has also been their unique selling point, so questions will be raised over their conduct.
Interestingly, the Indian media also heralded a new era with this video, because no reporter, no editor and no channel broke Kejriwal`s media-fixing story but it was brought to the public domain by the social media. Those active on the social media made it viral. We also tracked the story and the huge response which it generated for twenty odd hours.
Those channels and their editors who broadcast special programs on `citizen journalism` did not even touch the story. It seems that the so-called editors of these channels want their citizen journalists to limit themselves to mere reporting of minor cases of corruption, basic problems from their surroundings and bumpy roads.
Zee Media eventually decided to broadcast the story when no big TV channels attached any importance to it even after twenty hours. In India, there are about 10 crore people, who are active on social media, and the Kejriwal story was fast becoming a debatable topic.
By the time I wrote this piece, the video had got more than 15 lakh views since it was posted on YouTube. But more than 50 crore satellite TV viewers were completely unaware of it. It was important to make them aware of it and thus we decided to air it on Zee Media.
Today, effective marketing is in the core of everything. Every Friday when a new movie is released, the entire cast of that film hops around almost all news channels to promote it. During the film`s promotion, the stars often are not ready to take questions on their personal lives, as it has nothing to do with the film. Prior to their press briefings, they make it aptly clear that they wont take personal questions and will answer only those related to their upcoming movie. Most of the TV channels agree to their demands since they get access to otherwise inaccessible big stars.
Almost a same trend has started in the world of politics too where big politicians give their consent for interviews only when reporters agree to ask questions of their choice so as to ensure that replies are later hailed as revolutionary.