A latest survey has revealed sad news for mainstream media that includes both television and print media. The survey sought responses on a range of questions to gauge the perception of mainstream media. The survey was conducted by The Indian Iris, a group of individuals from IIT, IIM A/B, Univ of Southern California, professional from top firms, and authors include research fellows from IIMs, XLRI etc. It was conducted both online (email and Facebook) and offline among over 500 respondents, mostly in the age range of 18-40 years.
When asked if they were satisfied with the quality of news produced by today’s mainstream media, a whopping 80% said that they are dissatisfied. Only 12% were satisfied, whereas the remaining 8% were undecided.
When asked if they thought that today’s mainstream media was fair or unbiased, the responses are even more startling. A vast majority of 87% thought that today’s mainstream media was heavily biased. Only 7% believe that the mainstream media is fair, and the remaining 6% are undecided.
In terms of utility and value, over 70% found the prime time debates on news channels to be more of a chaos without any meaning. Only about 7% people found some value in these debates, whereas 23% found these debates more of an entertainment show than anything else.
When asked which media they thought was the most reliable, 44%, a majority of the respondents, called for a new fair and reliable media outlet. 30% see Social Media/Internet a more reliable source of news compared to the print and the electronic media.
Electronic media seems to have completely lost the trust of people, whereas print media is still reliable with 22% people finding it that way. Shockingly, only 4% of the surveyed people found the Electronic Media reliable. It’s time that the Electronic Media do some introspection on why the trust has eroded to such an extent.
The survey also asked respondents to comment on their expectations from the future media. People put forward variety of ideas and concerns.
The first and the foremost, fairness and transparency are what they expect from the media. Media, considered the fourth pillar of democracy should honestly play its role. They should not propagate a specific political or business interest. Many people mentioned that media should be corruption free. They need to come out of their current image of being ‘news traders’. They must present facts without fabrication. Over sensationalization may also be killing the trust in the news channels, many felt.
Two recent examples shall shed more light on the issues plaguing our fourth pillar of the media today. The first is pertaining to the controversies surrounding Lalit Modi, and Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje. Barring a few media channels, all news channels were running live commentaries, organising prime time debates and arranging special interviews until a few pictures of Robert Vadra, Priyanka, and Rahul Gandhi surfaced on social media. This now raises serious questions on the credibility of media as to how it got silenced so quickly. Noted writer Tavleen Singh did write a detailed article commenting media’s dubious role in raising and then silencing the issue.
The second example is the death of a four year old child in a road accident involving erstwhile dream girl turned MP, Hema Malini. This too raises serious questions on how media prioritizes its news. While full attention was given to the head injuries of the MP, death of the child was largely ignored by the media in the quest of TRP. A quick Google image search on this news clearly shows how much attention was given to the death of the poor child compared to the head injuries of Hema Malini.
There are countless other examples of how Media has failed to fulfill its duties as the fourth pillar of democracy. The Internet is providing power to the people and social media has emerged as a new source of information. However, the gullible and the young may not be able to discern between real news and propaganda running on the social media. This calls for a fair and reliable source of information which objective and backed by data. It’s time that the mainstream media revisit its key role in our democracy.