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The Life and Times of Media

Related Editorial : The assessment of the life and relevance of media has become a constant requirement, particularly in a time where the media is facing a crisis. The description as “Godi,” or media mired in partisanship, is seen as one of the major symptoms of this crisis. It acquires such a description because it is accused of violating two crucial conditions that go into making media one of the strong pillars of democracy. First, the media, in one objective sense, needs to step out from the field of reality and map it out—as it unfolds itself empirically. This defines the objectivity and neutrality of media. Second, it is considered as the harbinger and defender of human values as well. On a more promising note, the role of the media becomes even more important in a humanitarian crisis. Its role is to nudge political forces towards achieving sublime sociality or a decent society that is without fear and violence. However, in contemporary times, certain sections of both print and visual media in India do seem to contribute to the humanitarian crisis. These mediapersons—particularly television reporters and anchors from some of the channels—seem to show disrespect for the system of human values.

The recalcitrant repetition of hate speech and communal violence that is being incited allegedly by some of the television anchors has led some of the public intellectuals and leaders from the opposition to suggest disengagement from these so-called television discussions. Although, such determination does carry a moral protest suggesting that the public intellectual decides the terms of debate and ethics of framing the right questions that require urgent deliberation to be conducted in the wider public. These opposition leaders thus suggest that participating in so-called television discussions does become a logical requirement for the television anchors and their political patrons to gain public endorsement for their public positions that, for some, may be morally indefensible.

The ethical and moral standards in human disposition, including that of the television anchors, need to be proportionate to counter the evil of hate—both in terms of its intensity and magnitude. The question is, whether the television anchors in the present times who are supposed to be the harbingers of human values, are bound by these standards. The answer is in the negative. Such anchors do not have the sense of their own moral limits that can make them aware about their unruly speech act at least. In fact, their moral deficiency becomes coextensive with the limits of their immediate bosses, who in turn are obliged to the political patrons who provide the former with social and material advantage and security cover. This conundrum, however, ends with the corporate houses who exist over and above these mundane or practical limits of the political parties and television anchors. Thus, the limits seem to play out in a relay fashion, turning the television anchors into shock absorbers who, tragically but regularly, get rattled by the reasonable anger of the public and their alert representatives. It is the loss in the realisation of such limits that leads to the social production of evil. Conversely, the moral presence of a minimum self-respect would create within a person an inner resistance to being insulted. For these television anchors, who are accused of speaking or spreading lies through their channels, this does not constitute a moral danger, and hence does not require them to seek deliverance from such a danger. This is why most of the anchors from the national television channels “voluntarily” put themselves in the place of insult and humiliation.

Put differently, a person would not like to experience the insult again. Tolerating insult becomes a part of the moral and does not stop at the moral level, becoming social and political through its enactment.

Evil can become social when it is projected onto an element of fear; this fear is generated by politically ambitious but electorally insecure parties—parties that invest their energies and resources in a “Machiavellian lead” as a political means to manage political support. Such parties find in fear a common resource that can be induced in the members from the majority community and inflicted on the members from minorities for reasons aimed at achieving political interest. Such politics stands as a constant threat to the sublime sociality or lofty social sphere remaining integrated in its normative thrust. It is permeated with the deep but nagging sense of fear that, by consequence, results in the collective estrangement of socially sensitive members of the society.

The members from the majority community should not, and in fact do not, take delight in violence nor should the minority community take delight in fear—as the ground reports from many parts of the country indicate that members from the minority and majority abhor hate and violence. For they realise that taking delight in disorder is detrimental to the existence of society.

courtesy : https://www.epw.in/journal/2022/5/editors-desk/life-and-times-media.html

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