The media is no doubt trying to fight stiff competition and come up with innovative news stories adding to being the first to report the news of happenings the world over.
The reason I write this is last week the media had focussed considerable attention on the Finance Minister publicly reprimanding the External affairs minister and his deputy for staying in Five star hotels. This was followed by news that all politicians would be required to curb a lavish lifestyle and take to austere living. Next, newspapers and channels gave extensive coverage to Pranab Mukherjee's flight to Kolkata in the economy class of SpiceJet, a low cost carrier. So much importance was given to this piece of information that it was the day's 'Breaking News' in many News channels. And then the news of many politicians welcoming this austerity drive.
Now what caught my attention is that one of the Indian websites in their news section has introduced a new segment which says 'Shoot a photograph or video of a politician or civil servant violating the guidelines and indulging in extravangance.' I really don't know what to make of this. On one hand, we talk about individual space and on the other about paparazzi frenzy. The point I wish to make is not that such segments are useless and only meant to increase viewership; because good or bad, I have no doubts that this would be one of their most viewed segments as is their other 'Stars Spotted'.
I feel that today we live in a world where too much attention is given to ostentation and hype. One would rather read a news item that begins like.. 'The city police commissioner was woken up by a call at the unearthly hour of 3 am to be informed of his deputy's death at the hands of militants whom he fought bravely for more than half an hour.' instead of 'Asst. Police Commissioner shot dead by militants in a fierce encounter that lasted half an hour.' (The above was an actual incident; news reports of which I had read in two newspapers and were almost as mentioned.)
I don't think this is a healthy habit. We seem to patronize the sensationalization of news. The page 3 is now a whole newspaper supplement. Also supplements focus a lot on movies, fashion, trends, high end shopping and needless to say a whole lot of gossip concerning big names from all glamour-related industries. I don't mean to say that all this is to be thoroughly avoided. I only believe that all this should be kept within limits. And more importantly, draw a clear line between other news features keeping them devoid of flashy narration.
Why could this be? Is it because our lives have turned so mundane that we look forward to such masala everyday? Or is it because we cannot empathize or feel for what we read and read it instead with the air of reading a work of fiction and derive pleasure in the garishness of events. I am conservative in a few things. And this is one of them. I prefer to keep details of news stories free from pageantry and pretension.