No room for the newsroom

ARSHID MALIK

George Orwell wrote the lines, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” He understood that if you can control what people know about history, if you can decide what gets in and what is left out, you can order their thinking. You can order their values. You can in effect organize their brains by controlling their knowledge, says Howard Zinn, American born historian, author, activist, playwright, intellectual and Professor of Political Science. And this is about the best interpretation that elaborates vividly on the role of media, I have ever come across. Zinn adds that “most of what we get from mainstream media and from standard history books is ideological–biased not in favor of the people, but towards the commercial and political interests of the men and corporations at the top.”

The world media industry is creating history, while categorizing, compartmentalizing and coiling events by way of reportage on a daily basis and there is no matching mechanization process running parallel to this novel corporation rooted in the “new world order”. What comes out of the media cannons is by default registered in the minds of the audience, and to a large extent, as the irony of the matter is, as being true. Truths are tailored to suit those who rule the roost, those who pay to make the machinery run with ease; facts that matter to the common man, the citizenry are brushed under the carpets of media moguls. It is plain distortion and a people whose history is distorted on an average daily basis are bound to face a distorted, uncertain and convolved future.

The world of reportage, generally these days, is like a game of tic tack toe and really that simple. It is about crossing out the boxes (truths) in immediate sweeps and wining the game. What is left unreported, I would say, mainly comprises of what has been told. The absence lends meaning to the presence.

There are certainly small news organizations (which fall out of the mainstream), here and there, that are fighting to stay out of the cataclysm capitalist architecture and to them the consistent threat of being wiped off the slate are immense, but these are nevertheless the actual vanguards of reporting in its essence, and by cutting down on dependencies such organizations assure their survival. As to how long such organizations can evade the “omnipresent” onslaught of the media barons is a story that may perhaps never be told. And then the question remains as to what all of the population comprises their audience/readership? Are there any takers at all? Can these small reporting units match the glamour and glitz of the corporations which consistently bombard the thought shelters of the unassuming with “gilded penances”. The answer is quite obvious. “The very people, who should know better, having criticized the hold of the media on the national mind, find themselves transfixed by the press, glued to the television set, as the candidates preen and smile and bring forth a shower of clich?s with a solemnity appropriate for epic poetry.” Yet it is for the common people to deal with this.

Misrepresented and misinterpreted or should we say misreported stories create a vacuum which can be filled by truth and truth only.
Our own land, Kashmir, with its history disrupted by pertinent disrepute, is marred by misreporting (positively at the national level) almost everyday, adding on the pile of distortions that have come to represent its people and their aspirations. Peaceful demonstrations have been reported as pestilent in nature ever since reporting turned a new leaf in Kashmir, back in the 90s. A resistance movement has been assuredly duped to be a mob outrage, as with every passing hour the media machinery is churning news to suit India Inc. in Kashmir, there is no room for the newsroom.

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