Sridevi, Papon, Priya...But What About Syria?
When Sridevi, Papon and Priya were making headlines, a few other arguably more important stories got buried.
Being one of those millennials who experiences the quintessential urge to wake up every morning and go through all the social media feeds (like my life depends on it), for the last three weeks, I woke up to Priya Prakash, the overnight sensation, singer Papon’s kissing controversy (or rather #PervertPapon as the media has been tagging it) and Sridevi’s unfortunate demise.
Three unrelated stories, but all more important than anything else (at least according to our Indian media and their beloved audience) that may be going on in the world or in the country.
It was only when I saw that the media had covered every possible angle to these three stories and had really started plumbing the depths of good taste, that I stopped consuming like a mindless being.
I turned my gaze to other events in the world.
And guess what? I was shocked, because...
NEWS FLASH: While we were lamenting the death of our beloved Chandni, the death toll in Syria had risen over 500 in just 7 days.
The Bible says God took seven days to create everything on this Earth, but we took 7 days to kill 500 people.
NEWS FLASH: History will remember Avani Chaturvedi as the first Indian woman pilot to fly a fighter jet solo, but will we remember her more than Priya Varrier?
NEWS FLASH: Madhu, a tribal man of Kerala, was lynched to death by a mob under suspicion of stealing rice and groceries worth Rs 200.
If you thought it couldn’t get worse, how’s this: The murderers took selfies with him before they killed him. Not worth days of coverage, apparently, unlike other celebrity events.
NEWS FLASH: A speeding car killed 9 children in Bihar and left 20 injured in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district.
Another Salman Khan, eh?
Reports claim the car belongs to a BJP leader.
Feeling ignorant yet?
When I saw those pictures of tiny corpses laid on the dusty grounds of Ghouta, bundled in white sheets, I felt a lump in my throat. I turned on my TV and find out more about it. I frantically browsed through most of the popular online Indian news websites to find maybe a ground report, but alas! I was met with disappointment when I realised that a war-time atrocity like this had been diminished to nothing beyond a news ticker playing across the ‘big’ stories like Priya Varrier or Sridevi.
Is it only for the sake of TRPs that we choose to be ignorantly oblivious to reality? Are our souls so cheap?
Even for the last two days, the top story on many Indian news channels has been that of Sridevi, submerged in a bathtub (recreated as graphics), following reports that she drowned in one.
And this has been the sensitive coverage by the Indian media of a tragic story like this while the nation grieves:
Really? How LOW can Indian media go to win the TRP game?
So who is to blame – the media, or us, the people who consume it? Does the trend set the news agenda, or is it the other way around?
Whatever it is, with the current state of Indian TV channels, journalism might just be the next casualty we ignore.
(Hey there, lady! What makes you laugh? Do you laugh at sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny? Do 'sanskaari' stereotypes crack you up? This Women's Day, join The Quint's Ab Laugh Naari campaign. Pick up that beer, say cheers, and send us photographs or videos of you laughing out loud at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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