Friday, Sep 24, 2021 06:45 [IST]
Last Update: Friday, Sep 24, 2021 01:07 [IST]
The Sikkim media straddles two unwanted and unhealthy public reactions coming from two kinds of audiences. There is a group of blind and even naïve followers. They are the under-informed, under-read and intellectually lazy group who drink in everything that our local media serve. Their only information source is the local media and therefore their opinion is heavily influenced by what they watch (I will not say read, because Sikkim’s news readership is negligible). Another group, relatively smaller, is sanctimonious, smug, never satisfied and stuck up. They criticize Sikkim media all the time. Both of them are harming the media.
Naïve followers never challenge the quality, standard and authenticity of media reporting. They take what is served. They never question it. They are like placid babies who never whine about anything. They cannot tell the difference between junk and healthy food. They just eat what is set before them. It is this public placidness and gullibility that is responsible for the sudden mushrooming of media groups and journalists. It is only when people become more selective as to the intent and content of the media that such fake and shallow journalism will be weeded out.
However, I am less worried about them. The more dangerous group is the latter one. They are decidedly obnoxious and so stuck up that they write off every single media work. Their “Oye-Media-attitude” is built upon the shallow ground of self-righteousness, arrogance, a lack of humility to give credit to others, political affiliations and inherent behavioral issues. Badmouthing comes naturally to them.
To those who habitually badmouth the media and say that Sikkim media is under-qualified, I have the following suggestions.
There is a narrow line of distinction between hatred and criticism. Hatred is a human emotion but we do well to keep it suppressed. Its public outburst mostly leads to street level fighting. When we badmouth the media, we are venting our unrestrained hatred, devoid of any valid and well-thought through reasons to back up that hatred. What Sikkim media needs and needs desperately is well-reasoned criticism. This leads me to my next suggestion, which is as follows.
Your opinion of the Sikkim media hardly matters if you fail to assess it deeply and critique it intellectually. Merely expressing your frustration, badmouthing them, name-calling and even openly shouting “Oye Media” will only expose the quality of media consumerism, not media production. Consumers never get better than what they deserve. If we believe that Sikkim media is under-performing, it could well be because we are under-performing as a media-audience. Sikkim media is extremely young and it is in its formative years. It does need to improve a lot. But it needs a healthy challenge and helpful critiquing.
We also need to compare Sikkim media with the national media. The Indian national media talent is selected from over 1.3 billion people. Whereas the Sikkim media talent has an extremely small pool of about 6 lakh people. Also remember, in a state where government jobs are the prime career option, extremely few opt for journalism as a profession. A few decades ago, over 90 percent of prominent Sikkimese journalists were from outside. Given such a background, what we have now in Sikkim is much more than what we deserved. Also, look at how politically coloured most of the national media houses have become in recent years. News anchors and reporters work more passionately for their associated political parties than the very party cadres themselves. The same cannot be said of most of Sikkim media.
People writing off Sikkim media must also answer the question of why they do not show the same resentment against the quality of professionalism in so many other fronts. Even worse, every time we speak so lightly of Sikkim media, we can also ask a self-directed question – how am I as a professional? We can pose so many questions – how are our bureaucrats, technocrats, political leaders, teachers, doctors etc. doing? Why attack just the media? We must humbly concede that Sikkim, as a young state, cannot produce the national level of professionals in such a short period of time. Our talents, in a real sense, are primarily the spinoffs of our civilizational journey. Our professional talents have not been trained in Oxford, Harvard, Princeton and Yale. We reap what we sow. Our schools, colleges, universities are all young. We may have bungled things at times as learners. But hopefully we are striving for a better performance next time.
Not just Sikkim media, but Sikkim as a whole has a long way to go. But how we go about it is of vital significance. I feel we, as a people, are avoiding the rigors of thinking, assessing, reasoning and engaging intellectually. Our tendency to solve all of our shortcomings in street shows like rallies, julus, road marches, narabaji and bhasans is getting us nowhere. These public shows are producing a lot of heat but the light is conspicuous by its absence.