What do I want to see in the Media?

Manmohan Singh, the PM of India, today made clear his stance on Media freedom; he refuses to put restrictions on the Media, but emphasizes the need for it to behave responsibly. I think it’s a sensible approach. Frankly, I don’t have a very high opinion of media in India; it’s like watching Fox and CNN in Hindi.

What’s my kind of media? Or what would I love to see in the media? Ouch, that’s a tougher question than I realized at first. When I refer to Media, my primary focus is News – print and TV. I’ll restrict myself to comments about News only. I’ll throw a few attributes that’ll get the pot stirring:

  • Balanced – present different perspectives on the issue and emphasize the major views, outlining points of contention
  • Relevant – keep things in perspective. There’s only so much space! Use it to meet the needs of the audience. Poll audiences occasionally and share the feedback. Set a clear tone and explicitly inform the audience what to expect
  • Unbiased – do not take a side, reserve opinions for the Op-ed page.
  • Inquisitive – probe. Look at the different angles to the story, look for holes and check for deeper issues. Who’s got a stake and what are they doing about it? If you want to list solutions, cite sources but also cite objections that may pop up
  • Respectful – don’t besmirch reputations without evidence! I think this is one area where our PM may have taken umbrage
  • Educational – inform me, please! And tell me something I don’t know even as you repeat the things I know
  • Challenging – move me. Not by sensationalizing a random issue, but by challenging my viewpoints and my assumptions at times
  • Context – yes there’s a background. I may or may not be aware of it, so put it somewhere I can find without having to hit a search engine. Also when throwing names of people, try and let me know why they’re relevant, not just their titles and positions (unless that makes it absolutely clear – double check that bit, please!)
  • Focus – Today’s news, tomorrow’s spam. If it’ll be that irrelevant, does it need to be in the news? So, keep an eye on things that matter and keep them in focus over a period of time
  • Clear, without being cluttered – Do I really need to know the subsection of the law under which something was enacted? Really?
  • Truthful – almost forgot this one, simply because I thought this was a platitude. But, it needs to be explicitly stated

I wonder if I’m a bit too demanding here. But as we seem to hear in every Peter Parker movie: “with great power, comes great responsibility.”

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