‘Our mass media are ignoring plight of the poor’

28 April 2007

The poor have been largely forgotten, ignored, sidelined and marginalised in the national reform agenda of liberalisation and globalisation adopted by our political leadership, wrote K.N. Hari Kumar, the former editor of Deccan Herald, in a piece on the edit of the paper this week.

“Following this lead, the mass media also has in recent years rarely, if at all focused on the problems and plight of the poor and the damage to their means of livelihood and the environment under the new policy regime. Nor has it deliberated on the need for initiatives and programmes to improve their condition and enable them to take control of their lives.

“Rather, reflecting perhaps its ownership and readership which has largely been the educated and propertied elite, it has only been expending large amounts of energy in enthusiastically exaggerating stories of great business successes in the domestic arena.

“It has been even more enthusiastic in devoting vast amounts of paper, words and pictures to hype the real and putative success stories of Indians, living in India and abroad, even those with foreign passports, in professional and entrepreneurial roles and in R and D, in the advanced western nations, especially in the US. These men and women, including sportspersons who have achieved greater and lesser international success, are the heroes of the new reform agenda and the values, ideology and perspective on which it is based. They are seen to have, almost miraculously, succeeded where their compatriots back home have tried and failed. They are being sought to be promoted as models to inspire the nation, especially its youth, to greater ambition and endeavour. Their successes are seen to give confidence to a nation that has lost faith in itself. They are evidence for our belief that we as a nation can, indeed, do it…

“In trying to swim against what has lately become the mainstream of Indian opinion and policy, and focus attention on the plight of the poor, powerless and oppressed—their needs and hopes, their troubles and obstacles, their frustrations and demands, development journalists face an uphill task…

“The real challenge before the media is how to attract the readers’/viewers’ attention to the small-scale, patient, unspectacular, not always wholly successful constructive work being done by ordinary individuals and organisations, like co-operatives, unions, parties, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), at the grassroots, but which may not instantly thrill the readers/viewers into paroxysms of excitement and amazement.

“Finally and perhaps most difficult in the current climate, they will have to reaffirm the relevance of Indian languages for communication at the grassroots and in bridging the ever-widening gulf between the haves and the have-nots, the powerful and the powerless within our society.”

Read the full two-part article: The forgotten poor

Need for new agenda

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One Response to “‘Our mass media are ignoring plight of the poor’”

  1. boring journalist Says:

    Mr Harikumar did the same when he was at the helm of affairs of Deccan Herald as the editor. What is the point in saying something, which he could not practice when he had the chance?
    If only the DH then, as the number one paper had given the lead , the scenario would have been different in Karnataka by now.
    Where do you think the poor gets the attention, when the newspapers have turned out to be market driven operations. the poor have no ad revenue to give to the newspaper to catch their attention, while urbanits pay and get attention.


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