Does television create the ‘reality’ it reports?

15 February 2008

As naturally as night follows day, the television coverage of the recent upsurge in linguistic chauvinism in Bombay has come under scrutiny. A bit like the violence in Rajasthan in the war between the Meenas and Gujjars two years ago. The rolling coverage, the endless replay of made-for-TV incidents to make it seem like a wave, the hysterical editorialisation… are all seen to have distorted the reality and exacerbated the situation.

The Indian Express says this in an editorial today:

“The race for breaking news on television brings with it some obvious constraints — and dangers. The image, played and replayed incessantly, magnifies the event, often investing it with exaggerated importance. Television images also have a proven capacity to produce the “reality effect”. It is inadequately realised that the power to show is also the power to mobilise. Did the visual media act with a sense of its own power, in covering the events in Maharashtra? Was a sense of proportion in play? Were there enough editorial checks? And what about the rest of us, did we just simply receive from them and react?”

Read the full article: Screening images

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