Decrying the media for sensationalism, accusing it of ignoring the “real” issues, etc, have become fashionable among certain kinds of intellectuals and media critics. Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize winning Indian economist provides a more realistic take on the issue in a recent interview:
To what extent do you think the press fails to project the right voices of protest and to what extent does it get readily distracted by voices that are too easy, but at the end of the day, not that important?
One point in defence is that when something is going wrong like the Babri Masjid, Gujarat riots or the Rath Yatra, it’s very difficult for the press not to concentrate on the issue of the day. But, there are other moments, when nothing of the dramatic kind is happening, then one has to bring out the kind of quiet violence that goes on, in the form of people dying of hunger, or lack of medication.
Press coverage of such issues is not well cultivated, not just in India but elsewhere as well. For example: very few people know that on 9/11, 2001 many more people died of AIDS than they did of violence.
Read the full interview here: ‘Hunger is quiet violence’