Does television create the ‘reality’ it reports?

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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