80% Have Lost Faith In Mainstream Media; 70% Believe Prime Time Debates Are Chaotic & Meaningless – Survey
In India, there are approximate 130 million subscribers of cable TV (both DTH and traditional cable); and out of those, around 40-50% do watch news related channels at least once a week. 96 million newspapers are sold everyday in India, with leading chains commanding 80% of the share.
With such a huge proportion of viewers & readers accessing national and international news and creating opinions based on the same, it becomes very important to know the level of trust which they provide.
Indian IRIS, a news publication group founded by ex-IITians, ex-IIMians and research fellows from some of the top global Universities conducted a survey to find out the trust level experienced by viewers of mainstream media. And the results aren’t very encouraging.
Only 12% of the respondents believed and trusted the news showcased by the mainstream media news channels, with 80% of them stating that they completely dissatisfied with them.
Some more revelations:
- 87% of the respondents believed that mainstream media is heavily biased; 7% believe that they are fair and 6% are undecided.
- On the question of prime time debates being shown on news channels, 70% of the surveyed viewers found them as chaotic without any meaning, and full of noise. 23% found them as ‘entertaining’ and only 7% actually found some value in it.
- On the question of reliability, 44% of the respondents demanded for a new, fair and transparent media company; whereas 30% of them trust social media and online blogs as a reliable source of news.
- 22% of the respondents trusted print media, whereas only 4% found electronic media as reliable.
- When asked about their expectations, fairness and transparency was revealed as their top most wish list from the mainstream media; Corruption free media coverage was their second demand, and removal of ‘news traders’ from the system was requested as 3rd demand.
- Over-sensationalism of news was also counted as one of those issues which need immediate attention.
News and Media is called the 4th pillar of democracy; and in case such huge majority of viewers & readers are finding them totally biased, corrupted and TRP chasers, then it demands some strict action from representatives of citizens.
Recent Example of Media Bias
Earlier this month, Bollywood actress and BJP MP Hema Malini’s Mercedes met with an unfortunate accident with an Alto in Dausa, 60 kms from Jaipur, Rajasthan. 4 year old girl who was sitting on the lap of her mother in the Alto, died. Hema Malini received few injuries and cuts, but there was nothing serious.
The next day, this is how mainstream media (Print) covered this news:
– Hindustan Times carried this on their front page, but with an angle which suggested that the readers only wish to see a Star.
– Times of India, Delhi Edition couldn’t find any better title than “Dream Girl’s Nightmare”, and an image with blood running down from her face.
– The Telegraph couldn’t have been more inhumane and insensitive than a crude, “Hema Malini injured in road accident” title.
– World’s biggest Hindi newspaper Dainik Jagran too, couldn’t find any ‘newsworthiness’ on the death of the 4 year old child, as their front page heading was this:
One Twitter user aptly shared, “A scratch on an Indian celebrity is worth the life of an ordinary Indian.”
— IndiaExplained (@IndiaExplained) July 3, 2015
Viewers of news media also complained that Hema Malini’s injuries were shown out of proportion, several times in the day in a repeated loop, with very less information about the death.
This was just a recent example of the media bias, and the reason 80% of the readers and viewers are not trusting mainstream media outlets. Its high time that a serious introspection and debate on the issue of media coverage and their responsibilities be held and they are assigned with some accountability towards democracy.