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Why TV journalists are finding it hard on Twitter?

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Sunil Mishra
Sunil Mishra
Sunil is author of 3 books.

Everyday, before the prime time show on the TV, the anchors prepare themselves with facts, data, day’s events, news, analysis etc. They spruce up for the show, put all the gadgets nearby and just before the camera lights are on, they do the most important thing – put up the mask, the mask of “political correctness (PC)”.

Most of the anchors have created the mask themselves, sometimes it is given by the employer media house. The PC mask speaks for the anchors. The PC mask ensures that the events and opinions are not broadcast “as they are” but as “they think they should be”. The anchors learn to live with the PC mask, they even learn to enjoy that over a period of time. The PC mask helps them spin the news and tell the story the way they want.

The day-to-day life, however is not a one-hour TV show. While tweeting at 6 am in the morning the journalist may forget to wear the PC mask. So someone who is inherently capitalist in life and views may tweet something anti-communist. They could never have done that in the prime time show. At times they also show other human weaknesses – anger, frustration, hate etc. This is something the folks on twitter love – they can be provoked. There are of-course trolls and abuses on twitter which everyone condemns but many also are happy them seeing fall from the high pedestal to a common person who has personal biases, can get provoked, look vindictive, make mistakes and look hypocritical due to contrary stands.

Till the time they are not on Twitter, the media anchors can live with this duality. One face with the political correctness during the media exposure and the other face for all other social or private interactions. These two faces were fire-walled earlier. Twitter, more than any other social media, has blurred that divide. One can’t pretend to be entirely different all the time. The mask is too heavy to carry all the time. Moreover, there are provocations that challenge them all the time, bring out old tweets where they seem to contradict themselves etc. It is like a boxing match where everyone is punching them without notice. This constant challenge is really breaking them down on twitter.

The mainstream Media has done a great job in exposing many scams by politicians, asking them probing questions and supporting the common people on various issues. At the same time, it is no secret that they have at times been biased and supported forced narrative for various gains. Understandably, when the Augusta Patrakar issue came up there was a cheer as much that at least the media muck is coming out in public domain. Mainstream media have enjoyed unfettered power and have not shown enough responsibility to probe themselves. Even when the impropriety was patently obvious from some journalists, they just brazened it out and carried on without any guilt, as if they could do no wrong.

The TRP war has done one good thing. It has pitted the media houses against each other and now evidently, there is no love lost among them. There was a cozy arrangement earlier that forbade one media house to criticize the other – media ethics, they called. Now the intense competition for the viewership has thrown that aspect of media ethics out of the windows, thankfully so. Now one anchor explicitly runs a high decibel program targeting the other anchor – it is like a media civil war. The media opinion space has become loud but more fractious which is a good thing.

This competition is also taking a toll on these TV journalists who now have to also defend themselves from the friendly fire, as if the trolls were not enough. So it is not uncommon to see these folks breaking down by deactivating their account in fit of anger or tweeting “yes I am sickular, pressitute and anti-national – now?”

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Sunil Mishra
Sunil Mishra
Sunil is author of 3 books.
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