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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It Is Yellow Journalism

Amitabh Bachchan, in his blog post of August 20, 2008 (Day 120), has put up this and many more questions in the same context for public debate:

“Why does the media have an agenda against a particular group, family or individual?”

The answer: It is yellow journalism. Most people read it everyday, yet aren't familiar with what the term means. Let's examine a prime example that clearly explains it.

The yellow journalist: "He is too famous? Then I'll make him infamous."

One must ask, is this a genuine use of freedom of speech, or is it an act of deception. Why, might you ask, would a journalist ever want to do such a thing? For one reason: it sells. Commercial news relies on "their ability to continue to feed any form of public frenzy over scandal, crime, and sensational discoveries. Money is the driving factor in any economy and nothing will stand in anyone's way of obtaining it. Does this mean that reputations, personal lives and careers may be destroyed? Possibly. But scandal, secrets and sex sell, and in the eyes of some journalists, paychecks are much more important.

What is difficult to understand is why these journalists choose to embark on such a route, to defy the truth and degrade the lives and the actions of public figures. Surely this would cause their audience to question all journalists' ethics, provoking a generalized sense of public skepticism. However, reputation is not what motivates these writers. It is their hunger for widely publicized work, increased circulation, and fat paychecks that drives them to report twisted versions of the truth and attack the character of public figures. How often do we hear the claim that journalists only give the public what the public wants?

Yellow journalism can be seen in every aspect of the media, but mostly in topics concerning political or celebrity scandals. Political mud-slinging is especially evident during campaigns or upcoming election dates, highlighting biases with unfair, sensationalized articles about rumors of past criminal activity, extra-marital relationships, financial misconduct and much more. These stories are nothing more than an attempt to make money, to sell more copies of the paper, or to gain more viewers on the TV station. The reputation, career and family life of the subject is not of any importance to the writer.

Lately the content of most magazines comes in the form of celebrity tabloid pieces. Is she or isn't she pregnant? Did he cheat that night? Their fairy-tale wedding wasn't quite so perfect. The vast majority of these stories contain nothing more than unnamed sources and no credible proof to back up their reliability. Yet, people want to read these lies in order to have something to talk about with their friends over coffee, or for a bit of gossip to spread around the break room at work.

Unfortunately, this form of journalism will never be eliminated from television channels or from newsstands because of the vast profit to be made in the business. People like to think others behave badly, inappropriately and unfairly for numerous reasons. Most frequently, it gives people something to talk about and it allows them to feel better about their own lives. Obviously, the targets of this work don't see it the same way. Unfortunately, with the judicial system as it prevails, they cannot do much to punish the perpetrators of prejudiced and biased reporting about them and their work. The only option for them is to ignore it as media's ethical failure and have hope that their fans and followers are not influenced by the media manipulated false stories on them. The silver-lining for them is that media's ethical failure is well known. Overwhelmingly the people expect the media to exercise the vast powers responsibly, and are constantly disappointed that this is not being done.


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