The Nation Wants to Know. The Primetime. The News Hour, these shows are more heard of than the Prime Time Soap Operas and the Cricket Tournaments these days. We all are familiar with the set up where 10+ panel members are discussing or rather fighting it out like in a wrestling ring and one moderator, matching the volume of all of them, taming them. This is how the news debates happen.
The TRP of the prime time debates has become the parameter for the success of the news channels. The revenue of the tele-media majorly depends on the prime-time debates. The channels who can get the largest panel to fight it out are considered better than the others. The host who can be the loudest and is capable of silencing anyone, anytime, becomes the star of the show. So let’s look at some perspective as to what these debates do to our society.
- A skewed public opinion: The news houses today are either left or right leaning. It’s difficult to find a single news channel keeping a neutral stand while reporting an event. The audience is thus forced to take sides in the process of selecting the news channel he wishes to watch. A right-leaning viewer won’t be able to digest a left-leaning debate & vice versa. This makes debates a collection of one-sided perspectives with very weak counters, defeating the very purpose of a debate.
- Too much Chaos: 8 to 10 people fighting it out for 30 to 60 seconds of screen time so that they can at least make one point of the side that they represent. This disparity of the debate time and the number of people arguing, leads to plain chaos, and only the person who carries a favorable opinion is willingly allowed to speak by the host, thus shouting and interruptions from opposing members are a regular feature in debates. An hour-long dose of this intense chaos is enough to increase the anxiety levels of almost the entire audience.
- Just proving the point? Due to the very set-up of the debate already favoring one side of the story (as explained in the 1st point), importance is given to just proving the opinion that the channel supports instead identifying the valid points from both sides. This attitude would degrade us as a society where we slowly develop an attitude of showing hostility to any opinion which is different than ours.
- Trivialising important issues: The media today operates in a way that whenever an important event happens, it is provided with most of the screen time and once the event becomes old, the channel completely moves on to another event with minimal follow up of the previous issue. The audience is completely unaware of the facts coming up on a subsequent date and thus bases opinion only on the initial facts resulting into biased opinions on many occasions.
Perhaps, the news channels need to restructure the way it conducts debates so as to make it effective and engaging for the target audience. Or maybe it needs to do away with debates and find a different approach to discuss news topics.