Finally, a definition.
Godi Media – an epithet to describe a media that has lost its independence and exists only to serve it perceives as its masters be it the owners, the corporate houses and the governments. It is recognised by abject servility and its tendency to repeat by rote all the handouts —overt and covert — it receives from the owners and the governments. It is recognised through its fawning adulation of those in power, and warm embrace for those who support that power.
But it is also known for its fangs, that are bared against those those described as the ‘enemy’ by the ruling regimes — the protestors, the critics, the questioners, the people at large who dare air an independent point of view. The godi media targets them, beats them with verbal abuse, scoffs and ridicules them, and pulls out all the stops to pulp democracy.
It takes on the complexion of those in power. Even if it does not quite look like them, it emotes like them. it sounds like them. It rages when they rage, or at least direct it to, and certifies untruth as the truth. It hides facts, it decides what are the facts, it plays up stories that makes the masters glow, it asks no awkward questions and it follows the script handed over to it as policy, no matter what.
And as it gets deeper into the lap, as this business is addictive with all the trappings that come with it, it loses all control. It gives new meaning to journalism, by robbing it of all that the hitherto fourth pillar of democracy represented. It not only becomes a certified extension of the government’s propaganda machinery, but it also attacks those who oppose polices, or demand the truth, or critique decisions. And attacks with increasing viciousness where the people of this country become anti nationals, traitors, Pakistanis, Maoists, Naxals et al in a bid to tarnish and isolate them.
It believes so deeply in the powers of the day that it repeats what governments and ruling politicians say without question. Nothing is too low for the godi media to repeat, or support. So when India’s toiling masses come out on to the roads for justice and rights, they come straight against this frothing and foaming godi media that screams out at them for daring to even question the powers.
As with the farmers. The godi media began a relentless attack that continued till the moment the Prime Minister announced the repeal of the three farm laws. The godi lot were left astounded. Adrift. Suddenly the Khalistani had become a mainstream farmer. The anti-national was declared legitimate.
It was after all because of the godi media that the government was able to keep the protesting farmers -700 plus dying during the agitation –under siege. Nails were embedded on to the roads, concrete barricades stronger than war time bunkers constructed, water canons and lathis used at every pretext, with farmers even being mowed down by vehicles driven by a ministers son. All justified or glossed over.
The godi media supported all this. It did not back off and ensured that the government did not feel the need to back off. Everything was kosher, the bloodied heads of farmers just power for the course. Every tenet of independent, free journalism was buried under the ferocity of the godi media attack on the protesting farmers.
To begin with India’s farmers were shocked. But being of agrarian stock recovered quickly to start their own media, and use it regularly to straighten the facts and put out their views. Soon the media left out of the godi started referring to the kisan channels and papers for facts and information to do with one of the biggest stories of the year.
To understand the damage done by the controlled media consider the scenario had journalism lived up to its responsibilities. The government would have repealed the laws sooner than later, thereby avoiding the deaths of 700 farmers, the violence, the unhappiness. The Prime Minister would have the support of the farming community, and the governments would be in good odour with India’s land tillers.
However, by not checking and questioning the government and following the line of hostility the godi media has done exactly what journalism is not supposed to do. Endorsed government policy without question, and taken it further to isolate and harass those who supply food to this country. Good journalism stands on the side of the people, and questions government always. Regardless of who is in power. It stands for the Constitution and for rights and justice, that means the people.
The media is part of the checks and balances woven into the Indian Constitution, and when it runs amok it inflicts severe damage as is now very visible.
The other side effects of media servility is the complete loss of respect amongst the people. This was evident in two major protests in recent years where the faces of the godi media – at least in the perception of the people – were asked to leave the venues. There can be no worse indictment than when the ordinary person refuses space to the media, as usually this is done by the governments. The people spell succour for journalists always. The word godi media has evolved from this lack of respect and accompanying anger and frustration.
The second side effect is the distance that has crept into the relationship between the media and the people. Journalism exists to report the voices of the people, to carry their concerns to government, but in this polarisation created by the godi media there is a division that is sharp and very unhealthy for journalism itself.
Given the big bucks and the control of governments over business houses, and the control of the business houses over the media they own it is highly unlikely that the godi media will climb out of the lap of crony capitalism. At least not immediately or in the near future. SEEMA MUSTAFA