Media literate?

I think Times of India (TOI) epitomizes tolerance of Indians – the sane minded ones at least. It already has names like Slimes of India and Toilet Paper of India, for obvious reasons. I mean no offence to the publishing house, but their antics are sometimes beyond the limits of tolerance.

A recent article “Hacking take toll of IITians” talks about how increased nightly activities of hacking, gaming, blogging and chatting are taking a toll on healthy attendance of students in the lecture halls. A good topic in my opinion, as it tries to dig out reasons for falling academic standards of an elite institution. However, what I find ridiculous is how the journalist links this observation to a suicide incident in the campus. It doesn’t stop there – the name of the suicide victim is made public, along with an account of his academic performance. The boy is no longer alive to protest – what about his family? Doesn’t the journalist have a penny worth of sensibility to understand the emotional trauma the boy’s family would be going through?

Such irresponsible reporting is not the first: The DPS scandal coverage is probably the best showpiece of dork media in action. Even NDTV, which by and large happens to be most responsible of all, entered into the dork media bandwagon. Ritesh talks about some of his observations in this regard, in his post IIT and DPS:

My question is: when this guy got already arrested by the police and suspended by the IIT, then why did the media publish his name and whereabouts (even his address!) to further ruin his future? This is a normal Indian student for God’s sake, not a criminal!!! This is exactly how criminals are born ! By giving him punishment and also making sure he lives his life as hell for the rest of future! I think this was all due to pressure from the powerful families in delhi. Notice something here, none of us know the real name (forget about the address) of the guy and the girl involved in the incident. Why? Probably coz the guy’s family has a flourishing diamond business and girl’s dad was a senior army brigadier while the IIT student’s dad is a normal government employee.

These kinds of dorky reporting mostly go unnoticed. Although blogs provide a space to criticize and discuss such issues, they are still in the minority compared to the mainstream Indian population. Media literacy, therefore, needs to be introduced in our educational curriculum in a formal way. Fran Trampiets elucidates this fact:

Media literacy is really a necessity in today’s world. We live in such a media-saturated environment. We’re continually bombarded with messages from newspapers and magazines, movie and television screens, Internet Web sites, chat rooms and listservs. We have to know how to filter out what we don’t need or want and how to access and then interpret, analyze and evaluate what’s useful. Media literacy is about asking smart questions and making smart choices; it’s about using media selectively and reflectively.
Media literate people want to know the source of a message, its purpose and the source’s credibility and reliability. They can recognize bias, distortion, stereotyping and sensationalism. They try to get information from multiple sources and to consider any issue from multiple perspectives.
Media education develops critical thinking skills. It cuts across all areas of the curriculum and can be integrated into every subject area.
Source: CNN FYI

Literacy, after all, is not just about being able to write your name.


Ritesh and Varun have written insightful posts on the same incident. Ritesh tries to probe in to the sorry state of affairs that often leaves a student with no options. Varun, being from the same institute, gives an insider’s view on the whole matter.