Myth of national media

Himanshu Shekhar

Delhi based media houses love to claim that they belong to the national media. However, it does not reflect in there News selection and content. Amongst these media houses, News channels are at the core of this issue. A couple of weeks ago Yamuna was flowing above danger mark and almost all News channels kept themselves busy in projecting it as a huge natural calamity. A number of reporters were deployed by all major news channels at different places of Delhi to create a war like situation in the mind of a common man living in Delhi.

But, nothing happened to the capital. Meanwhile, these news channels gained some extra TRP points and got some commercial advantage out of it. It is mostly seen that these particular Delhi based news channels always give extra hype to any minor issue and project it as a national issue. At the same time they are completely ignorant about the major issues of other parts of our country. They have got nothing to do with the problems of any far-flung area accross the country. Be it the deaths of children of Gorakhpur due to encephalitis, be it the problem of arsenic contaminated water in the villages of Buxar district of Bihar or be it farmer’s suicide, they never get the required space in these self claimed torch bearers of national media. They have space for regular fashion shows or love affair gossips of Hollywood-Bollywood couples but not for the needy lot.

It is pertinent to mention that a number of villages of Gorakhpur, a district of eastern Uttar Pradesh, are facing the pain of encephalitis every year during July and October. According to some unofficial estimates, about 250 children have died this year. Last year, this number was at 556. In 2008, encephalitis claimed 495 lives here and in 2007 the count was at 525. In 2006, it took 476 lives.

Until 2004, no one was even bothered to take care of Gorakhpur or to check or even understand it’s problem. In 2005, an outbreak killed 1,200 children and then medical experts came into action. The Atlanta-based Centre for Disease Control and several others conducted studies and concluded that the main killer was Japanese encephalitis. Despite, that government did not take steps which were required to check this problem and number of deaths in here.

It’s shocking to know that the Gorakhpur district has 13 primary health centres and nine community health centres but not even one has equipment like a ventilator. So, sick children have to be sent to the medical college. The Health Department has 21 fogging machines, but only five works. The other 16 have been undergoing repairs for a year now. An official was quoted in a news report saying, 27 of every 100 patients admitted with encephalitis, died. According to a report, 22 per cent of the 2,500 patients who tested positive for encephalitis died in 2009. In 2005, the death rate was higher and so were the number of patients admitted.

Despite this all not a single media house is raising questions about these problem. Not a single media house is daring to ask questions about the mismanagement of health centres, which are supposed to work to check the problem and give proper treatment to the patients. Do these Delhi centric media houses really deserve the tag of being the torch bearers of the National media?

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