GUWAHATI, Sept 7 – “Today the media ecosystem is not interested in writing about the problems of ordinary people,” commented the editor of leading English daily, The Hindu, Siddharth Varadarajan, substantiating his remarks with the fact that the media is driven by a peculiar set of commercial considerations.
“The economics of media is driven by models of revenue generation, which also reflects in the issues and geographical locations covered by the media. The Northeastern region, from this point of view, certainly suffers due to this mindset,” he said while addressing the gathering at Cotton College on the occasion of the 32nd Manik Chandra Barooah Memorial National Level Debate.
The topic of the debate was ‘The media in India has significantly determined the creation of a stereotype of the Northeast.’
Expelling the common notion that the NE region is ignored due to the remoteness; he said that the idea disconnectedness or remoteness cannot be true in today’s context, where any kind of information reaches thousands of people within a fraction second.
“The incidents of violence in BTAD area and its reaction in Mumbai and later in many other parts of the country, including the Southern States, prove the interconnectedness of the issues. It was also a wake-up call for us in the media that we cannot ignore any issue of such magnitude, no matter if it happens in any part of the country,” he added.
Further commenting on the recent trends in media, he said that the drop in ethical standards of media is obvious in the form of paid news, especially during the time of elections. “It’s also a challenge for the media houses to maintain its image of an unbiased entity,” he added.
All Assam Students’ Union advisor Dr Samujjal Bhattacharyya released a souvenir brought out on the occasion and remembered the contributions of Manik Chandra Barooah, one of the greatest luminaries of Assam.
In his speech, he conveyed the prevalent feeling among the NE people that the national media mostly cold-shoulders the burning issues of Assam to Varadarajan. “We have an agony that Assam and NE States are neglected by the national media and this hampers the interest of the region,” he said.
The national level debate was organized by Debates and Symposia section of the Cotton College Union Society. Manik Chandra Barooah, eminent educationist, was instrumental in setting up Cotton College, the first institution of higher studies in the region, Earl Law College, which is known as Government Law College, the first law college in Assam, Latasil ME School (now Manik Chandra Barooah High School), Curzon Hall, presently Nabin Ch Bordoloi Hall and the Northbrook Gate at Sukreswar Ghat.
Inaugurating the debate competition, RS Mooshahary, Governor of Meghalaya said that the NE region continues to be isolated both on geographical and emotional grounds. He stressed on the fact that media has to play a constructive role in bridging the gap. “The people of NE feel vulnerable when they go to other parts of the country because they look different. The media has to play a proactive role to minimize all kinds of differences between the people of NE and rest of India,” he added.