Staff Reporter

‘There is growing disconnect between mass media and mass reality’

Bangalore: Regretting that the crisis of farmers is not reflected in the mass media, Magsaysay winner P. Sainath, on Thursday, said that there is growing disconnect between the mass media and mass reality.

Participating in a function organised to launch the website of “Janashakthi”, the Kannada weekly in Bangalore, Mr. Sainath pointed out that the voice of 70 per cent of the population, including farmers “do not make news” as the mass media is giving importance only for the “elite” section of the society.

He wondered how the television channels and newspapers, except one channel and one newspaper, did not think that it was news when Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar admitted in Parliament that about 1.6 lakh farmers committed suicide in the country between 1997 and 2007.

Mr. Sainath said that the Budget announcement of waiving of farm loans of over Rs. 50,000 crore has been described as “unprecedented” in the mass media, when such concessions were being given to the corporate sector every year.

Missed reportage

The mass media even failed to report the outcome of a house-to-house survey of farmers, conducted by the Maharashtra government, which revealed that 2 million farming families were in a highly distressed state, he said.

Mr. Sainath also ridiculed the media by pointing out that as many as 512 media representatives cover a week-long fashion show held every year in Mumbai, while six representatives of the national media do not wish to stay in villages to study and report the causes of farmers’ suicide in the Vidharabha region.

Litterateur Baraguru Ramchandrappa felt that the existence of “common man” becomes relevant for politicians only during elections. At all other times they sail with the needs of the corporate sector. He also alleged that the rulers of late have allowed multi-national companies to violate the provisions of the Constitution. He urged the mass media to highlight these issues.