For the last few days, the financial capital of India has been submerged under water. Heavy rains have literally brought the city to a standstill. Mumbai has been witnessing what weather officials believe could be the heaviest and longest bout of rain since July 26, 2005, when the city was paralyzed by floods. People are forced to reach their homes by foot in knee deep waters in many areas as train services along with the public transport have been hit badly by these rains.

In the meanwhile, media houses have done their jobs wonderfully by covering the issue at hand. For the entire day, the focus was on Mumbai. Reporters from almost all channels could be seen reporting from the ground, taking bytes from the passersby and keeping the national audience updated about the situation. Well done! That’s what how media should function, that’s what their job is i.e. to report.

But, why does the media only report when something big happens of this magnitude in a large city. Why on earth, does the so called ‘national media’ not report as enthusiastically when floods happen in Bihar, UP, Bengal and Assam as they are doing now in Mumbai? This year over 400 people have lost their lives in floods in Bihar and eastern UP. That’s just the government estimates which are very moderate indications of the loss occurred. Property worth crores has been destroyed and damaged by these floods.

Where was the national media? Barring few sane voices in TV journalism and print media, most of the media is urban-centric and urban focused. That’s the sad truth of the day. For them, the scale of disaster and to cover which event depends on who is getting affected by the events. For e.g. For them, lives of Mumbaikars matter much more than poor people in Bihar who have lost their children, family members, their houses, their animals. For the media managers sitting in metropolitan cities, floods in Bihar can be ignored because for them it’s a usual thing to happen which can be afforded to be blissfully ignored.

Even those who have covered it, have just mentioned it as a report of how many died in the floods. A deeper analysis of the problem is just missing because the national media reporters are just missing from the ground in Bihar. Just see the excellent way in which anchors are demanding answers from those accountable for floods in Mumbai, have they shown even half the enthusiasm in covering Bihar floods? Most of them haven’t even done a single primetime on this issue.

They kept covering the daily mundane issues of instilling patriotism and singing Vande Mataram in their studios day after day. The news editors of mainstream media just refuse to cover the hinterlands of India. Its not just about their not covering these floods, it’s about their attitude of being fixated in the urban centers of the country, which are also the power centers.

Today, news channels are creating hashtags on twitter, facebook and other social media platforms. Good, very good, but why not do the same when people in the hinterlands of India suffer miserably. Does urban lives matter more for mainstream national media or is it because their near and dear ones live in big cities like Mumbai and nation’s ‘who’s who’ live there and are not stuck in a flooded village in Bihar?

If that is so, then there are no bigger hypocrites than our national media. If their outrage on natural calamities is selective, then the media have lost the basic decency of being called as the ‘fourth pillar’ in a democracy. Are they the pillar of democracy only for those live in urban power centers? If for them, human lives matter more in metropolitan cities more than in rural areas because of which rural areas can be ignored, then media is failing to do their basic job, i.e to report unbiasedly.

The point here is not a complaint against the reportage of Mumbai floods being done greatly by the media. The point is why such an enthusiasm is not shown when a disaster happens in rural India. Why is one issue given priority over the other when the ‘other’ has proven to be a disaster of a greater magnitude?

The last time when flooding was covered in detail by the national media is when Chennai was flooded few years back. In between, every year floods take lot of lives in northern and eastern India but media bosses have thought it to be a ‘normal issue’ because for them, its but natural that floods come every year about which a report or two can be done.

This is a high time to demand accountability from the national media whose anchors just love to give ‘sermons’ but fail to do their duties as journalists. It’s time to call out the bluff of the media, especially electronic media whose editors keep up their ‘holier than thou’ attitude. Unless and until that is done, things are not going to change for the better.