As I promised you, I will continue my editorial for you people today from where I left. I was talking about media, their banners and hypocrisy. The Times of India consistently maintains its reputation as a balanced newspaper and does not run after exposures and scams/scandals. Very rarely it does operate as an exposing medium against corruption, but then also it has never hit below the belt. The RK’s cartoons have placed Times group in an exclusive place in the world of print media. The Times editorial are a stuff for aspirants of competitive examinations as also for administrators, political executives and corporate. Girilal Jain occupied the office of the Times Group as an Editor for a pretty long time and added academic depth to the editorial column. Kumar Ketkar, initially wrote for Economic Times before taking over the charge as an Editor of Maharashtra Times, the Marathi language edition of the Times group. Kumar happens to be the first journalist to have switched over from Economic newspaper to political news coverage.
Ritu Sarin of Indian Express earned a place in the category of celebrated journalists when she exposed the Tata tapes involving Field Marshal Sam Manickshaw with Mr. Ratan Tata, a business-tycoon. Ms. Sarin’s exposures have a class of her own and she too, like her counterparts in Times does not hit below the belt, nor does she profess scams-exposure as a career. Neither Mr. Girilal Jain nor Ms Sarin has won a Padma awards for their contribution to media.
Sucheta Dalal, a phenomenon that came to be from the Big Bull exposure of the Stock Market kite-flying scam, left the Times Group to join its arch-rival Indian Express. It was a very unprecedented move, and she continued there for long before launching her own publications. Ms. Dalal won Padma Shri quite late in life, almost a decade after the exposure. Friend or foe, it has to be a subject and not a person, is the way she professed journalism. Her article appealing mercy for Harshad Mehta, not from the criminal prosecution but from the hectic investigation and judicial journey was on humanitarian grounds. She had written that Harshad Mehta might die in prison if subjected to a suffocating system. And that is what happened years later as Mehta died of cardiac arrest in Thane jail.
A name that flew a lot like a stormy wave amidst the Bofors controversy was of Ms. Chitra Subramaniam of ‘The Hindu’ newspaper, a south-India based English daily. Ms. Subramaniam with her then editor Mr. N. Ram earned an international repute for cornering the then Congress government over the kick-back allegations in a purchase deal of Howitzer Long-range guns, known as Bofors.
The Swedish company had allegedly paid kick-backs to an official broker of Indian origin Mr. Win Chhada for executing the contract. Then Congress MP and matinee-idol Amitabh Bachchan made a history as he put his papers as an MP. It happened for the first time in the history of ‘Independent India’ that a Member of Parliament resigned over a controversy. The electronic media brought a type of journalism without much depth. The weight and depth of print-media journalism are totally absent in this form of news media.
In the times of “Sabse Tez” viewers are taken for granted. We see Arnab Goswami on TIMES NOW screaming “Enough is Enough”. Who are you trying to fool? Then we have a beard-sporting chap on a multi-national banner threatening us like a gangster. His tone, ups and downs in his voice have no consonance at all with the topic or the incident he is narrating. What we hear is “Better watch my programme or you had it”. The space titled Breaking News is compulsorily flashing round the clock.
Editorial Ownership and foreign ownership are two concepts in media that make a lot of difference for such banners that are under such management. As foreign ownership is concerned, there was a hue and cry from the locals some years ago and government was forced to slap some restrictions on it. I do not recollect the details or modalities of these norms, but then the class that foreign media possess and function with, we lack; especially in electronic media. There is no dearth of brave journalists, who if given an opportunity shall strive for excellence. Problem is with the managements. In the age of competition they cannot afford to concentrate on journalism as earlier. It is a harsh reality that journalism as a profession is a paid job. The introduction of electronic channels has faded off the charm of breaking-news and scam-exposures.
There is compulsorily the tag of Breaking News 24/7 on every channel. What is flashed under that tag is a scrap by compulsion. I’m recalling one of the leading news channel’s breaking news, when Amitabh Bachchan on his way from hospital to home; decided to take a left turn for his mother’s house. The news channel anchor was so excited that his belly fell off breaking the news.
Less written, less agony, so here I stop.