Recently, media has been accused and discussed too much, for many reasons. Always, its integrity has been questioned. However, its authenticity is a duty of thinkers, readers and buyers. We are very fortunate that in our country we are extremely interested in politics. The headline craze has brooked the credentials of a newspaper. Everywhere, we are talking about politics and nothing else. Our Indian politics has received attention since the British Raj in India. Thus, in that sense, our newspapers are much more serious on the quotes and much better compared to other newspapers of the world. Second thing is that, newspapers or news does not mean only news; news has to have variety of segments. News does not mean only the national issues. News by itself is very rich in its nature; and anything that gives healthy entertainment and right education and inspires people to do better or asks the Government its accountability to do a better job is good news or constitute good journalism. My point, however, is that in the recent decades, the largest selling newspapers actually sell news space at a price tag. The so called ‘supplement’ is complete paid advertisement in the form of news. We should not follow western culture of journalism; there should be a social control over it.
Generally news channels have a favourite quote, “If this is what people want to see, we are going to show”. Is that correct? Ethical or unethical, no one knows. I think a viewer has choice; if he is not interested in what you are showing, he can turn you off or change the channel. Today, it’s more of a young media, a young audience. Youth knows their right to vote and they are keeping eyes on good, bad and ugly side of politics. If today we say media is aggressive, remarkable and determined on certain issues then it is because of the youth. They understand the points and hidden agenda of running that news. Earlier, we could see two people in the corner discussing politics in the pale dim light and with bad picture quality of the national channel and no one was really bothered to look at those interviews or shows. Today, there is a large participation in news based talk shows and discussions.
Now if you look at the tabloids, even they are aggressive. They are also into investigative journalism. Somewhere down the line, the tabloid is much better than other media, nowadays. It’s not only broadsheet or news channels that talks about serious issues like poverty, fertilizations, but also widely published in other publications too. Everyone wants to know about fashion, cooking, films, party, Page three, Derby and race course activities. Nothing is firmed and limited to particular segment of newsprint. Sometimes you are kind, unkind, avarice and aggressive for that Magazines and newspapers should reflect that plethora of interest and different registers in which we all live. Music, arts cinema, gossips all that has its relevant space in the news print. What we are talking about is appetite, courage and willingness required for which we will go for money and power in its best ways.
Sometimes, during dry days when there is nothing much to show, no news or scandals to expose, then the TV channels has to focus on Shahrukh Khan or Amitabh Bachchan to entertain their viewers. The news has to be relevant and worth grabbing the attention of readers or viewers. There are occasions, when there is nothing happening and hence one needs to find an alternative by any means. News is all about analysis and paralysis. Sometimes, we see TV anchors are discussing irrelevant topics which have no impact.
When it comes to paid news, even today the regional newspapers have no courage to speak against the government. There is a silent understanding between the management of the newspaper and authorities that not to go against each other. If they go against government then the solution is its closure. Many such bold newspapers had to shut down their shop for writing against government. Many prospered by supporting and promoting and being the mouth piece of state governments or Chief Ministers. In north India, this kind of news culture is quite aggressively witnessed. There is a large section of media especially if we go in the rural areas, or to be specific local media, its journalists are acting like blackmailers. Now, obviously the ethics and morality has taken a back seat there. Let us not stigmatize small media but there are blackmailers in small media as well as in the national media. It won’t be wrong to say that blackmailers exist everywhere.
There are many regional papers that can be termed as the best examples for honest journalism but unfortunately they did not survive. Why? They would not have died if they would have grown on at a sub regional level. You take the examples of one of the leading Hindi newspapers; they are publishing sixty three editions for this country. It has tried to reach almost every district and state. Many times media has crossed its ethical boundaries. These are hypnosis views about ethical and unethical journalism.
Media is interfering too much into people’s private lives. The biggest example is Tehelka. They used prostitutes to pose as arm dealers and got into defense boundaries, but it was in the public interest. This sting operation was liked by many but condemned by large. Sometime, media also feels that it is right going beyond the normal parameters of ethics to unveil the truth. If there is appetite for the news, I would say all is fair if it is done in the public interest. Anyway, we have to bring more stringent rules and regulations for our fraternity.
Journalists have to raise their voice on unethical practices saying no to even their own bosses, managements and pay masters, by challenging all of them. Sometimes, there is too much interference and journalists cannot really execute their freedom to live in ethical frame. Media in India is sometimes constantly under accusations. They are related with one or other political parties, if you say good about Congress then you are connected to the Congress and if you stand by BJP then you are accused of being bought by BJP. And if you stand in between, then you are accused of being paid by some third party or both the parties will attack you. The general assumption is that media and party are sold out in the country.
There is no doubt, media has become powerful and that’s why everyone wants to control them. The debate over its ethics is rudimentary. Nowadays, ethics deals with the silence of authorities. It’s time to revolt within us, but that’s not in the hands of journalists actually.
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