Recently, media has been accused and discussed too much for many reasons. Its integrity has always been in question. However, its authenticity is the 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 since the Indian politics got attention from British Raj. Thus, in that sense our news papers are much more serious of people’s opinion and much better compared to other papers 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 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 news. All these aspects 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 social control.
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 a choice, if he is not interested in what you are showing then he will switcvethe channel. We being politically hungry, there was a time when Indian youth was not at all interested in political development or politics of this country. However, today’s youth are discussing politics and also has their own opinion on it, and this is probably the impact of political coverage.
Today media has more young audience. Youth know their right to vote and they are keeping eye on good, bad and ugly side of politics. Earlier, we could see two people in the corner discussing politics in pale dim light with bad picture quality on the national channel and no one was really interested to look at those interviews or shows. Today, there is 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. Everyone wants to know about fashion, cooking, films, party, page three, derby and race course activities. Nothing is framed and limited to particular segment of news print. Sometimes you are kind, unkind, avarice and aggressive according to your magazines and newspaperinterests.Music, art, cinema, gossips have its relevant space in the print media. What we are talking about is appetite, courage and willingness required for which we will go for money and power in its best ways.
When AAP suddenly won in Delhi, media went over hauling about the party and its simplicity. None of the channels dared to show Salman Khan’s bare body or ShahrukhKhan’s hyped coverage. They had not even bashed Modi or dared to show Modi’srally. The subject had its own relevance and steadiness. Sometimes, when there is nothing much to show, no news or scandals to expose, then the TV channels has to focus on PoonamPandey or Sunny Leone 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 need to find alternative by any means. News is all about analysis and paralysis. Sometimes, news channels show discussion on irrelevant topics which don’t create an impact on anyone. However, this happened mostly in the olden days which was old fashioned and dull without any interactivity and pep in it.
When it comes to paid news, even today the regional newspapers have no courage to speak against government.There is a quiet understanding between the management of the newspaper and authorities to not to go against each other. If you go against the 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 frequently witnessed. There is a large section of media, especially if we go in the rural areas, or to be specific local media, the journalists of which act like blackmailers. Now obviously, the ethics and morality has taken a back seat there. Let us not stigmatise 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 are everywhere.
There are many regional papers that can be termed as the best example for honest journalism but unfortunately they did not survive. Why? They would not have died if they would have grown 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 fascinating views about ethical and unethical journalism. Media is interfering too much into people’s private life. The biggest example is Tehelka. They used prostitutes to pose as arm dealers and got into defence boundaries, but it was in the public interest. Liked by many and condemned by large. Sometimes, media feels that going beyond the normal parameters of ethics is OK. What happened to Tehelka and its owner?Theorganisation collapsed and TarunTejpal is in jail on rape charges. If there is appetite in media, I would say all is fair if it’s done in the public interest. Anyways, today we have more stringent rules and regulations even for media.
Journalists have to raise their voice on unethical practices saying no to even their own bosses, managements and pay masters, by challenging them. Sometimes, it’s very much interfering 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 another political party; if you say good about Congress then you are against BJP and if you stand by BJP then you are accused of being bought by BJP. And if you are against both of them, then you are accused of being paid by some third party. The general assumption is that media and party are sold out in the country.
In other ways, finance is one of the biggest problems of media. Small town or state level media is actually controlled by political parties directly while parties handle national channels indirectly. It’s very difficult for working journalists to understand how they are directly and indirectly controlled by political parties. Actually, journalists must assert themselves, and today common people are scrutinising media much. There is no doubt that media has become powerful and that’s why everyone wants to control it. The debate over ethics is rudimentary. Nowadays, ethics deal with the silence of authorities. It’s time to revolt from within. However, it is not in journalists’ hand actually.