Media with wrong priorities is as bad as media under executive control (Shootout on Fleet Street, May 14). An editor should be politically neutral in writing/reporting. How many editors are practising that now? In my school days I used to read Girilal Jain, Inder Malhotra, Kuldip Nayar, M.V. Kamath’s articles. I know my child will not get the opportunity to read journalists of high values and professional integrity. Most of the national newspapers have reduced themselves to just another product in the market and I find regional papers are doing better reporting in terms of raking up local and relevant issues. Newsmagazines revolve around politics and politicians. How many newsmagazines give time or resources for investigative journalism on topical social issues (and I don’t mean Aamir Khan’s Satymev Jayate). I have no hope from newschannels, because I doubt they will ever recover from ‘The Newshour’ or ‘Big Fight’ or ‘Buck Stops Here’ or ‘India At 9/8/7/6’ etc. The ‘Breaking News’ syndrome to browbeat each other will prevail.
Rupam Verma, on e-mail
When the media invariably takes politically correct positions, it proves itself unworthy of any freedoms. If you are going to gag yourselves anyway, why demand a free press?
Freedom comes with responsibility. It’s unreasonable to defend the right to free speech without the courage to stand up for responsibilities. The media, barring very few exceptions, has given up on responsible reporting, and is working as just another corporate sector. Instead of being the voice of people, it has become a mouthpiece of the powerful. The four pillars of democracy you refer to are anything but strong, with each one fighting for exclusive territorial rights. So please don’t pretend to be above board and sound victimised. Frankly, you’ve asked for it!
As the late M. Chalapthi Rau said, “Indian press is free, but is it free from fetters?” Whose? Of the government, of the editor, of the proprietor or of the readers?
K.E. Thomas, on e-mail
Well, the media is not exactly pious. Now it is protesting against those into whose hands it has played. For too long have people suffered trials by media; if the tables have turned now, it is only fair.
S.L. Chowdhary, on e-mail
Censorship has many forms—and not all are obvious. What your cover story doesn’t mention are the government’s attempts to gag the media and stifle free speech by raising the barriers to entry and by denying access. For instance, in October 2011, they changed the policy guidelines for uplinking and downlinking of TV channels by increasing the net worth criteria for news and current affairs channels from Rs 3 crore to Rs 20 crore for the first channel and Rs 5 crore for each additional channel. This, at a time when the cost of TV equipment, transponder costs etc are falling steadily, allowing smaller players to enter the market. Terrestrial free-to-air television remains a monopoly of the state broadcaster, in violation of the 1995 Supreme Court ‘airwaves judgement’, while news continues to be banned on private radio. Two weeks ago, the government raised the spectrum usage fee for community radio stations almost five-fold, from Rs 19,700 per year to Rs 91,000, making a mockery of their own claim that there is no licence fee for community radio. There is also an unstated policy of not allowing community radio stations to come up in ‘disturbed areas’, which includes j&k, most of the Northeast and large swathes of central India.
Sajan Venniyoor, New Delhi
Despite the faults of bias, sensationalism and inaccuracy in some sections of the media, it is imperative that it remain free as it is our only hope in exposing corruption and injustice. If journalists are going to be prosecuted for cartoons, we may as well be living in North Korea.
If judges ban ‘original’ news reporting from the courtroom, then the gap will be filled by speculation. And that will be a thousand times worse than the original ‘scandal’.
Rajesh Chandra, Phoenix, US
Perhaps the media could ask itself a few questions. Like what is being done about paid news? What is stopping politicians from running their own media enterprises and influencing others to give them a favourable opinion and tar the opponents? Or, why should media be a ‘for-profit’ enterprise when other pillars of democracy are not? Or, why it should be trusted to self-regulate? Isn’t it conflict of interest?
The media invades people’s private lives, heaps false accusations on innocent and helpless people, intentionally victimises high-profile vips, creates fear among people by focusing only upon negative news, yet cries about its own freedom. It only needs to look at neighbours Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, China and Myanmar to realise that it is much better off than the media in these countries. It should also beware of spreading poison in the minds of the people against the judiciary as it is the last pillar of our democracy that has not been infested by termites yet.
Jyotish Das, New Delhi
The very headline to Outlook’s cover on media freedom and a proposed gag on it (Shootout on Fleet Street, May 14) showed the bias it would have. The media is ripe for a fair bit of regulation—the cacophony generated in the evenings, with every channel the “first to report” all rumours wrapped around ‘news’, needs to be stymied.
What media freedom are we talking about?
Only the gullible elite believe that it exists in this country.
Our media is already gagged and bound.
Gagging it any further would be akin to strangling it to death.
Cacophony does not equal freedom of expression.
Reporters Without Borders places India at 131st place in the Press Freedom Index 2011-2012 behind even a banana republic like Burundi!
So much for free speech in India.
Time for the masses to go back to the basics & fight for a consitutional amendment guaranteeing free speech.
As I have said earlier the media is becoming more and more like Ekta Kapur serials. The other day after the incident at Ranchi where CM'shelicopter turned turtle the way his news was carried by the media showed its shallowness. Some channel also told us about the number of incidents Jharkhand CM has experienced so far. I call it Vighna Santoshi, those who feel happy at someone else's discomfiture, discomfort and sadness. Though I was bit surprised how this incident did not find an important place in Times Now nine to ten slot with Arnava, Navika and Poonam etc. May be they could not dig much dirt with DGCA in such a short time.
Freedom comes with a responsibility. It's unreasonable to demand and defend the right for free speech without the gumption and courage to stand up for the responsibilities. Media, barring very few exceptions, has given up on responsible reporting, and is working as just another corporate house. Instead of being the voice of people, it has become a mouthpiece of the powerful. The four pillars of democracy that you refer are anything but strong, with each one fighting for exclusive stronghold. So please don't pretend to be above board and sound victimised. Frankly, you have asked for it!
Any rape ( or anti-women ) issue is hyper reported, and the woman 'victimised' by the media.
Is there a link here?
What the article doesn't mention are the government's attempts to gag the media and stifle free speech by raising the barriers to entry and by denying access. For instance, in Oct 2011, they changed the 'policy guidelines for uplinkiing and downlinking of TV channels' by increasing the net worth criteria for News & Current Affairs channels from Rs. 3 crores to Rs. 20 crores for the first channel and Rs. 5 crores for each additional channel. This, at a time when the cost of TV equipment, transponder costs etc are falling steadily, allowing smaller players to enter the market.
Terrestrial free-to-air television remains a monopoly of the state broadcaster, in violation of the 1995 Supreme Court 'airwaves judgment', while news continues to be banned on private radio.
Two weeks ago, the government raised the Spectrum Usage Fee for community radio stations almost five-fold, from Rs.19,700 per year to Rs.91,000, making a mockery of their own claim that there is no licence fee for community radio. There is also an unstated policy of not allowing community radio stations to come up in 'disturbed areas', which includes J&K, most of the North East and large swathes of central India.
Censorship evidently has many forms.
Dear Mr. Media,
It is high time that you wake up to your duties and responsibilities. You call yourself the fourth estate of our democracy. But have you ever read our Constitution except for the Fundamental Rights? If you flip through a few pages, you will come across another chapter: Fundamental Duties.
You are raising a hue and cry that your freedom is being curbed and regulated. But, have you ever pondered over your duty towards the society and most importantly its citizens? You invade people's private lives, make false accussations upon innocent and helpless people, intentionally victimize high profile VIPs, create fear among people by focusing only uopn negative news; yet you say that you need more freedom. Just take a look upon our neighbouring countries, viz., Pakistan, Srilanka, Afghanistan, China and Burma. I think that you are in a much better state that the media of these countries.
Lastly, beware of spreading posion in the minds of the people about our reverend Judiciary because it is the last pillar of our democracy that has not been infested by termites yet!
"Be it the manner in which Narendra Modi’s 2002 genocide ..." These reporters are so completely without shame - they exhibit hypocrisy when talking about their own hypocrisy. It is now "Narendra Modi's genocide" He owns it even though all their manipulations of the judiciary have produced nothing!. Convict him anyway. Are these scumbags capable of understanding why they don't command respect from anyone - either of the people, the executive or the judiciary? The people see through their pretensions and hypocrisy and the executive and judiciary think of them as their paid servants who need to get their comeuppance when they demonstrate any spine. The attitude is - we have bought them and they need to be taught their place!
If you want freedom of the press - first demonstrate integrity.
As for the privilege motion, I wrote a small blog few day ago,
Parliament, Civil society and Privilege motion.
My thought is:
I see this behavior (MPs slapping privilege motion), less about “ruler vs ruled” or “power vs public”, but a cultural reflection.
Unless a culture is built on the premise that self does not born out of status, such events will keep repeating.
Respect is earned, not assigned.
Nobody is perfect. Both the politicians and the media need cleaning up. However, it must not be forgotten that people are bound to trust the media over politicians. At least the newspapers, reporters, editors and the shrilly news anchors don't make merry with the tax payers money like the politicians do.
The power centre actually doesn’t want to gag the media but it expects them to observe a complete restraint on the reports and expose’ which may be embarrassing and uncomfortable to the government, politicians- regardless of their parties, bureaucrats and judiciary. Then already reeling under various scam-reports by media, the ruling coalition turned panicky to see a massive public support to Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev which were by and large due to media exposure. However, it’s also true that the most of the politicians always look forward towards media for publicity yet in case of their sound bytes goof-up, they blame it for misreporting. In fact, no politician or celebrity can survive without a media support then why try to kill or tone their voices down. Justice Katju may have now turned vociferous to regulate the media but as a high court chief justice and judge in apex court, how many times did he try to control and arrest the corruption, known by all, being rampant in the lower and higher judicial circles ?
yeah, the right-winger, sanghi, brain washed me too couldn't help but notice:
"... Narendra Modi’s 2002 genocide ..."
Let's together we call for, "charity begins at home".
Now a days corporate media is hand in glove with the govts in the conspiracy to impose restrictions on social media. As people get to know that corporate media wants to hide. Corporate media has been wanting people to live in fear so thy could project some filthy idea/person/industrial product. So CMedia gets more and more ads.
I think this article is a significant contribution to the debate on both press freedom and journalistic standards.
I have noticed that the media-gag has become a common operation and the Centre has recently enacted certain laws recently, which smell of Centre's doublespeak. India is World's largest democracy, no doubt, but with gaggin' becoming so common, it can be termed a gagocracy. The media activists should gird up their loins and made an integrated effort, esp. the arrest of Kazmi has revealed that fact in no uncertain terms, but as the mediapersons are picked randomly, others think that they are safe, but it is a sort of mirage thinking. The fire can reach you too, so can the handcuffs, if you dare to speak what the government does not want to hear (itself or for the people to). Just dare to speak the truth or spill the beans and you will face the music. We all know it but never dare to speak! And, if Arundhati says it all, the mainstream media-brainwashed people get hawkish against her and call her what not?
Pf HS Dimple PCS (mains clear) JAGRAON
"many scandals involving the higher judiciary and their family linkages “could have turned them against the media”. .. the SC was pondering the decision to frame “guidelines” for coverage of court cases".
Now it explains why judges are so keen on curbing media. Citing articles, talk of balancing constitutional provisions are just smokesreen.
But is it really going to block the news from getting out? Even during emergency when the censorship was complete and there were no internet, news could not be stopped. Now if the judges ban 'original' news reporting from the courtroom then the void will be filled by speculations. And it will be several times more damaging than the original scandel.
Nowadays Indian news channels(especially Hindi) runs on only three things: entertainment, entertainment, entertainment. This is largely responsible for the dirty picture of media.
When the media invariably takes politically correct positions, you prove yourselves unworthy of any freedoms. If you are going to gag yourselves anyway, why demand a free press?
Well done Outlook a very balanced, excellent and professional essay!
Well media is not pious. Now it is protesting against those in whose hands it has played.
What the photo with the title linking ABVP is doing in this article ?
What has been the role of media in demonising RSS the only institution working for Nation?
Thank God, the article accepts its role in demonising NaMo.
How media buried AMSinghvi case but over exposed Nityanand?
What about Gaffe by BS, BBC, rediff recently downplaying Gujarat Growth?
Why media cried over Nirmal Baba but no word about Dinakaran?
Why media indulges in media trials ?
Our media is not fair.
When we talk about media being the fourth pillar we believe that it will form the function of Sanjay of Mahabharat. But over the year the media has become Manthara. It does not report. It distorts facts. It does not unite it divides. It takes side in a disputes. It works for its masters and masses are certainly not its master. It does not work for Ram but works for Kaikayi.
>> Supreme Courts in both India and Pakistan need to understand that they are "supreme" only in the area of interpretation of law. They are not "supreme" in authority, and they do not have either executive or legislative powers.
In the past, it was the job of the political authority to tie these disparate strands together into a pre-determined, harmonious pattern. That was traditionally the responsibility of the elected leaders. Today, many of those functions have been outsourced to the judiciary which is increasingly putting a stamp of law on what should, ideally, be executive action. This is not entirely because the higher courts want to rule the country, but precisely because no one is actually ruling the country.
India is crying out for a Government that is able to govern coherently.
Media's lack of professionalism is their most glaring deficit as well as their biggest vulnerability. Correspondents posted in Washington create news stories out of thin air. Often the headlines do not match the body of the news report. Official stories are published verbatim without making diligent efforts to independently establish their veracity. Investigative journalism is often conspicuous by its absence.
Supreme Courts in both India and Pakistan need to understand that they are "supreme" only in the area of interpretation of law. They are not "supreme" in authority, and they do not have either executive or legislative powers.
One sometimes wonders how minutes / hours of newstime are allocated on the TV channels to individual stories. The day Nupur Talwar had her day in court, one's three favourite English news channels, conveniently bunched together to facilitate flipping from one to the other, gave her saturation coverage when a few minutes ought to have sufficed. The travails of two Indian children in Norway, the killing of two fishermen by Italian marines, even the abduction and release of hostages by Maoists, all received coverage disproportionate to their inherent importance. Must be tough keeping the show going for 1,440 minutes, seven days a week.
It is not my case that media should be controlled or regulated by legislature , adminstration or the judiciary. But by rendering themselves to be used by powers that be media made itself vulnerable.
During the period of worldwide prosperity from 2003 through 2007 , media went to town with the growth story. They never critically examine the mechanism , base, direction on which this growth was happening. There are innumerable social phenomenons , indicators, signals that this story is somewhere skewed. Instead of taking a critical look, it sold only the one side of the story. You never knew through Indian media that the coin has two sides. In the process they lost credibility . The media excluded the 800 million Indians because they were not consumers, they demonstrated unhyegenic bias for only 400 millions who only they think buy things.
Now that growth story is falling apart. The 400 million somewhat disillusioned consumers are under financial stess. They also started to believe that they have been short -changed not only by power elites but by media also. Naturally effect of this one way story is hurting media where it hurts most - their bottomline. Manistream media now by sheer force of circumstances has started reporting the kissa in high places. Used to a subservient media 'high places' would not take that lying down. The empire is now striking back. They think eventually mainstream media would bend backward.
One only hopes mainstream media would show enough spine to fight off this attack on freedom of press & expression. To succssessfully do so, they woud have to take on board the remaining 800 millions & offer them real goodies of life instead of dreams.
“It’s like teaching the child A for Apple, B for Ball, C for Cat etc etc and when he graduates to improve his vocabulary and turn it to A for Arms Deal, B for Bofors, C for CWG etc etc, he is asked to Shut Up.”
While the article aptly puts forth the point about the curbs on media that the establishment tries to put either officially (legislations such as privilege motions, legal censoring attempts) or unofficially (attacks on media offices, threatening / murder of journalists) and towards the end the solution to these problems, it talks a little about the indulgent corruption and the rampant paid-news culture in the news media.
1. The Barkha Dutt tapes expose how sinfully the self righteous media strongmen are neck-deep in corruption.
2. Silence of national media on Gandhi family's background and assets (when it reverberated across international media that the assets are close to 1 Lakh crore ($19b) ) shows how free our national media is.
3. Irresponsible sensationalist news such as coup attempts by the army - an attempt to discredit and demean a person who is exposing the ills of the establishment; we all can guess who paid for this.
Most of these nefarious traits are exclusive to powerful national media houses who live under the illusion that they can manupulate public mood and perception.
But the public is not a fool and knows separate wheat from the chaff. (repeatedly shown by 'surprising' election results) And like the national leaders losing prominence, the national media will also lose prominence soon as the local and independent media emerge that reports correct news - more connected to reality and the people. And Internet and social media provides a brilliant and seamless platform to anyone to disseminate that news.
And sooner these selfserving corrupt egomaniac mediamen are pushed to the brink the better it is for the country.
Perhaps these mediamen should introspect on the following:
1. What is being done about paid news? What is stopping politicians from running their own media enterprises and influencing others to give themseleves a favorable opinion and tar their opponents?
2. Why should media be a "for-profit" enterprise? Other legs of the pillar are not! Since journalists fancy themseleves as flagbearers of public interest, why should media be a business?
3. Why should media be trusted to self regulate? Doesn't it amount to conflict of interest?
4. Why does media insist on playing a game without rules?
There are many more such questions, which the media would never really address with conviction if it is simply left to themselves. I simply do not believe media's nautanki on self regulation. It is just another ploy to ward off any external pressure.
This country is corrupt to the core and there is not much that we as ordinary citizens can do about it as we are still governed by a set of statutes that date back to the colonial era and were designed to allow the British rulers to keep the natives under control. Shamefully, our modern indigenous rulers have not seen fit to change them. Despite the faults of bias, sensationalism and innacuracy detailed above, it is nevertheless essential that the media remain free as they are the only hope for change by exposing corruption and injustice. It is anti-democratic to systematically hound and persecute the media. If journalists are going to be prosecuted for cartoons we might as well be living in North Korea.
Yes the Congress is taking the lead to suppress free speech,the radicals who see bias are willing to go with the Oppurtunistic Congress to gag the Media.
Free speech is our Fundamenal right,Remains to be seen how the so called Opposition does,In India when it comes to prootecting there Turf there is division among the Politicians.
Congress and BJP will snuff out all that which exposes there true colours,What happened to the Lok Pal is a prime example.When are going to wake up or are we going to take sides and allow the murder of our our democratic rights.Its time India"s Middle class stands up.
May be Anna should take the lead and fight to protect our rights.Dont see this sinister design by the stooge of Saint Rahul not having its way.
The basic point of the article that the three pillars of Democracy-- Judiciary, Executive and Legislature--are set out to weaken the the last one viz., the Fourth estate is well made by the journalists. They deserve our appreciation.
If one looks at the intolerance, raw arrogance and anger of politicians in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal on Print and Electronic media, this point is well-taken. The danger to the freedom of expression is real and staring in the eye. Let us wake up to this harsh reality.
In our family I had given freedom of speech to my two teenage children. One day when I objected to one of their comments prompt came the reaction from my daughter when she asked what is the use of freedom when I was going to question them. I was nonplussed and could not find the answer immediately. It is then that the mother came and told the children that when any freedom is given such as freedom of speech in a civilised society there is also an automatic condition that governs such freedom. When you are given the freedom to speak it also means that you must know when to keep quite. My children understood. I believe same rule applies to freedom of press. In latest rumour mongering operation of a coup I would have expected the editorial staff of Indian Express to ignore the news since it was not in the national ineterest to report such news especially when the reporter may have certainly known that it was a false news.
Without going much into this magazine's FONDNESS for Mr. Narendra Modi, i would like to point out the following sentence in the article which is simply against the message the sentence was supposed to give:
"Bias Be it the manner in which Narendra Modi’s 2002 genocide is repeatedly invoked while inside stories of the Congress are buried, media hypocrisy is increasingly subject to searing scrutiny on Twitter or Facebook."
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