Vinod Mehta’s editorial Watched on Our Watch was very pertinent in the current scenario. Self-regulation would be ideal but is a demanding process and requires a certain maturity which sadly is lacking not just in the media but in Indian society at large. India’s democracy would not have been so abused had we been a more responsible and ethical society.
Sunil Balani, Wallington, UK
The Press Complaints Commission that VM talks of has been finally declared a total failure in Britain; it’ll be replaced by a new body soon. It means we’ll have to look for other models of regulation. If the mandarins in the government had their way, we’ll have the Chinese model of regulation.
N. Kumar, Delhi
The press is brave only when it does not have to suffer any consequences for that bravery. Otherwise, it prefers to remain a faithful puppet.
V.R. Ganesan, New Jersey
Vinod himself was a pioneer of biased news and partial journalism. I can recall his continuous pro-Congress and anti-BJP tirades for a number of years in Outlook.
Paramvir Sawhney, Gurgaon
Kapil Sibal has already handed over the lifetime award for excellent services rendered to Vinod. Excellent services rendered to whom? The Family?
A.K. Ghai, Mumbai
The media is irreverent. The media is hysterical. The media is irresponsible. Though Justice Katju’s criticism is valid in some cases, we in India have suffered long due to the opaqueness of the system, which babus and politicians, judges and generals have taken advantage of. Now that they have come under attack, these vested interests have adopted the high moral ground and gone to town over the so-called venalities of the media.
R. Marudhamuthu, Chennai
Describing the media’s plight today as worse than that during Emergency might be an overstatement. The media today is much mightier, closer, robustly persuasive and irritatingly persistent in its function. In the US, the Washington Post is often called the Tel Aviv Post and the New York Times the Jerusalem Times, because the media speaks the owner’s language and interest. Objectivity in the Indian media too is crucified to save a class, party, business house or organisation.
Francis Minj, Ranchi
Krishna Menon once said, “If you print the truth, it’s only one story. A lie generates three: the story itself, its refutation by the victim, and the apology by the paper!”
K.S.C. Nair, Indianapolis
Vipul Jani has an apt description for where the fourth pillar of Indian democracy is: “Indian media, including print and TV, has allowed itself to become a prostitute, where it will do anything and go down to any level for TRPs, money and the so-called access to power.”
Pramod Khulbe, Phoenix
The lowest thick crust of population of India, has least or no concern for who is controlling whom or what is regulation bla bla bla... They are subscribed to newspapers so daily the newspaper is there at the doorstep. What you print they read. What you show they see. The elder ones just do that. Possibly 1-2% of this crust might be thinking about what they read or saw. The rest including the youth, teens & kids just unconsciously copy what you are showing or telling. "Uthne bade log hee kar rahe hain unka kuch nahi hua, tho sab chaltha hai, hum bhi kar sakthe hain aur saare criminal free ghoom rahe hain, saari filmi aurathein apne flesh/skin ka poora achcha pradarshan kar rahi hain" this is the attitude this crust carries and that is reflected in the public when you travel or go shopping...
All the people at the upper crust write, understand, and criticize about all that is being discussed. They only know PCI, Journalism bla bla bla... Shockingly the upper crust is only 20-25% of the current population of India. The three so called pillars also come under the same crust. Are you people fooling around the lower crust by discussing "openly" and again settling your internal issues amonst yourselves. For example, after all this drama, the three pillars and you the media, will come to a conclusion "tum hamaare issues me tang nahi adaana, hum tumhaari me nahi adaayenge, Mathew Samuel jaise logon ko control karo, sting operations band kar do, court cases ka update nahi diya jaayega, sab media ko paisa kamaane do, hame bhi do tum bhi rakho bla bla bla..." The best newspapers and television channels would then keep on reporting about "kisne kya kiya" with their full sincerity.
Please, don't you (upper crust) get diverted. You (the media) understand one thing that "the moment someone gets and feels weeker and loses his gound, that moment is the start of all kinds of criticism and screwing and allegations and acusations and abuse". The reason for our weakness is not always we but the people surrounding us. Check on the way the "cheap" media people are doing and behaving and then"erase" them.
Fight for not regulations, but think about what effects your "publish" is going to have on the lower thick crust. This crust has the right to know which minister/judge/executive is doing what, particularly when he/she is erring. Boycott all the "cheap" broadcasters and hard-publishers. Definitely, the lower crust does not need to know e.g. "today Vijay Mallya is with which lady and in stadium he kisses whom" and they(atleast the school-going children) are not supposed to see the pictures of say the skimpily clad Tamanna(actress in South) in all the views(top, bottom, profile, front, rear) and an ad that shows a nude-man and woman kissing each other, bla bla bla.. all for a better tommorrow and intellectual growth. Probably this was what the private member of Parliament meant in her Bill.
I do not want the media to be watched by someone because it is ought to consist of good people with Godly values. Justice.Markandey Katju also means the same and he says if can't have Godly values then better be ready to be regulated.
The lower crust believes you the media and depends on you.
Why the persecution complex? How many of our prominent print and media have record of closure of a disclosure news? Krishna Menon once said " if you print truth, it s only one story. A lie generates three-the story itself, refute by the victim, and apology by the paper". Nowadays, it is usual to end the trail after the first 'sensation' - because it needs hard work! Never mind-it is in line with national character!
I am not sure if I should trust new found wisdom of Vinod Mehata on press freedom and self regulation. After all, this wisdom dawned on him when the press is cornered by politicians, Bureaucrats, and Judiciary, and by his own admission when he did not find even public by their side. He has been part of this “holy cow” institution for far too long while it degenerated to this stage, and he did not utter a word about it. I have also not seen him even pointing out straight who are the major black sheep in his fraternity (which we all know about)
Vipul Jani has an apt description where Indian 4th column of democracy is:
“Indian media including print and TV, have allowed themselves to be a prostitute, where they will do anything and go down to any level for TRPs, money and the so called access to power”
Here in US there is a lot of garbage media, but they also have PBS, NPR, and newspaper like New York time (many other serious newspapers). We Indian are good in selectively copying things. Where are our PBS, BBC, NPR, or NewYork Times?
There is a dilemma here. In a democracy the media has the responsibility of monitoring the governance through objective reporting. Any initiative to control the functioning of the media by politicians in power would weaken the foundation of democracy.
Ironically in the Indian context the media has failed to fulfill this responsibility. In the last two decades large media houses have voluntarily compromised their minimum ethical standard of journalism to pursue commercial interests, Although Times of India has the honors for pioneering the dumbing down of news media, its commercial success led to other competititors joining the race to the bottom. Indian print and television media now willingly endorse biased reporting, sensationalism, unconfirmed news, politically motiviated news, planted articles, paid news , advertiser sponsored slanted news, page 3 people, soft porn photos and the like. Rising circulation/viewership may have fulfilled the commercial interests of media houses. But, in their new avatar, nobody takes them seriously.
Indian journalists on the other hand have allowed themselves to be used as pimps . Raadia tapes brought into fore how the prominent journalists gather and disseminate news. Today Indian readers and the viewers do not trust the news media. Unfortunately, India's corrupt and power hungry politicians may take this as an opportunity to control any dissenting opinion expressed in the media. But if the media itself is so irresponsible in the first place enjoying the rights without accepting responsibilities who will oppose their censorship?
In the thick of discussion on media freedom & attempts to curtail it, one would do well to go to
Reason why if a concerted attempt made to curtail media freedom may succeed, because media itself left its flanks vulnerable. Not that current attack can be supported.
Many years ago Publications used to have Editors. They were individuals with independent and strong personality with a clear idea about what their publication is all about. They also had an editorial team. Hand picked selected men and a few women who knew and followed the guidlines. In the last few years the the position of and editor has devolved into a 'managing' editor. Tthat means he is not an editor anymore but a 'manager of ' news, stories, slants, selective reporting and sensational treatment for his boss. Editorial teams are turning more and more into sidekick fixers . In a lot of local publications the position of a reporter, sub editor or even an editor is dependent upon the ad space they can sell. Obviously their objectivity gets compromised. Radia tapes just scratch the surface of the rot that has set in. Big names from big media houses starred there and they are still there as powerful as ever before. Normally you'ld expect the owners of thepublication of the channel to fire them for bringing disrepute . But no that's being naive. All you have to do is visit Press club in Delhi one evening and overhear snatches of the conversations wafting over large pegs at different tables. You'll be amazed! Just do not expect to hear news stories, public campaigns , social concerns, fresh ideas or intellectual discourse. Deals ; deals and more deals. Small deals, large deals, political deals, commercials deals and even personal deals. That's all everyone will be busy working on. Visit any day of the week.
Even if we create a new fifth estate, as a watch dog, we just cant wish away the genetic pool to which all of us belong!
the media is behaving just like the CBI.People in bureucracy,the judiciary and the law enforcing and other goovernment investigating agencies are aware and afraid of one thing is certain that the congress which ruled this country for most of its age is a safe bet to be an alternative for ever in this country.so they are afarid of the congress coming back to power where it lost or if it looses and will avenge on them.Thats the reason these spineless,selective and selfish gang of people are favouring the congress.Congress on its hand has no internal democracy inside the party but running on the dictates of Gandhi family as they have billions and can weild massive power with that money as money can buy power and power can be corrputed with money.
"The naming and shaming of the offending media will serve as a deterrent for even those publishing houses who refuse to participate in the exercise." <= Just how many times has this occured in the last few decades? Case in point: Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi. The latter, at least, had the grace to keep his trap shut and disappear from the scene for a few months whereas the former brazenly carries on with her "journalistic duties" without so much as an acknoweldgement of wrongdoing.
"Besides, I suggest all senior editors should make a voluntary disclosure of their assets." <= More than this, how about some of the print and media channels voluntarily disclosing their shareholding pattern, Mr Mehta?
The media needs to be ashamed of the conduct of some parts of it.
But need not be necessarily punished.
By very nature, the media is prone to exaggerating and confusing events, much to the delight of some beneficiaries - like the feminist and other groups.
"Not since the Emergency in 1975 have I seen such a sustained and organised attack on the press..."
This is just rewriting history. What was the need for a sustained and organised attack on the Press when the press voluntarily self regulated itself during the emergency? The number of publications that fought the Emergency can be counted with two hands. The rest of the media simply followed the line with no protest.
The press is brave only when there is no consequence for the bravery. Otherwise they have been faithful puppets.
Vinod Mehta congrats. It needs a lots of Gut to say we are Hypocrite
and wont practise what we preach. We behave only when we are policed.
Sad state of affairs.The whole media should act to this 'wake up call'
Who will watch the watch dogs ? Normally the dogs themselves. But if watch dogs turns lap dogs , what then ? What if the watch dog barks at the householder for a diversion & let the thieves get away with the loot ?
Media should understand that as they need their advertisements to run a paper or a channel , so do the advertisers need the media to sell their products. So there is no need for media to lie supine when only told just to bend.
Take 2G scam for example. Media went after the politicians like a pack of wolves & rightly so. Now it takes two to make a tango. For 2G to happen , a section of greedy corporates were equally corrupt like their political counterparts. A .Raja is possibly Indian's most condemned politician. Did we hear , see or read some oprobium in media of these big corporations who entered in to conspiracy with Raja? They also neatly skirted around Karunanidhi family with kid gloves as they were powerful & Raja a mere hireling.
Mainstream media is not independent. They do the bidding of their corporate masters & the powerful. Didn't they only the other day went to town with an out & out fabrication about Delhi being spoofed for fear of a coupe ? To fight off this unprecedented attack on media by politicians or judiciary , media first have to be truly independent. Or politicians would think if big corporations can get this degree of subservience from media, why not to politicians ? After all, they were in cahoots & the sauce is same for the goose or the gander.
That is the vulnerability of media . Media cannot be independent selectively.
I think Vinod Mehta himself is one of the pioneer culprits who can be accused of taking sides and publishing biased views/news .I can recall his continuous pro-congress and anti-BJP tirades for a number of years in OUTLOOK magazine.
You may call him male version of Berkha Dutt .
Kapil Sibal has already handed over to Vinod Mehta ji the Life Time Award for Excellent Services rendered .
.....hmmm... life time services rendered to the Family ??
( corrected -sorry )
Kapil Sibal has already handed over the Life Time Award for Excelent Service sto Vinod Mehta ji .....hmmm... life time services rendered to the Family ??
Supreme court restriction seems to worry most of the people in media. But I think that is least of the problem.
Supreme court acts (as it should) after the thing is done. And most of us do agree that some of the things media has done lately is nasty, to put it mildly.
But the govt and people like Katju will define what media should do in the future. That where the problem is.
On the onset I will say, if I am asked to choose between biased media and restricted media.
I will select the former, hands down.
I feel the fight is being fought at the wrong desk.
The problem is not at the Editor's desk, but in the board-room.
It is not a Rajdeep Sardesai or a Sekhar Gupta or a Vinod Mehta who calls the shot.
It is that some unknown guy, who has no face, no accountability, no interest in journalism, no any relation, but lots of money. (S)He calls the shot.
That is where I think the focus should go.
We must understand and appreciate one thing, a young journalist is basically an idealist. We might not agree with her/him, but (s)he did not join the profession to earn a living, where there is little surety, but for passion (at least in most cases).
Rest of us chose our respective fields keeping a good enough earning on top in our mind.
So the point is, are there very few good journos?
No. In fact they are in plenty.
Then what is the problem?
Its money, honey.
I will be more than happy to restrict the ownership model, or enforce a profit cap. But I am not happy if there is a restriction on what a person should write or show.
Restrict the person in that board-room who is hinting the editor how much should be earned. Editor will definitely stop bugging the staff.
Is it against the free market policy?
So be it. People's life is not a market. And if earning is why some people want to come to media, find something other area, there are many.
Its not done anywhere.
Can't we do something for the first time, for a change?
I won't be happy if either Mao Zedong or Rupert Murdoch tells me how to get my information.
So you want matters like Singhvi shall be blacked out and if someone takes up, fellow "Editors" who dines with possible culprits from Congress government can shout from the roof top to curtail its discussions. When BJP MPs exchange few hundred rupees make it out as thumping success in exposing wrong doings of right wing fanatics or hawkish....
You can't fool people in disguise, pretend to be self-regulator and stopping the information flow!
at last vinod mehta has realised what an irresponsible, baseless bunch of people constitute the outlook team, which is perehaps the most biased weekly, or has he??
Mr Vinod Mehta has hit the nail at the right spot. Introspection on the part of our editors is clearly a crying need of the day. I have been writing letters to the editor for over 20 years and my usual experience is that very few editors are ready to accept criticism of their views in the right spirit. Similarly, if their star columnist is criticized, the letter would be thrown in the waste paper basket (now deleted from Inbox). In the name of lack of space, it is very easy to just blunt the criticism by deleting important part of the letter.
Vinod Mehta's realistic presnentation of media in India today gives quite much food for thought for media fraternity. Mehta's candid admission that mediapersons and their masters require self-regulatory ethics is truly praiseworthy. Media did commendable job on the otherwise 'incarcerated' tribal slave in the doctor couple's house in Delhi or in raising issues about Indian attitude towards those from the North East, the farmers' suicide, poverty, corruption, the dalliance of Singhvi or other powerful persons, and many such issues. It was satisfying to read Outlook's observation about the middle class support for Anna Hazare's movement as middle class hypocrisy.
However, describing media's plight as worse than the Emergency time might be an overstatement. Media today is much mightier, closer, robustly persuasive and irritatingly persistent in its function. Information has become infotainment. Objectivity in media is questionable. Often in the US the Washington Post is called Tel Abib Post and the New York Times as the Jerusalem Times - because media speaks the owner's language and interests. Objectivity in Indian media is often crucified in order to save a class, party, business house, organisation, or caste system. So, not all sections of the media play their self-regulatory roles during Gujarat pogrom or Orissa carnage, or political movements in different states. The North East as Christian bastian or conversion factories, Cricket projected as glorious game (in actuality it produces lethargy among Indians) are just a few examples that Indian media is not impartial.
As Anna Hazare movement shot to fame overnight the media jumped to support it with the middle class. Perhaps the candles they used were also products of corruption. The same media houses have their advertisements and billboards have fixed atop illegal structures, the same secular media houses have their billboards hung on the illegally constructed temple walls on the roads in Jharkhand. Surely media, in this case, supports certain ideologies and religious fanaticism; it highlights the bhakti of Indians during all major festivals but fails to view the trail of pollution that bhakti leaves on the rivers, ponds and water bodies only to kill the poor through the chemicals in idols and other bhakti related materials. Media will seldom have a heart for the tribals if a section of the media is connivance of the ruling party is also involved in mining, as is evident in Chhattisgarh. So media can be equally culpable when it comes to morality. Media has to be clear whose language it speaks - the owners or free speech - only then can the media be self-regulatory. In Indian situation media can be a catalyst but it promotes consumerism at the cost of the poor; it fails to see displacement and looks at development. So media needs to define itself or else it will be defined.
Any report is objective so long it agrees with our own views!
In the 1965 Indo-Pak War a prominent foreign magazine was publishing biased (biased as most of us saw ) reports against India, while totally favouring Pakistan. I sent a protest to the Editor who replied that they are quite objective in that they report facts as they see them!
Any report is objective so long it agrees with views!
Instead of waiting for the ever elusive effective body of all the parties concerned, a few determined media houses can immediately join hands and begin the process of selfregulation. Otherwise we will be bemoaning the everworsening situation on the media front. And that would amount to some sort of ritualisation substituting for meaningful action.
Mr Advani's famous statement during emergency days,'that when they were asked to bend,they crawled' so aptly summarises the Indian media.From Indira days to Sonia/Rahul days things have gone from bad to worse.They project Sonia as a great patriot,never write about her false claim that she is a Cambridge university graduate.They project a good for nothing Rahul Gandhi as the future of India and that he can take over anytime of his choosing.Modi is always a bad man and even the Muslim league and MIM are secular parties.On the social front an attack on a minor church is headline news for days,but driving out 50,000 Hindu Reangs from Mizoram is no news at all.Nityananda episode is such a big news,but sexual abuse and even murder of a nun in Catholic seminary is pushed under the carpet.But the most nauseating thing is that the Indian media decides as to who is secular and who is communal.
The PCC in Britain is finally declared a total failure. Soon there will be a new body replacing it. It means we will have to look for other models of regulation. Many in the UPA government, especially from Congress, would like to copy China's model of media regulation.
>> “If we don’t regulate ourselves, we will be regulated by force.”
This is absolutely correct. Media's instruments of self-regulation must be authentic, powerful, truth-oriented, standards-oriented and transparent. Such self-regulation is the only thing that can save the media.
I have worked with some of the biggest media companies in india, both newspapers and magazine. and as a veteran journalist with 23 years of experience, i can say it is media's fault completely. Indian media including print and TV, have allowed themselves to be a prostitute, where they will do anything and go down to any level for TRPs, money and the so called access to power. look at the fake babas and the superstitions and the crime stories and all garbage going on 24/7. Do we really expect people to take us seriously or to show any respect to the media anymore ? when i started my career back in 1989, we were paid very poorly, but we were taken seriously and loved what we do. Now there is so much money, but there is no respect left at all. The standards are so pathetic it is becoming shameful to be even working in the media. Of course a useless, shameless, blatantly corrupt government will use this opportunity to kick the media in the butt and why not ? Media must not be run as a profit making entity, it is far too important (or rather, it was, at one time). If Vinod Mehta is talking about self regulation and waking up on our own, it's not going to happen. because we never wake up on our own, ever. What we need is a few big media barons going to jail and a few big media companies sued successfully for billions of rupees for doing such garbage on their platforms. I mean, look at the website of the times of india, india's so called no. 1 newspaper.It is a soft porn site with so much undesirable stuff, even India today is not too far behind these days. With such a media, i think we are better off with no media at all. We will still have Julian Asanges of the world to look upto.
>>The naming and shaming of the offending media will serve as a deterrent
True. It will also periodically define what is undesirable. How to raise the standards of reportage?
Your editorial is apt and very pertinent in the current scenario. Self regulation would be ideal but is however a demanding process and requires a certain maturity which is sadly lacking not only in the media but within Indian society at large. India's democracy would not have been so abused had we been a more responsible and ethical society.
All media print or T.V. facing tough competition.Rate race to achieve more readership to TRP media loss credibility.Some are accepting paid news, some even demand money to publish your letter in newspaper., this happening all over world. New technologies increasing competition..All media are on death bed For to survive they are desperately taking extreme step.I am not blaming to media in these circumstances man can do anything for survival
Our VM would not be such a bad choice, either.
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