Wednesday 23 July 2014

Media and Indian Polity

Media and Indian Polity

I spoke on this subject at Dharwad on July 22, 2014 at a special lecture in memory of the late Dr A M Rajashekharaiah organised jointly by Kalyan Nagar Welfare Association and History and Archaeology Society of North Karnatak.
I said, "Since the subject is very vast and requires several lectures to cover the various relevant aspects of the subject. We need to understand: Economics of Indian media; changing ownership and cross ownership patterns in Radio, TV, Internet and Print media; relationship of Indian political parties and media; the adoption of American model and methods by the Indian media in the recent Indian elections; the shaping of public opinion by the media and the power derived from it; protection of media freedom and protection from unscrupulous media; journalistic ethics and golden rules and the actual dynamics of a news room; fact checking, verification and biased journalism for political and monetary gains etc etc.”
So I invited the audience to begin the interaction with questions bothering them about media and promised to cover them as much as possible in this lecture.
The questions thrown up by the audience were diverse and showed the awareness and maturity of the participants.
Some of the questions raised were: 
  • How does the media business work?; 
  • What are the journalistic golden rules and ethics?; 
  • How to deal with multiple narratives of an event or phenomenon from different media; role of media in the recent General elections; 
  • Is democracy compatible with a corporatized media?; 
  • How can media excesses or biases be regulated and what are the current regulatory mechanisms?; 
  • Media’s positive influence on polity as a watch dog; 
  • What is paid news?; 
  • Why is media mixing paid advertising and honest reportage leading to “advertorial”?; 
  • Why does the media not follow up on its reports of atrocities and scandals and scams? 
  • Why does the media crucify victims of rape and other atrocities further by grilling them on TV?
  • Why is rape being turned into vicarious entertainment? etc etc.

I tried to address most of the queries raised in my talk, by drawing upon my own experience and giving many examples from current affairs. A very lively discussion followed. 

Clearly many in the media; both practitioners and owners; are underestimating the level of awareness, power of discrimination and the intelligence of our readers and viewers and fast losing credibility.