News Story

Who owns the media?

by Vaidehi Sachin(March_01_06_2012)

Media in the recent past has been too much accused and discussed for many reasons. Its integrity has always 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 just politics and nothing but politics because the Indian politics has got attention since British Raj. Thus, in that sense our newspapers are much more serious on the quotes, and much better comparatively to other papers of the world. Second thing is that newspapers or news does not mean only mean news; news is supposed to have or cover 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 ask the Government for its accountability to do a better job. All these aspects constitute good journalism. My point however is that in the recent decades, the largest selling news papers actually sell news space at a price tag; the so called supplement is complete paid advertisement in the form of news. There should be a social control over things, adapting western culture in this domain is highly discouraged.
Generally news channels have a favorite 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. We being politically hungry, there was a time when Indian youth was not at all interested in political development or politics of this country. But you look around now and you will find youth discussing politics and also has their own opinion to raise, and this is probably the impact of political coverage.
Today, it's more of young media and young audience. Youth knows about their right to vote and they are keeping eye on good, bad and ugly side of politics. If today we say media is aggressive, historic or ascertain issues, it's because the youth is in position to say we understand the point what one is trying to say. Earlier, we could see two people in the corner discussing politics in a 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 hydro media nowadays. It's not only hydro media which talks about serious issues such as 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 farmed and limited to particular segment of news print. Sometimes you are kind, unkind, avarice and aggressive for which your magazines and news papers 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.
When Anna Hazare was on agitation, none of the channels dared to show Salman Khan's bare body or Shahrukh khan's hyped coverage. The subject had its own relevance and consistency. Some times 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 alternative by any means. News is all about analysis and 'paralysis'; at times we see TV shows discussing irrelevant talks which don't create an impact on anyone. However, this happened mostly during 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 silent understanding between management of the newspaper and authorities that takes care of not going against each other. If gone against government then the solution is its closure. Many such bold news papers had to shut down their shop for writing against government. Many prospered by supporting and promoting and being 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 just 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 are 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 would have grown on at a sub regional level. You take example 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 introducing itself too much into people's private like. 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. Liked by many and condemned by large. Sometimes some media feels its ok by going beyond the normal parameters of ethics. 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 on media.
Journalists has to raise their voice on unethical practices saying no to even their own bosses, managements and pay masters, by challenging all of them. Sometimes it's there is lot of interference and journalist cannot really execute their freedom to live in ethical frame. Media in India is at times constantly under accusations. They are related with one or other political parties, if you say good about Congress then you are connected to BJP and if you stand by BJP then you are accused of being bought by Congress. 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 this country.
In other ways finance is one of the biggest aspects of media house. Small town or state level media is actually controlled by political parties and it's very direct whilst, on national level it's indirect. It is 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 scrutinizing media much more, the mouth full is mouth shut. There is no doubt media has become powerful and that's why everyone wants to control them. The debate over ethics is rudimentary. Now-a-day's ethics deal with the silence of authorities. It's time to revolt within us, but that's not in the hands of journalists actually.