Monday, November 22, 2010

The Ethics of Media Blackout

Posted: 21 Nov 2010 01:28 AM PST

Why are the journalist-lobbyist conversations not a news story for the Indian media?Let us start with a bit of history. The date was 15 March 1988. Eight opposition parties, including the Communist Parties, the Bhartiya Janata Party, the Janata Party and the Lok Dal sponsored a Bharat Bandh (an All India Strike) against the then incumbent Congress government headed by Rajiv Gandhi. State controlled Doordarshan was the only television channel around and a 20-minutes news bulletin was broadcast every evening on the channel. For obvious reasons, the news was always selected, edited and broadcast in a manner so as to show the ruling party in a favourable light.The day of the Bharat Bandh in 1988 was no different.
Almost 15 minutes of the 20-minute long news-bulletin, if memory serves me right, were about some economic report released by the government that day. It spoke of some undecipherable data about industrial production, export figures, sector-wise GDP growth and other such statistics with graphs and charts of various colours, shapes and sizes. This was perhaps Rajiv Gandhi’s version of BJP’s later day slogan of India Shining. The news of the Bharat Bandh was however covered in 3-4 sentences, with visuals to show that the Bandh had limited success in a few opposition ruled states. Of course, the reality was radically different. The political opposition’s star was on a rise and by all other media accounts, the strike was an unqualified success.Cut to the present now.
There have been disclosures made by magazines about certain conversations between senior journalists and lobbyists. Without going into the ethical or legal dimensions of the case, or passing judgements on the professional conduct of the journalists involved, this certainly merits to be considered news-worthy by newspapers and television channels.
But barring Open and Outlook magazines (which broke the stories), Mail Today, Daily News and Analysis, Zee News
They should better their efforts to make more citizens aware > not difficult considering citizens also suffer the Moronic & Incessantly anchor Interrupted, half truths called newsand some regional channels, all other newspapers and channels have imposed a blackout on the story.
This ganging up of almost all media houses today to censor news showing some journalists in an unfavourable light raises serious questions about the objectiveness, integrity and sense of fairness of India’s much-touted free, vibrant, unbiased and activist media.
Media is following the EXAMPLE of ROLE MODELS > netas - babus, & has STOOPED to their putrid levels. BRUSH TRUTH UNDER THE CARPET & call it EXPOSING Govt Corruption !
This situation is far worse than the situation existing in an era of a single, state-controlled television channel when everyone knew that the stories being broadcast were slanted in the favour of the government of the day.
The current behaviour by the media houses is far more insidious and perilous for the country. This goes beyond the ethics and legality of individual journalists talking to a lobbyist.
It is about the ethics of the media houses and the larger journalistic community as a whole.Of course, this is not the first time the media has tried to block a story which castigates the media houses or the journalists. The Press Council’s report on paid news during the recent elections was also given a quiet burial by most media houses. The media houses have all the avenues — from press council to courts — available to take on those whom they feel have unfairly accused them of wrongdoing.
But they have no right to censor or blackout a piece of valid news, unless it involves national security or engenders lives of some Indian citizens.
This raises the most important question: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Or who will guard the guards?
This has gone beyond the usual context of the media keeping a watch on the role and conduct of others — from corporates to judges to generals to bureaucrats to politicians. It is about keeping a watch on the media itself.
From the coverage of 26-11 Mumbai terror attacks to paid news during elections to the current blackout of news, media has ostensibly showed itself as incapable of ethical conduct by self-governance.
THE BEST ALLAIS, the Pakistani handlers got, ON THE SPOT; our MYOPIC MORONIC THOUGHT-LESS media !
Let there be no doubt. The time has come for an independent constitutional body, modelled on the Election Commission, to act as a watch-dog over the Indian media. This is the opportune time for the government to institute such a body.
After all, someone needs to guard the guards too.


1 comment:

  1. India needs something MORE than "watchdogs" as these WD are hand picked & hand fed by the THUGS so the WD are likely to wag their tails & watch the shenanigans of the Thugs rather than catch or bite them.

    NOT DIFFICULT to provide an Alternate, to give what India which is fed up of half truths; what it DESPERATELY needs; SUPPORTED by Citizen Journalists who REALIZE half-truths ONLY serves THOSE WHO PURVEY it.

    In a SIMPLISTIC FORM > Reality in Photos vs. what is purveyed, LUDICROUS "fairy tales"; with short & Simple commentary, that majority of Citizens can see & easily understand & IDENTIFY WITH.

    Money is to be provided by anyone & everyone who thirsts for Truth, Facts > Reality.

    A Change from "pious story telling" bereft of Accuracy or Reality

    PLEASE allow me to embed my comments in your article below :

    Parvez Jamasji