November 20, 2010

media as an accomplice

A recent issue of Outlook was devoted on media’s working. For those not involved in journalism or management of media organisations, it must have been an eye opener. For the ‘insiders’ too, it was a reminder that all is not well in the fourth estate.

Media in India has seen many high and low points. In recent years, a section of the media has been playing its role rather very dutifully. Among others, there are shades of grey: some swear by secularism but won’t bat an eyelid before accepting all sorts of favours; a prominent news channel analyses serious issues but believes in power-networking behind the scene; a popular Hindi daily of Punjab has editorials preaching values but is known to sell its reporter’s job for a price; a paper of British vintage and huge circulation covers PR events and puts them in places where real news should be. Then there are some news houses and newspersons that are outright thugs and blackmailers and entertainment-sellers. However, you cannot expect angels in a profession as influential as media.

But what saddens and enrages is when people reach a high pedestal less by the power of their pen / mike / tongue / camera but more due to connections that get stronger as their status rises. Then they do not remain observers, analysts and advocates of the people but participants in the dirty games of state and politics. They take sides in political and corporate fights and even turn accomplice in behind-the-scene power and money games. Besides their involvement in corruption etc, they commit a fraud on their viewers / readers by subtly favouring or denigrating people and policies in the garb of hard news / investigative journalism / analysis. 

What do you say when you hear Barkha, the mighty queen of NDTV, twisting news to suit her ‘clients’ in corporations and politics. It is not for the first time that she has been found to be indiscreet, but we now have another, incontrovertible, example. Listen to the tapes here and here. There are more links on Youtube.

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