Editor: Seema Mustafa
Friday, December 19, 2008
Consulting Editors :John Dayal & Rahul Bedi
The focus has not moved away from the media, that is being ripped apart at most public meetings on the Mumbai terror attacks. In fact, even those who used this media during the Kargil conflict and subsequently are now standing up at conferences to hit out against the television channels who have violated every possible code of ethics. It was thus not very surprising when even the former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra spoke of a media being guided entirely by TRP ratings and not national interests. And he recounted the story of how a Mi5 agent had left behind a highly confidential file at a tube station, and this got to a couple of newspapers who refused to print it. What would have happened if our media had got hold of this file? he asked an audience of retired diplomats, academics and others.
But Mishra and others should know that this is the same monster they fed so religiously when they were in power. The sensationalism during the Kargil conflict that was turned into a victorious event with the help of the same media, was not just encouraged but also rewarded with awards and endorsements. So now this monster has turned. And finally the establishment seems to have recognized the dangers of this sensationalism, scant respect for the facts, complete ignorance and incompetence in conflict reporting. This is the price we have to pay for a media where businessmen and women have become editors, and professionalism has been completely sacrificed.
Senior and serious journalists have been pointing towards this problem for years now, but were eclipsed by the glamour of ‘breaking news’ in the sexy television channels. There is a need for a code of ethics, there is need for training workshops that are made mandatory for all those calling themselves journalists these days, and above all there is need for some kind of a regulatory body of eminent persons completely outside government controls, to regulate the newspapers and television channels. The media has to be taken back to its initial role, of a watchdog, of a check on governments, and away from its relatively new avatar of an establishment and corporate stooge.
© 2008, THE FRONTPAGE