Scoring over the rivals in this highly competitive media world is a big challenge. The Indian media faces similar challenges as is the case in rest of the world. The media persons have to interact with their sources and play along with them to get to the depth of the news. That’s a very valid reason to play this kind of game. The truth of the matter is that it is difficult to get news unless something that the sources want is reflected in the writings of the television broadcast, blogs and so on. That is a fundamental truth of the modern times and the competition that the media faces. It’s also because there is an ever lurking fear that if one doesn’t do it, the rivals would do it and score over That, one believes, seems to have happened with Radia tapes which have brought some of the journalists to the cover pages of the magazines and generated a heated debate on the TV channels. Those accused of doing the bidding of the Corporate houses have offered a defence of their own, their own reasons for doing so. Those may be the genuine reasons.
But, now a common man would have a question on his mind that each and every written or spoken word is the genuine news or it is a planted part of it. The doubt in the minds of readers and viewers is much more damaging than the leak of the Radia tapes. It is not a question of one or two or more journalists obliging or simply promising to oblige the corporate houses in their writings or their talk shows. This is much more. They have shown that they are vulnerable and their vulnerabilities cannot be covered by their defence. The Indian media, a section of it, was always at the receiving end for not being fair on the issues confronting the nation. It was playing a partisan role in the cases of Babri Masjid verdict of the Allahabad High Court, 2 G Scam, Kashmir, Indo-Pak relations and even on the individuals like former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Common Wealth Games organizing committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi and former telecom minister A Raja. The media is also shy of taking on some individuals. It has barricaded itself into its own myths or it has been made to do so, no one knows the truth. The whole thing has been blurred by the recent leaks of the tapes.
It would have been better had the media in the country followed American pattern, where journalists are known for taking a particular line. Fox News works for Republicans and CBS for Democrats. There is a known line about the journalists. They are known for their thinking writings and the line they take on chat shows. There is no façade of being objective. All those who had been claiming that they are the best journalists in the country, and one or two of them even have the audacity to go in for self-promotion as the only ones who know how to cover a war and disasters and they alone know the art of interviewing people within the country and abroad. These sort of journalists now stand to scrutiny. Now each and every word of theirs, each and every show of theirs, each and every line they took on a particular show or a particular situation with all the theatrics is open to question. Their commitment to the profession and the journalistic ethics is under cloud.
A columnist in one of the most respected newspapers of the country, The Hindu, described such journalists as “stenographers”. This is a shameful description for the people who profess to be journalists and writing about the people. They may be the most recognizable faces on the small screen, but now certainly they are not the best. It opens a new set of questions for the younger generation getting into the field. Journalism is not all about glamour. It’s something which is a medium to convey the things honestly.
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