The well-known large format book retailer LANDMARK organised a
debate on the media at its Nungambakkam store on Thursday, 14th
October 2009 with Sanjay Pinto, a freelance journalist, efficiently compering it. Media persons Sunil, Murari and actress Khushboo were
in the team supporting the media and politician Jayanthi Natarajan,
advocate Geetha and former commissioner of police Natarajan were in
the team opposing the media.
Sanjay told the
audience that Landmark has decided to arrange such programmes on
important burning issues in future. The show was well arranged and
also timely. As we know the media refers to various means of
communication such as television, radio and newspaper. We also know
how the present day media whether electronic or print is playing its
role in its presentation of news and views.
bombarded the media saying that it distracts, distorts and magnifies
reality and creates its own “reality “. She pointed out various
stories including Aarushi’s to tell the unfortunate state of affairs
prevailing in the media. Her remark that in some states in our
country the media provides “packages” for supporting a candidate in
election and in one case it was Rs. 6 lakh was a news to the
audience. In this part of the country nobody can think of it as all
leading political parties have their own channels to propagate their
policies. According to her the media has lost its credibility by
presenting sensational news about sex, rape, murder etc and making a
mockery of the freedom of expression guaranteed in the
Constitution of our country.
Advocate Geetha criticised the media
for its meaningless hype on non-issues, projecting women badly,
indulging in character assassination of individuals, highlighting
superstitious beliefs as if truth, etc. She also said that there
are some newspapers in states like Gujarat and Maharashtra which are
openly violating all moral, legal and constitutional ethics. She
felt that market forces are guiding and monopoly houses are
controlling the media and it projects things as it wants for its own
selfish and commercial purposes.
former commissioner of police, made a forceful argument quoting
Dr.A.P. J. Abdul Kalam that the media is degrading itself by
highlighting things detrimental to the society.
said at the outset that she should have been in the other group.
Branding the media as commercial and money making without observing
journalistic ethics said that it is not what it was before. Her
remark was that even in the Pakistan initiated terror attacks in
Mumbai, the national channels were covering mostly the Taj incident.
However she said that we cannot deny the importance of the media in
the country. The two media persons Sunil and Murari expressed the
view that the media reflects the society and what it wants. There
was also mention about the Pulitzer Prize given for achievements in
newspaper journalism, literature and musical composition to draw the
attention of the audience to the fact that Joseph Pulitzer, a
“yellow journalist” was the person who initiated the Pulitzer Prize.
Perhaps it was thought that the media has no alternative to what
they are doing now to
keep readers under its spell and increase readership. But this
cannot be an acceptable argument.
We all know that journalistic ethics
are based on truthfulness, honesty, impartiality, objectivity,
fairness, accountability etc. But perhaps only a very few
newspapers and channels follow them. The minorities particularly the
Muslims are the worst sufferers of the media presentation. Even a
small lapse done in a corner of the country by a Muslim is blown out
of proportion and presented in such a way that he represents the
whole community. I do not want to go in detail just because it will
be a propaganda again against the community. The whole world knows
how Muslim issues and news concerning them are projected in the
media. If we turn the pages of Saamna and other such periodicals and
newspapers and see the channels of this category under the control
of the dividing forces, we can understand how venomous they are. It
is not possible for the people to take up their issues to the counts
as it is not only time consuming but also waste of money and energy.
If a Muslim writes
an article against the principles dearer to his community or Islam
in the name of reformation or progressive thoughts, it will be
immediately published in some newspapers and periodicals but take it
from me any article in praise of our principles will have no takers
in the media. The reason for this is communalism in some cases and
hunger for sensationalism in the other. Take the latest issue
of the hijab. There are attempts to distort its importance in the
guise of discussing the fatwas of Al-Azhar University, Cairo and
Darul Uloom, Deoband. But they forget that the more you impose
something on people the more there will be opposition to it.
The government should try to make the
electronic as well as the print media follow the journalistic ethics
for the betterment of the people and country.
We welcome the Landmark’s decision to
conduct debates on important issues in future. Such debates are the
urgent need of the present time.