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A hot debate on the Media in Chennai

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Chennai: 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.


Jayanthi Natarajan 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.


K. Natarajan, 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.


Actress Khushboo 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.








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