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'Media should hold a mirror to itself'

Sunday November 06, 2011 12:55:14 PM, Amit Agnihotri, IANS

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New Delhi: Following strong reactions from journalist associations to Press Council of India chairman Justice Markandey Katju's outspoken views on the role and calibre of journalists, voices suggesting "media should hold a mirror to itself" have begun to gain ground.

There is a lot of online support for Justice Katju with comments like "electronic media are behaving like Hitler and think whatever they report is true" and "it is not uncommon to come across poorly informed editors and correspondents of publications speaking on each and every topic under the sun like scholars".

The controversy over the role of media erupted after Justice Katju's recent views that "media divides people on religious lines", that "journalists have low intellectual calibre" and "have not studied economics, politics, literature or philosophy."

Agreeing with Justice Katju, former journalist and media observer V.K. Varadarajan said "the sentiment expressed by him is in right perspective."

Varadarajan told IANS on phone from Bangalore: "Journalists have veered away from their chosen commitment of informing facts and reflecting ills of society in the right perspective to mould opinion of the reader for an objective understanding of issues."

He said "there is a need not only for self-reappraisal but for critical evaluation of the role played by journalists in a changing society."

Rashmi Sharma, a doctorate in humanities and a homemaker, who keenly watches TV news, said: "It appears most visual media journalists do not make an effort to read and gain expertise in the subjects they report."

"TV debates lack depth and anchors should save the nation a lot of sound and fury," she said.

While most of the public dissatisfaction is against the visual media, with its unwarranted sensationalism and noisy discourse, people like Abhijit Roy Chowdhury feel "there is a need for the print media also to introspect."

"TV has huge impact and so its journalists have to be more responsible and careful," he said.

Highlighting "the need to look within" media commentator Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay said "it is time to take corrective measures. Not everything is all right."

Mukhopadhyay, who has worked as a media educator, said the media grew exponentially post-liberalisation 1991 but not much thought was given by the leaders to the question where journalists who would work for it will come from.

Media commentator Sanjoy Hazarika said: "Media requires freedom, but it also needs to be much more coherent, focussed and well-researched."

Justice Katju's views have invited angry reaction from various journalists' bodies like the Editors Guild of India, the Broadcast Editors' Association (BEA), the News Broadcasters' Association and the Press Association which termed his remarks on the role of media as "derogatory", "unfortunate" and "made in haste".

Coomi Kapoor, general secretary of the Editors Guild of India, told IANS: "It is unfortunate that Justice Katju has taken such derogatory tone against people with whom he would be working for the next three years."

To Shravan Garg, editor of the Bhaskar Group, the PCI chief "seems to be in a hurry."

Further, Justice Katju's statement suggesting powers to the PCI to impose fines on the media, to withdraw advertisements and to suspend the licences to publish or broadcast also invited a strong reaction from the Editors Guild.



(Amit Agnihotri can be contacted at amit.a@ians.in)

 

 

 

 

 

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