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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org)