Thursday, July 9, 2009

in defense of media

after having gone through the assignments turned in by the final journalism students i have some thoughts to share. in any democracy the media has an important role in keeping the populace informed and the government on its toes. to do its job certain rights or freedom of the press is important. the society from time to time reviews the rights of the press, adds or punishes them for abuse. in the final analysis it is the citizens at large who gain from the concept of a free press. with all the problems and limitations of an independent and private press there can be no alternative.
the lok sabha elections 09 presented to the media its biggest opportunity to use all means to bring the incredible pictures of the biggest show on earth involving a billion people. news channels, in particular, planned out the strategies in advance. huge investments had to be made in terms of manpower and other resources. each channel had to do something more than the rivals. the government and the election commission had already put various limits on their freedom to cover the elections to the best of their abilities. when one takes in the larger picture of the entire two month period that the television news channels focused their attention on the election process, it is fair to say that they did a good job.
the media can be easily blamed for sensationalizing the controversial incidents- varun gandhi's hate speech, advani's 'weak prime minister ever' jibe and so on. but did the media create these incidents- the politicians should be blamed for them. the media, in its professional opinion felt that these issues required the importance and so harped on them. it is very easy, in retrospect, to look back and allocate blame. the 24 hour news channels are under incredible pressure and decisions are taken in a matter of seconds.
the debates featured on television news channels are doctored? just like films are edited to make it have a particular impact, television debates (when not live) are edited on the basis of certain criteria. the channel and the moderator have their bias/ideology that is furthered through the programme. in England, the press is very political- they have leanings and it is not considered wrong. we have not yet evolved to that level and that is the reason why there is a mystery and secrecy about the political affiliations of news channels.
to take or not to take political advertisements is another problematic issue facing the media. media has the right to accept or reject advertisements. now, why should it be a different proposition when it comes to political advertisements? the channels have to rely on ads to survive and give the viewers a better picture of political scene. anything is better than the state owning and running media organizations (there is no choice in this case).

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