Sunday, 27 September 2020

Rein in the Media

Updated: September 9, 2020 11:49 am

Today, news on the Sushant Singh death mystery episode is being presented with a variety of stories on 24×7 news channels. There happens to be many issues of infusing hope and positivity in the common man, but instead of discussing them in the media, the focus is on Sushant and Riya, which only highlights the situation of our media being misguided and confused. One side is bent on proving Riya Chakraborty to be a criminal, while the other side is presenting her as a heroine. Both sides provide excitement as news but without substance. Why is the media wasting away its power in vain, when the matter is sub judice and is under investigation by a top agency like CBI? The kind of news and reporting that the media is presenting in this case in the name of providing justice is an open violation of all moral norms and codes of conduct prescribed for journalistic ethics. Many a time, some news channels, in the name of reporting, are serving decisions, which can never be called a healthy tradition. What is more, the news channels have made this matter a question of their nose and they present news in favour and opposition. Owing to this, the justice and investigation system of the country is being destroyed, which says that only by legal provisions can any person be declared a criminal. It is very painful that these same news channels do not devote as much time on the sacrifice of an army man, a scientist, a statesman, a farmer or a student as they are giving on this case. The latest instance is the demise of our former President Pranab Mukherjee, a great statesman, where the media did not pay as much obeisance as he deserved.  So, what is the contradiction that the media is running away from playing its creative role?

It seems the intellectuals and liberals, ever in pursuit of making themselves more dominant, realising the reach and power of the media, have taken over the powerhouses, the news rooms, the editorial room, and in TV channels, anchors have also been replaced by like-minded ones. They are more than willing to do whatever their interests serve. They seemingly believe in give and take. These intellectuals unconcerned about ethics—they are only concerned about their privileges and freebies—started doing what they were asked to–suppression of true stories and replacement by ‘creating’ some ‘sensational’ news. This has come to be known as burying the true news. The English media persons seem to be adept in this. In this perspective, it is apt to say that there is no doubt that a very considerable part of media is functioning like business concerns, and it has little interest about true journalism. It is a profession, not a mission like it was committed to be earlier, say some 20-25 years ago. Hence, it cannot be gainsaid that the concept of media trial is not a new concept. The role of media was debated in the Priyadarshini Mattoo case, Jessica Lal case, Aarushi Talwar case, and likewise many other high-profile cases. There have been numerous instances, in which media has been accused of conducting the trial of the accused and passing the verdict, even before the court passes its judgment. Trial is essentially a process to be carried out by the courts. The trial by media is definitely an undue interference in the process of justice delivery. In fact, no mediaperson has the right to assume the role of an investigator to try to prejudice the court against any person. It is generally seen that high-profile cases are not just decided in courts, they are decided in the court of public opinion, thanks to the media. No surprise, litigation involving well-known individuals always has grabbed the attention of the news media, especially when it involves sensational charges. The times have changed. Gone are the editors, who risked being sacked rather than compromise on the media ethics. The rest of the rot, which has deprived the media its credibility, is due to the systematic infiltration by the Liberals and left-leaning intellectuals. Time was when the media was so much trusted that its views shaped public opinion and governments were careful not to irk them. Editors were respected, for they were upright and fiercely independent. Hence, it is the need of the hour that a body empowered with stringent authority and enjoying credibility make recalcitrant publications and stubborn channels fall in line, while ensuring independence and freedom of the media.

By Deepak Kumar Rath

(editor@udayindia.in)

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