Utpal Borpujari

February 16, 2009

‘There is more to news than Nach’

Filed under: Deccan Herald,India,Media — Utpal Borpujari @ 9:55 pm
Tags: , ,
Eminent journalist Hari Jaisingh, former president of the Editors Guild of India and a former member of the Press Council of India (PCI), shares his views with Deccan Herald’s Utpal Borpujari on the issues at stake:
 The Karnataka government proposed to set up an office of a media ombudsman to regulate media in the wake of the Mangalore pub attack coverage. How do you view thisdevelopment?

I do not approve of the Karnataka government’s move. This goes against the spirit of freedom of press and our cherished democratic values.


In the larger context, should governments interfere with how the media operates?

My response to this question is an emphatic NO. Notwithstanding occasional functional distortions by a section, the Indian media is mature enough to handle matters. It knows its social responsibility. It should know how to remain within its Lakshman rekha.

The News Broadcasters Association has set up its own grievance redressal and self-regulatory mechanism post Mumbai terror attack. Do you think it can actually be an effective step considering the fact that many channels are not members of it?

The NBA’s operational self-regulatory mechanism can help in grievance redressal. It can generate correct professional atmosphere and put easy-going channels on the right track. A lot will depend on how the concept gets evolved. The channels which have kept themselves out of the Association’s membership should be encouraged to be part of its fold.

Do you think the government’s proposed Broadcasting Regulatory Authority to monitor and regulate the electronic media will be a right step? Or should the ambit of the Press Council of India be enlarged to include electronic media too?

I don’t think the proposal is a healthy move. We cannot ensure the spirit of media freedom through a bureaucratic mechanism. It could carry shades of Emergency. 
As for the PCI in its present form, it would only be a miserable failure. In fact, PCI demands a total overhaul. It ought to be enlarged and re-shaped on professional lines as Media Council of India. This enlarged body will require a thoroughly new thinking and approach so that it does not become a poor carbon copy of the existing outfit.

Would giving legal tooth to PCI help in creating a more balanced media?

This is not merely a matter of giving PCI a legal tooth. But it ought to have some powers to punish an errant channel. These are matters of details.

In many cases, small incidents become big, thanks to excessive media coverage and sensationalism on TV. How do you view this trend?

There is surely something wrong in the way some of the channels conduct themselves. This is a serious matter. Our media gurus have to find answers to put the media on the right track. Yellow journalism is as awful as sensationalism or distorted excessive coverage on TV. We have to spare a thought for reinventing value-based socially-responsible editors who have to act as guides, friends and philosophers for their young colleagues and entire operations of their TV channels. Is this a tall order? There is more to TV than manipulated TRP rating.
A little less of commercial control from inside and outside sources and more of professional mechanism can make all the difference in the existing television fare. Again, there is more to news presentation, analysis and information sharing than ‘nach baliye’ brand of news coverage. We have to be professionally more honest to ourselves and to our viewers than is the case with most of the channels today. We definitely don’t want deliberate tilts in presentation of news and views. Facts are sacred and views have to be honest and objective. We all have to join hands towards creating a better informed Indian society which would make all the difference in the quality of our democracy.

(published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, ww.deccanheraldepaper.com, 15-02-2009)





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