Monday, October 11, 2004
Media and responsibility
There was this seminar on "Media and responsibility" at Christ College on Friday. Tehelka editor Shankarshan Thakur, Express editor R Shankar and India Today correspondent Stephen David participated in the section on Print media.
Thakur spoke of how difficult it is for Tehelka weekly to survive, while Shankar stressed on the need for accuracy in reports. Stephen said media responsibility was a two-way process, meaning, people have to react when media isn't fulfilling its role.
I think Indian media has always been responsible, but for maybe a few cases of individual indiscretions. It has contributed a lot to the polity and social infrastructure. Though media has been doing its role, not always there is someone to carry whatever is published forward. Media is only conduit of information and a mirror to the society. It is neither a prosecutor nor judicial power. Media has been a watchdog and an agenda setter. But, why the same old problems remain and the media have to keep carrying them again and again? We have written so much about the bad civic sense we are notorious for. Neither the citizen has learnt anything nor the administration has had the willingness to enforce civic discipline. Why?
Eventhough Bangalore media has been crying hoarse about the potholes in the city, nothing much is being done. Mayor P R Ramesh is shameless. He is so peeved with the media that he refuses to talk to them. That is all. When I put pictures of potholes in my paper, I have been doing it with the apprehension of whether the reader will get sick of it. There is this risk of "getting used to it" phenomenon.
Aren't we already sick of the negative stories the media carry? Haven't we become cynical and complacent? Of course, that can't stop us from blacking those stories out. This indifference must be one reason why feel-good information and trivia sell much more rather than well-researched investigative pieces, like what Tehelka publishes.