It’s a hard slog to convert ideas into readable stories without sacrificing the moral code. Many journalists believe that they are able to tackle the pressures of politics and money power with the help of a cocktail of professional ethics, some tact and plenty of skills and imagination. Yet, they have to live with daily media-bashings that have become a favourite national pastime.
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta begins his book, Media Ethics: Truth, Fairness and Objectivity, with the simplest of questions involved: Have the media gone too far? The title suggests a treatise on the media’s moral code. But the book ends up pretty much as a common man's guide to the media. It is bound to be a welcome resource for India’s journalism schools where even the best teachers have to make do with borrowed, western insights.
Guha Thakurta’s examples range from the Blueline bus accidents to the BMW hit-and-run case and from Nithari to the Arushi-Hemraj murders. The sting gone awry in the Delhi school teacher’s sex scandal that wasn’t and the media coverage of the evocative trials in the Nitish Katara, Jessica Lal and Priyadarshini Mattoo cases are all there.
There are dedicated chapters on stings, media laws, privacy and the PR industry. This book is an essential read for anyone interested in issues of democracy and media freedom.
Vipul Mudgal is Head, Inclusive Media and Rural Livelihood Project, Centre for the Studies of Developing Societies