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For a few more dollars

Not many comprehend the degree to which the media, in recent times, has changed. Vibhuti Agarwal finds out. Is the media turning socially irresponsible?

india Updated: Jun 08, 2006 23:09 IST

"Take the camera and expose. Never mind, even if it is one time exposure of truth. The proof, clearly visible on the screen, will surely make an impact on the minds of the people."

Do these instructions appear to be directed more towards a marketing agent than a journalist?

The answer lies in the fact that the laws of commerce today govern certain aspects of media.

What happens when television channels, in a brazen display of contempt for truth and reality, show pictures of Suryanarayan's wife wailing in front of the house, or the case of Kaavya Vishwanathan, which is now a controversy, joked about over tea.

Few of us comprehend the degree to which the media, in recent times, has changed. Let's find out more….

Says Sagarika Ghose, the noted media personality, "May be, there are certain television channels governed by cut-throat competition of TRP ratings. These news channels resort to shortcuts, even seek unethical ways of portraying truth. This is the downside of TV news channels. But the good way gets over the bad aspect. Television media may be flawed, hyped, sensationalised. But, at the same time, it brings robust public service to the nation. It brings the political, social and economic debate of democracy to the drawing room of people."

Commenting on cases like Suryanarayan's tragedy, Sagarika continues, "In the case of Suryanarayan, we didn't force ourselves on people to view such intrusive pictures. Television media fosters people and government to wake up from the callous attitude and indifference."

Be it the Meerut fire tragedy, where charred bodies of people were blatantly flashed across news channels or Japanese rape case, the question that comes to every mind is, even while bringing truth to limelight, are there any professional codes of conduct involved in journalism, or is it become merely a monetary game?

Nidhi Razdan, the well-known face of NDTV 24X7 says, "Of course, TRP ratings are of utmost importance. It is very unfortunate that some channels are driven solely by monetary standards. Money is definitely important for survival. So, why should media be different? It is for media to draw the ultimate line. My channel takes it up as a primary responsibility to acquaint people with truth and obviously, money also comes along."

The nation and the society, at large, have a right to know what is happening in the country in the right manner and right perspective. Pramod Mahajan's family feud has turned into a daily soap for most of the channels, getting into the most intricate details. Is earning money the main objective left for media and as a result they are competing to grab viewership?

"Media world is a vicious circle. The challenge lies in balancing the two aspects. Earning ad revenue should be combined with popular interest appeal. Those who get the balance right are economically viable. The bottom line is to be sustainable. The television news channels are not pay channels, so they have to generate revenue for survival. But if these channels do not think of quality, it will prove to be self-destructive," explains Manoj Mitta, a senior journalist with Times of India.

No doubt, there have been laudable attempts at exposing some major scandals. But gradually the story tapers off or is not followed at all; Jessica Lall's case being an exception. Has the media become more and more like a mirage where people should stop expecting anything?

Vikram Chandra, the man in control of NDTV has this to say: "We, at NDTV, have a very strict editorial. Whatever information and news we deliver is measured by the toughest internal standards. Every organisation has its own set of values and guidelines. Our channel has a very set ethical framework which our anchors adhere to."

The debate is endless. Since the nation and its people have entrusted the media with the responsibility of bringing truth to light, it should direct people towards the same.

As Sagarika Ghose justly explains, "Television is a lightening, a rod of change. On the whole, it is a mixed bag which shakes the people and those who are concerned out of their slumber."

First Published: Jun 08, 2006 11:07 IST