Media: Limits Crossed and Ethics Shattered

Posted on December 1, 2010 in Media

By Heena Khan:

The intrepid journalists who had posted the tremulous revelations of the Radia Tapes could anticipate the lull which would follow. The expression of gratitude could be aimed on the unspoken code of Indian Journalism, i.e. to protect their own fraternity. Expected was the blackout which sprawled on almost all television channels and newspapers about the sordid embroilment of the nation’s most revered and role model journalists, namely Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi among others, besmirched for transgressing the ethical and moral standards of journalism, in the process disparaging the profession brazenly.

The usual vociferousness which accompanies the unearthing of political scams and scandals was conspicuously missing. Though the tapes distinctly revealed a connection between the overwhelmingly controversial 2G spectrum scam and the media, still the aspect of media involvement could not command a place on channels or newspapers because the media fraternity rendered its obedience to the above mentioned code, blatantly eschewing the misconduct of its own members.

Thus, questions of authenticity and impartiality have been posed against the Indian media. The fourth estate considered as the epitome of independence and ethics suffers from the cancer of corruption. Outwardly the media poses to be sanctimonious protectors of righteousness and democracy while inwardly it is being corroded by corruption.

The tapes reveal the nexus between the media, government and corporates. The media is no longer independent of outward influences. In the present scenario, the main power is in the hands of the affluent corporates for whom the media and the government are mere pawns to achieve their selfish ends. This is clearly exemplified by the Radia tapes coupled with the 2G scam. However, the above mentioned discrepancies of the media can be attributed to its complete reliance on the revenue it derives from the advertisements. Thus, it falls in the clutches of corporates to keep its business running.

Imperative is the need for laying down regulations for ethical standards of journalism, for what is currently happening is quid pro quo journalism, where owing to intense competition prevailing in the media, journalists transgress the ethical limits of news gathering and also act as power peddlers. The defence put forth by the Padam Bhushan awardee , Barkha Dutt of stringing along lobbyist Nira Radia to coax information about the then scenario of allocation of Cabinet portfolios to be considered as valid journalism is vacuous. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, she has played an accomplice in getting the cabinet post for telecom industry being allotted to A. Raja.

The tailoring of news by V. Sanghvi in favour of another corporate Honcho, Mukesh Ambani, is clearly against the ethics of journalism. Thus, media is seen buckled due to political and specifically corporate pressure. It is swiftly losing its credibility. There is a need to impose checks on it in such a manner such that its independence is not curtailed but is answerable to the public.

The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.