Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Media of Today

Where is the code and where is the ethics?
Can you please improve your code of ethics?

By: IRFAN QURAISHI
“THOSE WHO OBEY NEVER GROW, THOSE WHO GROW NEVER OBEY”. This dramatic change and negative turn of journalism has eroded the Audience and the Democracy in India.
Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution does guarantee freedom of expression for every citizen of India which includes the right to impart and receive information and ideas through a lawful medium that indicates it is this Article with the said condition of lawful media that gives right to press or media to print,publish,broadcaste,or telecast any kind of information to comment or criticize without any interference from the state or any public authority, but public interest has to be safeguarded.However,again this indicates the freedom of press is not absolute neither freedom of expression in order to safe and serve public interest which is the main motive of democratic concept including free press. That is why at the same time the constitution enshrined by the Article 21 of the constitution “The Right to Privacy” which says ‘No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty being a fundamental and legal right further protected by the laws related to defamation under ‘Indian Penal Code Act’. To balance the freedom of speech and expression the constitution through Article 19(2) lays down reasonable limitations to the freedom of expression and freedom of press in matter of affecting sovereignty and integrity of the state, security of the state and friendly relation with the foreign countries, public order and morality or decency, contempt of court and defamation and at last but not least for professional journalism, the incitement to an offence.
All these restrictions, limitations and protections by laws and Articles of the Indian constitution has made it crystal clear that the freedom of expression and the freedom of press is for the public, of the public and by the public. That further revealed that if the public interest is not served in faith then all the mentioned codes, laws and restrictions will be imposed by the government in power.
On comparing the codes and ethics of journalism with contemporary picture of media being a informative consent, a social watch dog or a public safe guard one will definitely witness that the attempts to obey journalistic code of ethics and the basic role of media has drawn up so far in India. One has enough examples during the recent times to point out or to raise fingure towards the media as not following the ethics.
The four Mid-Day journalists who were sentenced by the Delhi High Court on sep-21-2007 convicted for carrying a scandalous report and a cartoon of the former chief justice of India, justice Y.K.Sabharwal is a great example of contempt of court. The point is not that the coverage has been found to be factual and accurate. This is the matter of dignity of our juridiciary which is applicable to media as well, even the responsibility of media to maintain, not aim at lowering the dignity of of the Supreme Court in the eyes of common man. The manner in which the entire incidence has been projected gives impression as if the Supreme Court permitted itself to be led into fulfilling ulterior motives of one of its member. It tends to erode the confidence of the general public in the institution itself which is totally against ethics of journalism.
On Aug.-31-2007, the television expose of the sting operation carried by a private news channel ‘JANMAT’ (rechristen itself as ‘LIVE INDIA’ without having ministerial sanction as yet.) alleged that a ‘Uma Khurana’, a government .teacher was forcing her student into prostitution by shooting pornographic films after drugging and then blackmailing them turned out to be orchestreated,defamatory,deliberate,and contained suggestive innuedios,half truth, incited violence, content against maintenance of law and order. Hardly matters that that the allegation was half truth that ‘uma khurana’ was running a sex racket in consultation with small businessman ‘ViredarArora’that ‘Uma’herself confessed police interrogation .But for public the big matter of concern raised when ‘Prakash Singh’, the reporter with ‘LIVE INDIA’ channel who conduct the sting operation being a journalist kept in dark the journalistic ethics by projecting with misleading, baseless, graceless and inaccurate materials just to achieve fame or to take revenge or to earn heavy pocket or position. So shameful the reporter threatened the girl identified as a aspiring journalist, who posed as a school student in a “fabricated” T.V. expose claming that the teacher was running a sex racket. The reporter threatened her with dire consequences if she withdrew from project by saying that he would not edit the tape and air the expose which depicts her in bad life if she did not cooperate with the sting. This is so bad that the reporter conduct a fact sting, played with dignity of the women and kept in dark a girl by promising her that she would be the associate crime reporter as she just has to play a role in the expose .When she came to know about his plan of fake sting, the reporter started threatened her. See the confidence of a reporter as he was sure about that no one is going to verify the facts of sting, that’s why he dared to threaten a girl by the words that ‘he would not edit the tape’.Infact the confidence of reporter turned to be right, the news channel before airing the sting doesn’t feel that there is need to exercise a due diligence in preliminary verification of the facts of the case. This indicates that the channel was so hurry to air the sting to grab the attention by showing sensational item keeping aside journalistic ethics and responsibilities so to garner higher TRP’s.Ofcourse sting operation were necessary for public interest , not a sting only but any story should be done with the intension not entrapments.
‘Monika bedi’, a Hollywood and Tollywood actress acquitted in pass port forgery case was secretly pictured in bathroom in Bhopal jail. Many news channels broadcasted the entire video several times. The question rose that what make t v channels to telecast her pictures having no news value rather than an imputation which is intended to harm the reputation of a person.
]The publishers blindly with out checking the contained content of the material supposed to be publish are making agreements and finalizing the deal with the author’s to earn money by hook or crook. The book on ‘RAW’ (research & analysis wing) written by Major General (Retd.)V.K.Singh,a former senior officer in the ‘RAW’ carrying material of Indian External Intelligence is against the official secret act of media laws but the publisher ‘Vievik Garg’owning ‘Manas Publication in ‘Darya Gang’ doesn’t bother to publish the book.
The dozen odd news channels in the country are pouring out sponsored programmes, sms polls and stand up comedians with this deluge of newstainment.The news channels are providing competiontion to the general entertainment channels as has been proved by the phoenix like rise of certain tabloid based news channels
The show cause notice to ‘AAJ-TAK’ by government receiving congnisance of complaints made by certain NGO’s and public organization allegedly narrating the “gory details’ of how ‘NITHARI’ killer ‘Surinder Koli’ murdered his victims can be counted as a one of the predictions that news channels are day by day loosing the track of news motives. What news interest does it serve when the channel aired the programme in which ‘Gory’ narrating the’Koli’s’ method of murder. The programme was doing harm to the children’s mind rest and nothing else. This picture of journalism will be never accepted but the public.
The contemporary image of media representation lent strength to the voices in the politicians circle clamouring for the bill to be passed to prevent misuse of freedom by certain sections of the media in the battle of TRP’s.All the recently episodes of media drawbacks gave opportunity and sweeping power to government to rush in with ban’s without going through any proper procedure. This is the serious time of concern for the freedom of press being a public medium carrying fourth estate to tackle the right to freedom of expression and freedom of press. There is need to follow the ethics of journalism to serve the public interest rather than to made ‘cricket and boot prate’ oriented channels. All the media organizations should elect a bench of senior journalists who will monitor the journalism in the hands of journalists. There is need of self regulation code of media in order to protect the media from the ‘zig zag’ of politics and politicians.
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