Tag Archives: media ethics

A crumbling fourth pillar, and the forgotten politics of boycott: Manav Bhushan

Guest post by MANAV BHUSHAN

Assaulted as we are by the deafening cacophony of India’s 24-hour news channels (183 of them, as Manav Bhushan tells us below), there are some of us who for a long time now, have simply refused to appear on TV “debates”, to give them sound bytes to be seamlessly incorporated into their endlessly looping mindlessness. Essentially, we have exercised a politics of refusal – we will not add to the din. At a recent meeting on media ethics at the Indian Women’s Press Corps, I had expressed a fervent desire that every single 24-hour news channel should shut shop for one week while they went into deep introspection – one week of blessedly blank screens, one week of healing quiet in which people could once again learn to listen, to remember that there can be more than 2 or 3 sound-bytes through which to capture the complexities of the world in which we live. MANAV BHUSHAN makes a more radical suggestion below –   that we exercise the only power we have under capitalism, our power as consumers, and exercise a week-long boycott of a news channel for specific reasons, to force drastic changes to its policy and style of functioning. “In an age where each channel depends more on our TRPs than we do on any one of them, we hold enormous, albeit unrealized power,” he says. Over to Manav:

In a speech delivered at the Reuters memorial lecture in November 2012 at Oxford University discussing the Indian news industry, Prannoy Roy candidly said that ”Indian news is currently in a race to the bottom”. He further added that upon comparing the average TV viewership in India (1 hour) to that in the US (5 hours), one is led to the utterly dismal conclusion that this race is far from over. Of course, this is nothing new, and anyone who has followed the ‘debates’ (if you can call them that) on the extremely unfortunate incidents at the LOC can testify that the shows conducted by Arnab Goswami and Barkha Dutt were less news and more war-mongering. In fact, the brutal truth about the flourishing news industry- which has gone from one state-run news channel to 183 independent news channels in just 25 years- is that many of its members are in the business of blackmail, of selling sex, violence and are prepared to go to any lengths for the sake of advertising revenues. And there is a difference, though subtle, between advertising revenues and television rating points (TRPs).  Continue reading A crumbling fourth pillar, and the forgotten politics of boycott: Manav Bhushan

The Media Barons and the Radia Tapes: Monobina Gupta

Guest post by MONOBINA GUPTA

The first formal discussion on the Radia-Media nexus by a section of top media professionals this Friday revealed the media’s general reluctance to put themselves through the same wringer of criticality that they so love to put others through. Barring Manu Joseph, editor of  Open Magazine, which put out in the public domain the tapes which had been lying  for days in the ‘safe’ custody of most media organizations, majority of the speakers argued that the controversy was not about Vir Sanghvi and Barkha Dutt; that there was no proof whether Sanghvi had actually written his ‘most read’ column as he had assured Nira Radia; that we do not know if Barkha Dutt had kept her word to Radia and passed on the message of the DMK’s internal dissensions to the Congress; that pressured by the minute-by-minute  demands of 24/7 TV channels, journalists have to make random promises (which they do not intend to honour!); that they have to play along with their sources to extract news etc. The list of extenuating circumstances offered by the media, now getting a taste of its own treatment, was quite revolting.

Continue reading The Media Barons and the Radia Tapes: Monobina Gupta