The media and paid news: Who shall guard the guardians?
The media watches everyone but itself, commented an argumentative friend the other day.
How many ‘sting operations’ has the media done on any of its own, say on the ‘Paid News’ controversy?
I was at a loss.
The morality of sting operations is a debatable topic but the larger point demanded a response.
The media does investigative stories practically every week but does it deliberately avoid turning the gaze inwards?
Is everything as it should be with the Indian media – newspapers or television channels?
Even with the relatively free, noisy media we have it is difficult to answer that in the affirmative.
A fellow journalist recently lamented the declining standards of questions at a press conference by a Bollywood star.
Would she like to write about that?
Because as she explained it would be condescending in the first place, since it assumed her own questions always conformed to the standards demanded.
On top of that it meant alienating your own fellow professionals.
She couldn’t be more accurate.
Yet the problem has to be acknowledged.
There is more.
Take the controversy over ‘paid news’ which involves entering into deals with politicians or corporates to pass off views and product promotion as news.
The Press Council of India has set up a committee to look into it.
It was reported that the committee has enough evidence.
The Editors’ Guild denounced the phenomena of paid content.
According to reports, some executives in the news business accept being paid for news in private but won’t do it in public.
The upshot is hackneyed but bears repetition — it is easier to preach and prescribe than practise.
No exceptions or are there?
Till then, Bollywood rushes in where the media fears to tread, with movie ‘Rann’ purporting to hold a mirror to news media, releasing next year.
Is that the best we can do? Will that be enough?