In a recent interview to the CNN-IBN, the new Chairman of the Press Council of India (PCI), Justice Markandey Katju, expressed his views on Indian media by strongly criticizing the way it functions. His opinions about the media are found to be insightful and thought provoking and hence brought forward in this article.
Mr. Katju said that he is very disappointed with the way the Indian media works and also stated that the media is not working for the interest of people and sometimes divide the people of the country. He stated that media is playing an anti-people role and explained it in three respects.
- Instead of focusing and projecting the socio-economic problems like the poverty, unemployment, rise in prices, health care etc., with which 80% of the people in India are living, media tends to divert people’s attention by projecting film stars, fashion parades and cricket as if they are the problems of the people.
- Media is establishing barriers among people of different religious backgrounds. For instance, whenever a bomb blast takes place in any part of India, after few hours, every channel comes up with the news saying that an e-mail has come saying that some terrorist organization with a Muslim name claimed responsibility of the act. Even if the information is factual, emphasizing on that conveys a different meaning that all Muslims are terrorists and results in demonizing the Muslim community.
- At present, India is passing through a transitional period – from feudal, agricultural society to modern industrial society. When Europe was going through this period, media played a great role. But our Indian media is neither helping nor trying to uplift the people who are mentally backward, steep in casteism, communalism, superstition and so on. Instead it is making India more superstitious, more casteist, more communal by promoting things like astrology.
In the next part of the interview, Karan Thapar of CNN-IBN, put forward some common complaints made of the media by the ordinary people and asked the PCI Chairman to what extent he agrees with them. But to his surprise, he agreed with every complaint made by the people and also justified them with good examples.
- Mr. Katju agreed to the first complaint that media is not always accurate; it distorts facts and twists people’s opinions by stating the example of the ‘paid news scandal in 2009 elections’. At that time, the headlines of the newspaper used to be in favor of the political parties which paid more money to the paper’s owner. This is like altering the facts and changing the people’s views.
- To the second criticism, which states that media often damages the reputation of innocent people by proclaiming that they are guilty without evidence, he supported it by uttering his personal experience of how an honest high court judge was condemned by showing his photo next to the criminal’s photo for two consecutive days in one TV channel. He also added saying that in order to sensationalize something, they capture and telecast things without proper investigation.
- Finally, when asked about the quality of debates, MR. Katju defined them to be totally frivolous. Instead of shedding light, educating the people, and expressing rational opinions, the panel members fight among themselves without any discipline.
Summarizing his views, Mr.Katju said that the majority of the media people are working with poor intellectual knowledge and without any idea of the economic theory, political science, literature and philosophy.
A proposal to bring electronic media under the Press Council
Justice Markandey Katju said that he made a proposal of bringing electronic media under the press council by submitting a written petition to the Prime Minister. He wanted to name it as media council and also requested to issue some extra powers to help the council to control the media by establishing restrictions to their rights.
Source: IBN Live
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