Media: Look who’s talking

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October 30th, 2012 Sundaresha Subramanian

Two people who have been hounded by media have attacked the media’s credibility. One, by giving the media a taste of its own sting and the other by thumbing his nose on media by holding his own in one of the glamourous car races.

But can we turn the question on them? Now if crony capitalists question the credibility of people questioning them, should such questions be entertained? Do two wrongs make a right?

I personally feel this is a calculated campaign by people associated with the government who have been on the receiving end of media onslaught over the past few months of scams and corporate scandals. While media has dutifully reported the attack on its own credibility, the allegations are just that until anything is proved in the courts.

Now, the people who have made these allegations themselves are facing allegations of attempts to bribe, doctoring tapes and defamation suits.

Just because some unverified video shows some journalist demand money, does that mean all journalists and media organisations are bought and sold? Far from it.

There also have been allegations in the past of paid news and ad-for-equity deals, which some analysts have equated to corruption at the owner level, rather than at the journalist level.  Even these are still islands of corruption in mainstream media.

Having said that, corruption in media must be weeded out at all costs. Not because these cronies have pointed it out, but more because they are using it as a shield to cover their own exposed modesty.

Competence is a bigger problem in media today than corruption. To address this, media organisations need proper training facilities and must be ready to invest in people.

For this they need money. And, that comes from advertising. Bulk of advertising is done by corporate majors. These are all the time involved in interactions with the government and its arms. Their businesses grow largely from getting access to natural resources like land, minerals, oil, gas and spectrum. To ensure they are preferred over others in allocating these, they employ lobbyists.

Lobbyists try to influence policy by cultivating journalists. Journalists get easy stories from lobbyists. Lobbyists slip in stories that fit their agenda.

Journalists, even those who are competent, get sucked into the game as it is a win-win.

To break this cycle, media should develop easier payment system on the web. Like for reading this blog, I should be able to bill your IP address some 50 paise. If you think it’s worth more, you should be able to credit it to the Business Standard bank account. While dreaming, you don’t need to sound credible. Do you?

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One Response to “Media: Look who’s talking”

  1. Prsad Says:

    Correct: while dreaming you don’t need to sound credible. And indeed, author does not sound credible.

    Seriously, what is the proportion of Business Standard’s or for that matter any other medium newspaper/news TV — come from subscription as compared to paid ads/reports and programming? zilch. Ads will forever continue to be the main source of revenue and these papers/channels would do anything for higher INS/TRP points.

    Look back in the history, news mediums in every country went through such periods where such journalists misused their position. Yellow Journalism of 1920’s USA. Lets not pretend that our journalists are some shining lights of honesty, sincerity and integrity.

    Instead journalists should accept the reality and use this opportunity to cleanse the system. Remember, USA media’s response to yellow journalism was not stooping to newer lows, but to regain credibility with Christian Science Monitor, Ny Times, Post …

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