September 30, 2018 05:31 PM

CHANDIGARH (Face2News)  

The media, today, has morphed into an instrument for the government to manage news, said eminent journalist and author, Arun Shourie, at the Chandigarh Press Club on Sunday.

Addressing a gathering at the club, as part of the first address in a special lecture series of the institution, he added, “Today, no one publishes what embarrasses the government. In some of the Delhi papers, there is an unwritten rule that nothing will go against Modi, Shah and Jaitley. Another noticeable thing is that the denials of the government are played up. The question we must ask is why.”

Eminent journalist, author and former Union minister says media scenario today needs a change; it is not for businessmen and needs to evolve from being mostly GODI (lap) media to a model where it can survive with dignity; also suggests positive ways forward at a special lecture on the Media Scenario today and its challenges at the Chandigarh Press Club

Supplying the answer, he said, it was not really fear that guided the media’s actions, it was also greed.

‘Media must report facts’

He added, “Today, we have only one or two papers and perhaps one channel that are really doing their job. X saying this and Y saying is not really news.” Giving an example from his own knowledge and experience, he said that he and his colleagues, including people like Shatrughan Sinha, had been holding press conferences putting out facts on the Rafael deal. “All we get is a single column or three inches on an inside page,” he said, remorsefully.

Another issue that he felt has been underreported is that reservation in promotions as well had been sneaked into the system.

‘Nobody will defend the media’

He added that if the disconnect between what the media was reporting and the reality of people’s lives became too large, nobody would believe the media.

“Those who want to stay relevant and do what the media should actually do, must ensure that are skilled in other departments as well to earn their living elsewhere as well. Take you current job as pension and ensure you can work in other professions as well. Reporters must not mortgage their soul,” he said in an impassioned manner.

“The only protection for the media is to be true to its ethos. It will find support from its viewers and readers. They are the ultimate bulwark.”

Positive ways out

He added that the media professionals needed to be like a crocodile. “If you chew long enough, new facts will keep coming out. We need to be clear, we are watch dogs and not in the infotainment business.”

He gave out the example of Sham Lal Yadav and his team at the Indian Express for making good use of the RTI to publish genuine public-interest stories.

“A related thing is that we must highlight every move of the government to suppress freedom of speech. 62 people have been killed in recent times for just asking for information from the government,” he said, the media must stand together as fraternity and highlight it when one of its brethren is killed or maimed.

He also batted strongly for an alliance of the media with people who were tech-savvy to circumvent any official censorship that could be imposed in the future, like the Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks model.

“Those in journalism are like trustees of our values of democracy and not mere employees of a corporation or a media house. We ought to have the conviction,” he added. 

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