Is the prime minister right about Indian media?

29 June 2011

Like a bad host, who abuses his guests after calling them home, the prime minister of India launched into the media today after calling a bunch of five editors for a much-delayed interaction. It took Manmohan Singh just 25 words in his 1,884-word opening remarks to stick it into the editors.

“An atmosphere has been created in the country—and I say this with all humility—the role of the media in many cases has become that of the accuser, the prosecutor and the judge… . We take decisions in a world of uncertainty and that’s the perspective I think Parliament, our CAG and our media must adopt if this nation is to move forward,” Singh said.

As if the media was responsible for the 2G, CWG or KG basin scams that has seen his ministers resign or prepare to. As if the media was responsible for the thuggish behaviour of his ministers (like Kapil Sibal) in undermining “civil society”, in other words the people of India. As if the media was responsible for runaway prices or inflation.

Or, as if the media was responsible for hurling a question mark over his tenure. Etcetera.

So, what do you think? Has the media overstepped its brief? Has it become accuser, prosecutor and judge? Has the media done its job in unravelling scams and keeping the pressuer on the government? Is the media wrong in clamouring for a cleaner, less corrupt system?

Or is Manmohan Singh barking up the wrong tree by shooting the messenger?

The five editors with prime minister Manmohan Singh: from left, T.N. Ninan of Business Standard, Raj Chengappa of The Tribune, M.K. Razdan of Press Trust of India, Alok Mehta of Nayi Duniya, and Kumar Ketkar of Divya Marathi

***

Also read: Why the PM is hopelessly wrong about the media

How well is the PM’s media advisor advising him?

Because when dog bites dog, it’s news—I

Because when dog bites dog, it’s news—II

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5 Responses to “Is the prime minister right about Indian media?”

  1. alamelu Says:

    who were these editors? can’t find a newsreport that actually identifies them. even photo captions don’t identify them. says a great deal about standards of reportingQ

  2. VOXINDICA Says:

    The role of the media is to observe and criticize; not to be the government’s mouthpiece. I read somewhere that about ‘2000 journalists are accredited to the US President’s White House. More than half of them rise each day with the thought that the government was sure to lie to them before Sundown’. In developed countries, politicians meet with the media with trepidation and caution, not with a patronizing attitude.

    Media should always remember that it is not a propaganda arm of the government. If it were to discharge its duty properly; to justify the faith the public reposes in it, media should be skeptical about everything the government says and does. It should always try to put it on the back-foot. It is not the duty of the media to regurgitate what is given to it in handouts.

  3. Sam Says:

    25 words out of 1884 words (don’t you just love MS Word that allows you to state meaningless facts like these to give the article some semblance of credibility?)

    Your tone clearly indicates the very thing that the PM was asking the main stream media (MSM) to be mindful of – the arrogance that you (the MSM) are the be all and the end all, that you are always right, that your viewpoint is the only valid one, that you alone are the ‘voice’ of society.

    You mention the scams ‘unearthed’ by the media.

    (Since you feel the need to pat yourself, go ahead. do it one more time before reading on.)

    Let me get this straight – quoting from leaked or officially released CAG reports is now called ‘investigative journalism’ and ‘unravelling’ scams!?

    Let me clear this delusion of yours – it was a constitutional arm of the government that investigated and unearthed these scams, and not the media.

    (You guys must think we readers / viewers are really dumb!)

    The media highlighted and thus, did put pressure on the government. They did a good job on that front.

    They did go overboard many, many times too by making presumptions (like attacking the government before the government even had a chance to consider the reports and decide on a course of action).

    Is the PM (or any politician, for that matter) wrong in asking you to stop assuming things and just report facts?

    “Much delayed interaction”, my ass.
    You (the MSM) also need to develop a sense of self-esteem. Just because politicians don’t choose your medium to communicate with people, attacking them does not make you seem more IMPORTANT.

    Your other carefully chosen ‘neutral’ words like “Bad host”, “launched into the media”, “thuggish behavior”, “shooting the messenger” …. and the context of your article clearly indicates your bias against the government and the PM.

    For others, I’ll just point out the obvious – the PM (and the current government) cares about the integrity of journalism in India.

    And he says so as much in deeds: Case in point, the government recommended wage hike for journalists. Another case in point – the high-level task force to review India’s defence preparedness includes senior journalist (Manoj Joshi).


  4. [...] media in many cases has become that of the accuser, the prosecutor and the judge”. Sans Serif asks “is he barking up the wrong tree by shooting the messenger?” Written by Rezwan [...]


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