Posts Tagged ‘Paid News’

President speaks of paid news, dumbing down

28 February 2014

Chandan Mitra, editor-in-chief of The Pioneer, Delhi, is honoured by President Pranab Mukherjee at the INS platinum jubilee celebrations. INS president Ravindra Kumar of The Statesman is at right.

The following is the full text of the speech delivered by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, at the inauguration of the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) in New Delhi on Thursday, 27 February 2014:

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By PRANAB MUKHERJEE

“Seventy-five years ago, the world was a very different place. Our country was yet to take its place in the comity of nations. Millions of Indians were engaged in the struggle for freedom.

“Your Society came to life on the eve of World War II.

“Newspapers of the time not only survived the  shortages that war brought in its wake, but also engaged themselves in the difficult task of informing people of the momentous events of a contentious period in our history.

“It took resolve, vision and a sense of destiny on the part of the founding fathers to have formed a Society that could take up issues of common interest for its members.

“INS can also be proud that it helped create and nurture institutions like the Press Trust of India and the Audit Bureau of Circulation.  INS members have played a vital role in nurturing a free Press which is a critical component of our democracy.

“Over the years, INS members have informed society and promoted debate on the important questions that confront our nation.

“Be it the ravages wrought by war or those inflicted by the man-made Bengal Famine, the trials and tribulations of a nation torn asunder by Partition or the building of modern day India, newspapers have played a crucial role in educating Indians and giving expression to the diversity of views in our society, upholding thereby the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.

“The plurality of media in our country has its roots in our freedom struggle.

“The Press in India evolved, not through the aegis of the Government but due to the commitment of individuals who used it as a tool to fight enforced opinions and create platform for social reform movements across the country.

“It is matter of pride that between 1780 until India’s Independence in 1947, more than 120 newspapers and periodicals were launched in almost in every Indian language. Each of these publications vowed to carry the ideals of democracy to the doorsteps of the people and spread the message of independence.

“As the media landscape undergoes change, the media has assumed different roles of being a facilitator, protector and enabler of democratic institutions and processes.

“Our vast, varied and vibrant media is a national asset.

“The media as a whole not only keep people informed but also performs a very crucial function of presenting ideas and alternatives in the domain of policy formulation and implementation.  The media space thus becomes an important component in the fabric of a functional democracy by not merely reporting the ‘dialogue of democracy’ but also by taking an active part in that dialogue.

“As India grows in the 21st century, it is extremely important that media reaches out to the inaccessible areas and the under-served population of this country.

“It is critical that the media provides an enabling environment for the spirit of inclusive growth to be ushered in and that the varied tools of communication are able to disseminate the “India Story” in a positive, accurate and focused perspective.

“Even as iconic newspapers and magazines around the world are ceasing to print, our newspaper industry, one of the largest in the world, continues to grow. The market for Indian newspapers, with over 90 million copies in circulation, is expected to grow at a double-digit Compounded Annual Growth Rate of 10% and emerge as the world’s sixth-largest newspaper market by 2017.

“The regional and vernacular print sector, in particular, is growing on the back of rising literacy and low print media penetration as well as the heightened interest of advertisers wanting to leverage these markets.

“Today, according to industry sources, print media has a combined market penetration of only 14%. There is considerable potential, therefore, to expand readership across the national canvas.

“These are changing times and it is not possible for the newspapers to be spared from the consequences of the evolution of ideas and the embrace of technology. It is essential for newspapers to be alive to the challenges of technology, and to harness responsibly the opportunities that present themselves.

“The history of the Press in India bears testimony to the fact that the pioneers created strong and durable institutions as well as traditions.  That is your inheritance and you must build on it. It is incumbent upon you as a Society of newspapers and periodicals to weed out such aberrations as might have crept into the functioning of the media.

“Let me point out in this regard that it is distressing to note that some publications have resorted to “Paid News” and other such marketing strategies to drive their revenues.  There is need for self-correcting mechanisms to check such aberrations.

“The temptation to “dumb down” news should also be resisted.

“The nation faces critical challenges that go well beyond the pressure of ‘Breaking News’ and immediate headlines.

“While you must continue to be effective raconteurs, you must also be visionary nation builders.  You are after all the crystal ball that millions of Indians gaze at. It is your responsibility and your bounden duty to ensure that ideas are debated dispassionately and thoughts articulated without fear or favour so that opinion is always well informed.

“The influence, credibility and quality of our media is well recognized. Newspapers must be keepers of the conscience of our country.  They have to be active participants in our continuing endeavour to nurture a democratic republic committed to achieving justice and fundamental freedoms for all citizens.

“Journalists must bring to public notice the array of ills and deprivations that continue to beset large numbers of our people – be it malnourishment, continuance of discriminatory practices against sections of society, particularly dalits, or the burdens and tragic consequences of indebtedness. They must shape and influence public opinion even as they provide objective and balanced coverage of news.

“The media has an important role to play in cleansing public life.  However, to undertake this role, the conduct of the media itself should be above board.  It must be always kept in mind that ends and means are both important.

“The highest standards  of ethics must be maintained at all times.

“Sensationalism should never become a substitute for objective assessment and truthful reporting.

“Gossip and speculation should not replace hard facts.

“Every effort should be made to ensure that political or commercial interests are not passed off as legitimate and independent opinion.

“Integrity and independence are two sides of the same coin and both must be equally important for our media and for every one of us.  There should be recognition that the media is accountable to its readers and viewers at large and through them to the entire nation.

“As the fourth estate, the media is the mediator between the public and public servants. It is a watchdog of public interest. It gives voice to the downtrodden and dispossessed. It is inherent in the role of a watchdog that the media draws attention to what is wrong. But, gloom and dark alone should not dominate news coverage.  A conscious effort must be made to highlight the positive and inspire change for the better.  The power of the media should be used to engage in a nation-wide endeavour to reset our moral compass.

“I call upon INS and all its members to remain torch bearers of responsible journalism. They must always be a voice for justice and equally, spokespersons of hope and reason.

“In conclusion, let me remind that one of the most prolific and influential journalists as well as publishers of our nation was Mahatma Gandhi. His thoughts on journalism are most illuminating and must guide our media.

“Gandhiji wrote in My Experiments with Truth:

The sole aim of journalism should be service. The newspaper press is a great power, but just as an unchained torrent of water submerges whole countrysides and devastates crops, even so an uncontrolled pen serves but to destroy. If the control is from without, it proves more poisonous than want of control. It can be profitable only when exercised from within.”

He also wrote:

Week after week I poured out my soul in its columns and expounded the principles and practice of satyagraha as I understood it.  I cannot recall a word in these articles set down without thought or deliberation or a word of conscious exaggeration, or anything merely to please.  Indeed, the journal became for me a training in self-restraint and for friends a medium through which to keep in touch with my thoughts.”

Not just a newspaper, a no-paid-news newspaper!

1 November 2013

bhaskarnews

It speaks for the level of distrust that the media has managed to earn for itself that the front page of the Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar carries an emblem in Hindi (right) alongside the masthead, in the space usually reserved for ear-panel advertisements, proclaiming “No Paid News”.

dna

Two years ago, the Bombay newspaper DNA, in which the Dainik Bhaskar group held a stake (which it later divested in favour of Subhash Chandra‘s Zee) too carried a similar logo.

When The Hindu started printing an edition from Mohali in 2011, its then editor-in-chief N. Ram made a front-page declaration that it would not serve up news that somebody else has paid for”.

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Dainik Bhaskar‘s “No Paid News” emblem, however, does not appear in Divya Bhaskar, the Gujarati paper owned by the group.

The paper was in the news last Sunday when it carried a front-page, eight-column flyer-interview by Dhimant Purohit on Sunday, quoting the State’s chief minister Narendra Modi as saying that India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had not attended the funeral of home minister Vallabhbhai Patel.

Dainik Bhaskar too carried the Divya Bhaskar story as a page-one, eight-column flyer, but two days later, Divya Bhaskar later printed a front-page “clarification”

Soon after the clarification, Modi tweeted, “Divya Bhaskar has clarified on a statement about Sardar Patel’s funeral wrongly attributed to me. I thank them for it.”

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In a simple but smart use of archival material, The Economic Times ran a graphic, containing the front-page of The Times of India, which called Modi’s (and Divya Bhaskar‘s) bluff.

Images: courtesy Divya Bhaskar, Dainik Bhaskar, The Economic Times

Also read: Good morning, your paper is free of paid news

A paper without paid news for North Indians

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‘Media’s Modi-fixation needs medical attention’

How Narendra Modi buys media through PR

Modi‘s backers and media owners have converged’

‘Network18′s multimedia Modi feast, a promo’

For cash-struck TV, Modi is effective TRP

If The Economist looks at Tamil Nadu, it’s news?

11 June 2013

economist

In a bleak advertising scenario, Indian magazines have been pushed into running cheap and ugly advertisements, advertorials, and other intrusions dressed up as thinly disguised “innovations”, like a bit of editorial here for an ad elsewhere, to keep the ship afloat.

But The Economist, too?

The latest issue of the “newspaper” (as the magazine calls itself) has eight pages of a Tamil Nadu government ad heralding the achievements of two years of chief minister Jayalalitha‘s rule.

And, presto, there is a one-and-a-half page story on Tamil Nadu preceding it.

Headlined “A successful show begins to pall“, the Economist calls the state “one of India’s great success stories”, a “consistent economic performer” and “one of India’s most prosperous states”. An accompanying box titled “Lights, camera, election” dwells on why so many Tamil politicians are former film stars.

All very valid observations, no doubt, but all very old hat (the Economist was first published in September 1843).

Thankfully, the piece has enough caveats to blunt any accusations of doing what the adperson ordered.

It calls Jayalalitha a “Brahmin starlet turned autocrat” who has faced several corruption charges; it labels her co-star Cho Ramaswamy as one who “both seduced and murdered her on stage”; it talks of the endemic graft and Jayalalitha’s penchant for filing defamation cases against her critics.

Still, you are left wondering: would the Economist have suddenly looked at Tamil Nadu’s miracles if it weren’t for the ad?

Conversely, was The Economist correspondent doing a critical journalistic piece and the Tamil Nadu information and public relations directorate heard of it and decided to push in an ad (which was published in all newspapers on May 16)?

Asianet journos, editors must declare assets

7 December 2012

indianexpress

On the day the Indian Express in New Delhi has exposed how the “paid news” rot runs deep in BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, Rajeev Chandrasekhar‘s Asianet News Network (ANN) has announced steps “to restore confidence in media” and urged all other media companies to follow suit:

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PRESS RELEASE: In the current backdrop of some cases and allegations of Paid News, extortion in some isolated media companies, the spotlight is on the Media brands and the professionals working in them.

Asianet News Network (ANN) believes that for the large part, the Indian media and the Indian journalist are worthy of the trust that is reposed in them by the millions of Indians that consume and trust the news from their favorite sources.

ANN already has a strong Code of Conduct and Ethics policy in place, which is an intrinsic part of the employment contract of every team member.

Nevertheless, recent incidents have turned the spotlight on the media’s conduct and values. So it’s necessary to do more to earn further the trust of Indian news consumers.

In this connection, ANN’s three news brands—Asianet News (Malayalam), Suvarna News 24×7 and Kannada Prabha—have today announced that they would add the following to its already robust ethics policy and editorial and newsroom guidelines:

a.    Will disclose the ad sales and revenues during the months leading up to and during elections
b.    Will disclose all ad sales and revenues accruing from political parties and politicians
c.    Will ensure a mandatory disclosure of assets of senior editorial staff

Suresh Selvaraj, CEO, ANNPL said today “Our news brands Suvarna News, Asianet News and Kannada Prabha enjoy high credibility amongst our viewers and readers. Our leadership position in our markets is a direct consequence of the high trust in our news and in our team. These initiatives show that we will continue to do whatever it takes to increase the credibility and reach of our news coverage, investing further in not just infrastructure, technology and talent – but also in ethics and values.”

Illustration: courtesy C.R. Sasikumar/ The Indian Express

Also read: South media baron among top political donors

Media baron donates most to parties after Birlas

‘Editors and senior journalists must declare assets’

Editor declares assets, liabilities on live TV

Income, outgo, assets, liabilities, profits, loss

A paper without ‘paid news’ for north Indians

13 November 2011

It is the season for southern English newspapers to head North.

Deccan Herald is due to print out of Delhi from December. And nowThe Hindu, “the most readable daily in the world” which already prints out of the national capital, has added another printing centre in the North, with a potshot at those who “serve up news that somebody else has paid for”.

Image: courtesy The Hindu 

Also read: Good morning, your paper is free of paid news

Coming soon: A Deccan Herald edition from Delhi

Should ‘media corruption’ come under Lokpal?

25 August 2011

The more-than-just-a-neutral-observer position taken by sections of the media on the Anna Hazare agitation has clearly begun to rile politicians, and at least two of them cutting across party lines have argued in the last couple of days that the media too must be brought under the purview of the proposed anti-corruption legislation.

Exhibit A: Union minister for law and social justice, Salman Khurshid.

According to a report in The Hindu, Khurshid asked Headlines Today executive editor Rahul Kanwal as to why media corruption should not be investigated under the Team Anna version of the Lokpal bill.

“Do I need to go back to the Niira Radia tapes? Now you are asking why the government has not investigated. If we go ahead with the investigation, we would be accused of being insensitive. If we do, there would be a mass moment for the media.”

Exhibit B: Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Again, according to a report in The Hindu, Mulayam’s demand that the media also be brought under the Lokpal was met with thumping of desks by his colleagues.

“We [Samajwadi Party] suffered in the hands of media [during the polls],” he said during a debate on corruption. Even as a section of the treasury and opposition benche demanding that “media corruption” be also inquired into by Lokpal, Mulayam went on to state that it had become a practice for electronic channels to collect money during polls and air views in support of one party.

Also read: POLL: How has the media covered Anna movement?

Photograph: Television reporters deliver their piece to camera at the Ramlila grounds in New Delhi, against the backdrop of the stage on which Anna Hazare is fasting for the Lokpal bill

‘Editors are lobbying on behalf of corporations’

19 July 2011

Corruption in the media is as old as, well, Malabar Hill, except that stories of individual transgressions—journalists and editors seeking cars, houses, laptops etc—have now been supplanted by stories of institutional transgressions.

Writing in the Financial Times, London, the historian Ramachandra Guha puts his finger on a newer and more insidious form of media corruption:

“The Republic of India today faces challenges that are as much moral as social or political…. These (corruption scandals) have revealed that manner in which our politicians have abused the State’s power of eminent domain, its control of infrastructural contracts, and its monopoly of natural resources, to enrich themselves…. This activity cuts across political parties—small and large, regional and national.

It has tainted the media too, with influential editors now commonly lobbying pliant politicians to bend the law to favour particular corporations….

“[The] current wave of corruption scandals will put at least a temporary halt to premature talk of India’s rise to superstardom. Such fancies are characteristic of editors in New Delhi and businessmen in Mumbai, who dream often of catching up with and even surpassing China.”

Also read: Bangalore journos named in site allotment scam

Only in India: 90% off for journalists!

Cash transfer scheme is already here for journalists

Media houses are sitting on plots leased at one rupee!

Anti-corruption campaigner’s “error of judgement”

The WikiLeak cable on the journalist who…

‘Editors, senior journalists must declare assets’

‘Good morning! Your paper is free of paid news!’

16 February 2011

In this era of mercenary managers and predatory proprietors, brave is the editor who can actually stick his neck out—at least in public—and vouch for the virginity of his product. But Aditya Sinha, the new editor-in-chief of the Bombay daily Daily News & Analysis (DNA), clearly doesn’t mind taking the risk.

At least, if nothing else, to send a signal to managers and proprietors who have hired him.

The masthead of the paper now sports a seal affirming that the paper is free of the latest scourge of Indian journalism—paid news. And this, in the cradle of the newspaper group that is seen to be the motherlode of all things negative about the profession: medianet, paid news, private treaties and what have you.

For the record, DNA, under its previous editor R. Jagannathan, had kicked off a front-page campaign in 2009 against paid news with a set of advertisements.

Also read: Time to drop the “A” from DNA?

Aditya Sinha on the world view of Delhi journalists

Just in case you have a view on ‘Paid News’…

18 December 2010

A DAVP advertisement which appears in several newspapers today eliciting evidence on “paid news”.

Also read: The paid news of India: guess who monetised first?

Free, frank, fearless. No, grubby, greedy, gutless

Editors Guild on paid news, private treaties

The decentralisation of ‘paid-for’ news begins

‘Quantitative growth vs qualitative improvement’

24 November 2010

Editorial in Business Standard:

“These exposes [of paid news, nexus between media professionals and corporate lobbyists, etc] are, however, only the tip of an iceberg of professional misconduct in the Indian media.

“The unprecedented quantitative growth of media in the past decade has overtaken qualitative improvement. The enormous improvement in financial compensation has, paradoxically, blunted the edge of professionalism. But these problems pale into insignificance against the rising tide of corporate and political influence, interference and control in the media.

“An increasing number of television channels and newspapers and news magazines are either owned by politicians with parallel business interests or business persons with political affiliations. These and the growing dependence of the media on advertisement revenue are undermining the independence of the fourth estate.

“The good news, however, is that increasing competition and an expansion of the market have acted as built-in stabilisers. The wider range of media options does empower readers and viewers. Competition is, in the final analysis, the best guarantor of quality and professionalism. In the medium to long term, however, Indian media must depend less on advertising and more on subscriptions to be able to liberate itself from the pressure of vested interests”

Read the full editorial: Bonfire of the vanities

Also read:Has media credibility suffered a body-blow?

‘Go to bed knowing you haven’t succumbed’

 

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