Sunday, March 28, 2010

" The Hindu" & Transparency in Media Houses

B.RAMAN


Indian media has always been rightly vocal in criticising the lack of transparency in the functioning of Government departments, instances of nepotism, favouritism and wrong-doing in the Government and attempts of senior Government functionaries to hang on to office, by hook or by crook, long after they have reached the age of superannuation.


2. While they have every right to do so, many of the Indian media houses and journalists are themselves not role models of probity, intellectual integrity, transparency and selfless service in the cause of journalism. There are many instances of wrong-doings by media houses and journalists, but the public does not become aware of them because of the reluctance of our newspapers and journalists to report on each other, however grave their failings may be and even if knowledge of such failings be in public interest. Their reluctance to report on each other and their tendency to cover up failings inside their profession have been creating cynicism in growing sections of the public about the ethical standards---or the lack of them---in the media world.


3. In this context, many who take interest in the goings-on in the media world, would be watching with interest the evolution of the controversy relating to the reported publication by the "Indian Express" and the "Financial Express" of a report regarding alleged differences in the "Hindu" family about the state of affairs in the "Hindu" media house, owned by the members of a single family with little public knowledge of the ownership and of the details of the extent to which the members of the family occupy leading positions in the editorial staff in the headquarters as well as in the reporting staff in the field. The lack of knowledge of such details results in the reading public patronising the "Hindu" not being aware of the fact that a small group of members of the same family decide what should be reported to the public and what views and opinions should be disseminated through the columns of the paper. The reading public has difficulty in knowing who is a relative and who is an independent member of the staff capable of providing an objective point of view uninfluenced by the interests of the family.


4. Shri N.Ram, the Editor-in-chief of the group, who will be becoming a senior citizen later this year by reaching the age of 65, has given notice of a defamation suit against the "Indian Express" and the "Financial Express" for publishing what, according to him, was an inaccurate report relating to some staff changes , which did not involve outsiders and alleged differences among the family members over the propriety and advisability of Shri Ram continuing to be the head of the group even after reaching the age of superannuation.


5. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on the merits of the threatened action for defamation. It is for "The Indian Express" and the "Financial Express" to defend themselves by establishing the accuracy of their report and for the court to ultimately decide the maintainability of the defamation suit if it is ultimately filed by Shri Ram.


6. The purpose in writing this piece is merely to pose the following questions: (a). Has the time not come for greater transparency in “The Hindu” group? (b).Has the time not come for the Government to introduce, in consultation with the media houses, a right to information act relating to media houses? (c). Is it not in public interest for the rest of the media to have a debate through their columns on the issues raised by the controversy between “The Hindu” and “The Indian Express”? (d).Are the media houses and journalists holy cows beyond criticism or spotlight?



7. To point out these things is not to defame Shri Ram or his newspaper, but to enhance their reputation further by encouraging habits of humility, openness, accountability and self-criticism. (28-3-10)



( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi )

13 comments:

shaan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shaan said...

Great Comment! You can also notice the NDTV of late taking an anti-Congress stance at center and anti-DMK stance in TN and going a little soft on the BJP. Exactly opposite of what they used to do earlier. It is said that Prannoy Roy's wife is the sister of a CPI-M leader. So their reporting seems to depend on the relationship the CPI-M has with other parties. And they still seem to think that people are fools.

ambi said...

too good sir ji! Mr. Claude Arpi has rightly said about you that, what made you such a successful spy master is your down to earth honesty. You are really cool.
kudos to you.

vicharak said...

Great post! Very timely as well! All media houses believe that they have divine right to question anyone while no is allowed to touch them even from a distance. They enjoy more power than most politicians. Public has a right to know about them and their policies, since public alone contributes to their commercial success both in terms of advertising and subscription revenues. Most MSM although appearing to be balanced and sophisticated is extremely biased and stupid. RTI for media houses is an excellent suggestion.

Anjaneya said...

Ramanji,

I have long waited for someone of your reputation to comment on the state of Media in india. The Hindu = Chinmese propaganda machine. The only good paper is the Daily Pioneeer of Chandan Mitra.
Dont even get me started on the yellow journalism of NDTV, IBN etc. It should come under entertainment category.

Who Nose said...

I think this time you are way off mark.
The essence of free media is that it should be unfettered.
Let the readers judge. Not all will judge correctly, in which case other media, or bloggers like you, can point out.
Do senior citizens lose their sanity, or objectivity, or intellect?

Sudhir said...

Raman sir,

I have been making lot of attempts to question the TV media about factual errors in their reporting. I am not even questioning their ideological leanings, financial dealings etc.

I just want to point out factual errors - and what do I get in return? "what gives you the idea that I owe you any explanation for anything?? You don't like the site, don't log on! Bye!" ,"I don't know English", "You are selective in your opinion" etc. I even showed them proof of my claims, and then I get blocked!

The brief conversations can be seen here:

http://serious--fun.blogspot.com/2010/03/trysts-with-msm-part-2.html and http://serious--fun.blogspot.com/2010/03/trysts-with-msm-part-1.html


Who Nose - the TV media doesn't even allow readers to judge! That is the sad state of affairs today

- Sudhir

tushar said...

Sir i have seen the media being in its fullest and i can surely tell that they are one of the most corrupt people one can see and i have even seen them taking bribe for not publishing some of the news and all the tapes and evidence was given to the victim for an X price and the information was not put on...with such a media agency or this kind of people in the media world are purely for business and to earn money and the information put by them and its credibility can be judged by you and this is nothing but black mailing a person for his sins.

nupura said...

Bang Bang ! Reading From the type of offensive and fraudulent racist dravidian hostory that hindu was publishing, it is safe to conclude that Hindu news paper has shit headed mafia leading it since the new millenium.

Good that It has been pointed out.

nehra_A said...

Very well written sir, the rot in electronic media is well known but that in the print media also be known to the masses, newspapers should also come under under the jurisdiction of consumer courts and the RTI after all when i buy my paper i am expecting to get the exact state of current affairs of my surrounding, not propaganda. In my locality some dailys are known to be buyable, once a young boy who was recently appointed a Senior Scientific Officer(SSO) in the state Food & Drug dept ,had not passed a couple of medicines of a particular brand(these medicines were also being supplied to the biggest govt hospital in the capital of 2 states!). A local english and a hindi newspaper ran a campaign to malign that particular SSO(without providing any evidence to back it), claiming to have exposed the biggest tehelka of curroption. The SSO was saked ,cases were registered agianst him in the high court. Now it is known that the medicine brand is owned by a the son of a politician whose other brother has a top job in the newspaper, but the medicine has been passed, both the medicine brand and the two papers have grown, largely due to those reports. The company now supplies a larger variety medicines to the hospital. And more of us aam aadmis continue to die due to consumption of country made hooch.(a patient admitted because of diorhea died because poor quality glucore drip, a report in the newspaper attributed his death to toxic country made hooch). And everyone lives hapily ever after! :-]

Broadway said...

Mr raman. Here is a nice compilation

http://img134.imageshack.us/img134/7628/ddm.gif

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