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Saturday, August 18, 2012

How valid is this critique of our television journalists?

[Our] TV channels and media houses do not invest in training young people in ethical journalism. They do not provide them the resources and the time to do proper homework. Too many young people taking to this profession think that as long as they can talk glibly and emote powerfully, they have done their job well. They are not trained to handle responses they did not expect. That is why very few anchors allow diversity of views to come through. Even judges — whose job it is to judge and pass verdicts — are not as judgmental as are some of our news reporters and TV anchors. They really get angry and start bullying and hectoring if someone takes a position they are not prepared for or expresses an opinion which has been declared politically incorrect. Some of our journalists have taken on the activist mantle even more seriously than full-time activists.

I am not against journalists being involved in issues and taking sides. But when they wear the journalistic hat, they have to learn to allow a free and fair discussion and let diverse shades of opinion to come through so that viewers and readers can make an informed choice.

But most importantly, our media houses do not provide space, time and resources for real research, investigations and informed debates. Most of the exposés of corruption and mismanagement are leaks by rival politicians and bureaucrats. The problem is even more serious with TV channels than print journalism. That is why most of TV news programmes simply cull out sensational news items from the morning papers, get a little bit of visual footage of the same and spend hours on end getting the same limited set of people to comment and emote on those news items — be it a child who has fallen into a borewell or a group of lumpens attacking young women in a pub or a case of police atrocity.

— Madhu Kishwar, editor of Manushi, in an interview with Tehelka. Kishwar, who is often invited by TV news channels to take part in panel discussions, recently wrote an angry two-part open letter to Times Now editor in chief Arnab Goswami. In this interview she tells Tehelka's Karuna John why she made her anger public.
  • Thank you, Natasha Rego, for the alert.