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"Media needs accountability, not regulation"

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"Media needs accountability, not regulation"

Regulation of media, especially with the growing use of social media, has been a hotly debated topic. Panellists at the panel discussion on ‘Promoting Democracy through media’ discussed this issue at great length, among other relevant issues. The panel discussion preceded the presentation of the IMPACT Person of the Year award to Vineet Jain, Managing Director, Times Group at a glittering ceremony in Mumbai on December 6, 2013. The panellists included Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Law and Justice and also Minister of Telecom; Prasoon Joshi, well known lyricist and Executive Chairman & CEO of McCann World Group (India); and Anil Dharker, eminent writer and columnist. The moderator for the discussion was Gurbir Singh, President, Press Club, Mumbai and Senior Associate Editor, BusinessWorld.

The discussion started with Gurbir Singh asking the basic question: “Does media cross the Laxman Rekha”? He mentioned certain instances where media has contributed to the success stories, exposed genuine facts, and contributed immensely towards nation building, but there have been times where media has crossed the line.

Responding to his question, Kapil Sibal said, “There are some instances, where media has done tremendous work. But there are also instances, where media has crossed the line. Media needs to be more accountable, which is extremely lacking in today’s scenario. Exposes made by the media should be held to debate.” He further added, “News today has become entertainment.”

Prasoon Joshi, on the other hand, disagreed with him and said that media is evolving with the people. He emphasised on the growing importance of social media and further claimed that exposes made today are amplified as a result of the onslaught of social media.

Here, Anil Dharker established that social media is an un-informed form of media and that any respected individual loses respect in matter of seconds with the social media onslaught. Putting his point forward, he said “Print media is far more responsible than broadcast media.” He mentioned his experience where on supporting Tehelka magazine for its journalistic credentials, he was labelled a Tarun Tejpal supporter. He capitalised this point and established that broadcast media should work more responsibly and in a balanced manner. He also mentioned that media has promoted an environment of negativity.

Joshi countered him by saying, “The nature of broadcast is instant, whereas print gets ample time to study an issue. Therefore, the operating paradigms of the two platforms are different and hence, the two cannot be compared.” He laid an emphasis on media accountability, but said that media should not be regulated.

Sibal remarked, “Media should understand that India is not only about scams and corruption and that it should present a robust image of the country to the world outside. There have been instances where rating agencies claim India to be an attractive destination, but investors have questioned that in a scenario where our own media is stating the economic environment to be gloomy. How can we have confidence?” He further insisted that media should be very responsible and rightly contribute towards the growth of the nation.

Gurbir Singh concluded the discussion by stating that media should be transparent in its reporting and should present genuine facts and, therefore, have an unbiased approach towards reporting.

All the panellists unanimously agreed that with the emergence of social media, people will gradually learn to separate fact from fiction and affirmed that the answer to media problems is not in regulation, but in accountability. 

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