It came as a big surprise to me that the first meeting of the Press Council of India (PCI) under Justice Markandey Katju’s chairmanship witnessed the walk-out by four publisher members of PCI. And walk-out for what? … Because, Justice Katju did not apologise.
The apology was demanded from publishers for expressing his strong views on media and journalists, later termed as ‘derogatory’ by publishers and media owners. Justice Katju had reportedly said that media professionals were of low intellectual caliber, with poor knowledge of economics, history, politics, literature and philosophy. The statement is derogatory for sure, if he did not use ‘some of/ most of the journalists…’ in his statement. And you can not have a general view on entire journalists’ community without facts or surveys.
But if media fraternities look within, they will find that, partially, his statement is true. Giving due respect to old-school journalists who chose the profession out of passion, knowledge and interest; presently, there is a wide range of TV or power-obsessed journalists in our fraternity with less knowledge and low intellect.
For instance, the reason is the way journalists are being hired in media organisations these days. Most of them are coming from media schools/institutions. Not expert in any field or domain. And check out what is being taught in media colleges/institutes - certainly not economics, history, politics, literature or philosophy. Not even history of Indian media. Then how can you expect them to be good in these subjects?
And what media organisations do for training of these new comers? Do they offer any course for Political reporters in Politics/History? Business reporters in Economics? Do they invest in these raw talents? The answer for most of them is big NO. Then why so hullabaloo on ‘somewhat’ true statement of Justice Katju?
And the ultimate questions is - was the apologise-or-we-walk-out attitude served any purpose. When all or these publishers knew that the next meeting of the PCI is going to be held in March 2012 only, isn’t it like stalling parliament without discussing vital issues – a sheer waste of time?
There is no doubt that in democracy like India Media shouldn’t not be controlled by government. And because media has itself came up with many self-regulatory bodies recently, it can be called responsible. But isn’t the term ‘self-regulation’ an oxymoron. Will media ever punish itself for its wrong doings? And what if other institutions who are presently being supervised/ observed by government/ independent bodies, will also start demanding the same freedom for self-regulation?
And why media owners/publishers have become so impatient? Why can’t media take criticism in a healthy manner? This is not the era of 1975 and they (government) are not going to topple Indian media overnight. In last more than three decades since 1975 the media scenario, world-wide, has completely changed. Hence, in present circumstances, walk-outs will not solve the purpose but frequent dialogue and introspection will.
Pay in time:
And eventually, it was Mr. Katju only who expressed his concerned about late ad payments of newspapers. He said that newspapers are sometimes made to run ‘pillar to post’ to get payments for Government advertisements, and suggested that dues should be paid within a month of its publication, failing which 12 per cent interest must be levied.