Dr Prannoy Roy, executive co-chairman of NDTV, received the Red Ink Award for ‘lifetime achievement’ at the NCPA in Mumbai on April 30.
Speaking at the occasion, where Dr Roy received a standing ovation by people from his own fraternity, he quipped, “Ten years back I received the same award, but, it was in one too many ways trying to tell me to pack my bags and leave at that point. I decided not to accept any more of those. One fine day I got a call from someone saying that they would like to confer me with an award titled ‘The Most Trusted Journalist’, but the invite I received had the ‘T’ missing from it and I realised that I was being perceived as rusted now.”
Dr Roy averred that he accepted the award for the first time after the incident because he had high regards for the Mumbai Press Club, which had organised the award function in association with Red Ink. “I am honoured to be here and receive the award and there are four things I would like to say to the fraternity today and these are important aspects of journalism that need to be given a serious thought,” he said after accepting the award.
Dr Roy did not mince his words as he criticised a lot of media houses, most television and print media houses today who were following the Tabloid Culture, which was not a healthy sign. “Why is everyone trying to be Fox News or the Sun Times? Why is the media not looking at what CNN or BBC is doing?” he questioned the audience, comprising of journalists’ and media personalities, adding that they should focus on well-researched quality journalism.
He also blamed the advertising fraternity for focussing more on numbers and less on quality. “Today 25 per cent of revenue is generated from astrology sessions, 30 per cent from Saas Bahu stories and a good amount from bizarre crime stories. Can you imagine a Hindi news anchor hosting a crime series once said Break Ke Baad Hum Apko Ek Rape Dikhane Wale Hai!” he quipped, leaving the audience in splits for a moment.
Dr Roy also opined that more and more anchors had started imbibing qualities that were on the look out for such stories, which was a setting up the wrong precedent for young journalists. He also suggested that an effective law should be brought in to punish wrongful and defamatory reporting, but by the judiciary and not the government.
He concluded his speech by supporting net neutrality, but warned the media against anonymous web writers and bloggers and said that when need be, the judicial system should pierce the veil of anonymity as social websites have to take some responsibility in sensitive situations where a small anonymous tweet could also create havoc.
“The age of digitalisation has come and we are ready to be part of it. I realised this when NDTV.com received 13.5 billion hits on the eve of elections. However, one must also follow ethics on the internet,” he concluded.