“Indian news TV can be ahead of other Asian countries”

The best thing about Indian journalism is the willingness to ask challenging questions to public figures, says Alan Quartly of BBC News

e4m by Shree Lahiri
Updated: Sep 3, 2012 7:40 PM
“Indian news TV can be ahead of other Asian countries”

“You have a strong tradition of high circulation print media in your country,” said Alan Quartly, South East Asia Bureau Editor, BBC News. Having spent around 18 months in India, he gave his initial observations of the Indian media scene.

In western countries, print is dying, circulation is dwindling and some publications had to even close down, whereas in India because of the massive population and reach, newspapers are still increasing circulation. In the Indian market, he observed that there are very well established names in the newspaper industry that have a long track record of producing good reporting.

“As far as the magazines go, there seems to be a vibrant current affairs culture here. Magazines may be on a weekly or monthly basis, but there’s provocative, investigative journalism, which is also extremely impressive,” added Quartly.

Young, competitive, energetic market
TV news journalism in India is still a very young industry and for a long time there was a single state broadcaster. “It’s a young industry, the pace is fast and competition high,” he said.

Recalling his early experiences in the country, Quartly said, “Like every foreign journalist coming into India, you spend the first four months trying to figure out what is going on.”

TV news industry in India is a very young, competitive, energetic market, he shared. It’s still developing and evolving. “It’s hard for an outsider sometimes to understand what is an important bit of news, because everything seems to be breaking news!,” he exclaimed.

On interviews and talk shows, he observed that there is an “extremely active culture of asking challenging questions, holding officials to account, which is interesting”. Indian media is not afraid to ask questions and not afraid to insist that people in public office should answer; and that’s what journalism is about.

About Indian TV versus others in Asia, he felt the best thing about Indian journalism is the willingness and lack of fear to ask challenging questions to public figures. “Indian TV has the potential to be vastly ahead of other countries in Asia,” he said.

But one thing that he found surprising was how few public figures were forced to leave office at the time they are challenged by journalists and exposed. One thing he could not understand was the lack of link between active journalism and lack of results.

Alan Quartly shared his views while delivering the keynote address at the exchange4media-organised NewsNext on August 31, 2012. It was presented by Dish TV and powered by Television Street Maps.

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