We've got freedom, but we don't know how to deal with it: Shekhar Gupta

Bad journalism can be as detrimental to media freedom and independence as outside control, feel top editors of the country

e4m by Abid Hasan
Updated: Jul 9, 2012 9:42 PM
We've got freedom, but we don't know how to deal with it: Shekhar Gupta

Regulation of the media has been a much debated topic for long. If Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, Indian Express, is to be believed, “We have got freedom, but we don’t know how to deal with it. We are scared of our freedom.”

He further remarked, “We are asking the Government to regulate us; but this is the weakest Government and the most non-functional Parliament I have ever seen.”

According to him, print and television are dealing with two different problems. In print, there are too many organisations that are dishonest, with many of them indulging in paid news and sponsored news. While in television, they are trying to dole out justice and think they are the masters of universe and run the country. “If we want change, then we have to change ourselves first,” he said.

On the other hand, N Ravi, former Editor of The Hindu, felt from the media point of view the challenges facing media are two-fold – external and internal.

He observed, “The main problem is bad journalism. There are well-known instances of bad journalism, such as unfair and incorrect reporting and invasion of privacy.”

Ravi suggested that careless and incorrect reporting should be self regulated by the media. Industry bodies like News Broadcasters Association and Press Council of India should take steps to make self regulation effective and universal in all media.

Joining the discussion, Raghav Bahl, Founder and Editor, Network18, spoke about the talks of gloom and doom doing the rounds of the media industry, particularly the news industry.

He pointed out, “Media is like any other institution; there is gloom and doom around the democracy and economy too. I don’t think there is any more or less; yes, often wrong things prevail. But the core substance is very healthy and follows a very positive set of principles.”

Ajay Upadhyay, Consulting Editor, Amar Ujala, too, stressed that the media must look internally to protect freedom of expression, “as press is a great dialogue and gives platform to the common citizen to express their views”.

Shekhar Gupta, Raghav Bahl, N Ravi and Ajay Upadhyay were deliberating on the topic of ‘Threats to media freedom and independence’. TN Ninan, Chairman, Business Standard, was the moderator. The deliberations were part of the seminar on ‘Challenges Facing Media’, organised by the Editors’ Guild of India in New Delhi on July 6, 2012.

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