‘Indian media in deeply murky ethical territory’

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has, in a party resolution, decried cross-media ownership and warned of the growth of monopolies in the Indian media. It has also slammed the corporatisation of the media, and demanded that the brakes be applied on foreign direct investment in the media which “has made a section of the media pro-western, anti-political and anti-communist”.

“The purveying of mindless violence, sex and obscurantism has grown exponentially with the proliferation of the electronic media,” the resolution said, adding that in the name of the freedom of media, “naked commercialisation” had become rampant, while “unethical practices” were being overlooked.

Serious charges, whichever way you look at them. You would have expected a big debate in the media on the issues thrown up the CPI(M), instead of casting aspersions on the messenger or doubting his motives. Well, keep expecting, for all that has come by way of a response from the media has been silence—deafening and unanimous.

The former Harvard don, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who heads the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, alone among the intellectuals has offered a response in the Indian Express:

“The blunt truth is that there is a quiet crisis of credibility facing the Indian media…. On the surface, there is a simple story about accountability in Indian media. On this view, there is competition; and competition, we assume, produces accountability. But competition alone does not work on many dimensions.

“Although related, competition for advertising revenues is not the same thing as competition for the needs of readers. Both have different logics. There is a sense in which intellectual ambition is a genuinely public good, but is under-supplied by the market.

“The Indian media cannot be accused of a lack of diversity of opinion; equally it cannot be accused of having high intellectual, professional or aesthetic ambition for its outputs….

“It is a measure of the declining credibility of the media that almost no paper is widely regarded as a journal of record. As someone once put it, there are often more subtexts than texts….

“The Indian media has crossed into deeply murky ethical territory without even minimal public debate, self-reflection and media outrage. How deep conflicts of interest run in the Indian media, who is involved, what forms of advocacy or self-censorship these impose, ought to be a matter of grave concern. But what is astonishing is how little space there is in the media to acknowledge that there are serious issues here.”

Read the full article here: People’s media

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