Apex Court on Meadia

The Supreme Court on Thursday reminded the Press and journalists of the importance of ‘responsible journalism’. It particularly wanted the electronic media and websites to be extremely careful. A bench of the apex court headed by the Chief Justice of India observed: “Are they free to write anything? . . . You cannot reproduce anything that comes to your heart and mind. There has to be some basis. You cannot nurture, construct, construe, create anything. That is not the culture of journalism” The apex court went a step further and said: “We don’t want to name channels but some people think they are Pope sitting in a Pulpit and can pass judgment or deliver a sermon.
Unfortunately, the 24 X 7 TV channels have bred an army of political propagandists who masquerade as journalists and violate every canon, every precept of journalism. From the comfort or their air-conditioned and well-guarded studios they conduct wars against enemies, denounce some citizens as unpatriotic and guilty of sedition, praise others who conform to their views, hold media trials and insinuate some people of committing even murder. They suppress facts and play up distorted facts, sometimes even plain lies that create tension and accentuate differences between sections of people. They issue certificates of nationalism. They shout down panelists who do not agree with the anchorperson’s views. In the guise of disseminating news they indulge in blatant propaganda. In a democracy the Press has to be free. It has to be unbiased and objective in its news dissemination. Unfortunately TV journalism has given birth to a new breed of people who claim to be journalists but are actually purveyors of political propaganda. The Supreme Court has said that it does not want the Press to be ‘gagged’. Nobody in a democracy does or should. But those who enter the profession of journalism have to abide by the norms and ethics of journalism. But when a large section of the electronic media is controlled by corporate bosses the ethics and principles of journalism are observed frequently in their breaches. If the Press as an institution cannot set up an internal mechanism that can correct errant and deviant journalists (who hardly deserve to be called so), then external interference becomes inevitable, because no freedom can be allowed to degenerate into licence, not even Press freedom.

Friday, 23 March, 2018