‘Selective Coverage Undermines Task Of Media in India’

1 Oct

Srinagar, Sept 30– Veteran journalist and parliamentarian, H K Dua and chief editor of Indo-Asian News Service (IANS), Tarun Basu held separate interaction sessions with students of Media Education Research Centre, Kashmir University on Friday.

In his address, Dua talked about the state of press in India. He listed  the contemporary trends and  referred to the role of press in the freedom struggle of India.

Dua’s journalistic career spans over four decades, having served as editor in Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Tribune and as editorial advisor of The Times of India.

“Though the media has become more vibrant in the country, it should do better than what it is doing,” he said, commenting on the status of the fourth estate in India.

Dua talked about the basic journalistic dilemma between press freedom and responsibility.

“Indian media has developed shortcomings over the years, particularly television news channels, as they focus more on the ‘shining India’ aspect of the country while ignoring some of the most pressing issues facing the majority of its population residing in rural areas,” he said.

“The urban-centric reporting has meant that problems faced by people in the villages in the interiors of the country as well as the peripheral parts like North-East go unreported or are given cursory coverage,” Dua added.

The Rajya Sabha member said the “selective coverage” undermines the responsibility of media.At a time when media has focused on India as an emerging economic power, he said, it has been negligent in covering the other side of the picture.

Media, he said, is also giving more coverage to bad news ,highlight upheavals while downplaying good news.Dua talked about the ‘Breaking News’ syndrome whereby TV news channels sensationalize and trivialize the news.

He also referred to the “irresponsible” coverage by the media. “We see glorification of crime. Sometimes media holds an accused person as guilty till proven innocent contrary to the notion of innocent till proven guilty,” Dua said.

The veteran journalist also delved in detail about the competition between news channels for higher TRPs.

“The commercialization is taking its toll on the objectivity of journalists. Private interest is being given precedence over the public interest,” he said.

This, he said, has also hit the credibility of media.

Dua also talked about restrictions on media, referring to the curbs imposed  during emergency.“That time press did not fight back barring some exceptions ” he added.

Dua also touched on the role of media during sensitive times like communal riots.

After his address, he also responded to the questions from MERC students.Earlier, the chief editor and director of one of the leading news agencies of India, IANS, Tarun Basu discussed  the opportunities in media today besides future prospects for  media professionals.

News, he said, will be increasingly served on mobile platforms in the wake of exponential increase in the number of mobile subscribers in India.

“800 million mobile sets are sold every month in India,” he revealed.

Basu said the media has become compressed, informal and chatty.

Talking about the emerging trends in media industry, he said earlier only journalists had access to news first and the people only came to be informed in the morning through newspapers or before that through radio news bulletins.

“Today news has become instant. In some cases, people come to know about the stories even before the journalists. Journalism has never been more involved, more participatory. People have also come to influence media agenda,” Basu said.

He said earlier there used to be compartmentalization of news into print and broadcast. “Now journalists are expected to have multimedia skills.”

He referred to the use of blogs and social networking sites like facebook, orkut and twitter by journalists for news gathering.

IANS chief also talked about the growing influence of vernacular press.

“Future lies in local media and regional languages.”News, he said, has become more localized and more digitized.

Basu also talked about the growing penetration of internet US  which has resulted in decline in the sales of newspapers there.

In India, Basu said, the internet penetration is slow owing to limited access and reach, particularly in rural parts of the country.

“In India, people still prefer their morning tea over a newspaper.”

Basu said now-a-days journalists face competition not only from their fellow journalists, but also the citizen journalists.

“Now-a-days lot of information sharing takes place on social networking sites. A non-journalist may break news first, which a journalist should be able to analyze and interpret,” he said.

On the occasion, former student of MERC and IANS staffer, Sarwar Kashani also interacted with the students. He said some journalists track the discussions on social networking sites for good story ideas.

Basu told the students to be wary of relying on social networking sites only.

“News has to be accurate, so verify the information on sites like facebook with other sources.

Lot of news channels rely on such sites and end up losing credibility on account of the factual errors in the copy.”Assuring students of all possible help from IANS, Basu said their contributions will be carried by the reputed news agency along with their byline.

Earlier, senior faculty and I/C HoD MERC, Nasir Mirza welcomed both the guests and conducted the interaction sessions. He hailed the contribution of the two veteran journalists- Dua and Basu- and urged the media students to learn from their valuable experiences.

Quoting the founder editor of the Tribune, Mirza said, the time has come to ‘create a new idea on the new forces of vitality and old elements of wisdom’.

In his presidential remarks the acting Vice Chancellor Prof Muhammad Amin Sofi, emphasised on the larger role media has to play in the society.

He expressed satisfaction over the visit of the veterans  of journalism. “They are a source of inspiration for the new crop of journalists”, he remarked.

In the concluding remarks Registrar Prof Syed Fayaz thanked the guest speakers for an  ‘enlightening discourse’. “The credibilty,integrity and balance are something ajournalist cannot live without” he said.The session with H K Dua was coordinated by Muslim Jan Editor.

On the occasion a set of latest publications of the department, Fortnightly MERC Times and half yearly Media Times was presented to the guests.

K Asif proposed a vote of thanks. Students of both the batches at MERC attened. The faculty members Dr Sabeha Mufti, Dr Aaliya Ahmed and Malik Zahra were present on the occasion.

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