Hard Knocks: Katju’s unreal expectations

21 Oct,2011

By Anil Thakraney

 

The Chairman of the Press Council of India, Justice Markandey Katju, reminds me of a very strict uncle. You don’t mess with the guy. You quietly listen to him and obey his orders. Or else get ready for some nice punishments. Katju thinks the Indian media tends to be irresponsible, that it’s not doing its job, which is to serve the people. That there’s too much of celebrity journalism. And yes, he gets really riled on the issue of paid news. And yes, he wants to change things around. By carrot or by stick… whatever it takes.

 

Of course the man’s heart is in the right place, and he means well. And good luck to him in his mission to clean up the desi media houses. But am afraid it’s not going to work. This issue is too complex and layered to be solved by Katju’s simplicity and good intent. And even threats of punishment won’t work. Here’s why.

 

Broadly speaking, the Indian media is run by proprietors and not by editors. Let’s be clear about that. So however honest and diligent the editor might be, the control room is really run by the owner of the publication or the TV channel. And these people are businessmen. They don’t worry about public service, they are focussed on return on investment. They are not in the game to make India a better place, they are here to liven up their own balance sheets. They are not saints, they are suits. In this scenario, dodgy practices is a sad but logical outcome. Because there is too much competition in the mass media. Hundreds of channels and thousands of print brands are chasing the same ad pie. In how many ways can you divide one cake? Mouths have to be fed, no? This then results in excessive celebrity coverage. What to do, everyone wants a piece of SRK! And irresponsible journalism. How can you get eyeballs by following boring rules in the news room? And yes, paid journalism. If the advertisers aren’t gonna entertain me, I have to find other revenue channels, thank you very much.

 

Anyway, good luck to Mr Katju. He deserves no less than a Nobel if he can clean things up out here.

 

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PS: It’s common sense to me, but I don’t understand why the TV chiefs don’t get it. The ONLY reason some goons hurl chappals and rain punches on important people is to get noticed, to get their 15 minutes of fame. And beaming their actions on screen is playing right into their hands. Just don’t feature these incidents, simply report them. Is that so difficult to understand? There are other ways to get TRPs. Try SRK!

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One response to “Hard Knocks: Katju’s unreal expectations”

  1. Usaroon says:

    Control room may be ‘owned’ by media owner but chief controller is the marketing chief of the media set up.