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Hyper-active media taking toll on quality

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Aug 31 � The future of journalism or the media is uncertain with the death of many newspapers, conflicts of objectives in journalism, degeneration, and a host of other challenges triggered by technological and economic imperatives.

Observing on the challenges before the media while delivering the Harendra Nath Baruah Memorial Lecture at Kumar Bhaskar Natya Mandir here on Tuesday, journalist and noted social activist Patricia Mukhim said that 24 hours news channels and the internet has redefined the media world upsetting the traditional mores of journalism.

Mukhim pointed out that the fight to get the most exclusive news has taken a toll on the quality of reporting and the television rating points (TRP) has made things worse as every news channel compete with each other sacrificing journalistic principles. Citing the 26/11 attack on Mumbai, Mukhim said that this incident had reflected the ugly side of a hyper-active media, which driven almost by frenzy to be the first to tell it all had actually helped the terrorists to be more precise in their attacks and inflict more damage.

Mukhim also cautioned against some programmes aired in the 24 hours news channels like pitting individuals of different political ideologies against each other. �These programmes are aimed at creating a studio controversy resembling a street fight of an ear-splitting nature,� she said remarking that such programmes do not educate the viewer.

Referring to the internet which has emerged as the new media, Mukhim remarked that the internet is not the most authentic source of information. She further said that at present a digital divide has been created between those who have access to the internet and others who don�t.

On the other hand, dwelling at length on the diminishing principles of good old journalism, Mukhim said that the new generation was getting into a fast food culture as far as news was concerned. �The young wants a news capsule that fits into their cell phone screen. The Press is no longer an institution integral to democracy. It is simply an extension of a news manufacturing agency,� Mukhim said.

Underscoring the need for introspection in the media so that it can criticize and evaluate its role under the prevailing circumstances, Mukhim called for seriously looking into the allegations of journalists compromising their professional ethics and behaving as poodles of politicians and other powerful people.

Regretting that the changes coming in the media has made the readers sceptical about the journalists and their reports, Mukhim asserted that it would be wrong to tarnish the very image of journalism because of a few misfits in the profession. �By and large journalists live their ethics on a daily basis,� she said adding that true journalists are troubled by a bad story that gets some innocent soul in trouble and vindicated when their story gets to the heart of the matter and scamsters are exposed and action is taken against the guilty. �Scribes continue to have a heart-burn when a good story is killed by the desk or by the owners. The desk, because it often does not understand the nuances of the story, and the owners because the story hurts their commercial or political interests.�

Veteran scribes RM Bhagawati, DN Bezboruah and PC Barooah, and writers Sada Saikia and Gagan Chandra Adhikari were feted on the occasion.

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Hyper-active media taking toll on quality

GUWAHATI, Aug 31 � The future of journalism or the media is uncertain with the death of many newspapers, conflicts of objectives in journalism, degeneration, and a host of other challenges triggered by technological and economic imperatives.

Observing on the challenges before the media while delivering the Harendra Nath Baruah Memorial Lecture at Kumar Bhaskar Natya Mandir here on Tuesday, journalist and noted social activist Patricia Mukhim said that 24 hours news channels and the internet has redefined the media world upsetting the traditional mores of journalism.

Mukhim pointed out that the fight to get the most exclusive news has taken a toll on the quality of reporting and the television rating points (TRP) has made things worse as every news channel compete with each other sacrificing journalistic principles. Citing the 26/11 attack on Mumbai, Mukhim said that this incident had reflected the ugly side of a hyper-active media, which driven almost by frenzy to be the first to tell it all had actually helped the terrorists to be more precise in their attacks and inflict more damage.

Mukhim also cautioned against some programmes aired in the 24 hours news channels like pitting individuals of different political ideologies against each other. �These programmes are aimed at creating a studio controversy resembling a street fight of an ear-splitting nature,� she said remarking that such programmes do not educate the viewer.

Referring to the internet which has emerged as the new media, Mukhim remarked that the internet is not the most authentic source of information. She further said that at present a digital divide has been created between those who have access to the internet and others who don�t.

On the other hand, dwelling at length on the diminishing principles of good old journalism, Mukhim said that the new generation was getting into a fast food culture as far as news was concerned. �The young wants a news capsule that fits into their cell phone screen. The Press is no longer an institution integral to democracy. It is simply an extension of a news manufacturing agency,� Mukhim said.

Underscoring the need for introspection in the media so that it can criticize and evaluate its role under the prevailing circumstances, Mukhim called for seriously looking into the allegations of journalists compromising their professional ethics and behaving as poodles of politicians and other powerful people.

Regretting that the changes coming in the media has made the readers sceptical about the journalists and their reports, Mukhim asserted that it would be wrong to tarnish the very image of journalism because of a few misfits in the profession. �By and large journalists live their ethics on a daily basis,� she said adding that true journalists are troubled by a bad story that gets some innocent soul in trouble and vindicated when their story gets to the heart of the matter and scamsters are exposed and action is taken against the guilty. �Scribes continue to have a heart-burn when a good story is killed by the desk or by the owners. The desk, because it often does not understand the nuances of the story, and the owners because the story hurts their commercial or political interests.�

Veteran scribes RM Bhagawati, DN Bezboruah and PC Barooah, and writers Sada Saikia and Gagan Chandra Adhikari were feted on the occasion.