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Is journalism beyond nationalism?

edited September 2013 in International Relations
Recently the libertines in the free-and-fair Indian media carried an explosive news item. It pertains to one "TSD" of the Indian army being funded to carry out spooking activities in neighbouring countries.

This TSD is being charged with carrying out bombings and fueling cessation movements to destabilize an unneignbourly neighbour.

The army denies everything and says that no such ops were ever carried out. It ads that such ops are beyond its mandate and expertise, and that such ops are in the domain of the R&AW. But the media smells a pot-boiler in the making (read - ka-ching). Nice little appetiser before 2014.

Here is the Pakistani media eagerly wagging it's tongue about it :


In the past, the free press has been accused of live broadcasting our troop positions to terrorists (26/11) and to their buddies across the border (Kargil), that was responsible for some of the loss of lives. The media, of course, made merry with the TRPs and laughed its way to the bank while the soldiers' families wailed their heart out.

So, is freedom of the press and corporate media interest above national security and national interest?

Do you believe that the media has betrayed the nation yet again by carrying this unverified story?

Do you believe that this story should have been kept aside because of national interest?

Is merely a political overtone in a news story sufficient to override national security concerns?

I think I have made my stand amply clear. Awaiting your responses.
Prelims : 2/5; Mains : 0/2; Interview : 0; Remainder : 1+1 (Tired but not; Retired) / Medical Science / Kolkata / Nihilist extraordinaire | Thanks a lot...


  • @ArindamSarkar

    With the "electronic media revolution" if i may call it, which has taken place over the last decade, the number of news channels has increased multifold in the country. All the channels want to gainTRP by getting latest(read sensational) news first on their channel. This is leading to a media war in which people are more intrested in making bucks than in the media ethics and common sense. The media is the root cause of increase in crime rate. I have seen programmes in media which show how to kill a person and run away and importantly how they were caught. It helps new crime enthusiasts to take care of not getting caught in similar fashion.

    My stand is the broadcasting ministry should have more control and common sense in controlling media. When they dont want media to show people drinking alchohol or smoking but will it be ok to show people committing crimes? Also when an editor knows that a news can put the whole of nation's security and integrity in jeopardy he should apply his common sense and put the country above his own business or TRP. Its good to.show about negatives in society and government but i think poking in to defence activities.. thats far too much.
  • @bharat141 : Yeah. But when Js Katju asks for the same, the brick-bats come out. Sad. Especially when journalists and politicians form nexus setting aside all points of morality and conflicts of interest, what more can we expect? National security is as lucrative a money spinner as page 3.
    Prelims : 2/5; Mains : 0/2; Interview : 0; Remainder : 1+1 (Tired but not; Retired) / Medical Science / Kolkata / Nihilist extraordinaire | Thanks a lot...
  • edited September 2013
    "National interest" and "public interest" can be different things. For example, CIA bugging US citizens and friendly countries is arguably "national interest". But if I were a US citizen, I'd want the media to publish the Snowden reports so I know that the government is spending my own tax dollars to spy on me.

    Media must be mindful of "public interest" more than "national interest", IMO.
    In most cases, these two turn out to be the same. For example, the media does no one good when it abets terrorists or enemies during an active conflict (your 26/11 and Kargil examples). Channels which do so must be regulated by the media fraternity itself (PCI is fine). But the TSD case is a bit different. "Nationalism" should not be used to gag the media from publishing this story, because citizens need to hold the government accountable here. Most citizens may even disapprove of the methods employed, for once a country goes down this path, there is the risk of power abuse and redirecting these covert operations against activists/journalists/citizens.

    Finally, unverified reporting is always bad. National interest or not. We have grown an unfortunate culture of "breaking news" where you publish, then verify. This could damage an individual's reputation built over a lifetime, or flare up communal tensions. These cases should be dealt with sternly, not just PCI but through our justice system as well. The recent Rs.100 crore fine imposed on a news channel for libel should send out the message loud and clear.
    Blog: DailyGyan | AIR 380s in CSE 2013 | Thank you ForumIAS!
  • Media Regulation of any form is a slippery slope. Especially considering that memories of emergency era censorship are still not erased and many politicians of that era still around, any attempt at regulating media is not advisable at this point of time. We need to strengthen defamation laws to levy heavy fines and admonish the media firm.
    Mission 2018 - Final assault
  • 100 crore fines seems like nothing to these people. At least, it seems to have had little effect. I agree, we need much stronger libel laws in this country. Anybody can badmouth anybody and claim protection under freedom of speech.

    The Times now case (2011) cost the channel 100 crore rupees (1 billion INR). The group's annual turnover in 2011 was about 1.5 billion USD. So the actual fine was approximately 1% of their annual turnover. That was a mere peccadillio - a mere wrap on the wrists. And as far as their treachery during 26/11 and Kargil was concerned - no one was even admonished, let alone punished. One lovely reporter's tale from the front-lines (while exposing troop positions) even got made into a Bollywood blockbuster. The same person was again accused in the Radia tapes controversy. Final outcome - zit for the nation.

    The emergency bogey comes up time and time again and is a convenient excuse to used by the status-quo-ists in the media. At that rate, these people would go scot-free every time. Some amount of meaningful media control (be it a "gag" on certain issues) is essential to run a state. We haven't yet reached the Western levels of human development to fret over freedom of expression so much. I for one believe that the media should be controlled as far as matters of national security is concerned. And there must be better accountability and punishment for crossing the line. The PCI has been a toothless stooge. Katju tried to fix it, but faced the brunt. We need stronger regulations and greater powers for the PCI (and Katju back as PCI chief, if possible).
    Prelims : 2/5; Mains : 0/2; Interview : 0; Remainder : 1+1 (Tired but not; Retired) / Medical Science / Kolkata / Nihilist extraordinaire | Thanks a lot...
  • " wrap on the wrists." ---> slap on the wrist. (but Samsung galaxy autocorrect believes otherwise).
    Prelims : 2/5; Mains : 0/2; Interview : 0; Remainder : 1+1 (Tired but not; Retired) / Medical Science / Kolkata / Nihilist extraordinaire | Thanks a lot...
  • Journalism in present date is no longer a honorable profession that it used to be. It may be a divine profession but in the race to reach the pinnacle half of them brush off Ethics and Integrity. A simple look at their programs will uncover their personal motivation and present their naked face where their ideological orientations and high flying dynamism will supersede national interest. It is unnecessary to say that it is better to be a honest journalist than to be a irrational nationalist. (Rational are certainly good for the society)
    I had come across a few websites which present analysis of journalists and views in news channels and that is surely worth a look if you are neutral enough to tone down the political orientation of the authors their too.
    It surely drives you to think again and think soundly- without being a fan and a fanatic. And surely what they do doesn't define them- everything they say is surely needs dissection.

    www.mediacrooks.com is worth a look if you are neutral and ready to listen and observe.
    This article by V. Gangadhar was one that i read during PCI Katju-Media man confrontation presents a good overall summation of all arguments.
    Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved, or because others do not yet share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress.
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