Tuesday, January 13, 2009

On censoring India's news media

Vinod Mehta, the editor of Outlook, had said sometime back that the reader is a nice hypocrite. And he's right. We criticise our papers and channels for their journalistic standards, but we don’t do the one thing that would stop these media houses from doing what they do: stop subscribing to them.

The operations of media houses, like any other business houses, are largely dictated by subscriber demand. Had the subscriber demanded greater journalistic integrity, he would have got it. He didn’t. He chose to watch the tamasha – the cat stuck on the rooftop, or the man holding a gun to his own head — but insisted, as he watched, that this programming is rubbish.

Hence, it’s dangerous when the same people ask the government to regulate the news media. Regulation won’t solve a thing. It would only feed more power into the hands of the government to keep critical information away from the public. I’d agree that self-regulation is a way forward, but state-endorsed censorship would prove disastrous.

I agree with Vir Sanghvi’s thoughts in the recent edition of his column, Counterpoint.
One of my concerns is that we have lost sight of the distinction between ‘bad’ and ‘unethical’. You may not like my articles. You may think I write badly. You may not think much of the HT as a whole, even.


The recourse available to you is not legal; it is commercial. Stop buying the HT. Or at any rate, stop reading me. But you cannot demand a ban on me or the paper because you think my articles are crap, or because if I pontificate too much.

It’s the same with TV. To say — as I do — that the channels did not cover themselves with glory is not to say that therefore, they should be censored or banned.
It is plain commerce. Why is it so hard to understand in a country that's known to be good at trade?


Renu said...

crap sells and will always sell.

AR Hemant said...

But that's not the point! :P

Renu said...

"You pays your money and you doesn’t take your choice. Ain’t freedom grand." - e.e.cummings

Abhinay Ramani said...

your grammar is screwed my friend..

"I agree with what Vir Sanghvi’s thoughts in his recent of his column,"

the 'what' needs to be removed..or the phrase restructured..and what the hell is that 'of' doing there?!!

either you did not proofread..tut tut..or you are trying in some twisted way to use that line as justification of the entire article being that it is merely bad grammar and not illegal..so as a consumer, I am writing to the editor to express my displeasure :D

AR Hemant said...

Did not proof-read, yes. Thanks for pointing out.