SILCHAR, Jan 2: “This is a corporate century with media explosion in our country where the newspaper industry has flourished in glaring contrast to the rapid decline of readership in the west,” observed Assam University Prof of Journalism KB Nagraj while delivering his key note address on the theme “Media and Market: Challenges before a Journalist” at the Amit Kumar Nag memorial lecture held at Silchar Press Club here today. He said today’s media has shaken off the nuances of primitive journalism and has thrown a number of challenges before the journalists in India with a lot of difference in the approach of those who control the media as well as the media men hierarchy.
Nagraj, while delivering his speech, pointed out that a highly circulated Japanese daily with a readership of 1.34 crore and the widely acclaimed Washington Post and New York Times are struggling for survival today. Whereas, the promising scenario for media in India has come up with an ever increasing readership along with technological innovation.
Tracing the growth of journalism since the independence of the country, he said it is very difficult to run a newspaper when revenue resources like advertisements are limited or scarce.
Eminent journalist and editor of National Herald L Chalpata Rao pointed out during the meeting today that media owners are appendage of business houses. His reference was to the media houses controlled by Goenka and Tata.
He observed that industrialists were using newspapers to derive benefits of “licence raj.”
In this context, prof Nagraj referred to a newspaper owner in Karnataka who used his power to get a plot of land at an unbelievable price of Re 1 only per year on lease for 99 years. He said, “It is true that some editors are asserting who have worked and are working under towering personalities and are respected as media barons but editors in real sense and worth have vanished from the scene.”
Nagraj made the most scathing remark when he said “Newspapers are becoming tools of power brokers and fiefdom of proprietors where editors are losing liberty.” One has to appreciate the most respected editor Frank Moraes who refused to buckle and was thrown out of his house by the management, he added.
Prof Nagraj also quoted notable journalist Dr Mankekar who once said “editors are free, but not independent.” Indira Gandhi, he recalled, wanted to decentralize or decontrol ownership, but could not succeed. Since the 90’s, media –– print and electronic –– has undergone tremendous changes and turned into a big business. Technology has made it a 24 x 7 affair with news, views and entertainment.
It is also a sad reflection on its repetitive, imitative and derivative dissemination of information and that news has become a tool for entertainment, losing its credibility, he pointed out.
Prof Nagraj was of the view that “media should not become commercial since its primary job is to have social sensitivity and concern for the people around to share their weals and woes.”
He also added that media houses are slowly becoming “dream factories” and readers are turning into passive receivers which he calls the “narcotic effect of mass media.” In the west, 80 per cent of the news flow is controlled by AP, UPI, Reuters and French news agency and Rupert Murdock has emerged as a person who wields tremendous influence over the media, he added.
Nagraj, towards the end of his speech, said questions are now being raised by readers against the reality of the freedom of press as guaranteed in the Article 19 of the Constitution in all the democratic countries?
In reality, it is not so and that poses challenges before journalists, he concluded. THE SENTINEL