Sunday, September 09, 2007

Journalism...or is it simply business?

A few days ago, we were told, by television news channels, that one Delhi schoolteacher was selling her students off for prostitution. We were all suitably shocked and outraged at the news. Teachers are supposed to be seconds parents. We were justifiably furious at this teacher whose actions went against all norms of humanity. Then, we were told that the entire expose conducted by Live India TV was fake and that the said school teacher was blackmailed by a Delhi businessman into posing for the "sting" video. Not just that, the schoolgirl who was reportedly propositioned by the teacher turned out to be an aspiring journalist keen to make it big in the business. She posed as a school girl for Prakash Singh, a friend who promised to help her establish herself as a journalist.

All this leaves me wondering what journalism means in today's world? Am I a fool to expect some ethics out of the Fourth Estate? The media is supposed to be the fourth pillar of democracy. Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned ethical journalism? In the TRP-driven world of broadcast journalism, anything is acceptable. The poor school teacher, Uma Khurana was charged with immoral trafficking by an over-zealous Delhi police inspector, the parents of the affected girls beat up Khurana in public. Even worse, nearly two-thirds of the girls attending the school have been forced to drop out by parents who fear their daughters' lives and honour. Is the media, like the judiciary, being deified and sanctified so that any criticism of media practices is seen as an insult to democracy? Is the media above the law? Why do we not hear news channels question the role of journalists and news channels in shaping public opinion? Enough is enough. The media is answerable to the law and to the public for its commissions and omissions, just like any of the other pillars of democracy. A responsible and ethical media is indispensable for the functioning of a good democracy.