Shimla: Veteran journalist and director of India Media Centre, New Delhi, Shyam Khosla, has stressed the need to form a strong Media Council of India as the existing Press Council of India has lost its relevance in the changed circumstances. He also called for self-introspection by media in view of commercialization of media space during elections 2009. Delivering keynote address at a seminar by Indian Media Centre, Shimla chapter, on “Elections 2009- Role of Media’’, Khosla said the need for the hour is free, fair and fearless media.
He said self-regulation by individual journalists was important, and the journalists should have the commitment to work with a professional approach, and should have guts to face the odds. “They should not succumb to pressures within the organization or outside’’, he said. He said the media persons should get organized and start exposing the wrong doers in the profession.
Khosla said journalists should not go in for frivolous and sensational reporting just to hog limelight. He said a research back-up should be provided to the reporters in their respective organizations, so that the stories do not lack right content.
He said there is a need to have media council, a body with more teeth to regulate media. He said the Press Council of India was ineffective to take any action against defaulters, as it does not have teeth. According to him, “A new debate has been started in the country as people are losing faith in the fourth pillar of our democracy. We can not afford a media that is not free and ready to sell out in an open market. This the reason a demand is raising day by day that the center government must bring a bill in the parliament to constitute a Media Council of India.” He said a committee to select the chairman and members of the council could me made under the chairmanship of the Vice President of India and the leaders of ruling party and opposition in the both houses of parliament be made members of that committee.
He emphasized that the media this time though widely covered the politicians and politics but it failed to set an agenda for the polls and address the real issues of the people.
Veteran journalist and retired chairperson from the department of journalism and mass communication, Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla, Vepa Rao, who was moderator for the interactive session, too asserted that the evolvement of a healthy system is a big challenge ahead for all of us. He said that the media at present is suffering from crisis of ethics and investigative skills. He, however, pointed out that things have to change from the top, and the editors should be the ones to sustain the pressures.
Senior journalist and president of Shimla Chapter, Indian Media centre, PC Lohumi, said that the biggest debate over ethics has been drawn by the concept of space marketing, which even put the credibility of media at stake. In the interactive session, participants posed thought provoking questions. The district Police chief, Shimla, R.M.Sharma, said the media persons should not indulge in forming nexus with the officers.
Ashwani Sharma, Bureau Chief of Indian Express, said the latest elections of Lok Sabha were the eye opener as a new but very dangerous trend has been seen that some so called big media houses made bargaining with the politicians and the parties to sell out the space meant for the news. It has badly shaken the faith of common people in the media. He said it was the high time for the journalist to be united against these malpractices and come out with a common agenda to fight the corrupt system to save our democracy.
Ajai Srivastava, a senior journalist and Associate Professor of Journalism at Himachal Pradesh University said that we can not except from the politician that they would make an enactment in the parliament to institute a media council. He said it was the politicians who have gloves with hands with criminals and the corrupt media barons. Srivastava suggested that as a professional body, Indian Media Center must come forward to file a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court of India demanding directions from the court to form the media council.
The bureau chief of PTI, Sanjay Sinha said journalism was a mission in the earlier times, but of late, it was a profession. “So, we have to strike a balance of sorts in fulfilling the objectives’’, he said.
Chief Editor, Giriraj, B.D.Sharma, who is Additional Director, Public Relations, said if a journalist decides to do things rightfully, nobody can stop him form taking the risk. Archana Phull, General Secretary of Shimla Chapter of India Media Center and Bureau Chief of Hindustan Times said her organization would organize such mind blowing programme in future also.
Deputy commissioner, Amar Singh Rathore, the Vice Chairman of Housing Board, Ganesh Dutt and wife of Shyam Khosla, Madhu Khosla were also present on the occasion, along with a large number of media persons from the state capital.