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Media Ethics in India

Updated on October 7, 2017

When the subject of Media Ethics is mentioned, a frequent response is ‘What are ethics?' Some consider ethics as solely a listing of rules that spell out what journalism practitioners will and can't do, like don't settle for freebies, don't have interaction in activities which will produce a conflict of interest, don't steal etc. But ethics is broader than what we recognize. It can be considered as being the study of the distinction between right and wrong, virtuous or vicious and beneficial or harmful. For this concern Press Council Act 1978' was passed for the purpose of preserving the Freedom of Press and maintaining and improving the standard of newspapers and news agencies in India.

Although journalists like to envision themselves as independent pursuers of truth but public see them as employees who are only trying to help their corporations to make quick buck. Newspapers are "concerned mainly with making profits" rather than serving the public interest & development journalism and they frequently overdramatize some news stories just to sell more papers. Journalists chase sensational stories and try to tow any popular line because they think it will sell papers, not because it's an important story. Today more space of newspaper is given to advertisements than editorial material for more revenue generation. Global evidence indicates that "information" and "education" genres in Mass Media are on the decline and even those that exist are refashioned such that their contents and presentation styles mimic those of "entertainment" only. A long-running critique of journalism claims it to be subjective or partial, particularly focusing on values that were most often represented those of the capitalist elite or those of the politically powerful people.

Gone are the days when Journalism was a noble mission, now it has become just another form of entertainment oriented business. It has lost its identity as a public service supplier to the nation, rather it's become a mouthpiece of political parties or elite individuals. Most of the big media organisation are run by business houses; they easily manipulate it to further their own interests. The News Media has become fairly a free enterprise which aims at generating maximum revenue and focuses only on profit making irrespective of using unethical means. They use sensationalism or tow the popular line at the cost of their integrity and credibility and in this cacophony, the voice of the marginalised just gets muffled.

Are things really that bad?

Here's a conundrum. Man would argue that today's news coverage is much better than that of, say 40 years ago. Both and newspaper reporting today provide more thorough stories on a wider variety of topics. Advancement in allows TV news to provide live reports on the breaking stories. Newspapers are emphasising thorough reporting and stories with depth. The internet has created thousands of recent sources of data. Today's journalists are better trained, have good education, better paid and more professional than ever before. Yet, the public has less respect for journalists and the News Media.

India is the world's largest democracy and in a democratic set up, it is important that all the citizens have the right to information. The news relating to the happenings among and outdoors of the country has got to be disseminated to the individuals. To cater to the need, a system has evolved over centuries and it now comprises a complex framework. Modernization has transformed this into a commu network that sustains the pulse of a democracy of about 1.1 billion people.

The Indian mediascape has been changed dramatically in the past 15 years. Privatization and deregulation have resulted in increased entertainment-driven rather than public-service oriented news. The speed of evolution in Indian media is incredible Today's competitive Indian media is pro-active and it diligently covers all the different facets of political, civic and business journalism. The history of the Indian media presents us with a complete, observable communications revolution. It started with the development of press, focusing on the propaganda of views of the contemporary issues and events Before Indian independence, in the era of freedom struggle press was used as an aid of propaganda to spread the nationalist ideology. But the post independence period saw a huge change Indian Press Media shifted focus from its idealistic approach from the pre independence era to more commercial and competitive approach. There was a remarkable development achieved in the Indian press with the growth of Hindi and other regional language newspaper which gained popularity among the people of various regions. In current scenario newspapers and magazines in India are independent and largely privately owned.

Today's media are away from traditional taboos and previous made values, it rather aims at printing many details of victims, sensationalised aspects of their private lives etc. This was clearly traced "Aarushi double murder case" where the transcripts of online chats and explicit videos of 14 years old girl was repeatedly shown on television screen again and again. The "Uma Khurana Defamation Case" where a government school teacher was trapped in some family rivalry by businessman Virender Singh who took help of some of his journalist friend to defame Uma Khurana's image and promoted it instead of suppressing the image of a female. Now at this point the question arises : What is the role of the media?, lt is sensationalising even a trivial issue to a national scale creates further trouble across other regions.

News values guide what is selected as news in the first place and lies behind the emphasis a particular story receives. Presently Indian media has completely shifted from its sol ideology which is to create awareness among the citizens to commercialization of news. It's the beauty contest that makes the headline of a front page of a daily newspaper and not droughts, flood etc. Or it is some scandalous news that makes the headline, highly politicized by media until the next such news comes into limelight.

Media today is just getting oblivious to its responsibilities instead of making development journalism as a main concern with the role of information and communication and try to come up with the events or issues affecting our nation or may community or problems at the grass root level. It is busy thinking of how to generate profit.

The relationship of development journalism vis-a-vis modern Indian journalism need a review. The idea is to check how many development issues are promoted in Indian Media.The issues which should be given the priority among all are:- agriculture, education, media, social development and weaker sections.

It's high time now and readers want change, may be change in their pattern of selecting news stories, irrespective of finding stories of big brands and high profile people, they must try to study the problems of people staying at grass root levels.

© 2017 Shreya Chadha


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