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Ethics of a media anchor, press editor, hubber or a blogger

Updated on March 27, 2012

A problem all countries with press freedom face today

This is just a quick hub. I am going back to comments. There was an interesting discussion with a blogger, who says that he is afraid that a big violence may erupt and he is trying to prevent it. I and another commentator were trying to tell him that even in a free blog or a hub, particularly when you want to lead many others, one has to be careful. One has to see that aim is not to play just a game but to find truth.We were also trying to tell him that the news, way it appears in media and press, can be misleading and one has to be careful about it.

(I added later link of the article of this blogger which generated this discussion in the end. It is also in my comment just below the second comment by suny51).

After two three exchanges, I wrote the following comment. I hope you also find it interesting. The events we describe are from media, press and politics in India which he was covering. But I think any body can understand from contents, what we are talking about and it can happen any where in world.These questions about behavior of bloggers, media or press persons are being raised not just in India or USA. People in practically any democratic country with media-press freedom are worried about them.

The comment (I am not modifying much in the comment)

Let me give you here two examples from your article and comments you wrote, to make again the point I and Gyanp were trying to help you understand but you are either unable to see or are not ready to see it.

1. In comment number 20 you wrote “But what is “peacefully?” India’s history has been as full of violence as many other countries. There were many barbaric practices that were prevalent.”

then in comment 24 you accepted that it is not true “About our county’s past – it’s quite possible that “Religious” violence per se was not a huge factor.”

2. In your comment 20 you quoted my sentence “What you are saying amounts to essentially sort of a lynching rule — “Look I decided that Modi was responsible for Godhra riots so he is responsible.”

then asked

“But where did I say that?”

When I quoted in comment 23 your sentence

“We must never forget that the government is for the people. The government is the servant of the people and not its master. How can a state serve its people by killing them? Those who excuse Modi’s involvement in the Godhra riots by pointing to the “development” of Gujarat are committing the terrible blunder of forgetting history and ignoring the purpose of government.”

and wrote

“I do not know what you felt but to me this is essentially lynching not just Modi but our whole government machinery and law and order system. ”

You accepted it in comment 24 by saying

“If you take my sentence about Modi, development etc, it indeed seems like I’m unfairly targeting Modi.”

but tried to explain that why you had to do it.

Are these examples not enough for you to at least consider that when you write so quickly you tend to make mistakes (you almost accept it also).

Not so much wrong in making mistakes while thinking but while expressing is a different matter

There is nothing wrong in making a mistake in one’s thinking, if you are not ready to make initial mistakes in thinking you may not be able to go much further.

But it is a different matter when after some understanding you want to express. One has to make some commitments –

It does not matter whether you do science, arts, engineering, marketing, politics, media, press religion or even write a free blog, one has to have

a. A commitment to truth

I will try my best to express nothing but truth. My goal is to find out the truth and understand it further. Even teaching, research or writing a blog is not just for others, it also helps much more oneself to learn and understand his/her own ideas and those of others better. This requires an infinite commitment to “nothing but truth”

Even when you feel you are 100% right one should assess and reassess 100 times “oh! what I am expressing has no mistake.”

b. A commitment to not hurting others

One has to be 100% sure that what ever you are doing is not going to hurt others physically, reputation wise or in any other way.

(now look at what you were doing — in this light? Here you almost say you had some excuse to lynch not just a person, our whole government machinery and accuse it of being a killer- you say you did not mean it, but surely you must have felt how it may be taken? Is it enough to express regret later by such sentences or give an excuse for causing hurt to some one?)

Choice of being a good human-being- biggest pleasure in one's life

Of course there are millions, may be even billions, who do not follow such principles. But choice is with you, whether you want to be one of them or a good blogger, engineer, doctor or what ever or just play games, more than any thing else, it is of being a good human-being (that does not require one to have religion or atheism- it is one’s own basic instinct. A good person does not need any body else for himself/herself to be taught these principles).

Once you see things in this light I am sure you yourself will try to assess, why you made such errors. You will find many other similar errors in your blogs and above comments itself.

Blindness caused by a false sense of commitment

Perhaps you may want to even assess what were the causes, which led to such errors (you already did a little bit of that in above comments). It is difficult for a person to guess thinking of another person. But from general observations one can infer that such mistakes one makes, when one is blinded by one fact or one goal and blinds oneself to see reality coming from other directions.

Now look at public figures from politics, media and press.

1. If a free blogger can go to this extent what must be happening to professional media or press persons?

Just try to see that in a free blog where you have all the freedom and no money involved, you can err so easily and with a motivation to prove some thing and go to the extent of hurting reputation of the whole government machinery by almost declaring that it may be a killer, what happens to those, whose profession is to pass through such events in hourly basis.

Not following basic principles may end up in a never ending cycle of falling in a ditch

If they do not follow the above principles they can be much more blind and become quite helpless. They can not easily accept a mistake as you can do in a free blog. They can loose their job, their reputation. Once they make one such mistake, it may start a never ending cycle.

A top editor had to resign- what such an editor/news paper should do to compensate for ruining life of others beyond damage

It has happened in India to even top editors. Some years back one chief editor of the top news paper or magazine lost his job because it turned out that he allowed a false news item to be published motivated by similar blindness of going in only one direction and ready to nail or lynch some body who had different ideas then his own. He expressed regret later. But questions raised then were also -- is a regret or resignation enough for such motivations, which can result in ruining life of others beyond damage?

If you do not know about it just try to find out more details about it. It should not be difficult to find on internet this incident even though it was a few years back. Don’t try to find it as evidence but try it more as a learning process.

Feudal management leads to having not much choice

As I explained earlier some of the dominating political parties and media and press organizations in India are being managed in feudal manner by some family owners or managers. When systems are managed in a feudal manner by some people, one obviously needs full loyalty from people in the organization. The choice of getting managers is then limited. The same person was appointed again as a top person after a few months.

2. Let me explain to you since you are not ready to understand yourself, why I have said in my comments that you seem to be not interested in truth that much but in just playing some games.

You asked several times evidence, I wrote to you just look at news paper of any day to learn and an example I gave you from yesterday’s news papers. The news items say that

A chief minster paid for a news item to appear

a. Chief minister of one of the largest states accepted that he has paid for news items to appear in news and media ( he says he paid for an ad to appear as a news item without marking that it is an ad. This phenomena of an ad to appear as a news item has been now followed by some media and press organizations and has troubled many– but does it not amount to paying for news item to appear? ) .

Editors guild expresses it inability and wants government machinery to manage ethics - what does it imply for the IV estate ?

b. Top representatives of editor’s guild want government machinery (election commission) to control some basic questions of ethics about news item since they can not control it. Editor’s guild is one of the bodies which is supposed to keep control on ethics and discipline of news organizations but here it wants government to get into controlling it?

Do not look as only scandals, conspiracies, allegations - pleasure of understanding is more for self learning.

Don’t you feel that these are serious enough items. In most democratic countries it will create a furor. In India also it appeared as headlines. You live in USA, if you are unable to see seriousness of such events ask some people there. Way you responded it seems you do not find them serious enough to start. If you do not want to see that these are serious enough incidents to at least start exploring how our media, press and politics are being managed then nothing can be serious enough. Again this exploration has to be not for searching for scandals, conspiracies or allegations as you seem to have a feeling, it has to be a self learning process to understand what is happening in our country.
Such self learning is needed first, if you want to lead others or write good blogs or follow two principles I mentioned above. Choice is yours, whether you want to do this or just play games. I need not say going to second choice is much easier.

The link to article in which this comment was included.


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    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 6 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Hi! Haran

      Thanks a lot for your visit and so strong fan mail. I like your comment and agree with it completely. It is exactly this worry which made me write this article.

    • Harlan Colt profile image

      Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains

      My biggest problem with media today is it tries to lead people into a particular belief or it will use particular belief's as a foundation to a conclusion that is utterly bias and opinion, again trying to persuade the reader into a certain belief structure. Many of today's stories are about brain-washing rather than reporting factual news. A lot of stories presented as news in major outlets is not news at all. Thanks for the great hub!

      - Harlan

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Thanks a lot James for the visit and appreciation.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      A very interesting article. Thanks!

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Hi! Lady_E

      Sure! Wish you all the good luck. If you need any time help from me do contact me.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 7 years ago from London, UK

      Lol. I have lovely Indian friends and I am trying to pick up the language...... then later, I might start with the Bollywood dance moves.

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Hi! Lady_E

      Welcome! I enjoyed your writing Shukria.

      How did you learn this word?

      It is a great pleasure.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 7 years ago from London, UK

      Interesting Read.

      Shuku ria.

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      I quite agree with your comments. Interestingly in India there is nothing like Public radio or PBS but with this change and commercialization the tv run by government which looked to be quite boring now looks a little better.

      Don't you also feel that some thing is going wrong with this whole democracy mechanism in all democratic country where some kind of nexus is getting built up between politicians, media and press people and advertisers (large corporates) which results in news manipulations or making it quite twisted when people read or observe. The laws about freedom of press need some modifications to avoid such nexus being built.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Hi soumyasrajan-though I know little of Indian media or politics, this hub is absolutely universal. The "tabloidization of the news" is a perfect phrase applicable to our media here in the U.S.-I rarely watch it any more.

      I prefer news on National Public Radio-which seems a bit more rational!

      Thanks for the great and informative hub.

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Hi! Sa`ge

      Welcome! I quite agree with you. Actually change is very much needed. A little change with internet and blogs coming in has helped a lot. I am also hoping that it may change soon.

    • Sa`ge profile image

      Sa`ge 7 years ago from Barefoot Island

      some of the issues concerning reporting the facts sometimes must be brought out under guise of something else just so it can be brought out at all. In this, it gets muddled and translated in ways that may change the meaning from the first source to the last. Now days it is a tricky thing to get truth out to the people! and it is getting worse! I hold hope it will change soon! ~aloha~

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Hi! Glacier

      One more point. Problem is not just with the decline in our media. Problem is also with the attitudes of this type of guy. He seems to be almost saying that he has to be less careful with honesty and truth.

      The ditch in which one may fall with this type of attitude does not have an easy path to get out of it. It may only go deeper and deeper, very soon.

      I have many times wondered whether developing such instincts -is it genetic or can be corrected. I hope it is the second alternative at least for most (way Micky Dee puts in very poetic manner "I hope "I" can improve")

      I was going through an old article by one of the top editors of a top newspaper/magazine in our country. Look at these sentences in the link below.

      "Of course, there are always ?rational reasons? offered for this stand. Muslims are in a minority and therefore, they deserve special consideration. Muslims already face discrimination so why make it harder for them? If you report the truth then you will inflame Hindu sentiments and this would be irresponsible. And so on.

      I know the arguments well because - like most journalists - I have used them myself. And I still argue that they are often valid and necessary."

      Doesn't he sounds like almost this guy?

      Root of these problems one can trace to one aspect.

      Most political parties and media and press organizations in our country are being run and managed in a very feudal manner by one person/family rule. We have overcome a little the old license raj syndrome adored by the so called leftist or socialist rulers (in fact it was and is really a feudal rule and management in the name of socialism) - the license raj still remains in some sectors like parts of academia or media and press etc.

      Some times I wonder with all our might - technical skills, business skills, managerial skills, can we not even manage to have one or two tv channels which can bring some reasonableness and a proper style in reporting of news etc.

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Hi! Glacier

      Thanks a lot for your visit. I always enjoy your comments. I quite agree with you. There seems to be very little actual news in the media today. Views and Opinions are disguised as news. Somebody rightly called it

      "Tabloidization of the news". Another interesting observation I saw written by some one else -- we do not have now news we only have "breaking news".

    • profile image

      TheGlacier 7 years ago from USA/INDIA

      Hi Soumyasrajan,

      I read that person's blog. I didn't read all your comments but one of his comments made me understand about his false opinion. He says

      "What about their facts? Am I supposed to ignore them? A theory has to be falsifiable and predictive. None of those test have been met yet. Our media may be incompetent in many ways, but I don’t believe they’re evil"

      I feel no one is evil. But a person working in media should very well know the demarcations between news and opinion.

      Indian media is injecting its opinions into the public as if that is the actual news. That is wrong. It is worser than being an evil when we look at the consequences in a broad way.

      Today, I have to read more than 2 news papers to know the actual facts.

    • suny51 profile image

      suny51 7 years ago

      visited,bookmarked,will subscribe to the site a lil later,thanks

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Hi! Suny51

      Let me give link to the blog of this writer here itself. Some others may also want.

      Any way it looks like our efforts (mine and another commentator there Gyanp who wrote very good comments) did not create much impression on him. The writer prefers to continue to be lost in games only. His next comment included sentiment that "Unlike a newspaper, I have to be less careful about being impartial."

      I was initially reluctant to give link to his article thinking that he might get discouraged. But his comments make me feel he does not care any way. So here is the link

    • suny51 profile image

      suny51 7 years ago

      no clue pal,you can write on an old hub of it some one common?

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Hi! dreamreachout

      thanks a lot for the visit. I hope it does not come to doomsday. I am much more optimistic. We are changing and we will change much more. The need is there as you say - specially for government machinery to change.

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Hi! Niks

      You are very special. Your visits are great pleasure. Your comment make me feel at least it is clear enough for some. Thanks a lot.

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Hi! suny51

      Your visits are always a big pleasure. I had also felt that some info may help. But I could not decide what? I could have given link to the blog of this guy but he might feel hurt. If I would have described political incident it may have become too much any way actual incident are not so relevant. You are from India so you any way know incidents also. Do let me know if you have some idea what type of info should be added.

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Hi! dahogland and Mickydee

      Thanks for your visit. dahogland yes! I agree we should be aware what happens in school, press and government. Also one should be careful when you express snetiments against some thing.

      Micky Dee I like your sentence I hope "I" can improve! I assume you mean it does not matter what you do, every instant has a possibility for "I" to improve.

      I wonder whether this article you (both of you?) found clear enough? Since you may not be so aware of incidents in Indian politics about which this discussion was. I did not describe actual incidents since I felt they are irrelevant. A person can any way understand actual substance. Please do let me know if it was clear enough or should I change a little.

    • profile image

      dreamreachout 7 years ago

      All your observation are true and its this weakness in the Govt. policy that is making us vulnerable before insurgency, corruption, lack of accountability etc.!! We need to change our mind frame sooner than soon else doomsday is knocking on our doors!!

      Great hub!!

    • profile image

      Niks 7 years ago

      Really nice hub. I enjoyed reading it. Thank you! :)

    • suny51 profile image

      suny51 7 years ago

      Some details could have helped.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      Knowledge and patience is required to blog tactfully and successfully. I hope "I" can improve. Clarity with kindness is the utmost! Thanks for the hub.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Certainly it is important that we be aware of what happens in the realms of goverment, the press and schools and do what we can to keep them on the right track.