As an event, it was unique, unusual and unprecedented. Some of the senior-most journalists of India gathered together; not to excoriate the political class, but to hold a mirror to themselves. Virtually 25 years after that iconic programme Janvani first appeared on the small screen on Doordarshan in 1986, The Sunday Indian organised a seminar to ponder, debate and argue whether the Indian media really represents the voice of the aam aadmi or not. Virtually, the who's who of Indian media was present at Kamani Auditorium on March 12, 2011 for the seminar. And the fabulous success can be gauged from the fact that the seminar – scheduled for two hours – actually went on beyond four hours and finally came to an end only when the staff at Kamani virtually forced us to cease and desist!

The Editor-in-Chief of The Sunday Indian, Prof. Arindam Chaudhuri kicked off the proceedings in his characteristically candid manner, pointing out how it was his dream and passion since his youth to launch a media house because he was convinced that Indian media didn't really bother much about the common man. Giving the example of the rotten judicial system in India where a poor man would die before getting justice, Professor Chaudhuri blamed the ownership pattern in Indian media for its indifference towards what we can call the real Janata ki Vaani. He strongly advocated a cooperative model of media ownership so that it can then write and telecast news fearlessly and without succumbing to pressure.

The Editor-in Chief of The New Indian Express Prabhu Chawla echoed the views of Professor Chaudhuri, giving numerous real-life examples of how Indian media catered mainly to the elite and the upper middle class consumer while ignoring the common man. Mr. Chawla, one of the senior most journalists in India, frankly admitted that there have been occasions in his career when he had to bow down to 'extraneous' pressures.

Well-known anchor and Managing Editor of IBN-7 Ashutosh preferred to be more optimistic, insisting that the largely positive role played by the Indian media is bringing about revolutionary changes in the country. Of course, Mr. Ashutosh did agree that the period 2004 to 2009 was arguably a disgraceful period particularly for electronic media as it went overboard and over the top. But he argued that things are back on track once again. Another well-known anchor and television personality Punya Prasoon Vajpayee was of the view that the 'profit' motive was the most harmful trend for Indian media. Senior Executive Editor of NDTV India, Sanjay Ahirwal, argued that there is still space for credible and honest journalism and it is up to seniors in the profession to uphold high standards.

The Group Editor of Amar Ujala, Ajay Upadhyay, provided a brilliant historical and contextual perspective on the current state of the Indian media and argued that the problem with the media is that it often misses out the core message in its quest for breaking news. Some of the other top journalists who attended the jam packed seminar and put forth their substantive views were Qurban Ali, Shri Achyutanand, Sharad Dutt, Kuber Dutt, Zafar Agha, P.C Pandey of Times Foundation, Rahul Dev, N.K Singh, Mukesh Kumar and Vartika Nanda.

For more articles, Click on IIPM Article

Source : IIPM Editorial, 2011.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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