Paid news, corporate ownership among challenges faced by media

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SummaryA panel of eminent individuals including senior journalists today expressed concern over ills in the media like paid news and the tendency to carry out trial on its own.

A panel of eminent individuals including senior journalists today expressed concern over ills in the media like paid news and the tendency to carry out trial on its own.

The panel was chaired by former chairman of Press Council of India (PCI) G N Ray who said the fourth estate had done good things but various problems had also come up.

He said that corporate ownership of media is a problem as it has led to news organisations facing the demand to increase profits. He added that cross media ownership was another problematic area.

Ray said that paid news was a very troubling aspect and apart from news relating to politics, some media houses took sides while reporting news of the corporate world. He said that hype created over shares being issued by a corporate house had led to it being oversubscribed.

Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar said that channels repeated "bytes" again and again and gave the expenses borne by them for their collection as the reason. Sircar said that he had suggested "footage exchange whereby this sort of tendency of overplaying a particular thing comes down".

He also said that the print and electronic media lacked a regulatory environment.

Editor-in-chief of The Tribune Raj Chengappa said that he favoured self regulation by the media and added that editors of news organisations are accountable to the readers.

Eminent journalist Vinod Mehta said the role of media is to expose corruption but deplored the tendency of journalists to pass judgements. He said that putting information in public domain is the job of journalists and from there other organisations should be allowed to take over.

Mehta, however, defended the media for repeating bytes and stories saying it reminded those in power of aspects where the required action had not been taken.

Chengappa said there were other controls on media and journalists had to be careful about what they write as they too could face litigation.

He said if the editors are not responsible the trust with the reader would break.

Sircar said that the "collusion between a large segment of the media and the three establishments has reached at sounding levels."

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