... In each instance, the system operates on a clear quid pro quo.... In particular, when it comes to celebrity journalism in the country today, the lines between reportage and public relations are slowly getting blurred.
....Take also the so-called ad supplements .....For example, journalists are taken on a full, all-expenses paid holiday for the Dubai shopping festival. The newspaper gets ad revenues, the festival gets publicity, and the journalist gets a perfect junket.
....As indeed can the political journalist who enjoys the privilege of travelling with the prime minister or the president on an official tour.... How is the Black Label whisky and box of chocolates that are left in the hotel room of any journalist any less of an inducement than the gifts offered to army officials on the tehelka tapes?
And yet few, if any, of us journalists even bother to consider that this may be a corrupting factor, an attempt by the government to break the dividing line between journalist and establishment and ensure that the press writes positively on the ‘achievements’ of those in power.....
....It’s no different with corporate houses who have select journalists on their payroll.
....In Delhi, a senior political reporter can ensure an appointment for a businessman with an important civil servant for a fee..... And at the very top of the journalistic pyramid, an editor may be able to ensure that a television channel gets the benefit of a major satellite project in return for a prime time news programme. Indeed, as the stakes get higher, the ‘journalist as fixer’ concept has become more and more prevalent.
Another reason for the problem is the changing self-image of the journalist, and his role in a democratic system. For a long time the journalist’s role was seen to be that of an independent observer of events. But observation alone can be rather tedious, and not very financially productive either. So, over the years, the journalist has chosen to move from the margins of the fourth estate to being firmly on the centre-stage, closer to the first estate. Ideological corruption is as much a part in this process as anything else. A journalist can get close to a political party, business house or an individual in a manner that compromises his independence. Having acquired that proximity, the journalist can then use his clout on a larger scale, playing kingmaker in cementing political alliances at the centre, or in providing the link between a minister in the Union cabinet and a business house in need of a favour.
In the process of becoming power centres in their own right, the journalist has acquired a new profile and status within civil society. Ironically, in the process of acquiring this new image the journalist has become less of a watchdog and more of a lapdog of the system. For once a journalist is corrupted – either ideologically or financially – his space for challenging the system and playing an adversarial role keeps shrinking.
Unfortunately, few media persons have chosen to even look at the extent of the problem. Perhaps, it suits us not to look inwards since the reflection in the mirror won’t look very attractive. Perhaps, it suits the newspaper owners and channel bosses to keep the status quo since they have been prime beneficiaries of a corrupted system. Certainly, none of the so-called media watchdog bodies, be it the Press Council or the Editors Guild, have chosen to focus on media corruption – political, ideological or financial.
There are no rules or regulations that govern media ethics, or tell us whether it is acceptable for a journalist to receive a gift from a corporate house, or a junket from a ministry. With no clear-cut guidelines, it has become almost open season for those who wish to manipulate the system to their advantage.
Rajdeep wants the "quip pro quo" to be established, knowing well that will be impossible. Else many corrupt politicians and journalists would be in prison by now. It doesn't strike him that even where there is strong evidence and proof the criminals walk around free in this country. His own words explain the media silence on the Radia tapes and to use his own words "the system operates on a clear quid pro quo"...
Read the full article Here.