A discussion on ‘Media Gaze and Public Behaviour’, organised in memory of the late journalist V.N. Subba Rao, had senior mediapersons looking at the changing nature of news gathering, news production and its impact on society.

Speaking at the event organised by the media wing of the Suchitra Cinema and Cultural Academy here on Thursday, Aakar Patel, columnist from Mint, said the visual media, which operates on a “feedback loop” where the newsworthiness is determined by viewership for a certain segment, is often not constructive in the role it plays in guiding the course of public debate and policy.

Ananth Chinivar of Janasri television channel argued that the media is often lost in the “drama” of the day and this myopic vision translates to a failure to “call the bluff” of the actors in the drama. “We lower the gaze when it matters the most,” he said.

Imram Qureshi, senior journalist, said a debate on media today should address journalistic ethics and business ethics of those owning media houses. He emphasised the need for the visual media to evolve a framework for self-regulation, the absence of which could lead to a stifling legal mechanism being put in place.

Speaking on the impact of “regionalisation” of news in language media through region-specific editions, C.G. Manjula of Prajavani said it had led to a “shrinking of identity” where a reader is often deprived of news of the world beyond his or her own town or district. Parvathi Menon of The Hindu, discussing media and gender, said there was a need to look at the question from two perspectives: gender sensitivity in the coverage of news and gender inclusivity within a newsroom. Media houses, she added, need to introspect on how representative their own newsrooms were. Increasing contractualisation of work in the media, she said, could prove detrimental to the women workforce.

Ramakrishna Upadhya from Deccan Herald said there was an erosion of the notion of “public good” in the media, reflected in the blurring of lines between “news” and “paid news”.

The newly-emerging social media platforms in India, said B. Mahesh of Bangalore Mirror, is now largely used by a class which has “no knowledge of inclusive parameters”, though it has a large scope beyond. On the other hand, the government is not sure whether to take the views expressed in these platforms seriously, he added.

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