There has been a paradigm shift in the functioning of the media during the last three or four decades due to various reasons, including its globalisation and corporatisation, former Supreme Court Judge and Chairman of Press Council of India G.N. Ray said on Saturday.

Mr. Ray was speaking at a seminar on the ‘Role of Media in building Democracy', organised by the Tamil Nadu Union of Journalists (TUJ).

The media, an important and vibrant partner in democracy, must be eternally vigilant to the wrongdoings of civil society, political parties and Government, to guide them for good governance. But these priorities were taking a backseat, he said.

Mr. Ray said the media by and large had become interested in earning more profit at the cost of its role as the fourth estate. The new role was dictated by the market forces at the cost of valued principles and well-accepted ethics of journalism.

The media was fast moving to safeguard the interests of big corporate houses. He expressed concern at the extreme trivialisation of issues in reporting today. Serious issues had lost their relevance and priority.

Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) was worried that media houses were entering into private treatise with corporate houses for financial gain. It had approached the Press Council of India for appropriate guidelines and had recently issued mandates to media houses, consistent with the guidelines of the council, to clearly spell out its financial obligation with the corporate houses.

The ‘paid news' syndrome had shocked the civil society. The Council had gone into the gross aberration and submitted a report to the government with recommendations. Such aberrations need to be checked without delay.

The media should deeply introspect over its functioning and try sincerely to come out of the malaise. However, certain media houses stood tall without making compromises despite provocation and unhealthy competition.

Referring to the Commonwealth Games-related reports, the expose by the media was good, but beyond a point it would tarnish the image of the country.

On the Ayodhya verdict, Mr. Ray exhorted the media to be cautious since it involved the emotions of a diverse society.

Sessions Judge for Special Court, K. Ganesan said the media was an amplification of the voice of the voiceless and their representative in policy-making and its implementation. Coimbatore Corporation Commissioner Anshul Mishra said, “The media is a pressure tool/group in a democratic set-up, voicing the grievances of the voiceless in a bid to ensure their constitutional right.” If the country had flourished to this extent despite obstacles and problems, it was because of the vibrant media. He exhorted the media to remain objective and analytical in reporting besides being unbiased to keep the machinery on its toes. State President of TUJ D.S. Raveendradoss presided over.

Keywords: Indian media