This refers to the editorial "Journalism for sale" (Oct. 31) on the politician-media nexus in the general election and the elections to the recently concluded Maharashtra Assembly. In the last two decades, journalism has become another business for politicians to exploit. The print media are slowly losing out to the electronic media, many sections of which are managed by politicians who have scant regard for principles, propriety and commitment.
In the process, journalism has lost its standards. New-generation journalists make a fast buck by giving coverage to individuals whose only interest is to wield political power. A lamentable reason for this is the irresponsibility of the educated class, which does not turn up to vote.
T.S. Nagarajan, Chennai
Money and muscle power played a large role in the 2009 general elections. The Election Commission failed to take deterrent action. But the extensive and brazen participation of some language newspapers in the "cash transfer scheme" in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh is most shocking and shameful. If newspapers fall victims to the lure of money and present news as dictated by candidates, the Fourth Estate will be doing great harm to readers and to the model code of conduct.
S. Janakiraman, Coimbatore
It is not just the fourth estate but all the so-called pillars of democracy that have been put up for sale in the last couple of decades. The media's conduct during the Maharashtra polls is just the tip of the iceberg. The solution lies in regulating the manner in which funds are raised by political parties. The Election Commission can form a corpus which can be filled up with donations from entities. And this corpus should be used to fund parties' activities. All major parties must be given an equal share, with the smaller parties and independents funded in a way deemed appropriate by the Election Commission. Unless the inflow is controlled, the outflow from a party cannot be controlled.
Raghu Seshadri, Chennai
One way of curbing the misuse of money power during elections could be contesting them on party symbols without disclosing the name of the candidates. The allegation that some newspapers take a stand depending on who pays them the most may be true. But, by and large, most newspapers still value impartiality and practise fearless journalism. Let exceptions not become examples.
G. Purushothaman, Tirunelveli
"Coverage packages" are the result of thoughtless restructuring by many newspaper organisations in the name of cost cutting. The axe has fallen on several loyal journalists, particularly desk persons, who accepted modest sums as salary for the love of labour. The patient and pointed scrutiny that the desk undertook all these years for any bias, slant, inaccuracies or exaggerations is absent today. Instead, we find PR-savvy correspondents, establishing strong ties with those wielding power. They do not hesitate to accept gratification. If pulled up by a straightforward management, they switch over to another establishment. I am eagerly awaiting the follow-up editorial on "What to do about such a shocking breach of readers' trust."
B.R. Kumar, Chennai
The deadly virus infecting the Fourth Estate has been around for many years. It is only now that it has assumed such monstrous proportions. The root cause for the deterioration in almost all functional areas of our democracy is the collapse of our education system. Teachers in the past were highly disciplined. They inculcated values in children very early in life, which is no longer the case.
D. Davidson Jebaseelan, Tiruchi
The country has been witness to many forms of election malpractices such as bribing voters, impersonation, booth-capturing, rigging, etc. But the news of candidates paying huge sums to the media for coverage during electioneering is indeed shocking and shameful.
The Indian media has withstood all challenges and earned a high reputation. Their opposition to the Emergency bears testimony to their high standards of independent journalism. The action of some sections indulging in the "Cash Transfer Scheme" and floating "coverage packages" does not auger well for the media - the backbone of democracy. Geoffrey Chaucer's words "That if gold rust, what shall iron do?" are more relevant than ever before.
S. Nallasivan, Tirunelveli
Keywords: Journalism for sale