This refers to the article “And the pay-to-print saga resumes” (Oct. 10). Far from fulfilling its fundamental responsibilities towards society with a fair, comprehensive and impartial coverage during elections, the media entertains establishment-serving agenda men under the guise of news, thereby trumping basic journalistic scruples with an eye on revenue.
The printed word carries a sense of legitimacy with millions of newspaper readers. By allowing paid advertisements to appear as news reports, sections of the media have breached the trust of the reading public and damaged the foundation of one of the strong pillars of democracy. Little do the black sheep in the media realise that the government is on the look out for ways to rein in media activism and somehow find an excuse to exercise some form of control over the media after the recent revelations of high corruption. If self-regulation cannot prevent the media's co-option into corrupt electoral practices, the clamour for governmental regulation will gain ascendancy. That is, the greed of some media moguls will undermine the freedom of the press.
Paid news is the gravest threat to our society and democracy. If it's “India Shining” being aired on 200-odd TV channels and in most newspapers/magazines over the past few years, it is now the era of “paid news” to hide the truth. Where the media was once a catalyst for development and awareness, today it has given birth to a race for wealth accumulation by any means. The media was meant to keep politicians and corporations in check, but it has joined hands with them. Suitable regulations must also be implemented to uphold the independence of the Indian media.
Mr. Sainath's “red alert” was inspiring. The way the political class attempts to bypass every law of the land and indulge in ‘operation deceit' during election time is disturbing. Exemplary punishment in blatant cases will help restore confidence in the rule of law. Corrupt electoral practices corrode our democratic material and insult our decisions made at the time of voting.
The overhauling of laws that govern the electoral processes is long overdue. As far as paid news is concerned, readers are by now enlightened enough to weed out candidates according to their perspective and not get carried away by what is written or shown in the media.