Priscilla Jebaraj's article on the Niira Radia tapes (Nov. 24) has provoked considerable response. However, one issue that has not received much attention is the kind of news that now dominates television news channels and most sections of the print media. There is a tendency to focus on breathless moment-to-moment coverage of fast moving political developments.
Such news can only be sourced from contacts in the establishment nurtured over time. And it is not surprising that media professionals are tempted to play politics themselves.
But where does all this leave the public? Since different journalists may be in touch with different sources, the versions put forward by different television channels and newspapers vary. For instance, in the last few days, people were presented with different versions of what was likely to happen in Karnataka.
People would certainly like to be informed about what is going on, but do they really want news to be presented like an unfolding suspense thriller? It is the focus on this kind of news that makes the nurturing of inside sources very important to media professionals. Presenting the news in a more long-term perspective and following up links to related developments would require a different kind of effort.
The publication of taped conversations between prominent journalists and lobbyists shows that the journalists have crossed the thin line of ethics and responsibility. They may claim that their profession requires them to get news from all kinds of sources.
But the conversations show that they were only grabbing the opportunity to act as intermediaries between business houses and politicians. The Radia episode has eroded media credibility in a big way.
My only concern is that after the Radia tape revelations, the common man may lose his trust in the media. I hope the media will break its silence and explain to people what really happened, and own moral responsibility for the unsavoury incident.