Staff Reporter

The Minister said that there was almost-nil coverage of rural news in the media.

KOCHI: The Minister for Law, Youth Affairs and Sports M. Vijayakumar has criticised the print and electronic media for their obsession with advertisement revenue, which he said, has made a severe dent on media ethics, credibility and impartiality.

Television channels are so infatuated with television-rating points (TRP), to the extent that they stoop to any level to obtain the maximum points for each programme. “This is because more TRP means more revenue from advertisements. The net result of these is that the media is finding it difficult to mould public opinion against injustice,” he said here on Saturday, after inaugurating a two-day workshop for young journalists organized by the Kerala State Youth Welfare Board.

Citing the television coverage of the terrorist attack on Mumbai, he said that commercial interests overshadowed media ethics. This resulted in a national calamity being degraded to the level of a reality show. The Minister noted that media groups are becoming mega-businesses, owning vast assets. “The media that played a crucial role in moulding public opinion against the British during the freedom struggle and in wiping out many societal ills, is losing its zeal. For many youngsters, journalism is not a passion, but a fashion.”

Lamenting that there is almost-nil coverage of rural news in the media during the past few years, he reminded that a majority of Indians live in the rural belt. It is sad that most print and electronic media establishments have a visible pro-urban slant and cater to the likes of elite sections of society. For them, lakhs of impoverished farmers committing suicide, people from lower classes being at the mercy of private armies in villages and women being forced to walk miles to get a bucket-full of water, is not news.

Sadanand Menon, journalist, delivered the keynote address. In his presidential address, Sreeramakrishnan, vice-chairman of the Kerala State Youth Welfare Board said that India needs a generation of journalists armed with vision and ethics. A debate is on whether journalists have space beyond what is fixed by owners. Each journalist can do much to better society, despite the pressures that he faces, he said.

The president of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists, P. P. Saseendran too was among the speakers.