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Ethics code needed, says Sashi Kumar

Staff Reporter
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Sashi Kumar, senior journalist and chairman of the Asian College of Journalism, has called for a new code of ethics for the new media at a time when the ‘tyranny’ of representation by the formal media is being challenged by the people and the times call for a more participatory form of media involving informal forms of media and non-media pressure groups in society.

Introducing the topic at a seminar on ‘New Media and Ethics,’ organised by the Information and Public Relations (I&PR) Department, Kerala University’s Department of Journalism, and its alumni on the occasion of National Media Day here on Friday, Mr. Sashi Kumar said the new media technology was challenging set norms of even how newspaper reading was akin to a religious activity, with the term ‘mass media’ becoming a misnomer and aspects such as logic, sequence, and linearity giving way to the digital mode.

For the first time, media technology was responding to the capacity of the human mind — its ability to handle variety simultaneously — and it was crucial how the media stood up to this challenge. With concepts like deadlines disappearing and the time coming for throwing away ‘obsolete’ terms like objectivity, there was a huge challenge before the media. Objectivity, for that matter, he said, was now an alibi for socially compromised reporting. It was more essential now to know the distinction between media and journalism. Media was business and journalism, as such, was getting sidelined by profit maximisation trends of the media. The journalistic essence of media had to be understood and a new way of saying things had to develop.

Media language

The moment Internet connectivity was more pervasive in the country, the present format of the newspaper would go, but journalism would not. It should move on, and with the entire language of media being changed by new forms such as Twitter, Facebook, and online blogs, new media should have a new set of ethics: be participatory and include informal media and non-media actors who were pressure groups in society, he said, citing instances including the Arab Spring uprising. Earlier, Mr. Sashi Kumar said it was grossly unfair and non-factual to portray journalism as an unethical activity.

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