NEW DELHI: Lamenting that credibility of the media had touched an “all-time low”, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar said over the weekend that the biggest challenge before the media was how to regain it.
“While the government pressure on the Press has lessened, the pressure of financiers, political parties and others has increased. This has affected the media’s credibility adversely,” he said after releasing the Delhi Union of Journalists Ethics Council’s interim report on “Delhi Blasts: A Look at Media Coverage”.
The report brings out “lapses” in the reportage of the recent encounter of suspected militants at Batla House in Jamia Nagar.
“Let us make this report a starting point for retrieving our values,” Mr. Nayar remarked. He also suggested setting up of a national register of journalists, where all details of media persons would be made available to facilitate self-regulation. He also demanded that the National Human Rights Commission hold open sittings to ensure “transparency”.
Obaid Siddiqui of A.J.K. Mass Communication Research Centre at Jamia Millia Islamia said media coverage of the encounter had led to the feeling among Muslims that they were being targeted and projected as “anti-nationals”.
Hannan Mollah of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) charged that due to “random reporting” by the media “without critically trying to find out actual facts”, the whole Muslim community was being projected as terrorists and that had created a “fear psychosis” among them.
DUJ president S.K. Pande said the interim report raised some hard questions. “Restraint is the need of the hour. While saying no to terrorism, say yes to communal harmony and restrained reporting,” he added.
The meeting also expressed concern at the way television journalist Soumya Viswanathan’s death was being depicted in the media and felt there should be protective measures and a risk insurance cover for all establishments to protect scribes on night duty.