Media hardly covers rural India, says Sashi Kumar

‘The occasional coverage is limited tofarm suicides and khap panchayats’

August 11, 2015 12:00 am | Updated March 29, 2016 02:30 pm IST - Manipal:

Sashi Kumar, Chairman of Media Development Foundation and Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, said on Monday that media should regulate itself and there should be no external regulation.

He was delivering a lecture on “Is responsible journalism dead in India?” organised by T.A. Pai Management Institute here.

Mr. Sashi Kumar said that there was breathless coverage on certain select issues in the media. There was hardly any coverage of rural India, though 70 per cent of the population lived there. The occasional coverage of rural India was limited to reports on farm suicides and functioning of some khap panchayats. There was little coverage of the problems faced by people in the rural areas or about the plurality and diversity that were found in villages. Though environment and climate change were important issues, they were covered only during natural disasters. The fact that climate change was going to affect the present and the future should necessitate it getting continuous and top coverage in newspapers and television channels. Issues such as child labour, malnutrition, rural-urban divide also needed more attention, he said.

There were doubts in the minds of a cross-section of people about journalism. Indian journalism has had a long and a proud legacy. Print journalism in the country, which was about 200 years old, was part of the Indian freedom struggle. Advocates and journalists, or both, were in the freedom struggle. Gandhiji edited journals such as “Navajivan” and “Indian Opinion”. The weapon of Satyagraha evolved through his writings in the “Indian Opinion”. Journalism was not just a profession. It was an intrinsic part of nationhood, he said.

Making profits

The empowering role of journalism has been weakened because priority was being given to making profits. Bad practices of journalism were driving away good practices of journalism. It was necessary to reverse this trend. But, for all its drawbacks, the media had exposed several scams. Everyone was a stakeholder in the media, as it affected all. Combined efforts of concerned citizens and journalists were necessary to save journalism, Mr. Sashi Kumar said.

R.C. Natarajan, Director of TAPMI, Ramdas M. Pai, Chancellor of Manipal University, and H.S. Ballal, Pro-Chancellor, were present.

‘Issues on environment and climate change are covered only during natural disasters’

‘The empowering role of journalism has been weakened ’

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