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‘Escaping the grip of big business a challenge for media’

E. Saravanapavan, group chairman of the New Udayan Publications, receiving the Esmond Wickremesinghe annual award for media freedom, from Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo on Tuesday. N. Ram, chairman of Kasturi and Sons Limited, is seen in the middle.  

The real challenge for the Indian news media now is to find economically sustainable and politically astute ways and means to loosen and eventually to break the stranglehold being established by big business to the detriment of free and independent journalism in a seemingly irreversible historical process, N. Ram, Chairman of Kasturi and Sons Limited and former Editor in Chief of The Hindu group of publications, said on Tuesday.

Delivering a talk on media freedom at an event organised in memory of Esmond Wickremesinghe, a doyen of Sri Lanka’s print journalism, Mr. Ram referred to trends such as manipulation of news, analysis and comment to suit the owners’ financial or political interests; hyper-commercialisation; price wars; and aggressive practices in the home bases of other newspapers.

He urged media organisations to introduce codes of values and codes of good practice binding journalists and the media industry, and instituting self-regulation mechanisms such as independent news ombudsmen within major news organisations.

Praising Esmond Wickremesinghe, who was Editorial Director of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited till its nationalisation in 1973, for his leadership in the field of journalism, Mr Ram said the International Press Institute, in 2000, recognised Wickremesinghe as one of 50 Press Freedom Heroes. Mr. Ram, a founding trustee of the Media Development Foundation, which runs the Chennai-based Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, offered to provide scholarship to a Sri Lankan student to study at the college during 2016-17.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister and son of Esmond Wickremesinghe, gave away the inaugural Esmond Wickremesinghe annual award for media freedom to E. Saravanapavan, group chairman of New Udayan Publications.

The New Udayan Publications, which runs two dailies and five magazines, was chosen, according to the organisers of the event, for the “courageous manner” in which it faced serious challenges such as death threats; death of seven members of its staff; injury caused to 13 employees and permanent disability to one employee. Mr Saravanapavan told The Hindu that it was through 2007-2010 that his organisation had experienced the challenges.

Edmond Ranasinghe, founding editor of “Divaina,” wanted the media organisations in Sri Lanka to carry forward the philosophy of Esmond Wickremesinghe.


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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 3:40:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/n-rams-address-on-media-freedom-in-colombo/article7703219.ece

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