Veteran journalist and human rights activist B.R.P. Bhaskar on Saturday said that there were certain issues like human rights violations in which there were no two sides for a journalist [to represent] as one side is the offender and the other the victim.
Addressing a panel discussion on the topic “Whether journalists should take sides?” during the launch of the book Battlefield India - 25 years of Politricks and Economix authored by journalist Shobha Warrier, he said that mainstream media often had the limitation of having to maintain a facade of neutrality on such issues.
N. Ram, Director, The Hindu Publishing Group, said there is a myth that journalists should pursue the goal of objectivity, in the sense of impartiality and not taking sides. However, objectivity did not mean not taking sides, but applying a scientific approach to reporting by methods like verification and providing the opponent a fair opportunity to rebut.
Sashi Kumar, chairman, Media Development Foundation (MDF), said objectivity had often become a veneer to masquerade one’s subjectivity.
He said that as a journalist, one should try to report things as they are by honestly looking at available evidence and saying only as much that can be said with certainty.Citing the example of “embedded journalism” during the Iraq war and the recent case involving news portal The Wire and Meta, he stressed on the need to be wary of believing something is true because they wanted it to be true.
Ajit Balakrishnan, founder, Rediff.com, spoke on the need for journalists to equip themselves with adequate knowledge on information science and technology. He said fears that artificial intelligence may take over many of the roles in journalism were largely exaggerated claims.
Ms. Warrier moderated the discussion