Monday, January 30, 2012

EDITORIAL: Media Tribe Needs Mainstreaming

Media Tribe Needs Mainstreaming

The media in the Islands have at many occasions drawn flak for its misdemeanors. The recent press meet with Home Minister P Chidamabaram reiterated the need for mainstreaming of the media tribe in the Islands. The media in the Islands are an idiosyncratic mix of small-scale politicians and retired government servants. There are very few exceptional cases, where trained and qualified journalists struggle to sustain their newspapers. Their voices get silenced in the battle cry of the politicians who come to press meets with their political and personal agenda.
The media was time and again reminded about their role by PC, when instead of questions they started discussions and suggestions. One 'scribe', a retired government servant started reading from a diary, without any introduction or question. PC interrupted him many times asking him to poise questions. On airfare and other issues, the scribes started to discuss and put forth suggestions, which were not acceptable to PC.
The media which should do their own investigations and get a grasp of issues in most cases forget their role and convert press meets into discussion forums. A question which shocked many was when a scribe complained that the Administration does not take cognizance of issues highlighted by them, which itself was self-explanatory about the quality of media we have in the Islands. No doubt, the media in the Islands looks outside to the national media and they have always felt that they are in sordid isolation.
Objective reporting and subjective analysis - both keep the news as well as the debates alive. Unfortunately, when media turns into a forum for character assassinations and a tool for self-aggrandizement, it becomes laughing stock and journalism takes a backseat.
Despite various limitations, independent media in the Islands can still bring forth many hidden stories to limelight. It can be a watchdog on various governmental schemes and projects. Instead of doing independent investigations into the fact of successful completion of Tsunami Rehabilitation Projects (TRP), it seems quite satisfied with the reports and press notes issued by the Administration.
In the absence of a democratic system of governance, media has a vital role to play in the Island territory. It could act as an opposition and dig the facts out instead of gobbling down whatever the Administration provides.
There are clear-cut variations in the format of a daily newspaper, weekly, fortnightly and monthly magazines. But, the differences are hardly visible in the format and style of journalism in the Islands.
A little bit of training in the basics of journalism would go a long way or the coming generations will also follow the beaten path, and the wish for a constructive and objective media will always remain a pipedream.
The media tribe truly deserves mainstreaming or it will remain in permanent isolation, which is not a good sign at this stage of journalism in these Islands, when demand for a democratic setup is catching pace.

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