THE DWINDLING ETHICS…?

It is really an irony that after attaining unprecedented heights, some black-sheep tarnished the image of the strongest establishment of this nation i.e. Media so much so that today it has been inviting ridicule for promoting the menace of paid news especially after the ingress of corporatization in this sector. Though the Indian Media developed in a very healthy manner during the post independence era and continued the same way for a couple of decades, thus becoming much powerful in the affairs of the world’s largest democracy, yet it is a fact that once fingers were raised against the media going unethical even by the Parliamentarians alleging that awards instituted by the media houses nowadays to honour industrialists, professionals and different personalities were yet another form of paid news, thus constituting violation of the media’s professional ethics. This allegation came despite the fact that it is mainly the political class that has been overtly or covertly promoting paid news during the recent decades. It would not be wrong to state that all political parties unanimously engage in the trend of paid news and hence nobody, even in the top echelons of power, till yesteryears wanted to stop it. However, the silver lining is that despite multiple accusations against it, the Media continues to be the strongest and significant source to reach out to the people, thus making its credibility very high in the present day world. At the same time, it needs to be acknowledged that paid news is a very complex problem, with accusations against a section of the corporate media having created a structural imperative towards such corrupt practices in which promise, potential and actual monetary gains are substantial and that too at negligible costs. Though profit-maximizing entities will act to increase returns rather than look at social externalities, mass media cannot be expected to adopt such corporate norms, as this clearly conveys a signal that it is willing to diminish or even abrogate its role as a protector of public interest and enforcer of accountability. This undoubtedly leads to the tendency of being most disastrous for democracy. The paid news problem as it appears today, is the result of a strong nexus between the lawmakers and politicians cutting across party lines and in this context, the accusations by the Parliamentarians on paid news against media houses could have been a turning point as regards the movement to eliminate the menace of paid news. Unfortunately the unholy nexus was so strong that that till yesterday its disbanding seemed to be impossible to be weakened easily. It is pertinent to mention here that with a group of Parliamentarians bringing this vital issue in the public domain, sections of the country’s upright mass media has been already highlighting the issue for a long time now and will undoubtedly continue to highlight this corrupt phenomenon time and again. Currently, there is greater awareness among the nation’s citizenry too about the inherent dangers of paid news that pose the greatest threat to Indian democracy. As such it is hoped that the government as well as other stakeholders, especially the media, pays serious heed to the issue and both jointly initiate proactive result-oriented measures to successfully combat this pernicious practice leaving no room for ethics violation by the media.