Campaign India Team
Dec 18, 2012

Live Issue: With controversies, has media lost credibility?

To maintain credibility on an ongoing basis is a big challenge that news media houses face today, say watchers

Live Issue: With controversies, has media lost credibility?

The controversy involving Zee News and Jindal Group, where it is alleged that  two editors from Zee News attempted to negotiate a deal to back off on a story which  could damage Jindal Group in exchange for increased advertising spends, has raised many eyebrows in the media fraternity.
The matter is currently under investigation. Irrespective of the final verdict, there are many questions looming over the credibility of news media. This just happens to be the most recent issue and hence is top of mind. Being a high profile one, it was inveitable.

Qamar Waheed Naqvi, senior journalist and former editor, Aaj Tak, says, “I think the Indian media is in a state of mess. A lot of controversies have taken place in the past, and this one (the Zee-Jindal case) poses serious questions on the credibility of Indian media.”

“There is indeed a need to act in an ethical manner if the media has to remain credible. If the media has to play a role of a watchdog, it will have to stop offering favours to the corporate world. This corporatization and commercialization of media, unfortunately, is having an impact on the content that is produced,” argues senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta.

Sevanti Ninan, independent journalist, is of the opinion that there is very little in the hands of a journalist. “The issue is much bigger and does not lie with the journalists only,” she maintains. “Journalists are under tremendous pressure to increase viewership. And in our industry where profit making is linked with content (since most channels have only one revenue model, which is advertising), it is the TRPs that matter the most. Also, the business is not feasible any more where costs are escalating and profit margins are shrinking; companies tend to get into paid news and other such areas of monetisation. So, the issue is much bigger and journalists apparently are a victim to that.”

R Sridhar, founder and chief executive officer, Integrated Brand-comm, explains, “Credibility is a big factor of worry for news media brands, particularly in the case of Hindi news channels. BBC for example was a credible source at a time when television news industry in India had not picked up. In print, personally, The Hindu and The Indian Express remain the most credible. And this credibility is not created overnight. It is created with years of truthful reporting and editorial philosophy. To maintain credibility on an ongoing basis is a big challenge that media houses face. Another challenge is to earn profits year-on-year, so at times there are cases where ‘business journalism’ is not at its best. Amid all this, the viewer is confused about what is right and what is wrong.  And hence a serious question mark on credibility.”

According to Jaideep Shergill, chief executive officer, MSL India (the company that handles the public relations for CNBC TV18),  the news media would do well to tell and retell the story of the difference they’ve made to society and what they’ve done to empower readers.  He adds, “Media houses need to come together to draw up a common code of conduct, and enforce it strictly. There must be zero tolerance for ethical breaches, and this needs to be publicised. Lastly, media houses could re-assert their dedication to the public cause by launching a series of campaigns aimed at positive change. For instance, one that pressures the government to deliver better healthcare or one aimed at saving open spaces in urban areas.”

Sridhar observes that there is a great opportunity for channels to cut through the clutter by just practicing ethical journalism and that the channel which does that will eventually stand out.”

On what could be done to salvage the situation, Naqvi notes, “There should be a strong entry barrier for new comers in the industry. And CEOs of media houses must ensure that editorial and sales are treated as two completely separate functions.”

 

  

Journalist

Qamar Waheed Naqvi, senior journalist, and former editor, Aaj Tak

“The Indian media is in a state of mess. A lot of controversies have taken place in the past, and this one (the Zee-Jindal case) poses serious questions on the credibility of Indian media. There should be a strong entry barrier for new comers in the industry. And CEOs of media houses must ensure that editorial and sales are treated as two completely separate functions.”

 

  

Public Relations Pro

Jaideep Shergill, chief executive officer, MSL India

“Media houses could re-assert their dedication to the public cause by launching a series of campaigns aimed at positive change. For instance, one that pressures the government to deliver better healthcare or one aimed at saving open spaces in urban areas.”

 

  

Brand Consultant

R Sridhar, chief executive officer and founder, Brand-Comm

“To maintain credibility in an ongoing basis is a big challenge that media houses face. Another challenge is to earn profits year-on-year, so at times there are cases where ‘business journalism’ is not at its best. Amid all this, the viewer is confused about what is right and what is wrong.  And hence a serious question mark on credibility.”

 

  

Journalist

Sevanti Ninan, independent journalist

“Journalists are under tremendous pressure to increase viewership. And in our industry where profit making is linked with content (since most channels have only one revenue model, which is advertising), it is the TRPs that matter the most. Also, the business is not feasible anymore with costs escalating and profit margins shrinking; companies tend to get into paid news and other such areas of monetisation. So, the issue is much bigger and journalists apparently are a victim to that.”

 

  

Journalist

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, senior journalist  

“There is indeed a need to act in an ethical manner if the media has to remain credible. If the media has to play a role of a watchdog, it will have to stop offering favours to the corporate world. This corporatization and commercialization of media, unfortunately, is having an impact on the content that is produced.”

Source:
Campaign India
Tags