Friday, September 21, 2007

Babus and the media

Kingshuk Nag has a close to a half-page piece in this morning's TOI ( 'Zara samalke' p-2), but has little to say, by way of something new, on the ex-Vigilance Commissioner's charges. The piece is a good example of armchair analysis and desktop reportage. Why don't Nag and other mediamen get their reporters to dig deep on each officer in question? The other English language newspapers are no different and this true of the tv channels,as well. The Urdu Press has a very narrow focus and that is that.
Speaking of media and the babus, they are strange bedfellows--each scratching the other's back--babus and the media. In recent years, the relationship between the bureaucracy and the political leadership on the one hand, and the media on the other, has been too close for comfort. Proximity to those in power has its share of allurements, seductions, glamour-value, attractions and benefits.
More than 30 years ago, when the government in power at that time felt that it was prudent to have journalists on its side, what it did do? Assigned them plots in the first of the 'journalists' colonies' to come up in the city (on Road #3, Banjara Hills). This was in days when Hyderabad had just the DC, 'The Hindu' and 'The Indian Express' (among major English language newspapers), 'Andhra Prabha', 'Andhra Jyothi', 'Andhra Patrika' and 'Andhra Bhoomi' (among Telugu papers), when 'Siasat' was the only major voice in the Urdu Press, and UNI and PTI were the only two major news agencies. Successive dispensations, both Congress and TDP have repeated this--given plots to journalists. Why any government should want a Journalists' Colony is anybody's question. Some wags say that Naidu had perfected the art of media 'management'in ways that no other Chief Minister had. Newsmen aren't just newsmen any more--they are power brokers, favour-seekers, wheeler-dealers and news 'managers' as well. Do they then have any moral right to put others under the scanner? Let them start by investigating the wheeling-dealing indulged in by newspaper barons--there are quite a few of them.

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