AMN /New Delhi
Criticizing role of some TV news channels and newspapers for spreading hate and ill will in the society, several Senior journalists on Saturday underlined the need of media playing an important role in creating and promoting social harmony in the country.
They denounced attempts by some TV news channels and newspapers to standardize on thought on issues in the name of nationalism. Most of them agreed that there should a self-regulation in the media and nothing should be imposed from outside, they advocated that media should care about its social obligations also.
“In the current station of the country, there is a dire need that media should play an important role for maintaining social and communal harmony. But a section of the media has strayed from their principles,” said veteran journalist and the Editorial Director of The New Indian Express Prabhu Chawla while speaking at a symposium on “Role of Media in Promoting Social Harmony” organised by Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.
“The first principle of journalism is to present through media what you have seen and heard in front of the public. But in this electronic age, a section of the media shows and publishes news on the basis of their views instead of presenting reality, which is a serious threat to communal harmony and national unity. A section of the media presents those personalities who support their views in the talk shows, TV debates and panel discussions. A section of the media is as much responsible as politicians for dividing the people on communal lines. And as long as we remain divided, their shops will continue to exist. So there is a need to isolate them after identifying them,” Chawla added.
“On some issues, there are strong attempts to create one opinion. There are attempts to standardize one thought on issues like Pakistan and Kashmir,” said veteran journalist and Political Editor of Hindustan Times Vinod Sharma. “Media persons handling real-time information are not trained to deal with such situation. Real-time information has to be treated with utmost care. There is a need for a certain degree of debate within the media about its role vis a vis society,” said Sharma. He was also critical of the media for relying on police version during communal violence. “During communal riots, media generally relies on police version which is not always 24-carat gold. It is a mixed item. Media should be true to its responsibilities, should care about its language and social obligations,” he said.
Hartosh Singh Bal, Political Editor of Caravan magazine, said a section of media is dividing the society, rather than uniting it. “Of late, a section of media has started dividing the society, rather than uniting it. We have seen it in JNU case, Pakistan issue and during communal riots. It provoked people and riot. Media should speak truth howsoever hard it is,” said Hartosh.
Speaking at the program organized by Jamaat-e-Islami Hind at the conclusion of its 15-day “Peace & Humanity Campaign,” Rajya Sabha TV Anchor Amrita Rai said media is not giving much space to the deprived classes. “Media does not give space to depressed classes. Media is suffering with ideological lobbying. People of the other lobby are projected as ones against development and nationalism,” she said. However, she praised media for its positive role in the Kairana and Una cases. “Media played positive role in the Kairana case when news flashed on social media about alleged migration of Hindus from the Muslim-dominated district of Uttar Pradesh. Media went there on the ground and exposed the lies. It played a positive role in Una case also,” she said. “But when it comes to Muslim youths, Kashmir or triple talaq, media has not played positive role. In cases of Kashmir or Muslim youths, we get swayed with nationalism and patriotism,” she said.
Representing the Urdu press, SQR Ilyas, Editor, Afkar-e Milli Urdu monthly stressed defining the role of media. He said a section of media is promoting hate speakers.”Some forces want to promote division in the society on the basis of religion, language and caste. Some political parties also want polarization and they don’t care for the loss of the society. A section of media is also promoting such forces that want to demolish peace and communal harmony. Sensational things and clashes are being given much space in the media,” said Ilyas. “There is a need to define the role of media; in fact, media should set its own role and responsibility for the society,” he added.
In his presidential remarks, Mohammad Salim Engineer, Secretary General of Jamaat said that readers of newspapers and viewers of TV channels also have a role and responsibility to keep the media on track.”Our role is to keep media on track. We should provide correct information to the media, we should develop relations with them. Many wrong reporting are due to wrong information but we assume such things are being deliberately propagated,” he said. “There are indeed good people in the media and we have to reach out to them. To promote social harmony, there could be important role of media and we should execute our duties vis a vis media. We can improve the situation with the support of media. We should also make correct use of social media,” he said.
Other eminent journalists and personalities who spoke included N.K.Singh, Secretary General Editor Guild and Anil Chamadia, Editor of Mass Media and Jan Media journals, S.S. Sarda, Supreme Court lawyer and radio Jockey Naved of radio mirchi.