It is time for conventional media to strike back: Arun Jaitley


THERE is a “huge space” that’s lying vacant for the return of “conventional media,” said Union Finance and I&B Minister Arun Jaitley here today, a media that is more akin to the “Indian version of BBC, objective rather than agenda-setting news.”
Speaking at the International Press Institute (IPI) India Award For Excellence in Journalism ceremony on Friday, he expressed concern at what he called the “sensational” manner of reporting and urged “conventional media” to “strike back” against the “evening news”.
Referring to the noise on news TV, Jaitely said: “It’s the desire to be before the floodlights (that has) become so large that the tendency to do something or say something which is controversial, which is out of the ordinary increases…There would be many others like me who enjoys what happens in the evening but I think it is also taking its toll and, therefore, it is time for conventional media to stand up and strike back and I think this is the right time.”
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The IPI Award went to M Shajil Kumar of Malayala Manorama for his work on “endangered tribal communities”.
Saying that the assault on journalists at Patiala House was “an exception and a terrible exception at that”, Jaitley noted that the “majority of India will treat this attack as an aberration and keep the media as a detached third party”. Two journalists of The Indian Express were among the journalists who were assaulted when they were reporting the trial of JNU student President Kanhaiya Kumar at Patiala House courts.
Jaitley also slammed lawyers who stated that they would not appear for Kanhaiya. “I think the idea of crowds in court is itself not acceptable. The more serious the offence the stronger must be the avenues of defence. And if protests within court premises create an oppressive environment in which bar associations sometimes pass resolution that we won’t appear for so and so accused,” said Jaitley, adding that “it is not merely a threat to free speech but it also becomes a threat to a free and fair trial because an oppressive environment is created in judicial institutions.”
Former Chief Justice of India A S Anand, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and veteran journalist T N Ninan also spoke on the occasion. “There’s also a balance between idealism and ambition and I think that balance can be maintained by all of you yourself. No outside agency can ever come and try to maintain the balance,” Rathore said.
Justice Anand, who headed the jury, said that the judiciary can’t afford to get influenced by those who speak louder. “So far as the courts are concerned, there is no scope for the crowd to influence the judges because if that happens it will be a sad day for the judiciary,” he said.