Crowd funding, independent financing can facilitate unbiased media investigation- Pranjoy Guha

Amid the media trends such as ‘paid news’ and the dominance of business interest of media houses over the editorial content, there is a need to create funding platforms which will support impartial and objective news gathering and the spirit of inquiry which is the basis of investigations which journalists engage in, with peoples’ interest at heart, senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta said. 

Guha-Thakurta was participating in a discussion on “The fine line between news and abuse” in the event “Shabdotsava,” organised by FICCI Flo – the women’s wing of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FICCI).  Writer and former editor of Hindustan Times Vir Sanghvi also participated in the discussion which was moderated by real estate developer Rohit Gera and Chartered Accountant Anil Lamba. 

Ficci Flo national president Vinita Bimbhet, Chairperson, Sabina Sanghvi, Varsha Chordia along with other FLO members were present at the event. 

Guha-Thakurta, said practices like paid news diminishes the credibility of a publication or a channel but because people don’t demonstrate their dissatisfaction about such practices by stopping to read or watch, the practices continue unabated. Financial support without ideological influence and ‘crowd funding’ which comes from those interested in truth about matters that affect them will help generate unbiased news coverage and features or other content, he added. 

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Vir Sanghavi mentioned the political parties are using all media and specially the social media to put forward their point of view and to malign the opposition. Also serious is the pressures the wealthy corporates exert on media by threatening journalists with lawsuits, he said. “Self regulatory bodies such as the Advertising Standards Council of India have no operational powers which renders them ineffective in dealing with issues such racism or gender bias, Sanghvi added. Amid the clutter of print and electronic media it is the reader / viewer who has to assert what he or she expects from either and reject the rest, Sanghvi said. 

Senior television journalist Barkha Dutt spoke about “Flirting with controversy” in conversation with businessman Kumar Gera. She said television ratings are what consumers of media content – readers or viewers – make them to be so it is for these consumers to be more discerning so that they don’t have to be always at the receiving end of the media dishes out. Media campaigns about certain issues of social relevance are fine but there should not be an attempt to be judgemental about anything, as the duty of media is to inform and educate people – not to influence their opinion, Dutt said. 

Earlier in the day the two-day festival was kick-started with inauguration at the hands of Vinita Bimbhet and lighting of the inaugural lamp by the FLO committee members.  During the session, under the Swayam initiative, the organisers also handed over a cheque of Rs.2,27,000/- to Pramila and Sushma Gandhi from Kesariya Papad Udyog, Ahmednagar to support their small scale business.

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