INDIA MEDIA FORUM

February 11-12, 1999, New Delhi • February 15, 1999, Bombay

Board of Trustees
Charles L. Overby, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Peter S. Prichard, President Allen H. Neuharth, Founder Harry W. Brooks Jr. John E. Heselden Madelyn P. Jennings Malcolm R. Kirschenbaum Bette Bao Lord Brian Mulroney Will Norton Jr. John C. Quinn Carl T. Rowan Josefina A. Salas-Porras John Seigenthaler The Freedom Forum World Center 1101 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA 22209 USA Tel: 703/528-0800 Fax: 703/284-3529 E-mail: news@freedomforum.org Internet: www.freedomforum.org African Center 7TH Floor, JHI House 11 Cradock Ave. Rosebank 2196 Johannesburg South Africa Tel: 27-11-327-0269 Fax: 27-11-327-0242 Asian Center Offices 1502-03, 15TH Floor Shui On Centre 6-8 Harbour Road Wanchai, Hong Kong Tel: 852-2596-0018 Fax: 852-2598-8818 European Center Stanhope House Stanhope Place London, W2 2HH, United Kingdom Tel: 44-171-262-5003 Fax: 44-171-262-4631 Latin American Center Avenida del Libertador 602 Piso 23 “B” 1001 Buenos Aires, Argentina Tel: 54-1-814-5005 Fax: 54-1-814-5006 Order publications by phone: The Freedom Forum makes available single copies of a wide range of conference reports, studies, speeches and other publications related to the media, journalism education and the First Amendment. To request a publications list call 800/830-3733.

Contents
Print and broadcast media thrive in largest democracy Outlook mixed for English-language press in India as native-tongue publications show strong growth Suspicious press in India, Pakistan retards prospects of peace between border enemies Diversity of languages, dialects poses challenge for press in India amid a growing literacy rate Ownership of India’s media, a hot-button topic, may be rendered moot by the Internet’s inroads Journalists see religion, new media, lax ethics as threats; readers say the enemy is within Students get grounding in basics of ethics, diversity Educators explore individual role in journalism ethics

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1999 international media forums debut in New Delhi and Bombay
As the world’s largest democracy, a land as rich in history and diversity as it is vast in size and population, India was a natural choice for The Freedom Forum’s first international media forum of 1999. Chris Wells, senior The theme for this vice president/ year’s forums, “Media at international of The Freedom Forum the Millennium,” resonates in India, where the news media are confronting many opportunities and challenges: The country’s literacy rate is climbing; its population is nearing 1 billion; newspaper circulation is up, especially among non-English newspapers; media ownership is much-debated; journalism education and diversity are lagging in some areas; and members of the media wonder how to cover their homeland’s tense relations with neighboring Pakistan. The Freedom Forum brought together leading members of the media in India and Pakistan for discussions, interviews and roundtables Feb. 11-15 in New Delhi and Bombay. Those sessions provided news executives the opportunity to talk about their problems, the possible solutions, the peril and the promise they face on the eve of a new century. This report shares the experiences and perspectives of conference participants. The Freedom Forum’s goal is to help the news media and the public understand one another better, a mission that is accomplished, in part, through conferences, workshops and programs around the world. In coming months The Freedom Forum will sponsor additional “Media at the Millennium” forums in Africa, Europe and Latin America.

Media in India: an overview
s The

Indian press is, for the most part, independent and privately owned. A few newspapers are linked, officially or ideologically, to political parties. Owners can and do dictate editorial policy. Both the English and the “language press” (non-English) tend to support the Indian government on foreign policy issues. readership is steady, despite the rapid growth of electronic media. Newspapers remain relatively inexpensive, and the print media, especially the Englishlanguage press, are feistier and more apt to criticize the government on domestic issues than their electronic counterparts. boasts more than 43,000 newspapers and magazines published in English and dozens of other languages. Hindi publications have a 36% share of the total circulation of newspapers and magazines; English publications have a 17% share. The Urdu press is the third largest. Other major language newspapers with a circulation of at least 100,000 are in Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Telegu, Kannada and Punjabi. language press is booming. The past 20 years have seen a remarkable growth, with circulation trends pointing up. 1997, the Prasar Bharati Act was enacted, giving BBC-style autonomy to the formerly state-controlled TV and radio networks, Doordarshan and All India Radio. By early 1999, a draft broadcasting bill, which would provide a regulatory framework for the industry, was awaiting action.

s Newspaper

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Newspaper circulation in India is 32 million daily.

Print and broadcast media thrive in largest democracy
The news media in India are thriving. Newspaper circulation and penetration are growing rapidly, and in the past few years independent satellite and cable television have exploded. Newspaper circulation is 32 million daily. Television viewership is estimated at 300 million. But radio remains the most popular source of news and information. All India Radio, once government controlled but now operated under a BBC-style autonomy, reaches 97% of India’s population. Although the English-language press is influential among government policy-makers, the “language press” (non-English) is growing in popularity and remains the shaper of public opinion and Arnold Zeitlin, director of local-level policy. Only a few newspapers are aligned with a politiThe Freedom Forum Asian cal party. Center Media ownership in India, as elsewhere, is consolidating. Several major publishers not only print newspapers in English and other languages but also are moving increasingly into television and the Internet. Indian publications freely report bad news, and foreign correspondents often follow the spot-news leads of the local media. So most often it is the stories of strife that make their way into the international media, perpetuating an image abroad of India as a place of poverty and violence. Correspondent Seema Sirohi of The Telegraph says many Indian journalists need more training in the basics of reporting. That shortcoming among members of the work force is compounded by the fact that there are only a few journalism schools to prepare the thousands of journalists needed to staff India’s newsrooms. Against that backdrop The Freedom Forum went to India to explore how the country’s media are preparing for the challenges of the new century.

s India’s

s In

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cable and satellite television reach the entire country; two dozen satellites beam signals to India, and some subscribers have access to as many as 50 channels. is assuming tremendous importance in the country, especially among the growing middle class. Viewership is estimated at nearly 300 million. is the most popular means of information and entertainment, particularly for the rural and illiterate population. All India Radio has a countrywide network of regional broadcasting and programming centers as well as a national channel that broadcasts in Hindi, Urdu and English.

s Television

s Radio

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Outlook mixed for English-language press in India as native-tongue publications show strong growth
NEW DELHI — Two leading Indian newspaper editors, operating in a thriving market, disagreed on the past, present and future of the English-language press in India, but agreed that newspapers will reach the next millennium by giving readers what they want. Dileep Padgaonkar, executive managing editor of The Times of India, labeled as a myth the notion that the English-language press is elitist, rootless and out of sync with the masses. He said that description comes from a nationalistic agenda, which characterizes the English press as “foreign” and “alien.” His counterpart, Narendra Mohan, owner of Dainik Jagran, a Hindi-language daily, said the English-language press has never recovered from the role it played in the years leading up to India’s independence in 1947 after 300 years of British rule. “The English-language press was hostile to the freedom movement,” he said during the opening session of the India Media Forum, moderated by CNN’s Bernard Kalb. After independence, the English press “tried to change colors” but couldn’t, Mohan said, whereas the so-called “language press” maintained the color of a nationalistic press. The English press, Padgaonkar said, celebrates the pluralism of India, the idea that all Indians harbor a layer of language, history and regional identity. He called India a “mongrel nation” with each individual bearing multiple identities. But Mohan, who belongs to the ruling political party, Bharatiya Janata, and is a member of

Competition for readers is fierce and readership is highly concentrated in the country’s metropolitan areas. There are nine English-language newspapers in New Delhi alone.

Newspaper owner Narendra Mohan says “readers will only come if you produce an attractive newspaper.”

the upper house of Parliament, said the English press was never a binding thread for Indians. He also championed India’s pluralism. “The binding feeling is that India is a rich and pluralistic society,” he said. “Nationalism is a feeling.” The English press still gets credit for influencing policy in India, but the language press seems to have the upper hand in shaping public opinion. The Indian constitution recognizes 18 official lauguages. The Hindi press accounts for 36% of the newspaper market in India. English-language newspapers control 17%. Newspapers printed in the other 100 or so languages and dialects share the remainder of the readership. Since the early 1960s, newspaper circulation and penetration have grown steadily, especially among India’s language press. Newspaper penetration rose to 35 per 1,000 people in 1997 from 12 per 1,000 in 1967. Circulation increased fivefold to 32 million. Mohan predicted that many newspapers would lose their financial footing and fold in the coming years. Those newspapers that produce content balanced between intellectual news and entertainment will be successful, he said. His approach was to copy USA TODAY.

“Readers will only come if you produce an attractive newspaper,” he said. Padgaonkar said the biggest challenge for newspapers in the next millennium would be reaching the “large number of people who can’t read or who do not fall [within the reach] of the press.” India’s population of about 984 million makes the South Asian nation the world’s largest democracy. The challenge becomes clearer when the country’s literacy rate of 52% is considered, along with the fact that 93% of newspaper readership is within India’s metropolitan areas. But Padgaonkar is optimistic about adapting to readers’ changing interests. He supports the shift from hard news, such as politics, to softer news, such as sports, entertainment, fashion, food and music. In India, newspapers are adjusting to what the emerging middle class wants, he said. A speaker in the audience, Anita Pratap, a former South Asia bureau chief for CNN and now a free-lancer, decried the media’s obsession with politics and lifestyle. “You cannot address the problems in this country without health and education reporting,” she told Padgaonkar after the discussion.

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Suspicious press in India, Pakistan retards prospects of peace between border enemies
NEW DELHI — Suspicious and hostile media on both sides of the India-Pakistan border have hindered the peace process between the enemies, editors from both nations said. Najam Sethi, founder and editor of The Friday Times, a weekly based in Lahore, Pakistan, said “the role the press plays in both countries in reinforcing prejudices and old enmities” makes “the press part of the problem rather than part of the solution.” India has fought three wars with Pakistan in the 50 years since Pakistan was created from a part of India. Last year, each country tested nuclear weapons, which further rattled nerves in the region and around the world. With the free press that exists in both countries, Sethi said, journalists could build Najam Sethi, a Pakistani, says the media in his bridges between the two nations. “Unfor- country and in India are part of the problem, tunately, the press has not played that role,” “reinforcing prejudices and old enmities.” he said. As an example of the undermining role Because of a long history of deep mistrust the press plays, journalist Vinod Mehta recalled negotiations in 1989 between the and misunderstanding, politicians in both prime ministers of the two countries, at countries refuse to budge, Mehta said. He said which agreements were signed establishing newspapers can fill the breach and mobilize trade and other relations. But the Indian public opinion toward reaching a peace agreepress, suspecting that India had given away ment. “Politicians in both countries need a too much in the negotiations, pestered the kick in the pants,” he said. Sethi said an important beginning would prime minister until be for the Indian the agreements were and Pakistani press abandoned. They to be available in remain unenforced both countries. He today. also encouraged If the agreements younger journalists had gone into effect, to begin to cover Pakistanis would be each other’s counable today to buy tries. “The older Indian newspapers generation are prisand other periodicals — Najam Sethi, editor, The Friday Times oners of the past,” in Pakistan, and he said. Indians would be able Television origito buy Pakistani publications in India. But because that is not pos- nating in the two countries cannot be stopped sible, it makes it difficult “to look at each at the border, however. And because Pakistani television is government-controlled and other through each other’s eyes,” Sethi said. Mehta, founder and editor of the Indian television is autonomous, Indian telenewsweekly Outlook in New Delhi, blamed a vision has greater potential to influence opin“lunatic fringe in … the press. It’s more in the ion, Sethi said. English-language Indian television is non-English press, but it’s also present in the “more progressive, rational, enlightened and English press.”

Vinod Mehta, an Indian, says the press could mobilize public opinion to come out in support of moving the nations toward peace.

“The older generation[of journalists] are prisoners of the past.”

liberal” than Pakistani television, he said, which is influenced by a conservative Islamic society. Sethi described Pakistani television as “xenophobic, emotional, irrational and sentimental.” “The most liberal ideas are expressed through Indian English-language television,” he said. Sethi also said that Indian television helps empower Pakistani women. “Indian women are freer, more articulate and more developed than Pakistani women,” he said. “This has an enormous impact on Pakistani women seeking their rights.” The two editors, who are friends, also criticized coverage of foreign correspondents in the region. “The Western media portray India and Pakistan as a nuclear flash point, as two irresponsible countries with their fingers on the button,” Mehta said. Sethi said Western media fail to cover positive stories coming out of Pakistan, such as the growth of human-rights groups and the emerging rights of women. But both editors said their own media offer lots of negative news about their own countries, providing “ammo for the Western media,” as Mehta put it.

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Among the journalists participating in the panel discussion, “Media of Many Languages: Challenges Covering India’s Diversity,” were (from left) Anita Pratap, a former CNN bureau chief in New Delhi; Shekhar Gupta, editor of the English-language Indian Express newspaper; Mohan Chiragi, editor of Qaumi Awaz, an Urdu-language newspaper; and Nalini Singh, a producer and director for TVLive.

Diversity of languages, dialects poses challenge for press in India amid a growing literacy rate
NEW DELHI — Increasing literacy and “linguistic colonialism” may reshape the mediadiversity landscape in India, two leading editors said. “As more and more Indians send their children to English schools and the local languages [are given less] importance in the curriculum, fewer children will have the motivation to do any reading in their mother tongue,” said Mammen Mathew, editor and managing director of India’s largest newspaper, the Malayam-language Malayala Manorama. “The greatest challenge for Indian newspapers in the next century will come from the slow march of linguistic colonialism.” The editor of the nation’s largest Englishlanguage newspaper, Shekhar Gupta of The Indian Express, agreed that as literacy increases, language diversity will decrease. “People who become more literate [will see to it that] their children will choose a more widely spoken language.” But he said it could be English or it could be Hindi, which is dominant among the 18 official languages recognized in the country’s constitution. Diversity, a source of India’s strength and pride, is reflected throughout the country in language, religion, skin color, and social and economic status. “I don’t think there is a country in the world that’s more diverse than India,” said Jack Maxwell Hamilton, dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University and an author of books and articles on the Third World. He was the moderator for the discussion titled “Media of Many
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Languages: Challenges Covering India’s editors to run those kinds of stories, she said. Diversity.” English-language newspapers are acknowThe Urdu-language press is the third- ledged as the news outlets that influence the largest (after Hindi and English) and mostly decision-makers in society and government. serves Muslims, who make up about 11% of But in recent years, the non-English or India’s population. Hindu-owned newspapers “language press” has been growing much faster often take a negative view of minorities, espe- than the English press. If the English press is cially Muslims, according to the United States said to influence the policy-makers, the lanInformation Service guage press is said to in New Delhi. influence public opin“People don’t ion. pay much attention A similar situato the Urdu press,” tion exists in televisaid Mohan Chiragi, sion, said Nalini editor of the counSingh, executive protry’s largest Urdu ducer and managing newspaper, Qaumi director of TVLive, Awaz. “They think it which produces news is just a language for programs for stateMuslims.” Chiragi owned television. The said part of his news— Mammen Mathew, editor, Malayala Manorama arrival of cable and paper’s mission is to satellite service in reflect the country’s India over the past diversity. nine years triggered explosive growth in televiAnita Pratap, former CNN bureau chief in sion. “The greatest growth has taken place in New Delhi, said the media should avoid non-English (programming),” she said. stereotypes and the “day-to-day grind” to The English press and the language press report the issues facing India. need each other, Gupta said. “Most people in She said India is more than a land of small towns and villages converse in their own poverty with cows roaming the streets. For languages. So they understand the media in example, she said, the media “have been their languages.” If they are to understand an ignoring a story that India has a huge middle issue, it must be reported in the local lanclass” estimated at 250 million to 300 million. guage. If government needs to know about the Also ripe for coverage, she said, is the eco- local issues, the story must be published in nomic and cultural diversity of India. But “you English. “So unless you combine the two you have to make it interesting” if you want your never make impact,” he said.

“The greatest challenge for Indian newspapers [will be] linguistic colonialism.”

Ownership of India’s media, a hot-button topic, may be rendered moot by the Internet’s inroads
NEW DELHI — Journalism in India started with a big lie in bold type, a publisher from a longtime Indian newspaper family said. The first newspaper in India was the Bengal Gazette, founded in Calcutta in 1817 by the British East India Company. The weekly commercial newspaper boasted that it was “open to all parties and influenced by none.” “That was the biggest lie,” said Mammem Mathew, fourth-generation publisher of the 111-year-old Malayala Manorama, a Malayam-language newspaper. The British occupied India for 300 years before the South Asian nation achieved independence in 1947. Mathew said it wasn’t until 1919 when Mohandas Gandhi, the father of India, was a newspaper editor that Indian journalism began to come into its own. Today, media ownership in India remains controversial and the role of the media unclear. For N. Ravi, editor of The Hindu, the type of ownership doesn’t matter so long as the media are “in Indian hands, not foreign hands.” For Justice P.B. Sawant, chairman of the Press Council of India, the independence of newspapers would be assured if they were employee-owned and not beholden to a publisher’s agenda, which often includes business interests outside the newspaper. “Freedom of the press is not the freedom of owners. It is the freedom of the people to be informed,” he said. For Mathew, publisher of India’s largestcirculation newspaper, there is room for employee-owned newspapers, but he said such cooperatives should not replace private ownership. “That is a resounding no.” The discussion on ownership was less passionate for Suman Dubey, Dow Jones & Co. corporate representative in India. He said issues of ownership would be less important in five years because media choices, including Internet news, will be increasing. To illustrate his point, he said, “Nobody talks about the ownership of radio.” Dubey also said India “is too big and too diverse for any one owner to control a segment of the media.” Ravi said he favors Indian-only ownership

Clockwise, from top left: N. Ravi, editor of The Hindu; Justice P Sawant of the Press Council of India; .B. and Mammem Mathew, publisher of the Malayalam-language Malayala Manorama newspaper.

for political reasons. “The media are part of the political system and part of the democratic fabric of the nation,” he said. Ravi’s newspaper, The Hindu, is an English-language daily owned by the Hindi Group. Most Hindi newspapers openly espouse Hinduism, which is practiced by 82% of the Indian population. Ravi also said no other restrictions should be put on ownership. He said the state should not encourage one type of ownership over another. Sawant created controversy earlier this year when he said private ownership impedes press freedom. According to Sawant, private owners often have other business interests, which may tempt them to alter the news. “They may suppress certain information or give some facts wrong” in order to further other business interests, he told the forum. “Therefore, it is necessary that we must have diverse structures of ownership.” Sawant suggested a cooperative owner-

ship structure as an alternative. As press council chairman, the former judge runs a government-supported organization that investigates complaints about the press. But the council has no enforcement powers and its decisions often go unreported in the media. Mathew, his opponent in the debate over ownership, is a member of the press council and also president of the Indian Newspaper Society, an organization of newspaper owners. As for the role of the media, Mathew quoted the journalism philosophy of Gandhi, who started two newspapers in 1919. Mathew said Gandhi followed three tenets of journalism: s Understanding and voicing popular feelings. s Arousing desirable sentiments in people. s Fearlessly exposing wrongdoing. “The role of the media has not changed from what Gandhi enunciated,” Mathew said. It was Gandhi and other early editors “who set the trend for Indian journalism that holds for our country today.”

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In Bombay and other cities, readers can choose from a variety of newspapers and magazines. Newspapers are published in dozens of languages and dialects.

Journalists see religion, new media, lax ethics as threats; readers say the enemy is within
BOMBAY — Four prominent journalists offered a daunting list of challenges the nation’s media face in the next century, and then heard a vocal audience fan the flames with an intimidating list of its own. Anil Dharker, a columnist for The Times of India, said a strong movement toward a dominant national religion threatens freedoms in the country, including freedom of the press. India is 82% Hindu and has a large Hindu press, published in English and Hindi. Many Hindi newspapers espouse nationalism and promote Hinduism as the national religion. Yet Dharker remained confident that most newspapers would continue to support secularism, which has been followed in India since its independence from Britain in 1947. Nirmam Shah, editor of the Gujarati-language Gujarat Samachar, described a concern echoed by newspaper editors the world over: With so many sources of news today, including cable and satellite television and the Internet, how do you customize the news so that consumers will buy your newspaper? The editor of Femina, India’s largest-circulation women’s magazine, said threats to the standards of journalism and the ethics of newcomers to the field were the biggest worries about the next century. Sathya Saran said new journalists must be objective and not beholden to their personal identities, which can be multifaceted in a country with the vast religious, cultural, linguistic and economic diversity of India. There are more than 100 languages and dialects spoken in India and newspapers are published in dozens of them. When moderator Bernard Kalb of CNN asked journalists at the forum if they fear that religious passion will get in the way of objective reporting, they said yes. Aroon Tikekar, editor of the nation’s largest Marathi-language newspaper, Lokasatta, said he fears that many regional-language newspapers will close soon after the turn of the century. He said the spectacular growth of the so-called “language newspapers” since independence was considered a healthy sign of democracy. But many of those newspapers were started for non-journalistic reasons, such as to promote a political party. If they fail, many people will lose their jobs, he said. The list of challenges caused a former American editor to quip: “I’m glad I’m not editing a newspaper in India.” Peter S. Prichard, former editor of USA TODAY and the president of The Freedom Forum, said the diversity of languages and cultures is “fascinating, dazzling and bewildering to an outsider.” He said it would be difficult to have a single medium “that pulls people together.” Dharker added the growing availability and popularity of television to his list of concerns. He said there are 56 million TV sets in India, and television is becoming the dominant medium. He described Nirmam Shah, editor the programming of a “language” newsas almost totally paper, is concerned about losing readers to entertainment. Newspapers are other media. responding to TV’s challenge by running more entertainment information, he said, which bodes ill for serious news coverage and analysis. Members of the audience of about 100 had a somewhat different agenda for the media in the next century. When Kalb asked them to name the biggest unreported stories in India, they named government corruption and social issues, such as population growth. They also said the press focuses too much on celebrity journalism. Dharker conceded that the press might be out of touch in a developing country like India with a population of nearly 1 billion people,
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Students get grounding in basics of ethics, diversity
BOMBAY — The young women at Sophia Polytechnic taking a postgraduate communications course will begin their careers with something most journalists in Bombay don’t have — a journalism diploma. Although Bombay is a major media center, no school here offers a journalism degree. The diploma from Sophia Shree B.K. Somani Memorial Polytechnic, awarded after completion of a one-year course, is the closest thing, said Smruti Koppikar, a professor at the school. “Anybody over 25 has probably not been to journalism school,” said Koppikar, who is a graduate of the school and an assistant editor at Indian Express. And with the Sophia Polytechnic diploma comes a grounding in journalism ethics. The private, Catholic, all-female school run by nuns hosted a discussion on diversity and ethics at its campus. The Freedom Forum sponsored the session, attended by faculty and students. Koppikar, who led the discussion on behalf of the faculty, said ethics instruction extends throughout the course. Of the 40 students admitted every year, about five go into journalism. The rest take jobs in film, radio and television production, still photography, advertising or public relations. “Ethics, like perfection, is an ideal,” Koppikar said. “We ought to strive to achieve it.” Students learn that newspaper owners

“Ethics, like perfection, is an ideal. We ought to strive to achieve it.”
— Smruti Koppikar, assistant editor, Indian Express

Smruti Koppikar says students must be prepared for “a world that has no ethics.”

often have other business interests that affect how they run their newspapers. Koppikar cited as an example The Times of India, which has interests in cement and real estate. “Anything that affects [those] businesses affects The Times of India,” she said. Real estate prices, she said, could affect how many journalists the newspaper hires or
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Corruption in government often goes unreported, editor says
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half of whom are illiterate. But, he added, “Just because you happen to have, in this context, the disadvantage of education, I don’t think you are out of touch with reality.” Another audience member got agreement when she said government and industrial corruption was the most unreported story in India. “When you have a rotten economy, it forces a rotten democracy,” she said, implying that the press should help straighten things out. Corruption came up several times, with Dharker at one point saying that 95% of the corruption doesn’t get reported. He attributed the press’s dismal record partly to a lack of a work ethic. “We don’t rock the boat too easily,” he said. “You have icons and you don’t topple them.” But, he added, “that attitude is changing.” Tikekar said Dharker’s characterization was unfair to Indian journalists, especially to the “language press.” He said the judiciary and the police harass journalists to the point that “unless you have an exceptionally good

case, the editors won’t allow the story to run.” A man in the audience cited what he said was a U.N. conference report on population growth, which said India is growing at a rate of 65,000 people a day. Only one newspaper, Asian Age, reported what that figure implied for India, he said. At times, the Indian journalists lamented the press’s “obsession with politics, which is the bane of the Editor Aroon Tikekar says Columnist Anil Dharker says Indian press,” as Dharker harassment from police and the television, dominated by entertainment, is becoming said. The heavy emphasis on judiciary makes editors wary of the leading medium. political stories has been running some stories. decreasing, while business reporting is increasing. But a woman in the audience said the papers with too much stress on celebrities,” space once occupied by politics is giving way she said. Dharker said there are no easy answers. to entertainment, agreeing with a point made “The appeal of celebrity is extremely seductive.” earlier by Dharker. “There’s an element of trivialization that is happening in the English
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Educators explore individual role in journalism ethics
NEW DELHI— Journalists who watched people tear up a playing field foundations. recently to protest a cricket match between India and Pakistan faced s Not taking the word of the government at face value. Bali said there are “two kinds of ethics” — the observance of laws a difficult question, according to journalism professor W.A. Qazi of the and the guidance of public morality and social norms. Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC). The director of IIMC, J.S. Yadava, said journalism “as a profession The journalists dutifully reported the destruction. But, Qazi asked, should they have stopped the protesters from damaging the field where has come of age in India.” He said about 80 universities offer courses in journalism and mass the two countries, political archrivals, were scheduled to play? Are they communication. “Many [journalism stucitizens first or journalists first? dents] come perhaps for the glamour, In a discussion with 21 local jourquick success, influence and power the nalism educators, Qazi said freedom in profession seems to bestow,” Yadava said. India belongs to the individual, not to But, “prospective entrants to journalism the press as an institution. Individuals should have the aptitude of a social judge working in the press give the media and a personality that would not easily their freedom and are the focal point succumb to pressures and temptations.” for ethical decision-making. A former public information officer in Qazi’s view that ethics reside with India said the ethical values of the press the individual was shared by other have been diluted. I. Rammohan Rao, a speakers, though no one attempted to visiting faculty member at IIMC, blamed answer the question he posed. the decline on the Press Council of India, Yoginder Bali of the Center for which investigates complaints against Mass Media listed five cornerstones of the press but has no powers of enforceethics: s Being fair. ment. s Reflecting every viewpoint in every Rao said the council’s findings have story. little or no bearing on press behavior: s Not offending any ethnic sensibili“[The council] must be able to punish ties. the press. If you’re not punished for vioJournalism professor W.A. Qazi says it is individuals working in s Not reporting allegations without lating a law, you go on violating it.” the press who give the media their freedom.

Religious diversity is important issue for journalists
Continued from page 7

fires, or even whether the travel budget provides for adequate news coverage. “Students ought to know where newspapers are coming from,” she said. Koppikar also said she wants students to embrace ethics and be prepared for “a world that has no ethics.” When private businesses call news conferences to make announcements, she said, local journalists often leave them with a “packet” in hand containing 30,000 to 35,000 rupees (about $750 to $875). Sophia Polytechnic also tries to sensitize its students to coverage of diversity issues, which are part of the fabric of India. Koppikar said the Bombay media make no concerted effort to cover the city’s slums, which, according to Western guidebooks, house more than 9 million people, about 55% of the population. Another 4 million to 5 million people, it is estimated, live on the streets.
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As part of their course, the students are required to report stories from the slums. Religious diversity also is a big issue in India, with its majority Hindus and minority Muslims, Christians and others. Sameera Khan of The Times of India, a teacher at Sophia Polytechnic and a Muslim, recalled a time in her newsroom when a Muslim holiday was approaching and no other member of the news staff of 60-70 people realized it. Koppikar lamented what she said was inaccurate coverage of tribal people in rural India being “reconverted to Hinduism” from Christianity after complaints and violence by Hindu extremists. She said the tribal people were not Hindu to begin with so they could not be reconverted to Hinduism, as both the national and international media have been reporting. She said she has pointed out the error to local editors, but the inaccuracy persists.

Editor and teacher Sameera Khan says there is too little awareness of religious diversity among Indians.

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