SHIMOGA: Media was never hated like this before, but now after politics media is the most hated one. Nobody questioned the credibility of media earlier, but in the past one year, a lot of questions have been raised against media and journalists, said Prabhu Chawla, Editorial Director of The New Indian Express.
Delivering a lecture on ‘Media - Is self-censorship required?’ at Rotary District Conference held here on Sunday, Chawla asked was there a need for self-censorship for media, and said instead people should think of personal censorship.
He said, “You are asking the fourth pillar of democracy to have censorship. When you ask for media censorship, I am afraid of being a journalist. Am I responsible for the situation around us?” But it was media’s responsibility to inform the people about it, he said.
Recalling the time when former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi tried to introduce media censorship through a Bill, Chawla said everybody in the media, including late Ramnath Goenka, opposed the move and it protected the freedom of media.
Citing examples of media exposing big names like Suresh Kalmadi, A Raja and B S Yeddyurappa, he said media was fighting against corruption, and it was responsible for exposing them. “Should it be censored?,” he asked.
Chawla said exposing corrupt politicians was in the interest of the public and in the interest of journalism. A professional journalist should report what he saw without giving any colour to it, he added.
“We (media) know our limits. If people demand media censorship, then it is wrong. Is exposing corruption wrong?,” he asked.
He said competitive journalism prevailed in the country now. “The print media has never broken the principle of privacy, which is supreme. You trust us. We do what you think,” he asserted.
The question of censorship cropped up now because of the conflict between “views and news”. “But we report what we see. As we are all responsible, we don’t need censorship,” he said.
Media had got freedom to criticise even the President and the PM, Chawla said, and added that it was in the interest of the people, and in the interest of journalism.
“Whatever a celebrity says on TV will have an impact. So I am accountable to people. Then why should media be censored?,” he asked. Who owned media houses became important with the question of FDI entry into the field. “By and large, people are the owners of media. You have better control over censorship. If you don’t buy a newspaper, or watch a TV programme, it means it is being censored. Media is becoming a threat to those who want to protect themselves legally or illegally,” he said. “People should also be aware of the malign campaign against media in order to protect the democracy,” he added.