NEW DELHI: It is time for the conventional media to "stand up and strike back", Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today, noting there was space for it to serve objective rather than "agenda-setting news" by television channels.
Jaitley urged the drivers of conventional media to give to the readers and viewers something which may be conventional but "fresh".
"So while we all respect the trends that media follows, I am one of those conventional readers or viewers who feels that there's a huge space which is lacking for the return of the conventional media. I would like to see the Indian version of BBC, objective rather than agenda-setting news.
"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," Jaitley said.
Jaitley, who also holds the Information and Broadcasting portfolio, was speaking at a function here where the International Press Institute (IPI) India Award For Excellence in Journalism was conferred on M Shajil Kumar of Malayala Manorama for his outstanding work on "endangered tribal communities".
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 that selected Kumar's exclusive report for the prestigious award, said 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. The courts cannot be influenced by who speaks louder," he said.
Print media is having to live with a redefined news "as to what happens behind the scene", Jaitley said, observing that the conventional definition of news "no longer holds true".
Jaitley said it is an "interesting" phase with the way media is evolving and lauded Indian media's role in "not only keeping us as a robust democracy but a very noisy democracy also".
"It has freedoms, it keeps us informed, comments, slaps us on the knuckles. It also sets the agenda of what will happen in the Parliament tomorrow because a lot of us in the institutions do get influenced by the reports and take due cognizance of them," he said.
Jaitley observed that conventional definition of news "no longer holds true" and that what makes news is "predominantly what is captured in the camera".
"If it's not captured in the camera then it acquires a relatively secondary importance. As a result print media also now is having to live with a redefined news as to what happens behind the scene," he said.
Rathore said due to the media's competetive nature, at some stage news becomes a "commercial item" which he described as scary.
He also touched upon the attack on scribes at Patiala House Court. "I feel that it is not just limited to India that our ability to accept another version is reducing. Within homes, outside, on the roads or anywhere else and I see that across borders in other countries as well. This is scary."
Justice Anand said that when the media sacrifices truth, "objectivity is lost". When that happens the reader does not know which part to beleive and that leads to many controversies which are totally uncalled for, he said.