NDTV India (CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images) 
Snapshot
  • While no professional will think of defending his professional misconduct using the shield of his vocation, some journalists continue to live in a grand delusion.

    Any penalty or a punishment for wrongdoers and offenders, in fact, conveys the society’s commitment to the sanctity and nobility of a system.

The collective brouhaha over a news channel being asked to go off the air for one day (now held in abeyance) is amazing.

It is not the first time that NDTV (and, maybe, some other channels) have come under the scanner for objectionable coverage of terror attacks. It invited criticism for its coverage of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks too, when the channel, despite knowing that terrorists were in contact with their handlers in Pakistan, was giving out precise locations of where people "might have been holed up".

Prior to that, an NDTV anchor had threatened legal action against a blogger when he had pointed out that the anchor might have given away the location of Indian troops during the Kargil war.

As pointed out by journalist Kanchan Gupta, news channels world over have a practice of broadcasting the coverage of terror attacks by a considerable delay of time. It is difficult to believe that editors at NDTV did not know about the prevalence of such practice, much so when the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry has incorporated this change in its amended rules of broadcast. Neither is it fathomable that the "eminences" at NDTV, capable of stupendous mind reading and stunning psychoanalysis, wouldn't know the consequences of a live broadcast with their reporter giving out location of the ammunition dump at the Pathankot air base.

So it came as no surprise when an inter-ministerial committee of the I&B Ministry recommended taking NDTV India off air for one day.

However, in attempts to browbeat the incumbent government, a shrill cry emanated from a section of the media. What is clearly a case of repeated violations of broadcasting code by one news channel was being portrayed as an attack on the entire press.

The conflation of an individual or an organisation with the wider term “media” is easy for these sections because of the clout they wield. In reality, however, it is as farcical as equating the idea of justice with a judge or law firm or the tenets of religion with a priest promising intercession on behalf of God.

While no professional will think of defending his professional misconduct using the shield of his vocation, journalists continue to live in a grand delusion.

In our age and times, it doesn't need a Plato to expound the distinction between ideas and entities. Media, like justice, is both an institution and an idea. Just as it is a physical and tangible system so also it embodies certain ideals. These ideals cannot be upheld if we continue to ignore the wrongs of people manning these systems. Any penalty or punishment for wrongdoers and offenders, in fact, only conveys our commitment to the sanctity and nobility of these systems.

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