Friday, 3 June 2011

On Media Education

The editorial page of The Hindu carried a rather mild sermon to the media by a Judge of the Supreme Court of India, Markandey Kutja, titled 'Freedom of the press and journalistic ethics'. Of the few pointers that he suggests for Media to responsibly make use of its freedom, the one that made most sense of it was when he speaks of television. Having spent nearly two weeks at home, I can rightly say that most often whenever the TV was on, it was to watch, something for entertainment alone. In this context, speaking from one perspective, the question posed by the Judge makes much sense:
Is it not a cruel irony and an affront to our people that so much time and resources are spent on such things (film stars, pop music, disco-dancing and fashion parades, astrology or cricket)? What have the Indian masses, who are facing terrible economic problems, to do with such things?

On the other hand, one might argue that there are channels dedicated to these issues too. But who really views them? The entertainment channels are so 'spicy' and enticing that the 'reality' of life (again, those construed 'reality-shows' are a real sham and shame!) as lived out by a common person is totally shunned. With it, issues that rational and humane persons that we are need to deal with, get sidelined or muddled up. Perhaps what is most needed as of today is not merely a 'sanction' or curb on media but a media education to every person. A sort of basic tools and skills which will help one to sift through the plethora of media offering news, views and insights... to arrive at the truth. There isn't a dearth of media possibilities, so is there a code of ethics for media (though very flimsy and vague) but what can really bring about a difference is when more and more people learn to seek the right information, for the best purpose of human welfare and are able to utilise available media to build communion.

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