Pune: Coming down hard on the Indian media, senior journalist Kumar Ketkar said that media has lost its credibility to a level where one can trust a politician but not the media. Ketkar, who has also recently been elected to the Rajya Sabha as a Member of Parliament by the Congress, was speaking at the 8th Vyankatesh Chapalgaonkar Memorial lecture organised by the Pune Union of Working Journalists.
In accordance to the topic, ‘Today’s Media and Politics’, Ketkar took a swipe at the development of media from the earliest days of the rise of the print media in Europe to the recent developments of a fractured media sphere with the rise of self-publishing and social media.
“You can see that there is a debate on whether a journalist can be involved in politics. But if we look at the history of journalism, it has always been a kind of politics itself,” Ketkar said, adding, “If you are a good journalist, you are indulging in politics, it just does not have a partisan form.”
Ketkar said that the current government is trying to dominate the media through monetary and ideological coercion. “The media of today is not free at all. We are used to saying that the media is free, but the media censors the news of Jasodaben, the estranged wife of Prime Minister Modi, when she stands at Azad Maidan for two hours asking for justice,” Ketkar alleged and added, “The government exercises control over the hapless financially dependent media through crores worth of public advertisement revenue.”
“There used to be a time when the debate used to be centred around the policy and ideology because then the opposition to one political thought used to be another ideology or political front. They went to the people themselves and the media would just discuss the policies initiated by those in politics,” Ketkar explained and further added, “Since the media took the centre stage, it has taken the space of the opposition and has assumed unprecedented importance. Politicians have stopped going to the people and come to the media instead.”
Ketkar also took digs at the contrasting approach of the media about its fawning approach to Prime Minister Modi. Ketkar said, “None of the great leaders of the Congress were great orators and yet they led the nation efficiently. Rahul Gandhi does not have to be an orator to defeat Modi,” adding, “The media fawns over the aggressive, efficient image of Narendra Modi, but is not okay with the same qualities of Indira Gandhi.”
The memorial lecture, which is being organised for the 8th consecutive year, is organised in the memory of Vyankatesh Chapalgaonkar, a journalist with ABP Maza, a Marathi news channel.