Prannoy blasts ‘ghastly tsunami’ of tabloid journalism

Friday, 1 May 2015

·         NDTV Co-founder says credibility of TV news channels is at stake
·         Equals eye-ball chasers to ambulance chasers
·         Calls for stricter anti-defamation laws and speedy legal process
·         Receives Life Time Achievement Award @ Press Club-Mumbai’s national media awards

MUMBAI, May 1, 2015: Blasting the trend of ‘tabloidisation’ of Indian news channels, veteran anchor and NDTV co-founder Dr Prannoy Roy has called for stricter anti-defamation laws.
Prannoy Roy receiving the Press Club Mumbai
Lifetime Achievement Award from Railway Minister
Suresh Prabhu. Star TV CEO Uday Shankar looks on. Pic from NDTV.Com
Referring to the increasing levels of sensationaliation of news among English and even Indian language TV news channels, Dr Roy cautioned that the ‘ghastly tsunami’ of tabloid journalism will spell death knell for the electronic medium and as it impacts credibility of news reporting.
He was speaking at The Press Club-Mumbai’s national media awards event last night acknowledging the Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed on him.
Dr Roy stunned the audience when he cited the example of a woman news anchor of a Hindi channel who annolunced: ‘break ke baad, rape story’.

Interestingly, Dr Roy’s critical comments come close on the heels of Prasar Bharati Chairman A Surya Prakash’s statement at a Public Relations Council of India (PRCI) event at New Delhi where the latter expressed concern at inadequate self-regulatory mechanism among media houses and their race for TRPs. Mr Prakash suggested that the Press Council must be empowered with strong legal provisions to deal with all media, including TV news channels.
Dr Roy went a step ahead and said there should be stricter anti-defamation laws than what they are today.  But he hastened to add that this aspect should be dealt by legal machinery and judiciary. The government should have no role at all, he emphasized.

“Indian media thrives on punishment-free environment,” the veteran news anchor said and opined that journalists are getting slack. It will be tough to recover once they lose credibility and the recent political developments amply demonstrated this, he said.
He felt that the current legal framework is inadequate to deal with defamation cases which keep piling up and prosecution taking years and years.
Pointing out that the news channels are adopting the tabloid culture apparently to capture eyeballs, he equaled eye-ball chasers to ambulance chasers – a term used for lawyers who seek business at accident spots and hospitals.
Continuously harping on tabloidisation of TV journalism, Dr Roy felt that the advertisers are also equally to blame for encouraging sensationalism. Advertising planners must build an element of ‘quality-with-credibility’ in their spends while they too chase eyeballs to capture the viewers’ attention, he said.
In this context, he pointed out that NDTV does not practice tabloid journalism and that the channel won the coveted Most Trusted Media House award for the second year in succession.
He cautioned the young journalists against getting “too close to the sources”. This could also impact credibility as there is a danger of the news story emanating from such ‘sources’ getting coloured.
Dr Roy strongly batted for Net Neutrality, but said the culture of “unrestricted anonymity” of posting on social media is a big threat to the society. Promoters of social media sites should build in a technology structure to raise alarms when the anonymous people post comments that could hurt religious or cast sentiments of the people that could lead to violence and communal disturbances.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who was the chief guest at the event, suggested that media houses should work on ‘Making News’ while chasing ‘Breaking News’. A lot of positive news left uncovered in this new trend, he said.
The union government, he said, is committed to freedom of press and that at no stage does it want to suppress dissent. In a vibrant democracy like India, media has to be anti-establishment to ensure proper checks and balances, he said.
The showstopper of sorts for the evening was interesting panel discussion – “Celebrating the Voice of Dissent- participated by senior journalists Shekhar Gupta, former Editor-in-Chief of the Indian Express and Srineevasan Jain of NDTV and Krishna Prasad, Editor-in-Chief of Outlook. The discussion was moderated by Sachin Kalbaug, the Editor of Mid-Day.
The media professionals expressed concern at some politicians turning ‘mini dictators’ and trying to threaten the freedom of speech.
During the awards event, Dr Roy was felicitated with the Life Time Achievement Award by the Railway Minister, along with CEO of Star TV Uday Shankar and Mumbai Press Club President Prakash Akolkar.
Dr Roy was chosen for the award for the yeomen service that he had done for TV journalism – and he was selected from a shortlist of senior editors by a survey among 200 journalists all over India, and a final unanimous consideration by the Managing Committee of the Mumbai Press Club. The previous recipients of Lifetime Achievement award were late Vinod Mehta, Kuldip Nayar, N Ram, and Mrinal Pande.
The RedInk awards – into its fifth edition - was held at the Jamshed Bhabha Auditorium of the National Centre for Performing Awards at Nariman Point here, which among others was attended by crème da la crème of Indian journalism. Top media practitioners across the country were present at the glittering event, which this time around was themed ‘Celebration of Dissent’.
The evening started with two-minute silence to mourn the death of thousands of people in a devastating earthquake in Nepal and parts of India including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
“The journey of the RedInk awards in the last five years has been thrilling. We started with two categories and today we have close to a dozen categories. It has grown in size and has been appreciated across the country. This year, we have received 800 plus entries and that speaks for itself,” Press Club Chairman Gurbir Singh said.
The RedInk Award for Journalist of the Year, instituted for the first time, has gone to Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV for his consistent investigative work  epitomized in his series ‘Truth versus Hype’ and other programmes. Similarly, Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief of Times Now, was selected as the Impact Editor of the Year for his ability to capture eyeballs and expand audience reach with his ‘News Hour’ show. was be awarded the ‘Best News Start-Up of the Year’ for scaling up its influence rapidly as an alternative source of news and features.
Besides, nearly 20 journalists were given awards for their best stories in print and TV – which was judged by an elite panel of judges for categories including Business, Crime, Environment, Health & Wellness, Human Rights, Lifestyle & Entertainment, Politics, Science and Innovation, Sports and The Big Picture.
Star India is the Presenting Partner for Mumbai Press Club Redink Awards for Excellence in Journalism 2015. The awards partners are Aditya Birla Group, Indiabulls Housing, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Zee Entertainment, Eros International, Seven Hills Hospitals, Lunkad Investments and JSW Steel.
Winners of Mumbai Press Club Redink Awards 2015 are:
Print                Mr Dinesh Narayanan, The Caravan Magazine
Television        Mr Dibang,ABP News          
Print                Ms Leena Reghunath, The Caravan Magazine           & Mr Vinod Kumar Menon, Mid Day          
Television        Mr Tarun Nangia & Mr Dipu Rai,Zee Business        
Print                Mr Sharad Vyas, Mid Day    
Television        Mr Umesh Kumavat, ABP News & Mr Rajat Singh, Aaj Tak          
Print                Mr Johnson Poovanthuruth, Deepika & Ms Nikita Saxena,  Caravan           
Television        Ms Vrushali Purandare, TV -9           
Print                Mr Salil Tripati, The Caravan Magazine        
Television        Mr Shams Tahir Khan, Aaj Tak         
Print                Mr Tanul Thakur, The Big Indian Picture      
Television        Mr Jujhar Singh, NewX         
Print                Mr Dinesh Narayanan, The Caravan Magazine
Television        Mr Jitendra Dixit, ABP News           
Print                Mr Shamsheer Yousaf,           Fountain Ink Magazine          
Print                Mr Rahul Bhatia, The Caravan Magazine      
Television        Ms Suprita Das, NDTV         
Winner                        Mr Hari Adivarekar, Yahoo Originals
Runner-up       Mr Hemant R Padalkar, DNA           
IMPACT EDITOR OF THE YEAR  : Mr Arnab Goswami  Times Now     
NEWS START-UP OF THE YEAR :                     
JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR : Mr Sreenivasan Jain, NDTV       


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