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Premium member Presentation Transcript “Media and Asian Democracy”The Indian Experience: “Media and Asian Democracy” The Indian Experience Presentation by Rajendra Prabhu National Union of Journalists (India) Slide2: “If only we had not imposed Press censorship we would not have lost the election” This is what H.K.L.Bhagat, a Congress Minister in Indira Gandhi’s government in the 70s told some of us after the bitter defeat his party suffered at the end of the 19months of Emergency in India. The defeat is not so much a tribute to the Indian Press but a reflection of the Indian complexity. As Nobel winner V.S.Naipaul wrote in “India: a million mutinies now”: “The liberation of spirit that has come to India could not come as a release alone. In India with its layer below layer of distress and cruelty, it had to come as a disturbance. It had to come as rage and revolt. India was now a country of a million little mutinies”. Slide3: Where Governments derive their mandate from the people, political parties need the Press, the Media to make any sense out of this “rage and revolt of a million little mutinies”. Multi-channel TV came to India only 15 years ago. It has shifted the focus from the rage and revolt of the masses to creating a feel good miasma. Till then the Print Media did reflect mass demand though not with the same force as a visual media could do. Nevertheless, Print Media played a key role in the removal of many individual politicians and of governments. In 1974, 1977, 1989 those who were in power lost partly due to Print media exposure of their perceived wrong doings.: In 1974, 1977, 1989 those who were in power lost partly due to Print media exposure of their perceived wrong doings. Slide5: Journalists and other newspaper/newsagency employees unions played a key role in protecting Print Media’s independence, credibility and people centredness. Unions led the struggle against Bihar Press Bill, against Censorship, against Central bill to curb Press freedom in the name of preventing defamation. Owners’ bodies came at the back only. Recently the Unions were vehement in denouncing arrest of editors in Tamil Nadu, attacks on Press by anti-social elements etc. Slide6: Now that strength of the journalists unions is at risk. Reason one: Visual Media is giving tough competition to the Print Media. Reason two: Print Media with some exceptions is downplaying hard news and becoming ad centered. Reason three: Journalists forced to agree to contract jobs and distance from unions. Reason four: Editors have become dispensable; Marketing managers dictate what should appear.Slide7: Creeping trivialization in competition with TV new channels’ sound byte journalism is immunizing readers against need to understand issues in depth. Competitive journalism is forcing harassed reporters to throw away journalistic ethics. Competitive falsehood is taking over. Slide8: The rage and revolt people are failing to integrate. Their frustration in rapidly rising unemployment, digital divide, corruption, is projecting into politics. In many states of the Indian Republic and the Centre fragmented mandates have become the rule. Even where parties receive huge mandates, governance is becoming frustrating affair. The Media is ignoring its own contribution to this. Journalists Unions are fighting a rareguard battle against contractual journalism that deliberately sets one journalist against another, destroying unity and sacrifice needed for struggle. What have we done?: What have we done? Uniting journalists/non-journalists unions under a confederation inaugurated last April. Joint struggle for unified wage revision. Joint campaign against cross-media monopoly. NUJ(I) has held seminars, workshops with various organizations for raising public awareness on the dangers of trivialization of news and downgrading of journalists within Media organizations. What do we need?: What do we need? National and International solidarity against commodification and trivialization of news. Asian Governments are sensitive to western reactions to human rights, Media freedom, treatment of journalists Understanding how technology is aiding Media owners to frustrate strikes and how unions can use the same technology against Media owners. More Asian and regional meets to raise an outcry against deviation from the true purpose of Media in the service of people. We need to build capabilities to create little mutinies by millions in the Media. You do not have the permission to view this presentation. In order to view it, please contact the author of the presentation.