VP presents Udayan awards, regrets crisis of content in media

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New Delhi, Jul 11 (UNI) Mr Sikander Parikh of Rajasthan Patrika and Mr Arun Sridhar of Malayala Manorama were conferred upon the Udayan Smriti Patrakarita samman 2007 by Vice President Mohd Hamid Ansari at a function here today.

While Parikh, the Patrika's Raipur correspondent recieved the award for print journalism, Sridhar based in Kerala was the given the honour for photo journalism.

Addressing the gathering, the Vice President said that the Indian media today was facing a crisis of content.

''The phenomenon of convergence between news media, entertainment and telecom has meant that the demarcation between professional journalistic output, public relations, advertising and entertainment was fast blurring,'' he said and stressed that in a democracy vibrant journalism could act as a watchdog. It could monitor the exercise of power in the state and stand for the rights and freedoms of citizens, he added.

He said today questions were being raised whether journalists understood these demarcations and respect them or were willing to sacrifice them for commercial gain and monetary profit. The public perception today was that the ethical underpinning of professional journalism has weakened, he regretted.

He said according to IRS 2007 data, media audience has increased in the last four years by 86 million individuals to touch 555 million. Higher growth in literacy rates, smaller household sizes, rapid urbanisation and increased working population has aided this trend. While the bulk of the media audience was accounted for by television, print media too has seen resurgence in the last few years, he said.

Stating that the pace of explosive growth in the economy and the media has presented new challenges, Dr Ansari said these relate both to the external environment in which the media operates and internally, in what appears to be a subversive streak.

''This crisis of content has manifested itself prominently in the case of the television news media. At the broad level, one finds entertainment, especially films and reality show entertainment, increasingly edging itself into news media. The pressure of TRP ratings meant that astrology, superstition, crime and sleaze have prevailed and the broad trend towards tabloidisation continues,'' he pointed out.

He however expressed happiness that print media has attempted to balance commercial concerns with the issues agitating its readership. ''The media is a part of the larger society that it reports to and reports about. The corrosion of public values in our country also has its impact on journalism,'' he said.

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