Are the media misleading the masses?

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Kolkata, Nov 23 (UNI) Opinions are liable to be divided, when the mankind's quest for a plausible conclusion meets a commotion of views affirming and negating a notion that masses are misled by the media.

Such an ebullient session of debate was witnessed by the city yesterday at the Calcutta Club, with eminent personalities, journalists and intelligentsia marking their presence as the speakers on the occasion, which was moderated by British Deputy High Commissioner Simon Wilson.

While litterateur Shobha De, neurosurgeon Sandip Chattopadhyay, Tata Sons Director R Gopalakrishnan and columnist Swapan Dasgupta subscribed the notion during the programme, journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, historians Mukul Kesavan and Ramchandra Guha went against the motion.

''The media tells the story. It could titillate you one day and infuriate the next day. You cannot shoot the messenger because you do not like the story,'' CNN-IBN Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai said.

Mr Sardesai felt that idealism still resided in the hearts of journalists and creditability was the keyword for the profession.

Admitting that the media did not deliberately mislead the masses, Mr Gopalkrishnan said, ''The media misleads because there is an embedded conflict of interest and it does not know how to deal with it.'' Neurosurgeon Sandip Chattopadhyay ruled out the notion of an all-knowing media which could talk about any topic under the sun.

''After all, the brain has limited hard disk capacity,'' he observed.

On the other hand, columnist Swapan Dasgupta felt that the word ''sorry'' was absent from the lexicon of media. He also likened the present day practices in journalism to ''cultivation'' owing to the frequent harvest of ''reliable sources''.

Shobha De said there was degeneration of media since news itself was on sale, adding it was ''commerce'' that had replaced the ''commitment'' of the journalists.

UNI SB ADG PD KP1908

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