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Media leaders caution against unrestrained use of sting operations

Written by: Staff
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Indore, Mar 29 (UNI) Recognising sting operation as a tool for journalists for exposing the wrong-doings in society, prominent media leaders, however, cautioned against its ''liberal and unrestrained application'' and suggested that the media should devise a self-regulatory mechanism to prevent its misuse.

The broad consensus that emerged at the seminar was that the objective of sting operations should be well-defined and that the people who carry out such operations should have some credibility.

''In India there is an urgent need for bringing in a regulatory mechanism and providing more teeth and nails to the Press Council of India (PCI) to prevent the misuse of sting operations carried out by journalists,'' said Mr Rajiv Shukla, MP and journalist.

He was participating in a day-long seminar on ''Sting Operations - Right or Wrong'', organised by the Dainik Bhaskar Group as part of the five-day Bhaskar Utsav that began here today.

Arguing that only big and reputed media houses should be allowed to carry out such operations, Mr Shukla said strengthening of the PCI was imperative for the larger interest of the journalistic profession.

Star News Director (News) Uday Shankar said the sting operations carried out by his channel and competitors were justified as these were targeted to address the larger issue of corruption.

''Journalists and media houses in the country have touched upon every facet of the society but politicians and judiciary have carved out a defence mechanism to prevent the exposure of wrong practices carried out in their backyard. Hence we carried out the sting operation exposing the misuse of MPLADS funds,'' he said.

Mr Shankar also referred to the regulation that had been framed by the British government for carrying out such operations, and ''we, as an organisation, followed the same.'' Senior columnist Swapan Dasgupta said the primary role of media was to inform the people at large as it was an influential body between the powers and the masses.

''I personally believe that sting operation is a grey area between influence and informing,'' he said.

Senior journalist Ayaz Memon, who is on the editorial board of Daily News Analysis (DNA), said credibility and objective of the journalist who is carrying out a sting operation are very important.

Citing the example of the cricket match-fixing expose by former cricketer Manoj Prabhakar, he said Manoj himself was not clear of the controversy. Still he carried out such an operation but it would not justify the objective of the expose, he added.

UNI/SKS HS RS2046

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