Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sh. Manish Tewari on the occasion of National Press Day

16-11-2013 पर प्रकाशित
{Courtesy:INBMINISTRY}//YouTube       Text of the speech 
Delivered by Sh. Manish Tewari on the occasion of National Press Day:-
Honourable, Vice President of India Hamid Ansari Sahib, Chairperson of the Press Council of India Justice Katju Secretary I&B Sh. Bimal Julka Ladies and Gentleman.

Allow me to commence by congratulating the Media fraternity on this auspicious occasion. The National Press Day always provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the state & the role of Media in the current milieu.

In the last two decades the media landscape has undergone an exponential transformation. This epochal change has been facilitated by the emergence of the World Wide Web. Starting life in the Defense Advanced Projects Laboratory of the Pentagon it has truly revolutionized the way we live and conduct our interactions.

As I have stated on numerous earlier occasions:

a) The internet is the largest experiment involving anarchy in history-and it has succeeded. (The last four words are mine).

b) It represents the largest ungoverned space on planet earth.

c) Never before in history have so many people from so many places had so much power on their finger tips.

d) Every two days more digital content is created than from the dawn of civilization until 2003.

e) What is evolving is a tale of two civilizations; one physical that has evolved over the millennia and one virtual that is still very much in formation.

f) The New Media rides on the back of this World Wide Web.

What still has not been analyzed in depth and detail is-how this democratization of news creation, aggregation & dissemination a bottoms up process -- sans editorialization is impacting both print & broadcasting newsrooms in addition to transforming the contours of the media space.

There are some other pertinent questions that the first generation of the digital age should address with some measure of dispatch to ensure that the process of defining agreed global rules of engagement commences in right earnest in the virtual civilization, for example -at what point does a personal "tweet" essentially a digital freedom of expression -- turn into a "mass broadcast" -- a telecommunications business, in effect one that has to be held to certain standards of accountability?

Allow me to turn to the other hard question of our times and the subject of our deliberations today, i.e. media and public interest.

Public interest has but myriad subjective connotations. It can and may mean various things to various people but what public interest certainly cannot mean is the promotion propagation and proclamation of private Interest in any area of human endeavor.

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha in 1974, Late Sh. R.K. Mishra an eminent journalist himself, made an incisive though a very blunt and some may term even a provocative observation about the Media and Private interest. An articulation that raises hackles in certain very influential quarters in our country whenever it is reiterated. He stated and with your permission quote;

" Now where is the freedom of the Press? What do we have? In India we have the freedom of the newspaper owner; In India we have the freedom of the newspaper proprietor and in some cases the delegated freedom which is enjoyed by the newspaper managers ......and the working journalists will continue to be paid employees doing whatever the newspaper proprietor wants him to do."

Pungent but Profound words that have proven to be almost prophetic in their import. Though obviously this adage does not have universal application even in the Indian context but a few would seriously contest that selectively it is a non- sequitur. Rather than react with the usual display of indignation perhaps the media industry would be better served if stake holders were to calmly and dispassionately consider evolving the means and measures of putting Chinese walls cast in concrete between commercial considerations and editorial autonomy. Recently in influential publications very eminent editors have voluntarily relinquished their managerial responsibilities. This is indeed laudable and an example that inspires emulation by one and all.

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