‘The Editor Is Dead!’
RENOWNED JOURNALIST SASHI KUMAR SPEAKS ON ‘CHALLENGES OF ETHICAL JOURNALISM IN CONTEMPORARY CONTEXT’
Renowned journalist Mr Sashi Kumar gave the annual Vakkom Moulavi Memorial Lecture on Oct. 31, 2016, at the VMFT Hall to a large crowd from all walks of life.
He categorically said that the once all-powerful, soul of a news organisation, the editor, is dead at the expense of unethical journalism practices prevalent now. Sashi Kumar, who is the chairman of Asian College of Journalism and Media Development Foundation, Chennai, also lamented the deplorable state of journalism, evident with practices like ‘paid news’.
Speaking on the topic ‘Challenges of ethical journalism in contemporary context’, Sashi Kumar, who was the brain behind India’s first private satellite channel, Asianet, warned against the collusion between media houses at the expenses of ethics of journalism.
Underlining that in a democracy, free press is essential as it has an adversarial role to play, Sashi Kumar said the priority of good journalism must be public interest. ‘Public interest should be up there on top of every journalist’s list of priorities,’ he said.
He also came down heavily on the under-the-table understanding between media houses. “It is evident that there is a collusion between media houses, which is affecting the ethics of journalism. Instead of making differences in the lives of people, journalism has been trivialised with breaking news, most of which refuse to break,” he said. It was high time journalists thought about fact-checking, he said.
The defining character of journalism was public interest and we should observe high vigil against compromising public interest for the sake of profit, reminded Sashi Kumar.
While commending on the unique role Vakkom Moulavi played as the owner of the historic newspaper, Swadeshabhimani’, Sashi Kumar said now media houses are owned by corporate houses with vested, business interests. He also said warned against the ‘new faces of businessmen’ who own media houses because they surely have some axe to grind keeping journalism as a shield.
The VMFT Hall was packed with people from all walks of life, reporters, students and friends of VMFT. The nearly one-hour-long speech was live on Asianet News’s Facebook page, and was watched by over 25,000 people.
Sashi Kumar also interacted with the members of Swadeshabhimani Young Journalists’ Club.
Er. A. Suhair, chairman, Prof. VK Damodaran, president, Dr Kayamkulam Yoonis, Secretary, Dr Sultana Bashir, Trustee, of VMFT, and Sri Isaac Kutty, former Deputy Accounts General, also spoke at the function. Mr. Sabin Iqbal, Director proposed vote of thanks