In his keynote address on PRestival Day 2, Rahul Kanwal, Executive Editor, Headlines Today spoke on media, ethics and corruption.
The two day PR festival – PRestival – organized at the Devi Ratn Resort included CEOs, Agency Heads, Marketing/Communications Heads, Bureaucrats and students as delegates and participants. Over 200 corporate communication experts, journalists, and students from across Asia attended insightful keynote addresses and discussions on Brand Building, Public Relations, and Social Media in the Communications industry, along with fun, interactive activities at the event.
Talking on government regulation, censorship and editorial freedom, he stated: `News voyeurism needs to be clamped down on, via a mechanism of licensing.” He also spoke out on the media as an agent of public accountability in recent media-led investigations. “There is a public accountability revolution in the country, due to the people due to flow of two-way information.”
Changes carried out the by Indian journalism community reflect this change, as the broadcast editors association is currently issuing stringent dynamic calls on volatile situations. As a result, television has become far more circumspect post 26/11, and TV channels are slowly becoming aware of the consequences of their actions with regards to the provocative footages or comments. The beneficial flipside of regulation is that the journalists are now working hard themselves to ensure that the government doesn’t impose regulations.
Rahul talked about a few channels with respect to this that were adhering to the standards and guidelines. The second and third rung channels, however, were the issue of discussion as they catered to voyeurism of the worst nature. A few channels from these rungs left the regulatory bodies as the verdict passed on them made clear that broadcast of certain news and its representation put a larger section of media credibility into jeopardy.
The social media has given a platform for the voice of the people to reach all the way to the top.”
On the topic of corruption among journalists Rahul said, “As most generalizations are incorrect, to say that all journalists are corrupt would be incorrect too.” This kind of generalisation impacts future employment possibilities as well. “We’re witnessing an era of public accountability, and this is primarily through the contribution of the country. There is pressure from above as well as from below. As a result, the so-called ‘secret club’ is smashed.”
Stating the cause-effect of this Rahul stated that Delhi, especially, has a process of socialization that compels the people to not take steps against each other. But through recent pressures by the public, in a 360 degree manner, mainly through social media, the standards of accountability have risen as compared to the past.
“The social media has given a platform for the voice of the people to reach all the way to the top. Though it is largely known that all that appears on the social media is not necessarily correct. But the ‘mango man’ (Rahul’s reference to “aam aadmi” or the common man) tends to believe these things.”
On a concluding note, Rahul Kanwal said that the journalists understand the pulse of the people. Hence, the message will resonate the same. The media needs to be careful nonetheless with respect to what Rahul called “the mango people in a banana republic”.
Written by Ananya Ghosh for Image Management