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Sambhar Mafia - Cooked To Kill!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ethics and Disclosure in Media Reporting

In his latest column, The Hindu's Readers' Editor touches upon the topic of media ethics and the checks and balances which The Hindu has in place to ensure that there is fair reporting during sponsored trips. I had written about the same topic during an earlier post covering the media reviews during the inauguration of the Hong Kong Disneyland sometime last year. My point was that the MSM should probably mention the fact that the trip was sponsored by the tourist attraction (Disneyland / Hong Kong Tourism Board in this case). This disclosure would help the reader in forming his/her opinion about the review. Since the MSM doesn't provide this information in majority of the cases, we might even wrongly assume that the trip was a sponsored one, when in reality, the MSM could have paid for the trip.

At the cost of sounding monotonous and repetitive, I must refer to another fact of life. Corporates — and for that matter, politicians or anyone in public life — look for "good coverage". When a corporate sponsors a trip by a journalist, it expects some space given for its activities.

The reference the reader made was to an article by Mumbai correspondent Oommen Ninan on a seminar organised by Michelin, the French tyremaker, in Paris. In all such cases, the trip is cleared at the highest level in the paper. And what is published is generally about the work and activities of the firm and not a plug or puff for its product/s. Nobody tells The Hindu's journalists what kind of coverage or assessment they must provide. If the sponsors do not like the coverage that results from the trip, they are under no obligation to invite anyone from the newspaper again.

Product launches, and workshops and seminars on corporate issues are routinely covered as they have news angles. Similar considerations govern reports that are the result of a company-sponsored trip. The correspondents are expected to stick to the paper's policies when they write. There is a further check at the editing stage. Those are the safeguards against "manipulation."

And, after all that, if something slips through the gate, there are hawk-like readers to pounce upon the newspaper!

4 Comments:

  • As if they are listening to their hawk-like readers !!

    I have only one word to say about The Hindu - in their own language -N.Ram must go !!


    :-)

    By Blogger RaajK, at 1:16 PM  

  • OT: In your posts, you typically use italics (in a span element) to mark a quote. Unfortunately, this markup is lost in the feed & it is hard to guess when your writing stops & when a quote begins.

    Could you please use the 'blockquote' element for quotes? That will certainly show up properly in the feed.

    By Blogger antrix, at 10:54 PM  

  • @RaajK,
    Do u think that can ever happen?

    @Antrix,
    Point noted. even I realized that.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 11:29 AM  

  • Being as heavily biased as it is (and not just in the editorial, but in normal day-to-day reporting), the Hindu should really be the last newspaper to pontificate on ethics.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:24 PM  

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