Resolution on People’s Progressive Culture and Modern Media

23. Apart from political motives and biases, sheer commercial interests too lure a section of media into all kinds of unfair practices. The TRP-driven electronic media in particular betrays a tendency to make news sensational with high doses of detailed crime-reporting and violent scenes. There have been instances of media abuse where sensational stories are created from nowhere by the media. In July 2012 a couple of atrocious sexual attacks were engineered or utilised by TRP-crazy journalists/channels. In Guwahati, reporters of News Live channel in Assam video-graphed the molestation of a girl by a crowd rather than helping her; according to some accounts they actually incited the gruesome crime in search of sensational news. A few days later a TV journalist of a local channel in Mangalore arranged an attack on a birthday party by Hindu Jagaran Vedike to promote ratings of his channel. TV reporter Naveen Soorinje who covered the incident was falsely charged for abetting it and remains in prison; we demand his immediate release. We also plead for the Press Council of India to take suitable measures to promote media ethics and ensure that journalists behave more responsibly.

24. Like news channels, the General Entertainment Channels (GECs) of the rapidly expanding television networks contribute their share of cultural pollution in more ways than one. Probably the most pernicious is the manner in which serials in Hindi and various regional languages sell ‘new patriarchy’ in glossy packages in a neoliberal milieu, recycling the older versions of feudal values and customs by adapting them to newer imperatives of a market-society. The non-fiction serials cash upon the speculative desires and fantasies of a growing consumerist middle class, even as advertisement campaigns instil strong desires for buying things that might be useless or unaffordable, often on credit.

25. However, even in the mainstream media there are contradictory pulls and pressures which create fissures and make spaces for ethical, committed and militant journalism and create opportunities for radical views and for critique of the powers that be. Despite corporatisation and subjugation of editorial teams to managerial authority, no amount of managerial strategies and political pressures can totally suppress the voluntary element, the consciousness of the people in charge of the news desks, newsrooms and live broadcast. So there always remains an area of subversion, of bold investigative journalism. Whether it was the Gujarat massacre or different scams, there always existed such spaces which were exploited by conscientious media persons who brought the truth into open, often at personal risk.

26. The role of the print and electronic media in coverage of movements such as the anti-corruption movement or the one erupting in the wake of the Delhi rape case was considerable. Such movements got a generally sympathetic coverage in the print media as well as in live telecasts and panel discussions. But barring a few honourable exceptions, the coverage generally sought to keep the focus confined narrowly to certain slogans (such as the Janlokpal in People’s Culture and Modern Media the case of corruption, and ‘death penalty’ in the case of the anti rape movement), limiting the possibility of highlighting corporate plunder or the various aspects of rape culture. To a large extent, the media coverage of such movements was governed by the effort to keep the whole upsurge confined to a temporary, single-issue movement unsoiled by ‘politics’. In the case of anti-rape legislation, the media largely played a very damaging role by falsely projecting a myth that the age of consent was being ‘lowered’, in order to build a climate of opinion in favour of the Government’s move to raise the age of consent.

27. Moreover, modern media can vastly enrich our knowledge and make us more equipped to respond to emerging situations almost instantaneously. The interactive social networks like Facebook and Twitter have been put to extensive use in exposing