Transparency of Indian media under scrutiny: Report

New Delhi : Transparency was the key question that the Indian media faced through 2010, with “paid news” and “cash for coverage” remaining in public focus throughout the year, a report by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said Tuesday on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day.

“The media industry in India faces serious dilemmas in seeking to reconcile its revenue model – which is highly dependant on advertising – with the compulsions of quality news gathering in an increasingly competitive environment,” the report said.

“The diminution of subscriptions as a revenue source has resulted in the devaluation of information and growing pressure by advertising departments on journalism,” it added.

The report, which is the ninth edition of the study in South Asia, is titled ‘Free Speech in Peril’.

On the Niira Radia episode, the report said: “A number of intercepted conversations between a high-flying industry lobbyist and some prominent figures in the domain of business, politics and administration surfaced.”

“Interspersed with these diverse conversations were a significant number that involved the lobbyist and leading journalists in both print and broadcast,” it added.

The report also highlights the challenges and threats to life that Indian journalists face in conflict zones like Jammu and Kashmir, the northeast and Maoist-hit insurgency areas in central India.

Several examples of journalists harassed in the line of duty were quoted in the report. Two journalists, for instance, were killed in Chhattisgarh last December and this January by unidentified men. A note left at the site said that the murder was the consequence of the stories that they had been writing.

The report said that while there was less threat to media persons’ life in 2010 in the South Asian countries, challenges of decent wages and working conditions remain the same. Pakistan, it said, is now the world’s most dangerous country for media workers.

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