Prannoy blasts ‘ghastly tsunami’ of tabloid journalism

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  • NDTV Co-founder says credibility of TV news channels is at stake
  • Equals eye-ball chasers to ambulance chasers
  • Calls for stricter anti-defamation laws and speedy legal process
  • Receives Mumbai Press Club Redink award for Life Time Achievement

MUMBAI: Blasting the trend of ‘tabloidisation’ of Indian news channels, veteran anchor and NDTV co-founder Dr Prannoy Roy has called for stricter anti-defamation laws.

Referring to the increasing levels of sensationaliation of news among English and even Indian language TV news channels, Dr Roy cautioned that the ‘ghastly tsunami’ of tabloid journalism will spell death knell for the electronic medium and as it impacts credibility of news reporting.

He was speaking at Mumbai Press Club Redink Awards for Excellence in Indian Journalism – 2015 event last night acknowledging the Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed on him.

Dr Roy stunned the audience when he cited the example of a woman news anchor of a Hindi channel who announced: ‘break ke baad, rape story’.

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Dr Roy went a step ahead and said there should be stricter anti-defamation laws than what they are today.  But he hastened to add that this aspect should be dealt by legal machinery and judiciary. The government should have no role at all, he emphasized.

“Indian media thrives on punishment-free environment,” the veteran news anchor said and opined that journalists are getting slack. It will be tough to recover once they lose credibility and the recent political developments amply demonstrated this, he said.

He felt that the current legal framework is inadequate to deal with defamation cases which keep piling up and prosecution taking years and years.

Pointing out that the news channels are adopting the tabloid culture apparently to capture eyeballs, he equaled eye-ball chasers to ambulance chasers – a term used for lawyers who seek business at accident spots and hospitals.

Continuously harping on tabloidisation of TV journalism, Dr Roy felt that the advertisers are also equally to blame for encouraging sensationalism. Advertising planners must build an element of ‘quality-with-credibility’ in their spends while they too chase eyeballs to capture the viewers’ attention, he said.

He cautioned the young journalists against getting “too close to the sources”. This could also impact credibility as there is a danger of the news story emanating from such ‘sources’ getting coloured.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who was the chief guest at the event, suggested that media houses should work on ‘Making News’ while chasing ‘Breaking News’. A lot of positive news left uncovered in this new trend, he said.

The union government, he said, is committed to freedom of press and that at no stage does it want to suppress dissent. In a vibrant democracy like India, media has to be anti-establishment to ensure proper checks and balances, he said.

The showstopper of sorts for the evening was interesting panel discussion – “Celebrating the Voice of Dissent- participated by senior journalists Shekhar Gupta, former Editor-in-Chief of the Indian Express and Srineevasan Jain of NDTV and Krishna Prasad, Editor-in-Chief of Outlook. The discussion was moderated by Sachin Kalbaug, the Editor of Mid-Day.

The media professionals expressed concern at some politicians turning ‘mini dictators’ and trying to threaten the freedom of speech.

During the awards event, Dr Roy was felicitated with the Life Time Achievement Award by the Union Railway Minister, along with CEO of Star TV Uday Shankar and Mumbai Press Club President Prakash Akolkar.

The previous recipients of Lifetime Achievement award were late Vinod Mehta, Kuldip Nayar, N Ram, and Mrinal Pande.

The Redink awards – into its fifth edition – was held at the Jamshed Bhabha Auditorium of the National Centre for Performing Awards at Nariman Point here, which among others was attended by crème da la crème of Indian journalism. Top media practitioners across the country were present at the glittering event, which this time around was themed ‘Celebration of Dissent’.

The evening started with two-minute silence to mourn the death of thousands of people in a devastating earthquake in Nepal and parts of India including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

The RedInk Award for Journalist of the Year, instituted for the first time, has gone to Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV for his consistent investigative work  epitomized in his series ‘Truth versus Hype’ and other programmes. Similarly, Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief of Times Now, was selected as the Impact Editor of the Year for his ability to capture eyeballs and expand audience reach with his ‘News Hour’ show.

Scroll.in was be awarded the ‘Best News Start-Up of the Year’ for scaling up its influence rapidly as an alternative source of news and features.

Star India is the Presenting Partner for Mumbai Press Club Redink Awards for Excellence in Journalism 2015. The awards partners are Aditya Birla Group, Indiabulls Housing, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Zee Entertainment, Eros International, Seven Hills Hospitals, Lunkad Investments and JSW Steel.

Winners of Mumbai Press Club Redink Awards 2015 are:

IMPACT EDITOR OF THE YEAR           : Mr Arnab Goswami, Times Now           

NEWS START-UP OF THE YEAR           : scroll.in       

JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR                  : Mr Sreenivasan Jain, NDTV

LIFE-TIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD : Dr Prannoy Roy, NDTV

Category Awards :

BUSINESS: 

Print                            Mr Dinesh Narayanan, The Caravan Magazine

Television                   Mr Dibang,ABP News

CRIME        

Print                            Ms Leena Reghunath, The Caravan Magazine

& Mr Vinod Kumar Menon, Mid Day

Television                   Mr Tarun Nangia & Mr Dipu Rai,Zee Business

ENVIRONMENT 

Print                            Mr Sharad Vyas, Mid Day

Television                   Mr Umesh Kumavat, ABP News & Mr Rajat Singh, Aaj Tak

HEALTH & WELLNESS           

Print                            Mr Johnson Poovanthuruth, Deepika & Ms Nikita Saxena, Caravan

Television                   Ms Vrushali Purandare, TV -9

HUMAN RIGHTS            

Print                            Mr Salil Tripati, The Caravan Magazine

Television                   Mr Shams Tahir Khan, Aaj Tak

 

LIFESTYLE & ENTERTAINMENT  

Print                            Mr Tanul Thakur, The Big Indian Picture

Television                   Mr Jujhar Singh, NewX

POLITICS   

Print                            Mr Dinesh Narayanan, The Caravan Magazine

Television                   Mr Jitendra Dixit, ABP News

SCIENCE & INNOVATION     

Print                            Mr Shamsheer Yousaf, Fountain Ink Magazine

SPORTS       

Print                            Mr Rahul Bhatia, The Caravan Magazine

Television                   Ms Suprita Das, NDTV

THE BIG PICTURE        

Winner                        Mr Hari Adivarekar, Yahoo Originals

Runner-up                  Mr Hemant R Padalkar, DNA


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