'The Messenger Being Shot Again'

(Excerpts from Speech during the XIC Seminar on 'Media and Communal Violence')

'A picture worth a thousand words.' A clichéd start, a hackneyed statement, but ultimately where the crux of the matter lies. We touch here upon the harsh reality that, specially when we speak of the visual media, visuals tend to be backed by news, where news should be backed by visuals.

The topic of ethics and morals in reporting becomes ambiguous when one realises that it is individually subjective in nature and when we face the commercial aspect of TRP ratings in today's cut-throat competitive reporting.

Yes, sensationalism sells - in the short term! Yet we may still find solace in the fact that though sensationalism in visuals, in headlines or in the news itself does sell, serious reporting is respected. The tabloids attract the eye of the masses. I pick up the Mid-Day when I read its headlines, but when I want the news I trust 'The Hindu' and tune in to the BBC.

When we debate on the issue of carrying printed statements that may be provocative or relaying television comments we return to the same issue. Here we must make the distinction between news reporting and journalism. As a reporter, it is our duty to 'catch' the facts - hard and harsh. As a journalist, it is our prerogative to present those facts with positive prejudice.

Finally, we touch upon the question of restricting the freedom of expression granted to us by the Constitution. We must realise that an association or charter of media corporations cannot ensure a synergy of thought or opinion with regard to the 'ethics of reporting' whereas legal censorship can and will be used against the media fraternity by those in positions of power.

Ultimately therefore, the choice of what to report and how to report it boils down to you - when you walk home at the end of the day, realising the implications of your reporting - can you sleep?