More of P Sainath

It was the most depressing, but motivating two-and-a-half-hour talk I had heard.

P Sainath talked about paid news and how the electronic media handed out rate cards for paid news in 2009 elections. He spoke of print media 'companies' owning stake in private companies. A media company apparently owns stake in 240 companies! He spoke about the helplessness of an editor and his subordinates before the media corporates!

I had covered miniscule part of the 2009 elections -the Ambegaon assembly constituency near Junnar and never found myself in a positition of being told to report in a particular manner. However, we have all 'read' the paid news that appeared in various papers. The paid news items -all of same size -a single column with DC photos that dotted news pages...the sacred news space.
Yet we kept quiet. We never questioned. We never discussed. A few years down the line, if, we are made to be a part of the paid news, what would be our stand? What will happen if we refuse? Would we lose or job? or have our career screwed up? Who would back us for our decision?

Accoridng to Sainath, one should not underestimate the paid news racket. "It is a multi-crore business. The media initiated it. Major PR firms in Mumbai, design and ad agencies were involved. We call ourselves the fourth estate of democracy. It is time we question whether we are the fourth estate or 'real' estate."

Media credibility on one hand, money and the ethics on the other, how can one quantify the repurcussions of such news? Does the media realise that the entire nation is at stake when we report? Does the media realise its power and its potential?

More than 150 journalism students, ready to begin their career in a few months were listening to P Sainath. Hope they remember his words when they are tempted or forced in unfair journalism practices.


  1. P Sainath does that ! He makes you feel stupid and ignorant for not knowing the facts and figures albeit in a good way. When he talks about the 'links' in media, everyone in the room is dunbstruck!and if you are a media person then a certain guilt seeps through for allowing this to happen in your industry...

    I would really recommend his 'Everybody loves a good drought'

    P.S. He was a visiting faculty for my media course at Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai. His lectures are truly memorable. :)


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