Thursday, June 4, 2009

Editorials, What?

The level of responsibility of the electronic media in India has been a subject of debate for a long time, but fortunately, irresponsibility in the print media is something that is comparatively less visible.

Still, at times, there are incidents when one is bound to think whether our media has some sense of responsibility or they are just interested in earning their bread by any means. One such incident is the Counter View printed in The Times of India, one of the most prestigious English language newspapers of India, on the Twitter feeds of Minister of State for External Affairs, Shashi Tharoor.

The article written by Narayani Ganesh, which appears in the Editorial section of The Times of India, not only claims that a Minister taking his responsibility seriously cannot have time for social networking sites, but also goes further telling that he is 'answering questions from other members, [which] is a reflection of how lightly he takes his official responsibilities.'

After all this, the author gives the case of Aishwarya Rai where she was not there on Twitter and impostors had been writing tweets in her name. With the 'risk' of such a thing happening with Tharoor, and ordering/advising people to think about the consequences of such a thing, Ms Ganesh ends her article with the words 'stop twittering, Tharoor. Just do the work you've been entrusted with.'

Now my first question to the editor/author Ms Ganesh is that HOW a minister who replies to the queries of PUBLIC, in a DEMOCRACY, be a reflector of IRRESPONSIBILITY? I do not think that the practice we follow, of seeing our politicians only twice in a decade, is a part of our constitution.

Secondly, even if I agree with her argument that a RESPONSIBLE minister cannot find time to come on a social networking site (which actually Tharoor himself agrees with when he says he doesn't have a Facebook page, and I guess that IS the reason most of the politicians/actors are coming to Twitter as it takes just 140 characters and can be easily run on their phones, something our Editorial page author doesn't seem to understand), I do not know on what basis she found that these tweets can be risky. This very statement of the author shows that neither she has any idea what Tharoor writes in his tweets nor she knows about the past and the diplomatic knowledge of the minister in question.

Very interestingly for me, this article happens to have appeared on a day when I had just completed the chapter of Nehru's biography written by Tharoor where the latter has thoroughly discussed about the Foreign Policy of the former. Tharoor, in the biography, very critically explains each aspect of Nehru's personality which affected the foreign policy of India after reading which I was sure of the quality of judgment of Tharoor in the diplomatic matters.

I request all the media-persons to be more thoughtful at least about what they write, if not about what they speak. And in case they think something is wrong, they should present their matter clearly enough so that their concerns are thought upon by the readers and not dismissed instantly. At last, I would say that before writing something, an author should make sure that he/she has conducted a minimum amount of research before writing. That would probably make our press a little more useful.

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