Monday, November 06, 2006

Seen on NDTV's We The People yesterday....

So I did a bit of TV-watching yesterday. I have a colleague who doesn't even own a TV and professes he never has and never wants to (plays video-games in his spare-time on his laptop though, ha ha), but sometimes, when I see some programmes that I find myself actually getting involved in, I don't know if that is such a good thing. Information dissemination is part of the reason for a TV being invented, right?!!

On a more serious note, I wanted to blog about some thoughts I got after watching NDTV's 'We The People' yesterday. Barkha Dutt was discussing the role of media in covering high-profile criminal cases today, with reference to cases like those of Priyadarshini Mattoo, Nitish Katara and Jessica Lall, with a group of people including Vinod Mehta-Editor of Outlook magazine, Nalini Singh-Journalist, KTS Tulsi-Senior Supreme Court Advocate, with Sabrina Lall (Jessica Lall's sister) and Neelam Katara (Nitish Katara's mother) also in the audience.

I think there is a difference between reporting news, and journalism as it exists today. Mere reporting of facts would be news, but most forms of media today, whether it is newspapers, magazines or television have a viewpoint about the news, or in other words, what happens. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I don't think it would be necessary for more than a few newspapers, at the most, to exist if it was just a matter of letting the public know about what happens around the world. The reason the media plays an important role, especially in a volatile political atmosphere such as the one we live in today, is that they provide an OPINION about what is going on. And everyone is entitled to an opinion, which may or may not be right according to you and me. But what is important, I believe, is to hear these opinions. Because that is the only way we will understand different perspectives on a subject, get to know more facts about it and be able to collate all of it to form our own opinion of what is going on.

If anyone argues that it is NOT the role of the media to take up the case of people like Jessica Lall et al, because everyone has the right to a fair trial and by throwing the limelight on the accused in a case they are creating a negative image and a bias against the accused in the minds of the public and even the judiciary, perhaps they would like to think about what Sabrina Lall mentioned yesterday - that indubitably, Manu Sharma, the key accused in the Jessica Lall case, 'deserves a fair trial, and that he deserves the right to get Ram Jethmalani as his counsel, but where is it a 'fair' trial when justice is being subverted at every step, and witnesses bought?' If the trial was fair in the first place, then, in my own opinion, that group of people wouldn't even have been there on TV yesterday - justice would have been dispensed long ago and the case would have been closed. And as far as the judiciary is concerned, if they make up their minds to convict people based on what they see and hear in the media, then they shouldn't be there in the first place.

One important thing that the Indian judicial system lacks today, that is key to the existence of a non-partisan, fair trial, is the existence of a strong Witness Protection Programme. That is exactly what is responsible for witnesses in these key cases either turning hostile or refusing to co-operate in the first place. Mr.Tulsi brought out this very salient point and I think it is something the Indian legal system needs to work on with immediate effect, because it is the only way we can ensure that justice is served to ordinary citizens of India like Jessica, Nitish, Priyadarshini, and IIT graduates Manjunath Shanmugam and Satyendra Dubey.


Anonymous said...

Ram Jethmalani- is undoubtedly a conniving, manipulative liar
Read this:

anju christine said...

interesting analysis!....... we've been discussin dis over d past coupla months in our journalism classes n we pretty much drew the same conclusions........ applause!!

wanderstruck said...