Can corporates influence media?

Can corporates influence media?

“At first, political parties would publish what they wanted through their own mouthpieces. After Liberalisation of the economy in 1991, corporates, who earlier influenced indirectly through advertising, began owning media houses directly”, said R Jagannathan, editor of Swarajya Magazine, in a panel discussion held in Bandra last week.

The discussion was part of Tata Literature Live and the subject explored the influence of corporates on newsrooms. Along with him, there was Charles Assisi, founder editor of Fuel Foundation, Niranjan Mukhopadhyaya, award winning journalist, and Sandeep Bhushan, television journalist and author of The Indian Newsroom.

Assisi, who has written The Aadhar Effect, skillfully steered the discussion to the baleful effect on corporates on the day-to-day working of newspapers, only to have Bhushan declare that the channels he worked for “never touched corporate stories in the sense of puff pieces. But now even social media was split, depending upon their political loyalties. “The Internet is not the free zone for opinions that people believe it is”, he said.

Jagannathan, spoke about how political parties and corporations took interest in the mainstream media. “Good journalism is practiced by publications owned by trust”, he said.

He also spoke on various business models and which one would be the better for good journalism, stating that it was the day of niche journalism, and that is why “broad strokes’ no longer work. He narrower the target audience, the better, he said. He stated the fact that it is not immoral to make money from media. The problem arises when making money becomes the sole motive.

Veteran journalist Niranjan Mukhopadhyay. known for his reportage on the right wing political organisations, spoke about the attitude of the present regime towards the media and lamented that “in the day of Twitter and Facebook we (media) are irrelevant to political parties.”

Written by journalism student Kunal Hariani

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