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Shekhar Gupta on media: Thugs and 'masters of universe'

By Priyanka
Last updated on: July 06, 2012 23:31 IST
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From political circles to government offices, media regulation is an oft-debated issue.

Speaking during a session at an Editors Guild Conference in New Delhi on Friday, Editor-in-Chief of Indian Express Shekhar Gupta spoke his mind and said that the media is playing into the hands of the establishment by not opposing any move to regulate the internet strongly enough.

Gupta almost ridiculed the present-day media, saying, "We have got freedom and we don't know how to deal with it."

"We are scared of our freedom and so we are inviting regulation," he commented.

Gupta dismissed the idea that the government could impose any regulation on the media.

He said, "This is the weakest government and the most non-functional government we have ever had."

"Do you feel there is any chance of this government passing a law regulating the media, when the government cannot even have the Right to Food Bill passed," he asked an audience of fellow editors and news personnel.

He soon turned the tables and said that the media has become a flawed institution. It may have failed its audiences and readers and the majority of workers were not being fair to their jobs, he said.

"There are two reasons for this. A majority of us have a bad conscience and we have really grown too big for our boots," he said.

Gupta then took a dig at both the print and the television media.

"The problem with print media is that too many of us are into paid news, and sponsored news, working on theme pages and so on," he said and added that the drawbacks of the television media were of a different nature.

"From being inquisitors, television anchors today have become judges and executioners," he said, adding, "They get upset if people don't recognise them in public."

Gupta said, "On the print side, majority of us are dishonest, thugs and thieves; and on the television side, many of us feel we are the masters of the universe."

His tone became mocking when he said that most of the television anchors would fail basic general knowledge tests.

And he blamed the journalist community for not crosschecking facts before publishing them. Citing an example, he pointed out that Adarsh building was never meant for Kargil war widows.

"Do you think the Kargil war widows, many of whom live in villages in Rajasthan, Uttrakhand and Kerala, would have been able to buy a house in Adarsh building, even at a lesser amount," he asked.

"Why don't we look for facts? The real threat to journalists is coming from our incompetence and greed," he said.

"How can journalists become so arrogant? There is a complete lack of modesty," he said to the audience.

Gupta said that India media needs to correct itself but does not require any external body to do so.

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