The recent suicide attempt by an India TV anchor has once again put the spotlight on how the media functions.

news Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 05:30

Monalisa Das| The News Minute| July 2, 2014| 10.30 pm IST

Journalism is a job that needs not just the required skills, determination and hard work, but also a lot of perseverance and patience. It is a high pressured job, agree most; however, to what extent can one bear it is the question.

The recent suicide attempt by an India TV anchor has once again put the spotlight on how the media functions. And what was even more surprising, or rather shocking, is the way a large part of the industry blatantly ignored it.

In support of the journalist, a few media persons got together on July 2. The protest that took place in Film City, Noida, saw a gathering of around 40 media persons. Their demands have been placed in front of the district collector and they even plan approaching higher authorities if needed.

The group made a few but very clear demands which include;

- swift investigation of the case

- Inclusion of the name of Ritu Dhawan, wife of Rajat Sharma, Editor-in-chief of India TV, in the FIR. The journalist had allegedly said Dhawan was among those who mentally harassed her at work;

-setting up committees, on the basis of Vishakha guidelines, in all media organisations; and

-withdrawing the management’s complaints against the journalist of blackmailing.

Mahendra Misra, a journalist working with Jia News, was one of the organisers of the protest. Talking about very few journalists turning up for the event, he states, “No one wants to stand against the management. Most people fear putting their jobs in jeopardy”.

India TV, however put the blame on the anchor and accused her of causing mental harassment to seniors named in her suicide note.

“The management doesn't want democratization at the workplace. They want to have all the power in deciding and controlling how the company functions”, Misra says, giving out a few details of how the media industry functions. “Journalists at times, aren't paid well and are often exploited. After a point one is bound to feel suppressed and repressed”, he said.

“An incident as crucial as a journalist attempting suicide happened, and there was not a ticker about it on the television. The print media behaved in a similar way.

When asked if this was an exceptional case, Misra retorts, “this way of the management is present across all organisations. In fact, they support each other, and share a mutual understanding that if something of this sort were to happen, they’d deal with it in a similar way and all will have their backs covered”.

Anil Chamaria, a former journalist and present head of Media Studies Group in Delhi, and also one of the organisers is of the opinion that such instances are often heard of, though very few come to the public domain. “This is not a new phenomenon. It happens everywhere and all the time. Majority of media houses, barring a few, do not cover issues like this”, he states.

That the media often sticks to double standards while covering certain issues, agree many. “The media picks up a case with the eye of selection. Look at the way the Tarul Tejpal case was publicized. Compare this to Tanu Sharma’s case. Tejpal is a powerful and well-known personality, whereas Sharma when compared to him is not that well-known a figure. So the media just brushed aside her case”

Complaints have been registered and the investigation is underway; so who’s right and who’s not is still to be seen. That does not stop from stating facts and initiating a discussion.

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