news Sunday, June 08, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute | June 6, 2014 | 6.24 pm IST A day after saying that media editors should declare their assets and liabilities to the Lokayukta, Karnataka Minister Roshan Baig has done a volte-face. He called them “angels” on Saturday morning. Speaking at a workshop on Bhasha Patrikodyama (Language Journalism) on Friday, Minister for Information and Infrastructure Development Baig, had said that media editors must declare their assets and liabilities, just as elected representatives do. Baig also said that it would uphold the ethics of “free and fair press”. See The Hindu report:  When contacted by The News Minute on Saturday, Baig said: “I was referring to Kuldip Nayar’s article in Deccan Herald (on June 6). This is not the opinion of the state government. Our editors are like angels. How can we say that about our editors?” Whether or not he was sincere in his suggestion that journalists must declare their assets and liabilities, the suggestion has generated some debate over the last few years. Editors of some news organizations who spoke to The News Minute, have varied views on the disclosure of assets of journalists.  Editor of Raj Tv Hameed Palya was of the view that such a move was good, but he disagreed with the idea that there was large scale corruption in the media. “When we demand transparency from others, we must also be transparent.” he said. Palya added that the debate on journalists’ assets and larger media ethics was the result of the proliferation of television news channels and the social media, which had burgeoned in the last decade. This debate, he said, would act as a check on journalists’ conduct.  Neena Gopal, Editor of Deccan Chronicle (Bangalore) disagrees with Baig. She said: "The implication of his statement is that we are inherently corrupt. Most of us have nothing to hide, we pay our taxes. And journalists do not earn huge salaries. Yes, opening up for scrutiny always helps. But we are all under scrutiny anyway all the time, in this day and age one cannot afford to hide details." Editor-in-chief of Kannada daily Kannada Prabha and Suvarna news channel Vishveshwar Bhat said that was “nothing wrong” in journalists making their assets public. He said: “When we demand that politicians disclose their assets and incomes, we should also be open to that. If I am ready for this, only then I have every right to demand the same from someone else.” He also said that his organization had instituted a policy of journalists submitting these details to the management. “In our organization all the top people – editors, assistant editors, news editors, deputy editors, chief reporters – have to disclose their assets.” he said. Asked if this information was available to the public, he replied in the negative. “No, it is not published on our website, but we have to submit it to the organization. First we did it suo moto two years ago, after that we have been doing it every year. Now we have made it a practice,” Bhat said. Former Lokayukta N Santhosh Hegde however, responded sharply against Baig’s comments. He countered by saying that before demanding that journalists disclose their assets to the Lokayukta, politicians and political parties should furnish this information to the Lokayukta as the law demanded.  Hegde also said that the Lokayukta was set up to monitor corruption among public officials. Journalists were private citizens and if a demand was made for their inclusion within the Lokayukta, a similar demand could be made for the inclusion of other citizens as well. The Press Council of India and other bodies could monitor the activities of journalists.

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