‘Journalists should be spectators, not players’

In its 60th year since independence, India’s squabbling male politicians have finally placed a woman at the altar of Rashtrapati Bhavan. But that is where the good news has ended for Pratibha Patil, the UPA candidate.

Because even before her election campaign can kick off, the opposition politicians and sizeable sections of the media have pounced on her past and dug up shovels of dirt. Murder charges involving her brothers, interest waiver on loans, siphoning off loans meant for women, controversial statements on the purdah and sterilisation, even more controversial claims on her communicating with the dead… have all been unearthed in a steady torrent.

Vinod Mehta, the venerable editor of Outlook, places the blame for the dirty tricks squarely at the feet of his colleagues and compatriots in the journalistic fraternity. In a column in this week’s issue of the magazine, Mehta writes:

“Journalists should never forgt that they are spectators, not players. We may have the best seats in the stadium, but we are, and must always remain spectators. I know for some of my colleagues it is a big temptation, but once spectators (journalists) become players (politicians), the media is into a very different ball game—one which has nothing to do with journalism.”

Read the full column here: Tainted ethos

Related link: The eyes and ears of the public as guests

Cross-posted on sans serif