Tag: media

Anonymous employees’ letter talks of Times Now’s blatant PR in the name of journalism

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By Rajiv Shah

Veteran economist Amit Bhaduri, who gave up his status as professor emeritus of the Jawaharlal University (JNU) in protest against “throttling” of dissent in JNU in January 2020, has in an email alert released a letter, purportedly written by “former and present employees of Times Now” which talks “beleaguered and disillusioned employees” of the top English news channel, run by the Times of India group.

Insisting that the letter must be published immediately everywhere “in solidarity to make a turning point in journalism possible”, the anonymously written letter is addressed to top bosses of Times Now – Rahul Shivshankar, Navika Kumar and Padmaja Joshi.

Earlier forwarded on WhatsApp, I did not care to reproduce it, as I thought it may be from what has come to be known as WhatsApp University for fake news, but since it has been released by Bhaduri through the Dalit group Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre (PMARC), here is what it says:
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We, the former and current employees of Times Now, never imagined that we would come to a situation where we would have to write an open letter to remind the editors of the channel about the basic ethics and values of journalism. We are tired, dismayed, upset, angry and disillusioned looking at all that is unfolding around us and we have never felt so helpless. As journalists we were taught one thing: Always be on the side of the people. Always be on the side of humanity. Always hold those powerful accountable for their actions. But what Times Now is doing in the name of “journalism” these days is nothing but blatant PR for a government that has failed on every count and let down the people of this country.

Even as we write this letter to you, some of our colleagues and their families are paying the price because of the government’s incompetence in dealing with the COVID19 situation.

As journalists, we have all the information about what’s happening around us. People are waiting in ambulances or on streets to get a bed in a hospital. Even worse, critical patients have to gasp and gasp and gasp for breath for hours, before they get Oxygen support. Some of them die while waiting. Life saving drugs are unavailable and good samaritans on social media platforms seem to be doing more than the government in helping the patients find these facilities. A prominent hospital in the national capital had to approach the High Court to get oxygen cylinders from the government to keep its patients alive. Hospitals have to tweet tagging the authorities to highlight how they are running short of Oxygen. States are fighting with each other claiming the Oxygen to be “theirs”. This is the reality we are living in today.

The entire system has collapsed. Let there be no doubt about that. More than this being a medical emergency, it’s a humanitarian crisis that’s unfolding right in front of our eyes. And what are we, as journalists of a powerful brand like Times Now, doing for the people of this country?

We still blame the opposition. We divert attention from real issues. We discuss overtly communal Hindu-Muslim stories. We spin every story that is not in favour of the government. And we maintain absolute silence when it comes to questioning the inept central government. We do not have the courage to even take Narendra Modi’s name and criticize him for the current mess we are in. We cannot even add a picture of Amit Shah while showing visuals of other opposition parties who are violating COVID19 guidelines by organising large rallies in election bound states. That’s how spineless we have become.
Remember how all of you used to cry “policy paralysis” during the UPA regime? Despite the entire system being in shambles now, have we even once called out the central government for its inefficiency?

It is very apparent that the editors of Times Now are not willing to hold the BJP government accountable for its mismanagement of COVID19 pandemic. When thousands of Indians are dying across the country, the least that is expected of us is to ask tough questions of the government and show the the ground reality as it is. Instead we choose to find soft targets, engage in selective targeting of non-BJP governments and leaders and peddle BJP IT cell agenda.
Precious air time where people’s sufferings can be brought to the notice of the government is being used to target the farmers, which obviously suits the BJP agenda. This is a classic example of how media is trying to divert the attention from real issues.

Instead of asking questions to Prime Minister Modi for his callous attitude and misgovernance, the editors are hell bent on saving his image and protect him from getting a bad name.

It’s also disheartening to see how messages sent by members of BJP IT cell are cut, copied and pasted by the channel and how it becomes prime time debates, thereby setting the country’s news agenda. Messages posted by a turncoat, a troll and a government lobbyist Shehzad Poonawala becomes the top story and he ends up getting more air time than the channel’s own reporters and editors.

What have we reduced ourselves to? A channel that consistently spoke for the voiceless janta, has now become a full blown propaganda machinery of the government. The channel that claims to put the nation first is oblivious to the sufferings of its own citizens.
When will you speak up for the people? When will you stop forcing your entire editorial team to work for the BJP’s agenda? How many dead bodies you want to see before turning around and holding the government accountable? Is your privilege blinding you from seeing how people on ground are suffering? How much more blood do you want on your hands?

Respected editors, your choice is simple: Be on the side of humanity or be on the side of BJP. If you choose the latter, you are not only failing this profession, but also this country and its people.

To colleagues in other national channels, stand up and speak out. If we don’t do it now, history will never forgive us.

Source- counterview.in, April 25, 2021.

Journalism, the vaccine against disinformation, blocked in more than 130 countries: RSF 2021 World Press Freedom Index

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, April 24, 2021: People globally are bearing the wrath of the COVID-19 pandemic since last year and tragic deaths have shattered humankind. Life remains disrupted in many countries and despite many vaccines in the market, the unfolding agony of this unprecedented crisis does not seem to end. Unfortunately, along with this crisis, another crisis of disinformation, has gripped the world.

This year’s #RSFINDEX, which evaluates the press freedom situation in 180 countries and territories annually, shows that journalism, journalism, which is arguably the best vaccine against the virus of disinformation, is totally blocked or seriously impeded in 73 countries and constrained in 59 others, which together represent 73% of the countries evaluated. These countries are classified as having “very bad,” “bad” or “problematic” environments for press freedom, and are identified accordingly in black, red, or orange on the World Press Freedom map.

The Index data, compiled by the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reflects a dramatic deterioration in people’s access to information and an increase in obstacles to news coverage. The coronavirus pandemic has been used as grounds to block journalists’ access to information sources and reporting in the field. Will this access be restored when the pandemic is over? The data shows that journalists are finding it increasingly hard to investigate and report sensitive stories, especially in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

“Journalism is the best vaccine against disinformation,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Unfortunately, its production and distribution are too often blocked by political, economic, technological and, sometimes, even cultural factors. In response to the virality of disinformation across borders, on digital platforms and via social media, journalism provides the most effective means of ensuring that public debate is based on a diverse range of established facts.”

Norway is ranked first in the Index for the fifth year running even though its media have complained of a lack of access to state-held information about the pandemic. Finland maintained its position in second place while Sweden (up 1 at 3rd) recovered its third place ranking, which it had yielded to Denmark (down 1 at 4th) last year. The 2021 Index demonstrates the success of these Nordic nations’ approach towards upholding press freedom.

The World Press Freedom map has not had so few countries coloured white – indicating a country situation that is at least good if not optimal – since 2013, when the current evaluation method was adopted. This year, only 12 of the Index’s 180 countries (7%) can claim to offer a favourable environment for journalism, as opposed to 13 countries (8%) last year. The country to have been stripped of its “good” classification is Germany (down 2 at 13th). Dozens of its journalists were attacked by supporters of extremist and conspiracy theory believers during protests against pandemic restrictions.

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The press freedom situation in Germany is nonetheless still classified as “fairly good,” as is the case in the United States (down 1 at 44th), despite the fact that Donald Trump’s final year in the White House was marked by a record number of assaults against journalists (around 400) and arrests of members of the media (130), according to the US Press Freedom Tracker, of which RSF is a partner. As a result of falling four places, Brazil joined the countries coloured red, indicating that the press freedom situation there is classified as “bad”. The vilification and orchestrated public humiliation of journalists have become trademarks of President Bolsonaro, along with his family and closest allies. Brazil shares the “bad” classification with India (142nd), Mexico (143rd) and Russia (down 1 at 150th), which deployed its repressive apparatus to limit media coverage of protests in support of Kremlin opponent, Alexei Navalny.

China (177th), which continues to take Internet censorship, surveillance and propaganda to unprecedented levels, is still firmly anchored among the Index’s worst countries, which are indicated in black on the World Press Freedom map. Right below China is the same trio of totalitarian countries that have historically occupied the bottom three places. Two are Asian: Turkmenistan (up 1 at 178th) and North Korea (up 1 at 179th). The third is African: Eritrea (down 2 at 180th). Regardless of their continent, these countries maintain absolute control over all news and information, enabling the first two to claim they had no Covid-19 cases and the third to maintain complete silence about the fate of 11 journalists who were arrested 20 years ago, some of whom have allegedly been held in metal containers in the middle of a desert.

The country that fell the furthest in 2021 was Malaysia (down 18 at 119th), where the problems include a recent “anti-fake news” decree allowing the government to impose its own version of the truth. Big descents were also registered by Comoros (down 9 at 84th) and El Salvador (down 8 at 82nd), where journalists have struggled to obtain state-held information about the government’s handling of the pandemic. Most of the 2021 Index’s biggest gains are in Africa. Burundi (up 13 at 147th), Sierra Leone (up 10 at 75th), and Mali (up 9 at 99th) have all seen significant improvements, including the release of four journalists with the independent Burundian media Iwacu, the repeal of a law criminalising press offences in Sierra Leone and a fall in the number of abuses in Mali.

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Source- rsf.org

Current state of Australian media is unsustainable: MEAA tells Senate inquiry

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Paul Murphy, MEAA (center) speaking at the Senate inquiry into media diversity. Photo- Senate inquiry

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 12 March 2021: MEAA’s Green Murphy today told the Senate media diversity inquiry that the current state of Australia’s media is unsustainable with too much power vested in too few voices. New ways to support old and new media must be found to preserve democracy, he said.

In his opening statement, Green Murphy detailed the main issues which made the inquiry important as :

– media reforms over the past five years have worsened the state of media diversity

– journalism jobs have continued to be lost in great numbers despite a growing appetite for Australian news content

– coverage of critical areas of civic and commercial affairs continues to fall

– the effectiveness of the News Bargaining Code is unknown, and

– notwithstanding the success of otherwise of the Bargaining Code, there are no evident support measures for small to
medium or new media providers.

He said, ” MEAA surveyed journalists across Australia about the state of media ownership and concentration in Australia in preparing its submission for this inquiry. Approximately 350 responses were received.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents rated concerns about Australian media concentration highest of all the issues canvassed, followed by funding for public broadcasting (20%), the state of local, regional, and rural media, and public trust in responsible journalism (both 13%).

More than 92% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that Australia’s media ownership is too highly concentrated; 94% agreed or strongly also agreed that this was bad for democracy.

Support for increased funding for the ABC and SBS was at almost 90%.

There was strong support (80%) for government action to financially support small, independent, community, and regional media outlets which may not have been the case even five years ago.

This demonstrates a growing recognition of the need for Government action in a situation where the market is clearly failing to deliver in the public interest.”

In conclusion, the MEAA emphasized that “The current state of Australia’s media is unsustainable. There are too few voices and too much power is vested in these voices.

New and credible ways of supporting the old media and the new media must be found in order to preserve the health and transparency of Australia’s democracy.

The concentration of ownership, market failures, and the grinding down of public broadcasters have combined to put our media sector in an extremely perilous place at a time when quality, reliable content is needed more than ever.”

Read MEAA submission to the Senate inquiry into media diversity in Australia.

News bargaining code remains essential to support small media outlets: MEAA

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BY SAT Newsdesk

MELBOURNE, 18 February 2021: The decision of Facebook to stop news through main Australian media outlets, after the House of Representatives passed the News Media Bargaining Code that will force high-tech companies to pay media houses for content has drawn a sharp reaction from the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), the organization representing Australian journalists.

Content deals reportedly struck between major publishers and Google in recent days should not deter Federal Parliament from passing News Media Bargaining Code laws this week, says the union for Australia’s journalists.

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance says the reported deals between Google and both Nine Entertainment Co. and Seven West Media are welcome developments, but Parliament must proceed with the bargaining code legislation to ensure that all media operators – including AAP, regional and local organisations, and others regardless of their size – are compensated by digital platforms for the use of their content.

MEAA Media Federal President Marcus Strom said the laws were essential because smaller publishers and broadcasters did not have the same ability to negotiate directly on relatively equal terms with Google and Facebook as did media conglomerates like Nine and Seven.

“The deals which have been reported in the past 48 hours only came about because of the threat of arbitration under the proposed news bargaining code,” Mr Strom said.

“Media companies have a moral obligation to demonstrate that the millions they will receive from Google will be spent on news gathering and not on share dividends.

“Any monies from these deals need to end up in the newsroom, not the boardroom. We will be pressing the case for transparency on how these funds are spent.

“But it should be noted it is only Google who has been willing to negotiate. Facebook continues to resist compensating media outlets.

“The news bargaining code is still needed to ensure both of these global digital platforms contribute to the cost of all the journalism that they benefit from, and that smaller players are also compensated for their content, especially community, regional and rural outlets.

“It must also be mandated that when media companies are able to negotiate commercial agreements with digital platforms, they must commit to allocating the funds to journalism, and not other parts of their organizations.”

Mr. Strom said the Morrison Government also must assure Australians that any commercial agreements negotiated by the ABC or SBS will not be used as an excuse for further funding cuts at the two national broadcasters.

The media code is yet to be passed by the Australian Senate.

English test essential as it unites the country & enables social-economic connectivity: PM

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File photo.

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 7 October 2020: The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison today had an interactive post-budget virtual press conference here with the multicultural media. He gave the opening remarks on the pandemic, it’s consequences, new economic steps for employment and infrastructure development and the government plans till now and the steps charted out in the budget 2020 announced yesterday by the Treasurer. This was followed by a lively question-answer session.

Prominent takeaway’s from the Q-A session were:

- Opening borders to ‘safe countries’ could see it happen with New Zealand.

- English Language requirement for Partner visas essential as ‘English unifies the country and it enables us all to connect both economically and socially and so that’s why we believe that’s an important step that needs to be taken’.

- There has been a need to ensure we get women and young people back into jobs.

- There are pluses and minuses compared to previous recessions.

- Reduced migration intake will have an impact on the Australian economy.

Lastly, the PM said, self-funded retirees, facing reduced income because of the uncertain stock-market, can use the pension loan scheme.