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Monday, January 09, 2017

Meryl Streep's Message at Golden Globe Awards

Meryl Streep's message struck a chord. She mentioned disability and the press. She said a future president mocked a disabled journalist and the audience laughed. No. It's not funny. It gives us the licence to laugh at the disabled, which is not funny.

She mentioned the press, a principled press. The press is given freedoms in our constitution to report the truth, not to hide it, or, subvert it. I know these freedoms because I worked in the press: (1) cheap newsprint, subsidised by the government (2) priority while travelling (3) access to inaccessible areas (4) freedom to be critical of government, and society. (5) concessions in postage and freightage, so on....
Enjoying all these benefits and making huge profits based on the premise that newspapers are products is the latest trend that big private corporations (owners) have been following. The recent sacking at Hindustan Times is an example of how despite making profits the process of newsgathering and reporting have been threatened. So as Streep said "restraining power (of government)" and reporting truth remains a vast grey area, especially with fake and planted news stories. Editors have a duty label a fake/planted story as "Advt." as mandated by the Advertising Standards Council (ASCI), which I headed some while ago.

They say it's not an actor's job to tell what the press should do. It's not mine, too. But, when the press gets a bad name, it's as if a pillar of our democracy is rotting. After all, Tilak, Gandhi, and Nehru have all been journalists and it's through their writing that we gained freedom.

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