Thursday, August 13, 2015

Indian Media Watchdog initiated in Auckland

As the populations of Indians and Indo-Fijians in particular and People of Indian Origin in general increase in New Zealand, so does news-selling and Indian entertainment business. This is more so marked in Auckland where we now have three 24- hour radio stations, one of them being an FM station, a free - to-air 24 hour TV station, a weekly, and some fortnightly Indian newspapers, with some blog sites. People generally open businesses with the prime objective of making money, so the news-selling radio, newspapers and TV are there to make money – that is the prime objective. Being anything else is beyond their understanding, as money and revenue overrides any other obligations.
Indian Media in Auckland will now be placed under scrutiny by Indian Media Watch body.

While public has been treating such news-selling business as media, the so-called Indian media have much more to do to take the position of what we call the Fourth Estate –media as the fourth pillar of democracy. But the question is, has so called Indian media in Auckland stood up to this respectability and high-elevation?

Recent events in Auckland within the Indian community gave rise for the necessity for Indian Media to be placed under scrutiny. Indian Media Watch aims to do exactly that.

We need to appreciate that at least some of the news organisation have been at the fore front of sponsoring community events, be they entertainment, religious, social or in any other way binds and brings the community together. Such news and entertainment business have also been promoting Indians and have been a good source of information and entertainment. This is not generally done with any benevolence but it happens to be their reason for being in the business and source of getting popularity and revenue.

Recent controversy on Guru Busters issue came into light where some India media has been giving “oxygen” to fraud and deceit of witchdoctors, who were operating here illegally and all have either fled or have been deported to India. One question that arose is: Do we have anybody watching those who watch others and report on them? Not until now, the issue of witchdoctors has given rise to Guru Busters movement to stamp out any more defrauding by the frauds from India, posing as religious sages.

Indian Media in Auckland will have to get used to being watched - as a watchdog is being watched now.

The issue of fake Sadhus and Gurus in 2010 and now five years on made the public aware that Indian media has little, if any regard for their social responsibility. Hence an irresponsible news selling business has given rise to the necessity to form a public-pressure group that could be a watchdog on the watchdogs that have a tendency to become lapdogs, for the sake of earning money.

Hence,  INDIAN MEDIA WATCH-NEW ZEALAND has been formed, because some elements within Indian media have been under assumption that they are beyond reproach, and can do anything by acting like little Gods, with unlimited unilateral powers with little recourse from public who become their target. And some consider news dissemination as their sole right.

But this has to come to an end. With the advent of social media, which is referred to as the Fifth Estate, the so-called Fourth Estate in Indian media need to stand up and be subject to scrutiny. Among others, the reason to form this pressure group has been through a personal experience that I went through when a section of media and community threw me in front of a bus, with defamatory misinformation by a print media with little opportunity to rebut, as they controlled editorial content. Social media has shattered their monopoly on news. And the first action that Indian Media Watch has taken is to report one Auckland Indian newspaper to Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) in light of witchdoctors issue and formation of Guru Busters pressure group. That would be covered in the next article on FIJI PUNDIT.

Among others, the objective of Indian Media Watch is:
1) To be concerned with taste and decency issues and ensuring that the broadcasting codes and guidelines are complied.
2) To aim to be a watchdog of the Indian media in New Zealand that would investigates and exposes media bias and breaches of journalistic ethics and standards, once these are reported by anybody with concerns. These would cover Radio, Print and TV media
3) To strive to monitor, analyse and correct any misinformation.
4) To be a user-friendly media scrutiny and monitoring service, and escalate any concerns and/or complaints to appropriate authorities.

Those seeking accountability from others will be called upon to give theirs

Sections of Indian media, supported by certain influential business and community leaders had tagged me as a “failed journalist.” They are free to do so, but any Indian Media with any concerns and issues are free to discuss with me, as I do not sleep with any media. I am not in their cocktail circuit or invitation or honours list, and have no desire for this. That makes me all that more objective. Indian media in Auckland are free to ignore, but they cannot continue to ignore the social and public pressure that Indian Media Watch would exert through social media. A Facebook page would be created and will subject them to scrutiny they subject other people to.

Hence with Indian Media Watch in New Zealand, no such media should now consider as beyond reproach and scrutiny. If some editors and news gatekeepers of such media have been acting as Little Gods, they better shed that halo –effect and come down to earth. 

To deserve to be classed in the category of the Fourth Estate, such media has to be subjected to scrutiny.

 And Indian Media Watch aims to do that.

[Thakur Ranjit Singh is a former Publisher of Fiji’s Daily Post and has been involved in Hindi and English print media and broadcast media in Fiji. He is a Post graduate Scholar with honours in Communication Studies from Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Auckland, New Zealand. He runs two blog sites, FIJI PUNDIT and KIWI PUNDIT and is media commentator.]

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