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News content not being driven by public interest: Dr B K Kuthiala

Dec 11, 2015

Dr B K Kuthiala, Vice Chancellor of Makhanlal Chaturvedi National Journalism University, Bhopal, in an interaction with OneWorld South Asia, rues that coverage on decentralisation and developmental issues by the mainstream media is being grossly neglected.

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OneWorld South Asia: What do you think of the coverage of decentralistion issues by the mainstream media?

Dr B K Kuthiala: The coverage of decentralisation issues is conspicuous by its almost total absence in the media. If at all there are sporadic news stories, analysis or comments, their presentation is not as a decentralised policy planning or implementation.

It is mostly negative in nature highlighting either the failures and lacuna, or malpractices and corruption.

OWSA: What in your opinion is the reason behind low coverage of such issues?

Kuthiala: The root cause of low or no coverage of decentralisation issues in Indian media lies in the news values of the news persons.

Unfortunately, the news content these days is being guided by the market value or the potential to attract eyeballs at the cost of the larger public interests.

Since issues related to development relate to urban poor and villagers, the urban friendly media outlets do not find these issues newsworthy.

OWSA: To what extent are journalists responsible for the low coverage of developmental issues?

Kuthiala: Ignorance of media persons is another significant fact related to the low coverage. The general awareness level of journalists about developmental issues is extremely low.

We have found that a young media person, groomed to report issues related to developmental schemes and plans, does not last long in the Indian media systems.

Journalists, specifically from smaller towns and rural areas, should be given repeated exposures to the techniques of developmental reporting.

OWSA: What kind of measures can help in bringing more media attention to the decentralisation and developmental issues?

Kuthiala: The media systems that have the primary objective of maximum returns on the investment would hardly be inclined to give importance to these issues. However, first step can be an extensive awareness programme for the media persons.

Sad thing is that the subject of developmental reporting is gradually vanishing from the journalism and media teaching systems. Some media teaching institutes may be identified to specialise in training media persons in reporting issues related to decentralized planning and implementation of welfare schemes for poor, villagers and the weaker sections.

Another measure can be to make the media houses also adhere to the laws of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and spending on news gathering about such issues may be covered under CSR.

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