Post Summit Introspection

IN Media Practice | 23/04/2002
Post Summit Introspection

Post Summit Introspection

The Indian Women’s Press Corp in Delhi had a discussion on what the relationship between the government and the media should be. What emerged was a series of observations on the drawbacks of both the government’s media handling, and the drawbacks of the media’s functioning, and its ethical lapses.

The Government’s Handling of Media


Arun Jaitley, Union Law Minister

The situation has changed in the last five or six years. Until then the traditional information set ups of the government used to be most important. If there was press conference or handout that was the news the next day. The sources were traditional.

Now the definition of news is changing. News is what the camera can capture, and what the camera cannot capture is not news. But the camera has its own limitations. It can capture what is controversial. Between destruction and relief the camera finds it easier to capture destruction. The print media will not repeat the news TV has already covered so it does not do traditional reporting. It tells you what happens behind the news. Therefore it has become extremely important for governments to communicate. Factual information is better than allowing media to carry their own stories. Now media has to be treated as an opportunity, particularly since one third of all households have access to the media.

Swapan Dasgupta, India Today

Agra was a curious summit. You got just three sentences from the official media. What you had was basically journalists talking to journalists. It was like a one day cricket match in which not one ball is rolled but you keep talking to former test players. You had the Pakis using journalists to disseminate their point of view. The Indians said nothing.

When in the Opposition the BJP was the most media savvy organization. Why is it tongue-tied when it is in government? Because the prime minister does not like answering questions. Unlike foreign visits where publicity done by the External Publicity Division, when there is a foreign policy event in this country there is confusion on whether it should it be handled by Ex P or by the Prime Minister’s Office. The PMO rather good at disseminating information privately, not good at doing it publicly. The ExP did not for aesthetic reasons rub shoulders with journalists.

Rajdeep Sardesai, Star News

The fact is that those in political authority failed in Agra. The government built up this summit, not the media. Indians missions abroad flew journalists here to attend this summit. People like M L Sondhi took out advertisements. The RSS mouthpiece Panchjanya tie up with Jang. If you did not want media attention you should have flown the general to Goa and talked to him there, not made him a state guest and invited him to the Naharwali Haveli. You cannot provide the Mughal Sheraton for the media and then give three lines. . The 24 hr channel is a ravenous beast looking for any meat it can find. There are all too few people in this government who know how to use the media.

Arun Jaitley

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